Air Pollution Woes Prompt China to Close Coal Mines and Generating Plants in 3 Cities FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:BEIJING—China has ordered three northern cities to stop approving new projects that would add to air pollution after they failed to meet air quality targets this past winter.The mayors of Handan in Hebei province and Jincheng and Yangquan in Shanxi province were given the orders after being summoned to a meeting at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment in Beijing on Thursday to account for their actions during a recent campaign against smog.The meeting came after the cities failed to meet targets to cut levels of hazardous, breathable particles known as PM2.5 over the October 2017 to March 2018 period. China launched a campaign last October to reduce average concentrations of PM2.5 by between 10-25 percent in 28 northern cities in an effort hit 2013-2017 air quality targets.[Handan’s mayor, Wang Litong,] said the city planned to close another 300,000 tonnes of steelmaking capacity, 1.1 million tonnes of coal-producing capacity and 268 megawatts of coal-fired power by August. He said three officials have been fired and 14 given warnings.After struggling for years to force growth-obsessed local governments to toe the line, China’s beefed-up environment ministry now has the authority to hold officials to account for failing to comply with pollution policies. The war on pollution is now a key performance indicator that could determine an official’s promotion prospects, and local authorities said last year that senior officials could even face dismissal if they failed to meet the winter targets.More: China Bans New Polluting Projects In Three Cities: Ministry
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Digital Trends:With the Tokyo Olympics just two years away, the event’s organizing committee has announced it wants to power the games exclusively through renewable energy.That means building systems to supply the Games—both Olympic and Paralympic—with electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar as part of efforts to promote decarbonization, the Japan Times reported.Described by an official as “unprecedented” for a major sporting event, the Games’ renewable energy target will also encompass the athletes’ village, the international broadcasting center, and the main press center.Part of the strategy designed to help it reach its target will involve renting and leasing items that are used during the event. If any need to be bought, the committee will make arrangements to guarantee their use once the sporting extravaganza is over. Organizers also plan to purchase renewable energy from power companies and to install solar panels where possible.Speaking of solar panels, the committee is making plans to build a number of solar roads to generate some of the power used by the 2020 Games. Embedded directly in roads, the surface of the panels includes a special resin to ensure their durability, the Independent reported. As part of a trial, a convenience store near Tokyo recently installed solar panels beneath its parking lot, with the setup now taking care of almost 10 percent of the store’s power needs. Similar technology has already been installed in several roads in France, as well as on cycle paths in the Netherlands.More: Japan aims to power Tokyo Olympics with 100 percent renewable energy Organizers look to power Tokyo Olympics with 100% green energy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Coal production and generation are expected to drop again in 2020 before stabilizing for the near-term, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected in its latest monthly energy forecast.The EIA expects coal’s share of electricity generation will fall from 24% in 2019 to 21% in 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, the agency expects U.S. production of coal to stabilize in 2021 as export demand rises and U.S. power sector consumption of coal increases slightly due to a projected rise in natural gas.The EIA forecasts Henry Hub natural gas spot prices will average $2.11/MMBtu in 2020 before increasing in 2021, to reach an annual average of $2.51/MMBtu.The drop in coal generation is occurring as natural gas consumption is expected to remain relatively steady. However, electricity generation from renewable energy sources in the U.S. is expected to rise from a 17% share last year to 19% in 2020 and 21% in 2021.Coal production in 2020 is expected to total 573 million tons in 2020, down 17% from 2019 coal production volumes. The EIA said the decline in production volume is a function of falling utility demand for coal. Electric sector demand for coal in the U.S. is expected to fall by 16%, or 86 million tons, in 2020.Coal exports from the U.S. are expected to average about 78 million tons this year, about 9% lower than what the EIA forecast in its February short-term energy outlook. The revision is due to lower expected demand as global markets for coal have weakened. EIA expects metallurgical coal exports to fall from 55.1 million tons in 2019 to 47.2 million tons in 2020 before rebounding slightly to 49.5 million tons in 2021.[Taylor Kuykendall]More ($): EIA’s latest forecast sees coal dropping to 21% of US power generation in 2020 EIA: Coal’s share of U.S. electric generation will fall to 21% this year
