Conservation & Environment

Study: National Parks Bearing The Brunt Of Climate Change Impacts

Posted by on Sep 25, 2018 @ 12:36 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Study: National Parks Bearing The Brunt Of Climate Change Impacts

Yellowstone National Park escaped the summer without any large conflagrations in its forests, but that could be an anomaly under the current pace of climate change. Pikas could vanish from parks such as Lassen Volcanic and Great Basin. Glaciers and Joshua trees could be seen only in photographs and paintings in their namesake parks, and Virgin Islands and Hawai’i Volcanoes national parks could see diminished rainfall.

Southwestern parks such as Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, and Arches, already hot and arid, stand to become more so as droughts such as the current one become more commonplace.

Those are just some of the changes coming to the National Park System in the coming decades if anthropogenic climate change isn’t reversed, according to new research from scientists at the University of California Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin.

Simply put, the scientists say, the landscapes preserved by the National Park System are bearing a disportionately greater impact of climate change than the rest of the United States. The reason, they say, is that a greater percentage of the National Park System is located at higher elevations than most U.S. landscapes. Also, because Alaska has more national park acreage than the rest of the country.

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Seeking America’s Quietest Spots: The Quest for Silence in a Loud World

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 @ 9:15 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Seeking America’s Quietest Spots: The Quest for Silence in a Loud World

The hiker trudged up a logging road and into a valley, tracing a route that seemed unremarkable. There were no sweeping views of the mountains that towered nearby. There was no summit to scale. Yet he stopped suddenly, jubilant, after about four miles of walking. He had found exactly what he was searching for: quiet.

In these loud times — with political foes yelling on television, trucks rumbling through streets, and smartphones chirping all around — who doesn’t want a little peace and quiet? But some wilderness lovers have taken their aversion to the cacophony of the modern world a step further, traveling to some of the country’s most remote areas in a quest for utter silence.

Connoisseurs of quiet say it is increasingly difficult, even in the wilderness, to escape the sounds of vehicles, industries, voices. A study published last year in the academic journal Science found that noise pollution was doubling sound levels in much of the nation’s conserved land, like national parks and areas preserved by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The National Park Service has a policy requiring park managers to measure “baseline acoustic conditions” and determine which noises have an adverse effect. There is even a branch of the Park Service known as the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division that is dedicated in part to preserving the untrammeled soundscape.

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Fall into Volunteerism with Smokies Service Days

Posted by on Sep 21, 2018 @ 12:42 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Fall into Volunteerism with Smokies Service Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce upcoming Fall “Smokies Service Days” volunteer projects. These unique opportunities allow community members and park visitors to get involved and become stewards of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Individuals and groups are invited to sign up for any of the scheduled service projects that interest them including unique opportunities to help care for park campgrounds, historic buildings, and other natural and cultural resources within the park boundaries.

This volunteer program helps complete much needed work across the park and is ideal for those seeking to fulfill community service requirements, including high school and college students, scout troops, civic organizations, visitors, families, and working adults with busy schedules. Each project will provide tasks appropriate for a wide range of ages. Volunteer projects will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last until noon on Saturday mornings, except for the November 23 service date. In addition, each project will be followed by an optional enrichment adventure to immerse participants in the abundant natural and cultural resources of the park.

Tools and safety gear, including gloves and high visibility safety vests, will be provided by park staff. Participants are required to wear closed-toe shoes and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as directed. Volunteers planning to stay for the optional enrichment activity must also bring a sack lunch.

Those interested in volunteering need to contact Project Coordinator, Logan Boldon, at 865-436-1278 or logan_boldon@partner.nps.gov prior to the scheduled event date to register. Space may be limited.