The biggest threat to New Year’s resolutions is procrastination. Instead of being a slacker and waiting until spring, don’t delay in getting your competitive season underway. There are plenty of great races at the turn of 2012, so choose your adventure and start the year off right.Cycle Polar Bear Metric CenturyWinston-Salem, N.C. • January 1 Pull on some tights and pedal through the chilly wind at this annual cycling event that benefits cancer services in the Piedmont. The metric century (62 miles) winds through the country roads of four counties surrounding Winston-Salem with plenty of rolling hills to get you warmed up. Shorter 25- and 30-mile course options are also offered.gopolar.org Hike New Year’s Day Hike on the C&O Canal Towpath Washington, D.C. • January 1Start the New Year with a walk in the woods. During this four-decade tradition, D.C.-area hikers meet in Georgetown and then take a 10-mile wooded stroll out of the city on the mellow-graded C&O Canal Towpath—a forested retreat that follows the Potomac River out of the nation’s capital.sierrapotomac.org PaddleCartecay River Chili RunEllijay, Ga. • January 1A little nip in the air can’t keep paddlers out of the Cartecay. This low-key event returns for the 27th year with the chilly waters of a winter river run and the warmth of a post-paddle chili cook-off. Boaters bundle up and then paddle a two-mile stretch of class II-III swells. At the take out, they’re met with a bonfire, live music, and plenty of piping hot chili—not a bad way to usher in the new year.cartecayriverexperience.comTrail RunFrozen Toe 10KRoanoke, Va. • January 7The Roanoke Non Ultra Trail Series continues to expand its reach with top-notch short-distance trail runs around the Valley. The majority of this first race in the series takes place on the near-six-mile Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail, which circles the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Roanoke Mountain campground. Recent work has the trail in prime shape, featuring some fast and flowy grades that will be perfect for setting a warm pace in the January chill.mountainjunkies.net Mountain BikeSnake Creek Gap Time TrialDalton, Ga. • January 7, February 4, & March 3This series of time trial mountain bike races is not the only battle this gap is known for hosting. Snake Creek once served as a pass for Sherman’s army during the Civil War. Now, mountain bikers trudge their way to North Georgia to pedal the IMBA Epic designated Pinhoti Trail. Whether riders choose the 17- or 34-mile point-to-point course options, they’ll face plenty of technical, gear-grinding terrain with extremely tough ending stretches on Hurricane Mountain and the razor-sharp edge of Rocky Face Ridge. The entry fee gets you into all three races with only your best run counting toward the final series standings.snake.nwgasorba.orgUltraFrosty Lake 50K Winston-Salem, N.C. • January 7With just over six miles of asphalt and another 25 of packed dirt and flat trail, you can expect to have less muscle and joint carnage than most ultras. The mellow course in the Carolina Piedmont meanders along the edge of scenic Salem Lake, as a double out-and-back loop with plenty of big open views to gauge your progress and stalk other runners to pass.twincitytc.orgMarathonCharleston MarathonCharleston, S.C. • January 14Too cold to compete in the mountains? Retreat to the low country coast and lace up for a 26.2-mile stint around a variety of Chucktown’s streetscapes—from the waterfront to the historic district and everything in between. Entering just its second year, the race is also one of the flattest Boston qualifiers you can find. Shorter distance runners also have half-marathon and 5K options.charlestonmarathon.comClimbBoat Rock Float the Boat Boulder CompAtlanta, Ga. • January 21The South’s best climbers will be pressing their chalked hands to the frigid granite at Boat Rock Preserve’s epic nearly mile-long boulder field. Join them at this long-standing comp and send classic problems like Lost Digits and Keeper of the Boat. After a long day of tough holds, you’ll be treated to brews from Sweetwater and the satisfaction that your entry fee helped preserve this Metro Atlanta hot spot, which is consistently being threatened by encroaching development.seclimbers.org