Current service opportunities include: all dates 2018

September 22: National Public Lands Day Litter Patrol

September 29: Campground Clean-Up at Smokemont

October 6: Historic Preservation & Campground Maintenance at Cataloochee

October 27: Picnic Area & Campground Clean-Up at Deep Creek

November 3: Campground Clean-Up at Cosby

November 10: Litter Patrol at the Gatlinburg Park Boundary

November 17: Campground Clean-Up at Elkmont

November 23: Vegetation Management at Wears Valley

 

Shell and Exxon’s secret 1980s climate change warnings

Posted by on Sep 20, 2018 @ 7:03 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Shell and Exxon’s secret 1980s climate change warnings

In the 1980s, oil companies like Exxon and Shell carried out internal assessments of the carbon dioxide released by fossil fuels, and forecast the planetary consequences of these emissions. In 1982, for example, Exxon predicted that by about 2060, CO2 levels would reach around 560 parts per million – double the preindustrial level – and that this would push the planet’s average temperatures up by about 2°C over then-current levels (and even more compared to pre-industrial levels).

Later that decade, in 1988, an internal report by Shell projected similar effects but also found that CO2 could double even earlier, by 2030. Privately, these companies did not dispute the links between their products, global warming, and ecological calamity. On the contrary, their research confirmed the connections.

Shell’s assessment foresaw a one-meter sea-level rise, and noted that warming could also fuel disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, resulting in a worldwide rise in sea level of “five to six meters.” That would be enough to inundate entire low-lying countries.

Shell’s analysts also warned of the “disappearance of specific ecosystems or habitat destruction,” predicted an increase in “runoff, destructive floods, and inundation of low-lying farmland,” and said that “new sources of freshwater would be required” to compensate for changes in precipitation. Global changes in air temperature would also “drastically change the way people live and work.” All told, Shell concluded, “the changes may be the greatest in recorded history.”

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A Leave No Trace Principles Refresher

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 @ 12:19 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

A Leave No Trace Principles Refresher

Outdoor enthusiasts often prefer visiting different types of locations. Some love trekking high into the Appalachian Mountains, while others enjoy paddling through the river-carved rocks of the Southwest. Some may like to explore the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, while others enjoy ambling about aimlessly amid the grass-dotted dunes of the Gulf Coast.

You like forests; your buddy prefers prairies. One of your kids likes the beach; the other prefers the bayou.

But these various locations all share one uniting characteristic, one about which all outdoor enthusiasts can agree: They offer you the chance to spend some time in an unspoiled place, which has suffered only a minimal amount of human impact.

Whatever types of places you prefer for hiking, trekking, camping or paddling, you surely appreciate that these activities all give you the opportunity to spend time in untouched wilderness areas.

However, careless use of these places will quickly ruin them. After all, they’re becoming more and more popular by the day. If those who visit these pristine places aren’t careful, they’ll destroy the very thing that they sought in the first place – natural, untarnished beauty.

Fortunately, a lot of outdoor enthusiasts have already begun taking steps to protect these places, and you can join right alongside them. You just have to embrace Leave No Trace Principles.

 

The 25th Annual National Public Lands Day is happening on September 22, 2018

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 @ 7:05 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The 25th Annual National Public Lands Day is happening on September 22, 2018

Mark September 22 on your calendar and make plans to head to your favorite outdoor spot as NEEF gets set to celebrate the 25th annual National Public Lands Day. No matter what is happening in the world, on National Public Lands Day, outdoor enthusiasts turn out in droves to give back to and enjoy their favorite outdoor places.

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands, held annually on the fourth Saturday in September. NPLD is also a “fee-free day”—entrance fees are waived at national parks and other public lands.

Every day, natural disasters and extreme weather, human activities, and a host of other factors take their toll on our public lands, threatening the health and wellbeing of the people and wildlife who depend on them. Public land managers, volunteers, and others who steward these special places work tirelessly to restore these areas, make them more resilient to future threats, and ensure that people and wildlife continue to enjoy them for years to come.

This enduring support and commitment to public lands year after year inspired NEEF to focus National Public Lands Day 2018 on resilience and restoration. Our natural resources are resilient, but only if we treat them right and give them the care they need. Through volunteer service on National Public Lands Day as well as grant support to local organizations, NEEF helps ensure people of all ages and abilities connect with public lands for recreation, hands-on learning, and community-building—now and in the future.