The term “to putz” isn’t really in any dictionary.You know what it means though, putzin’ arahn (around, in yinzer). Dilly-dallying. Dawdling. Lingering. Hem and hawing. Moseying.My last day in Pennsyltucky, I was putzin’ hard. I was not ready to leave.My rig felt in good company all week.In the week and a half or so that I had been staying outside of Ohiopyle, I’d managed to keep pretty busy. I knocked off three runs on the Upper Yough, a few solo laps on the Lower Yough loop, a little yoga here, a little hiking there, even a little wake surfing up in the ‘burgh. I’ve never spent much time exploring Pennsylvania, but the few times I’ve visited its southwestern corner in particular, I’ve become more and more enchanted with the Keystone State.So as I sat on the steps in front of Falls Market on my last day in tahn (town), shoving mint chocolate chip ice cream in my face and eyeballing the various trucks and cars that idled by with teetering stacks of kayaks strapped to the roofs, I felt for the first time in a long time very much unhurried. I was in no particular rush to move on to the next destination, and the thought of posting up in a town for longer than a couple weeks actually appealed to me (sorta).Normally, I’m pretty restless. I’m always itching to be on the move.But the pace of life in that corner of Pennsylvania is much slower, though just an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh. After a particularly busy week at work, I found myself really starting to appreciate that quiet. Countryside dominates much of the landscape. Sprawling farms and state park land interwoven with winding backcountry roads connect one-traffic-light-towns. Everything here is charming, down to the last hahs (house), post office, and four-wheelin’-local. The more I travel, the more I find that these one-traffic-light-towns are the places I connect with best. Having grown up as part of a small community, being welcomed into these tight-knit towns gives me a sense of ‘home’ despite my transience. It’s the people I’ve met these past few months that have had the biggest impact on me. Strangers, old friends and new, the cashier at the local convenience store. It’s been humbling to see how much the people have really defined this “on the road” experience. Everyday there is someone new who crosses my path and inspires me, or teaches me something new, or redefines my ideas on generosity and selflessness. Everyday, someone somewhere is looking out for me in some way and I feel incredibly fortunate to know so many good people.Sunrise on Laurel Mountain.Ben Crandell cruisin’ at dawn.When I think back to some of these great people though, I wonder how many of them I’ll see again. Of the typical challenges I encounter daily with the logistical reality of living out of a vehicle, I’d say none of those compare with the difficulty I have in accepting that sometimes, people aren’t meant to stay a part of your life forever. A stranger at a restaurant can tell you the most profound and sound bit of advice, and you may never even learn his name. One lady’s story may change your life ambitions, but she may never know that.How do you begin to cope with that disconnect? How do you come to terms with these fleeting encounters, with letting people come in and out of your life like a receding tide? How do you begin to ever express the ineffable gratitude that can come from both a simple gesture and a weeklong stay alike? How?I was thinking about all of this as I putzed around that last day in Pennsylvania.“Why don’t you watch a movie?” my friend Jess said. He and his lovely wife Theresa had opened up their cabin to me the week I was in town (thank you thank you) and were on their way out the door that last day. Perhaps sensing my putzin’ mode, they told me I should take a nap, twiddle my thumbs, do nothing, watch a movie.A movie? Of all the things I had done in the past few months, watching a movie was not one of them. But since I was in no rush to leave, I figured, why not? I picked the first DVD (no, those aren’t outdated…yet) my eyes came to, which just so happened to be Eat, Pray, Love, and, after nearly a half hour of trying to work the damn TV (am I really that uncivilized already?), I finally settled in and propped my feet up.Aside from remembering just how much I love Julia Roberts as an actress, one of the things I couldn’t stop thinking about was Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love from which the movie was made. I read the book when it came out in 2006. I was still in high school, but I remember how much her words spoke to me then. I connected with her story, sensing my restlessness may one day lead me down a similar path.I whipped out my laptop and started browsing through some of the quotes from Gilbert’s book, curious as to what I had connected with so well. I scanned her words on God and love, happiness and suffering. Soon I found myself re-reading whole pages.It wasn’t long before I stumbled across a section she wrote on people. Her words, written over a decade ago, seemed, quite literally, to have sprung from my questions on giving thanks and processing kindness, like Gilbert herself was watching me putz and ponder.“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” Some people buy gifts, give money, send cards as tokens of gratitude. Others simply say ‘thanks.’ I fall somewhere in between, always expressing my appreciation in words but somehow feeling as if that alone is not enough yet anything but is insincere.I got to thinking, perhaps Gilbert is right. Perhaps all of this, all of us, are connected. It seems nearly impossible to genuinely thank every single person who has ever had a positive influence on my life. But perhaps one day, I will be the one to contribute to that “miraculous scope of human generosity” by providing a couch to crash on, a kitchen to cook in. Perhaps one day I will be able to return two-fold the kindness I’ve experienced in my journey and become a part of the good people continuum.So to Jess, who pushed me to step up in kayaking, to Theresa, who reminded me how good it feels to let loose and dance, to Crandell who rallyed at 3 a.m. for some Zoolander-sunrise action and taught me more things than I’ll ever remember about our solar system, to Dr. Mitchell, who’s stoke for kayaking was nothing short of entertaining (and contagious), and to Clark, Jay, and all the other super people I met in P.A. – thank you.
A cold, wet morning in Ducktown couldn’t dampen the spirits of the 125 paddlers participating in the 7th annual Ocoee Race hosted by the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club. This incredible volunteer run event allows athletes to test themselves against one of the nations most iconic pieces of whitewater and raise money for a great cause, the Chattanooga chapter of Team River Runner.Racers start at 1 minute intervals, only delayed by the arrival of commercial raft traffic or groups of private boaters. Allowing paddlers to race in multiple classes meant there would be 168 scheduled starts that the TVCC volunteers would be releasing at 1 minute intervals over the next 3 hours. Speaking of volunteers, every major rapid had safety volunteers in place to pick up the pieces in the event of a spill and the finish line was well manned too. TVCC’s incredible volunteer activation for this event underlines the clubs strength and leadership.I’ve had a frustrating history competing in this event. In 2013 I thought I knew the Ocoee River well enough but I didn’t and ended up 2nd. I managed to put the pieces together over the next year thanks to local legends, Terry Smith and Dave Levitt who graciously shared their extensive river knowledge with me, despite knowing I’d be competing against them. In 2014 it all came together with a narrow victory over Levitt, so it was with some pressure I came into this year in defense of my title.The wet weather had added a little additional flow which would help in the shallows but also change the configuration of many of the wave trains. Right from the start I found myself having to slightly modify my plan and slide out wider to the shoulders of the wave trains. Despite a little too much water breaking over the bow of my Dagger Greenboat, I made it the “Doldrums” in good time and hammered across the flats as hard as I could. At “Surprise” rapid I had some significant raft traffic that took me off line and later I was so thankful to get to Tablesaw where I would be able to take a break for a few seconds. I was pretty tanked and the push to the finish line hurt. But the result was good … a new course record time of 28’58” and the overall race win just ahead of Terry Smith.But now to do it all over again. I had signed up to race short boat too, so jumped in the new Pyranha 9RL and hammered again although it really didn’t feel particularly good, finishing in 31’ 25” and 2nd place in the class, behind my competitor, friend and mentor Dave Levitt.This race is incredibly well run and I’m deeply thankful to the TVCC and their team of volunteers that host this race and fund raiser. It takes a huge effort to put on an event of this scale, especially on the nations busiest commercial river. Congratulations TVCC and see you next year.