Interested? Learn more here…

 

Wyoming, the country’s top coal producer, is wrangling support for wind power

Posted by on Sep 17, 2018 @ 9:45 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Wyoming, the country’s top coal producer, is wrangling support for wind power

Just off Interstate 80 in Sinclair, Wyoming (population 415), the Sinclair Refinery processes crude oil from the United States and Canada. Every day the refinery, one of the region’s largest, converts 85,000 barrels of oil to gasoline, diesel, propane, and other petroleum products. But the town may soon become famous for a cleaner sort of energy, as the gateway to the biggest wind farm in the Western Hemisphere.

South of the highway here lies the Overland Trail Ranch, 500 square miles of rugged terrain where several thousand black angus graze among the dusty buttes and sagebrush prairie. Soon the feeding cattle will wander beneath a thousand towering wind turbines. Called the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, the ranch, owned by Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz, could potentially generate up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity­—enough to power one million homes. The project has been crawling through the regulatory process for more than a decade, but if all goes as planned, the first 500 turbines will be churning out electricity by the end of 2020, and the remainder will be up and running sometime in 2023.

In the ten years since Power Company of Wyoming (the Anschutz Corporation subsidiary running the project) began working to create Chokecherry and Sierra Madre, wind energy has boomed nationwide. The cost of wind power has dropped by 66 percent since 2009. Over the past 15 years, wind has gone from being a trace component of the U.S. power mix to holding a 6 percent share, and today, it’s a leading source of renewable energy in the nation.

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Chest-thumping Interior Department claims one success amid a sea of losses

Posted by on Sep 14, 2018 @ 6:58 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Chest-thumping Interior Department claims one success amid a sea of losses

Last week the Interior Department announced the sale of oil and gas leases covering over 50,700 acres in New Mexico’s Permian Basin for $972.5 million. Like a kid in a candy store, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke celebrated the “historic” lease sale, ignoring the reality of his shortsighted agenda: the rush to lease public lands for energy development has produced more failures than successes and left prized protected lands at risk.

Of the 12.7 million acres of oil and gas leases offered by the Bureau of Land Management prior to the New Mexico sale, 11.4 million acres, or nearly 90 percent, did not receive a single bid from the energy industry. Nearly a quarter of the acres leased sold for the minimum bid of $2 per acre — a far cry from New Mexico’s $81,889 per acre bid — generating only minimal revenue for taxpayers.

Of the 77 million acres of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico offered in one lease sale last March — a record setting lease sale according to Secretary Zinke — companies bid on just one percent of leases.

And again, of the 10.3 million acres offered for oil leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska by Secretary Zinke’s Interior Department, only seven bids were received, covering less than one percent of available acreage. Another in a long-line of embarrassing results.

“Energy dominance” comes a high cost to communities and America’s conservation lands. In the next four months, the Trump administration will offer 2.9 million acres of America’s public lands to oil and gas companies, including lands on the fringes of our national parks and monuments, prime habitat for the imperiled sage-grouse, and critical big game migration corridors.

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Mountains? Rain forests? Fjords? New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park has them all.

Posted by on Sep 13, 2018 @ 9:37 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Mountains? Rain forests? Fjords? New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park has them all.

Key Summit is one of many hiking trails — or as locals call them, tracks — that crisscross the South Island near Milford Sound, the green gemstone atop New Zealand’s wilderness crown. Milford Sound sits within Fiordland National Park, which in turn is part of Te Wahipounamu — South West New Zealand, a UNESCO World Heritage site that covers 10 percent of the country’s landmass.

Milford Sound’s mountains, rain forests and its fjord draw more than 500,000 visitors each year. Many of them are tour bus day-trippers from neighboring Te Anau or Queenstown who take a quick boat cruise, snap photos and head back to town. A landing strip and helipad accommodate sightseers who forgo the drive and whiz in and out. One lodge is available to those who prefer to stay a little longer.

To reach Milford Sound, depart Te Anau, a nearby lakeside town, and hit the road: the Milford Road, or State Highway 94, which is the only land-based route. Leave before sunrise to allow enough time to make a 9 a.m. Milford Sound cruise departure.