There’s far more to the history and mystery of Grandfather Mountain than the fact that one of the East’s major mountains remained in private hands into the 21st century. Most of Grandfather is a state park now, but Hugh Morton’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge tourist attraction, immortalized in millions of vacation photos, is still privately owned and for many people, the landmark that defines the mountain’s identity.Morton may have made an entire mountain synonymous with a swinging bridge, but Grandfather is a far bigger landmass and far bigger topic than people imagine. That’s why I decided to write a new book just published by the University of North Carolina Press, Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon.My own history with Grandfather goes back to the 1970s when I set out to find the South’s most spectacular mountain—and found Grandfather. On one day hike, I was greeted by “No Trespassing” signs. A hiker had died of hypothermia and Hugh Morton had closed the dangerous, overgrown trails. If the peaks remained off limits to the public, I knew almost anything could happen to my favorite mountain. That wasn’t the future I had in mind, so I met Morton and persuaded him to let me manage the backcountry and reopen the trails.I’ve been hiking the mountain and writing about it ever since and after spending the last four solid years completing the “definitive book” on Grandfather, I am more impressed than ever with this singular summit.The mountain was an attraction centuries before the swinging bridge. Native Americans hunting below the peaks thought they saw rocky, human-like faces peering back at them. Early white explorers followed, and so did some of the most iconic incidents of Appalachian exploration. Even Daniel Boone was lured west tracing the mountain’s tempting summits on the skyline. Long before New Hampshire’s now fallen Old Man of the Mountain was noticed and named, Grandfather’s snowy profile face had already made it “the Grandfather” of the Appalachians.Hikers were the first tourists. Then in the 1930s, the MacRae family, who’d bought the mountain and founded Linville, cleared a rough road to a craggy view. Called Observation Point, the first commercial attraction offered a great vista and tempting trail access higher up to Linville Peak, a spectacular summit that in 1952 would anchor Hugh Morton’s swinging bridge. People still stop at that viewpoint today, and if you know where to look, a long forgotten time-warp trail still leads into the past.I’ve been following trails like that on Grandfather most of my life, and they’ve led me to a conclusion: This monumental mountain—the most ecologically significant summit in Eastern America—is more than a swinging bridge or a highland games. If you delve into the mountain’s past as far as I have, it’s hard not to conclude that our Grandfather is the most iconic peak in the entire Appalachian range.I can only scratch the surface here, but let’s visit a few places to sense some of that symbolism.Secrets in the AtticFrom the mountain’s three highest peaks, MacRae Peak, Attic Window Peak, and Calloway Peak (the highest at 5,946 feet), there’s a dramatic, almost vertical mile drop-off to the Piedmont. That Rocky Mountain-like relief has inspired some climbers to song, including Andre Michaux in 1794. John Muir, the future “father of the national parks,” sang out on the summit in 1898. A man so inspired by Yosemite had one of his most moving wilderness experiences in North Carolina.Attic Window offers an awesome view, but in this attic, there’s a secret window. Halfway up the hand-over-hand climb of the peak’s cloven face on the Grandfather Trail, there’s a crack off to the side that leads to a ledge-top seat on a cliff face looking west. It’s not easy to find, and tricky to explore, but it’s been an adventure for generations.This entire area around the mountain’s middle summit, Attic Window, is awesomely alpine and attractive to campers for two of the mountain’s best designated campsites. Neither see as much use as some. Attic Window’s tent platform perches atop a sheer dome hundreds of feet high with a spectacular nighttime view of cities sparkling across lowland North Carolina. This campsite is easiest to reach from the Black Rock trailhead in the swinging bridge attraction, especially if you take the Underwood Trail and bypass climbing over MacRae Peak. But with no overnight parking permitted inside the gate, you’ll need to get dropped off and picked up to camp. You could also just get dropped up top and hike down to a car spotted at one of two valley trailheads. The bottom of the Profile Trail is on NC 105 near Banner Elk, in the west. The Daniel Boone Scout Trail leaves the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the east.Neither hike from the valley is an easy amble. Luckily, from either trail, there’s another great campsite before you get to Attic Window. Caught between two whaleback clifftops, Alpine Meadow campsite is a breezy treeline-like gap with crags perfectly placed for sipping tea at sunset. The site was recently designated for group camping and is reservable on the state park’s website. If there’s not a Boy Scout troop headed there—and it was a Scout troop that built the Grandfather and Boone trails during World War II—you might have it to yourself.Even if you gain a lot elevation by car and start at the swinging bridge as many people do, Attic Window and beyond can be an ambitious day hike. If you’re crunched for time, at least take the mountain’s classic loop hike over MacRae Peak, the first summit that towers over the attraction. From the Black Rock Parking Area, reach the Grandfather Trail and scale the famous ladders up MacRae’s sheer faces, then circle back on the Underwood Trail. Rock climbers won’t flinch, but even experienced hikers will get sweaty palms making many a tricky traverse from ladder rungs and cables to rock. That’s especially true at the summit boulder teetering on the skyline. As you sit on top and survey the endless scene, be glad you weren’t sitting there in a 1980 cloud bank when an airplane smashed into that very rock.Before tackling Grandfather’s upper elevations, search the websites for the state park and the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation that runs the private attraction. Be sure you’re not one of many people who confuse the rules and policies of these two very different entities. A few caveats. Even if you start at the attraction to hike into the state park, you still need to pay the entry fee to drive up the road. If you hike from the state park’s valley trailheads, no hiking fee is charged. And if you reach the attraction, that’s OK; you won’t be charged to cross the swinging bridge. But hiking there, and especially hiking back, is an arduous enterprise that many underestimate. If you can’t hike back, anyone you call to drive to the top and rescue you will also need to buy a ticket.Bowled AwayThere are precious few spots in the Southern Appalachians where virgin forest still holds sway. Early 20th century federal records maintain that Grandfather’s towering virgin spruce and fir forest was quite arguably the most scenic, significant tract of virgin timber in the entire South. Sadly, it fell to the loggers’ saws. Post-timbering, the foothills were such a wasteland they became the first national forest in the East. Only later did loggers swarm Grandfather’s peaks.A great place to sense that past is beside the Blue Ridge Parkway in what I dubbed the Boone Fork Bowl on 1970s trail maps. The spectacular valley below Calloway Peak was the only place on the mountain where a railroad ever gouged out a grade. Hike the gradual Nuwati Trail and you’re following the long-ago, still visible path of the train tracks. The sharp-eyed may spot some stray logging cables on the way. At the end of the trail, Storyteller’s Rock offers a great view of this wild area. A few tent platforms are clustered nearby.Unlike the rugged terrain at the top of the ridge, the valley of Boone Fork offers easier access, so day hikers heading to the view have an easy walk. To add more distance and spectacular scenery, include a side loop up the Daniel Boone Scout Trail and down the alpine vistas of the Cragway Trail. That opens up other camping spots that are rarely occupied on weekdays.The highest peaks of Grandfather were eventually logged. In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt’s administration lamented that virgin timber in the Southern Appalachians was “only saved from entire destruction by the generally scattered distribution of the merchantable timber.” Grandfather was a poster child for that point. So much timber was compromised by the harsh climate or protected by cliffs and crags that trees were left to reseed the slopes. Hints of the virgin past still hide in rugged out-of-the-way parcels.Many times, finding my way to these secret spots, I stumbled upon the remains of old logging camps. Over years of maintaining the mountain’s trails in my youth, I used many of the same tools as loggers long before me. Standing alone in the woods in wet wool, beaten up and defeated by the power of the mountain, I often went home to wood heat fearing for Grandfather’s future. After enduring a disastrous “haircut” in the 1920s (only to grow back a new crown of evergreens), and a “swinging bridge” strung between summits in the 1950s (mercifully placed between lower peaks), resort developments were still being proposed for Grandfather’s backcountry as recently as the 1990s. Thankfully, state park status in 2009 means that Grandfather has likely outlasted the worst of past challenges.Margaret Morley, one of the great early chroniclers of the Appalachians, begged the loggers to be merciful in her 1913 book The Carolina Mountains. She urged leaving trees to “preserve those picturesque skylines,” for