The nearly 75-mile journey stretches toward cloud-ringed mountains that glow pink in the predawn light. Fog drapes over lowland pastures, and yellow wildflowers frame the road. As you pass the Fiordland National Park entrance, the road twists through an enchanted fairyland of red beech forests and golden grasslands draped in stalky wild lupines. The Livingstone and Earl mountain ranges loom closer with every mile.

After many stops to gawk at the natural drama, you reach the nearly mile-long Homer Tunnel, which passes through a mountain into the Milford Sound area. The world’s only alpine parrots are highly intelligent and seem to hang around parking lots solely to tease camera-snapping tourists and dismantle their vehicles.

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Spring is Arriving Earlier, Messing With Bird Migrations

Posted by on Sep 13, 2018 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Spring is Arriving Earlier, Messing With Bird Migrations

Thanks to climate change, spring now comes earlier. But how much sooner the season arrives varies across the U.S. That’s according to a new study that assessed the first appearance of leaves and flowers in nearly 500 U.S. National Wildlife Refuges over more than 100 years.

Researchers found the irregular seasonal changes affect migratory birds’ breeding sites, an outcome that could endanger many species.

Hundreds of migratory birds travel thousands of miles across the U.S. each year. Many birds move from Central America, where they spend the winter, to locations across the northern U.S. to breed and raise young. The success of their international travels depends on good timing. The birds must coordinate their arrivals with spring’s appearance to ensure enough food is available to eat at their destination.

Though some birds have adjusted when they migrate, it’s still unclear whether they’ll be able to keep up with changes in food availability across such vast distances over the long-term.

The researchers mapped data of first leaf and first bloom appearances, indices that mark the onset of spring, across 496 national wildlife refuges in the U.S. stretching back to the beginning of the last century. They found that spring now starts earlier — with leaves budding up to 3 days sooner each decade — in 76 percent of the wildlife refuges.

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California pledges carbon-free electricity by 2045

Posted by on Sep 11, 2018 @ 9:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

California pledges carbon-free electricity by 2045

By many metrics, California is way ahead of other states when it comes to renewable energy. The nation’s largest state leads in generating electricity from solar panels and geothermal stations. As of 2016, California got about two-fifths of its electricity from renewable forms of energy.

On Sept. 10, 2018, the state’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law a landmark bill committing California to getting 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. The state is giving itself a deadline of 2030 to get 60 percent of its power from renewable energy, up from 50 percent by that same year under the state’s previous requirements. Brown signed the renewable mandate with the support of Democratic majorities in the state legislature but over the opposition of some state Republicans and electric utilities.

Other states have likewise legally bound themselves to cutting climate-warming emissions from their electricity sectors. But none, except for Hawaii, have codified its pledge to make its entire electricity sector free of carbon emission.

Indeed, Brown followed the signing of the bill with an executive order promising to make the entire California economy — including its sizable fleet of automobiles — carbon-neutral by that year, too.

And over the weekend, Brown also signed two bills attempting to block new oil drilling off the coast of California. The legislation aims to thwart the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling nationwide by specifically prohibiting the construction of drilling-related infrastructure, including pipelines and piers.

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These folks pick up a truck load of trash every single week along Wilson Creek

Posted by on Sep 7, 2018 @ 11:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

These folks pick up a truck load of trash every single week along Wilson Creek

A Clean Wilson Creek is a small army of folks committed to protecting this National Wild and Scenic River in Western North Carolina in it’s natural state for future generations.

Wilson Creek begins as a small stream on the side of Grandfather Mountain and forms into an incredible national treasure over the next 23 miles. A Clean Wilson Creek provides funding for daily River Patrols (365 days a year) that removes trash left by recreational users, and they also address abuse of this wilderness area from vandalism.

They have a Core Team (Trout Team 6) and a number of associates and consultants who help with stream protection, conservation education, and community, state and local government outreach. They also have corporate/small business funding partners and hopefully, will have YOU on their side as well.