who, she asked, “can wait a hundred years for the trees to grow again?” Morley’s gone, those years have flown, and all across my favorite mountain the rich ecosystems of the ancient past reassert themselves.As Grandfather faces a bright future of preservation in perpetuity, I decided to write an homage to the old man. Now is the perfect time to gaze back on, and out from, a mountain whose very name makes it a patriarch of our collective family. It’s time to visit your Grandfather.Randy Johnson serves on the Grandfather Mountain State Park Advisory Committee. He’s also task force leader for the Grandfather Mountain to Blowing Rock portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Concerned citizens in North Carolina are currently hiking 180 miles along the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route from Whitakers, North Carolina, on the Virginia border, to Pembroke, North Carolina.The anti-pipeline hike is attracting everyone from senior citizens to college students on spring break. The hikers hope the protest will inspire others to take a stand against the building of the pipeline, which will cross the Appalachian Trail and other cherished public lands, threaten drinking water, and pollute the surrounding environments.They are also concerned about the use of eminent domain to seize rights-of-way through private lands and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) lax approval process. Activists say that the environmental assessment issued in late December is missing crucial information, such as an inaccurate description of the pipeline’s environmental impact and violates federal law.Several groups have filed a legal motion requesting for the environmental impact assessment to be updated or replaced. Read more here and follow the progress of the march here.
Two beloved races—the Green Race and Shut-In—attract the region’s best paddlers and trail runners.The first Saturday in November is always one of the most exciting: both the Green River Race and the Shut-In Ridge Trail Race are held on the same morning, and they are only about 30 miles from each other in Western North Carolina. The Green Race attracts the best paddlers in the world to plunge down class V rapids, and the 17.-8-mile Shut-In race, now in its 39th year, is one of the country’s toughest trail runs.Luke Paulson by Andy Wickstrom.At Shut-In this year, Luke Paulson bested a stacked field, finishing in 2:22:22. Anne Wheatly won the women’s race in 2:55:28.At the Green Race, Dane Jackson was fastest down the river, finishing in 4 minutes, 10 seconds. Queen of the Green, Adriene “Lil’ A” Levknecht, won the women’s race for the tenth time.Anne Wheatley by Andy Wickstrom.(top) Queen of the Green Adriene Levknecht; Shut-In champs Luke Paulson (left) and Anne Wheatly right). / top photo by marc hunt, left and right photos by andy wickstrom
The Forest Service listened, and last month, they responded. In their 30-year draft forest plan, they acknowledged the rare and special qualities of the Craggy forest, and they recommended stronger protections for Craggy across all of its plan alternatives. Rural neighbors build a national coalition to protect a wild, ancient forest as the Craggy National Scenic Area Four years ago, a small group of Appalachian farmers, teachers, and carpenters sat around a wobbly table in their community center. They were worried: logging threatened the old-growth forest that surrounded their valley. So they began spitballing ideas about how to save it. They sketched out a plan that included door-to-door conversations, flyers at the local gas station, and a community meeting later that month. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” admitted Steven McBride, one of the neighbors around the table. “But we had to try. We just decided to go for it and got to work.” photo by Steven McBride The neighbors invited the Forest Service to attend the community meeting. The Forest Service managed the Craggy forest, and on the evening of the meeting, they showed up first. The community center was empty, except for a few volunteers offering apple cider and cookies to anyone who showed up. What exactly are national scenic areas? They are federally designated public lands that have outstanding natural and scenic value. Craggy certainly qualifies as scenic. It includes the sweeping, breathtaking vistas from 6,000-foot Craggy Pinnacle and the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail—North Carolina’s state trail, stretching almost 1,200 miles from the Smokies to the Outer Banks—rolls through the Craggy’s high-elevation spruce-fir forests. Craggy is also part of a contiguous 100,000-acre block of protected wildlands, including Mount Mitchell, the highest summit in the East. These vast, rugged wildlands were once nominated to be a national park. The grassroots gathering in the community center has quickly grown into a national coalition that includes hundreds of