If you are passionate about protecting our remaining wilderness and watersheds, A Clean Wilson Creek can use your help. They welcome individual volunteers and groups, Scouting troops, and conservation/science/natural history educators for programming.

They use volunteers for River Patrol, Trail Maintenance, and presenters for outreach programs. All volunteers are educated on their purpose and River Patrol protocols, safety, and appropriate interpersonal interactions with River visitors.

Learn more here…

 

Sprawling Jenner Headlands Preserve on California’s Sonoma Coast opening to public

Posted by on Sep 7, 2018 @ 6:46 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Sprawling Jenner Headlands Preserve on California’s Sonoma Coast opening to public

Anyone who has ever driven past the hills that rise sharply near Jenner, California from the coast north of the Russian River outlet and wondered about the view from the top need wait little longer.

Today the gates to the Jenner Headlands Preserve will be open to the public, adding a large, open space to the mix of protected, accessible lands lining the scenic Sonoma Coast.

The step marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning and development, and the preserve — set aside with public and private money — offers some of the most stunning vistas to be found north of the Golden Gate, with a full suite of wildlife and natural habitat shielded in perpetuity from housing development.

And the highest peak on the Sonoma Coast, 2,204-foot Pole Mountain, overlooks it all, beckoning to hikers up for a strenuous 15-mile round-trip trek with significant elevation gain.

At 5,630 acres, the headlands property offers nearly 14 miles of trails across varied terrain that includes mixed conifer forest, coastal prairie and oak woodland.

It spans more than 2.5 miles of the coast just north of the Russian River mouth, with steep hills that rise from the eastern side of Highway 1, giving visitors sweeping views of the ocean and coastline stretching south to Point Reyes National Seashore.

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Plains bison roaming free in Canada’s Banff National Park for first time in decades

Posted by on Sep 6, 2018 @ 2:36 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Plains bison roaming free in Canada’s Banff National Park for first time in decades

Parks Canada says wild plains bison that were reintroduced to Banff National Park are now free-roaming animals. Officials say 31 bison were released last month into a 1,200 square-kilometre zone that features meadows and grassy valleys for grazing along the park’s eastern slopes.

“Now, they are free-roaming wild bison and their path forward may not be easy,” said Bill Hunt, manager of resource conservation with Banff National Park. “They will experience harsh winters, they will travel through difficult terrain and they will eventually be hunted by wolves and other predators.”

He said they will also play an important role in keeping the ecosystem healthy in the national park. “Bison are what we call a keystone species – that means bison alter the food web and the landscapes.”

As examples, he said they improve grazing for animals such as elk because they fertilize the grasses, open forests for meadow-loving birds and small mammals, create amphibian habitat by wallowing in the lowlands and their heavy winter coats shed each spring to provide nesting material for alpine birds.

Plains bison are an iconic part of Canada’s history, having freely roamed in the Rockies, filling an important need for the livelihoods of First Nations people and early settlers. They disappeared from the area due to overhunting before the national park was created in 1885.

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Cradle of Forestry to Celebrate National Public Lands Day

Posted by on Sep 5, 2018 @ 8:34 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Cradle of Forestry to Celebrate National Public Lands Day

The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the community to take part in NEEF’s 25th annual National Public Lands Day (NPLD) on Saturday September 22nd, 2018. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) supports this annual event and uses the day to connect people to public lands and their communities, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage use of public lands for education, recreation, and general health.

This year, NEEF is highlighting the resilience of public lands. Last year, floods, wildfire, and severe storms caused several NPLD event hosts to cancel or change their plans. Others leveraged NPLD volunteers to restore and rebuild damaged parks and other outdoor spaces. Projects taking place at the Cradle will include erosion control, mulching, and invasive species removal. If you are interested in volunteering for NPLD at the Cradle please contact Clay Wooldridge at (828) 877-3130 or cradle@cfaia.org.

Admission to the Cradle is free on this special day to all visitors. Cradle education staff will be offering free guided hikes on the two interpretive trails and fun activities that encourages visitors to enjoy our public lands. The site is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for all to enjoy the heritage site’s trails, exhibit hall, the First in Forestry film, gift shop, and Café at the Cradle. This September, celebrate something we all share: our public lands.