organizations and businesses—and thousands of supporters. The Forest Service has already received thousands of comments endorsing permanent protections for Craggy, and city council and county commissioners have passed unanimous bipartisan resolutions supporting the Craggy Wilderness and expanded protections for all of Craggy. Now, the coalition is working with Congress to introduce the Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area Act to permanently protect Craggy. Craggy’s rugged, remote slopes would be recommended for wilderness designation, and the rest of Craggy—including its popular trail network—would be designated a national scenic area. “This is Craggy’s big moment,” says Hannah Furgiuele, one of the original Craggy organizers. “This is a rare and unique opportunity to permanently protect one of the wildest and most ancient forests in the East.” • Coosa Bald, Georgia (1995) • Bear Creek, Virginia (2009) The United States only has 10 national scenic areas. Craggy could become the country’s eleventh. They were hoping to protect the 16,000-acre Craggy section of Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. It includes ancient forests, waterfalls, pristine streams, 6,000-foot summits, world-class trails like the Mountains to Sea Trail, and panoramic vistas from Craggy Gardens, the most popular and photographed spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. • Mono Basin, California (1984) Virginia boasts three of the country’s 10 national scenic areas, and Georgia is also home to a national scenic area. The designations’ flexibility—and Blue Ridge region’s natural scenic qualities—make the national scenic area designation an ideal fit for many classic Appalachian landscapes like Craggy. Could Craggy become the South’s fifth national scenic area—and North Carolina’s first? “There is nowhere more scenic and more stunningly spectacular than Craggy,” said Rob Lenfestey, neighbor and co-organizer of the I Heart Craggy campaign. “Craggy has all the ingredients to become the country’s next national scenic area: overwhelming public support, unanimous bipartisan support, and some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful and biologically diverse forests in the country.” National Scenic Areas in the United States + Year Designated • Beech Creek, Oklahoma (1988) You can also sign a petition and learn more about the Craggy National Scenic Area at iheartcraggy.org. • Alabama Hills, California (2019) A National Scenic Area might be the next best thing. National Scenic Area designations overlay existing public lands, such as national forests. Like wilderness, a national scenic area requires an act of Congress. However, national scenic areas are more flexible and adaptable than wilderness. National Scenic Areas can accommodate a wider variety of uses, including mountain biking. The Forest Service can recommend national scenic area designations in their forest plan, and the Craggy coalition hopes that they will. The Forest Service is currently seeking public comments on their draft forest plan for Craggy and the entire Pisgah National Forest. Already letters and emails supporting a Craggy National Scenic Area have flooded the Forest Service, and a supporting petition has collected over 5,000 signatures in just two weeks. • Columbia River Gorge, Oregon and Washington (1986) • Indian Nations, Oklahoma (1988) • Mount Pleasant, Virginia (1994) • Seng Mountain, Virginia (2009) • Saint Helena Island, Michigan (2000) Southern Pride: The South boasts more national scenic areas than any area of the country, thanks to its stunning vistas and abundant recreational opportunities. Then the first few attendees wandered in—mountain families wearing hand-made t-shirts that said, “Don’t Cut Our Forest.” Scientists from three area universities arrived next. More vehicles pulled into the gravel parking lot—including dirt-splattered pickups and bumper-stickered Priuses. The organizers quickly ran out of cider and cookies. The community center filled to capacity with over 300 people, and more folks continued to arrive. On a cold, dark February night, they stood at the windows of the community center and waited out in the parking lot. Nearly everyone in attendance asked the Forest Service to permanently protect the Craggy forest. Fifth-generation farmers and hunters voiced support for keeping Craggy as it is. Seven-year-olds spoke with quivering voices to the Forest Service: “Don’t cut Craggy. Keep it wild.” The momentum has ignited a national movement to create the Craggy Wilderness and National Scenic Area, which would permanently safeguard all 16,000 acres of Craggy. Craggy is one of the oldest and most biologically diverse forests in the country. It shelters dozens of rare and endangered species. Hollywood blockbusters have been filmed in Craggy’s enchanted forests, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. Waterfalls thunder down its rugged slopes.