The Cradle of Forestry in America is located on U.S. Highway 276 in the Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 412. For more information, call the Cradle of Forestry at 828-877-3130 or online at www.cradleofforestry.com.

 

How the Rise of Outdoor Influencers Is Affecting the Environment

Posted by on Sep 3, 2018 @ 9:49 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How the Rise of Outdoor Influencers Is Affecting the Environment

In 1999, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (LNT) published seven leave no trace principles to “communicate the best available minimum impact guidance for enjoying the outdoors responsibly.” Today, these principles remain largely intact, despite calls for LNT to add responsible social media usage to the list.

Groups like Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle have gone so far as to pen the new principle themselves. “Use discretion when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts of creating a ‘buzz’ about specific destinations,” their suggestion reads.

The discretion they’re calling for is frequently cited in the issue of geotagging on Instagram. On the app, geotagging lets you share the location where a photo was taken. Tap on a tag — say, Yosemite — and you’ll see all the public photos associated with that locale.

But geotagging can also get specific, and that’s where the real issues start. “We’re having a lot of problems with people geotagging hidden or sensitive places,” adding that these places don’t always have the infrastructure to handle a lot of new visitors.

Ben Lawhon, the education director at LNT, said they’re waiting to see how social media evolves before responding to these demands. “If we were to jump at every perceived opportunity to add a new principle, we’d have way more than seven,” he said, adding, “nine out of 10 people who visit public lands are uninformed about Leave No Trace, so consistency is important.”

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There Could Be A New Normal In The Future Of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 @ 11:37 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

There Could Be A New Normal In The Future Of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

With Tūtū Pele seemingly having come to the end of her latest eruptive run, staff at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park are working to get back to the business of running a national park, not responding to an erupting volcano. But it won’t be business as usual at the park now, or for the foreseeable future, as repairing the damage carries a bill of an estimated $100 million, at least, and some areas might not reopen for a long, long time.

For nearly four months the park’s Kīlauea volcano has been spewing lava and fracturing the surrounding landscape with earthquakes. Since May 11, the bulk of the park has been closed for public safety. Though the eruptions have ended, the damage to the park and the limited reopening scheduled for September 22, National Public Lands Day, has park staff rethinking how visitors should experience Hawai’i Volcanoes.

“Our resource is so dynamic that we’ve always been about change. It is an active volcano, and so we’ve always had to adapt and be flexible in terms of how we manage that resource in terms of vistiation,” Superintendent Cindy Orlando said during a phone call earlier this week. “Before the event in early May (when this year’s eruptions started), we had the highest visitation in the state. We were the most-visited attraction in 2017. We had 2 million visitors.

“So, for me, I guess I see this as an opportunity,” she went on. “The landscape is changed, but our footprint has always been limited. And now it’s even more so. In that regard, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, maybe we don’t want to see 2 million visitors a year at this park. Or do we?'”

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North Carolina’s New Headwaters State Forest to open Sept. 6, 2018

Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 @ 6:53 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

North Carolina’s New Headwaters State Forest to open Sept. 6, 2018

After years of work, state and federal officials finally get to cut the ribbon on the Headwaters State Forest in Transylvania County, North Carolina next week.

A ceremony will be held Sept. 6, 2018 to mark the opening of the new state forest, the Conservation Fund and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced.

Located near the border with South Carolina, the 6,730-acre forest was made possible with funding from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and state and private funding.

The forest’s protection will help preserve and maintain water quality in the headwaters of the French Broad River, which flows 218 miles from Transylvania County into Tennessee. Headwaters State Forest also provides expanded opportunities for public outdoor recreation, including hiking on a section of the storied Foothills Trail.

Adjacent to more than 100,000 acres of existing conservation lands in both North Carolina and South Carolina, the area provides habitat for federally endangered plant species and other federal plant and animal species of concern. A portion of the forest will also serve as working forestland, ensuring that timber revenue and jobs stay in North Carolina.

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