Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge Invites Public Comments on Appalachian Trail Reroute

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) is pleased to announce the release of the Environmental Assessment for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (the Trail) Reroute through the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge (the Refuge). The Service plans to move a portion of the Trail from where it crosses the Wallkill River via Oil City Road in Orange County, New York, and relocate the Trail within the Refuge in Sussex County, New Jersey. The National Park Service is participating as a cooperating agency for this project. The agencies are soliciting comments beginning June 20 through July 20, 2018.

The purpose of the project is to provide Trail and Refuge visitors a safe and more aesthetically pleasing alternative for crossing the Wallkill River that is in keeping with the desired experience for those hiking the Trail. The length of the Trail proposed for realignment is approximately 1.3 miles (figure 1). This segment contains one of the longest sections of the Trail that co-aligns with a public roadway, Oil City Road, a two-lane road with little to no shoulder. As development in the surrounding area continues to increase, the number of cars on Oil City Road is likely to increase, causing additional safety concerns to hikers. Oil City Road and the Trail also currently experience floods and overland flow, which affects the safety and accessibility for trail and refuge visitors. Further, this road walk does not provide maximum outdoor recreation potential, one of the objectives for National Scenic Trails, as stated in the National Trails System Act (16 USC 1241-51).

Public participation is an important element of the planning process and we welcome your comments and ideas on the environmental assessment. The document can be viewed beginning June 20, 2018 by visiting the refuge website:

Please share your written comments no later than July 20, 2018 via one of the following methods:

Email comments to: chelsea_utter@fws.gov

Mail or hand-deliver comments to:

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Attn: Appalachian Trail Reroute
1547 Route 565
Sussex, New Jersey 07461



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 18, 2018

Second man sentenced to prison for 2015 murder in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Following an interagency investigation by Special Agents with the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Cherokee Indian Police Department, a second man will serve time in prison for his role in a 2015 homicide within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Johnathan Hill, age 25, was recently sentenced to 48 months incarceration followed by two years of supervised release.

Court documents show that on March 29, 2015, a 911 call alerted officers to a stabbing that had taken place inside Oconaluftee (Smokemont) Baptist Church inside the park. Paramedics found the deceased victim with multiple stab wounds. Records also show that Johnathan Hill, Forrest Dakota Hill (no relation), and the victim drove to the church together, and over the course of their visit, Forrest Hill stabbed the victim with a knife during an unprovoked attack, causing the victim’s death. Investigators determined that the victim was stabbed at least 16 times in the chest, back, neck and elsewhere. Court records list the cause of death as “internal hemorrhage due to multiple stab wounds.”

Following the fatal stabbing, Johnathan Hill and Forrest Hill drove away from the church. Along the way to the home of Johnathan Hill’s relatives, he threw the knife handle believed to have been used in the attack out the car window. After arriving at the relatives’ home, both men burned the clothes they wore during the stabbing.

Forrest Hill pleaded guilty to second degree murder in April 2016 and was sentenced to more than 16 years imprisonment. Johnathan Hill pleaded guilty at a separate court hearing in December 2017 to a charge of accessory after the fact to second degree murder; his sentence was handed down in June 2018. The case was prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office and adjudicated by the US District Court, both for the Western District of North Carolina.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 11, 2018

Smokies Hosts Women’s Work Event 6/16

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Event at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, June 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This event honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia. Park staff and volunteers will showcase mountain lifeways and customs that women practiced to care for their families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

As part of the celebration, demonstrations among the historic buildings will include hearth cooking, soap making, cornshuck crafts, and use of plants for home remedies. Exhibits of artifacts and historic photographs will also provide a glimpse into the many and varied roles of rural women. The Davis-Queen house will be open for visitors to walk through with an audio exhibit featuring the last child born in the house. This event provides families with a chance not only to see into the past, but also participate, through hands-on activities of traditional southern Appalachia.

In addition to the Women’s Work Festival activities, visitors will also be treated to a music jam session on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Music jam sessions are held every first and third Saturday of the month on the porch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free to the public. The Mountain Farm Museum is located on Newfound Gap Road adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For additional information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

#Hike4Hope to raise awareness and funds to end extreme poverty

Trey and Madison Cason, a young couple embarking on a journey to hike the Appalachian Trail, recently announced their intent to raise $219,000 for work to end extreme poverty through Global Hope Network International. Trey and Madison both gave notice to their employers, transitioning from well-paying professional positions, to become humanitarian aid workers this past month. To launch their career shift, the couple will begin hiking the trail from Maine on June 13th, which is expected to last until late fall 2018.

Madison shared, “Growing up with families who took us to different state parks to hike and camp, cultivated an appreciation for the outdoors and a love for nature. As a couple, we’ve been dreaming about hiking the Appalachian Trail for several years. We want to follow this dream while impacting the lives of those living in South Asia by offering a ‘hand-up’ not a ‘hand-out’.” When asked about personal comforts, Madison confessed, “While I officially get to put my record of not showering for six days to the test and Trey is excited to up his facial hair game from Duck Dynasty to Full Chewbacca!” This couple is serious!

Global Hope Network International (GHNI.org)

GHNI.org seeks to bring help and hope to the hidden and hurting through the empowerment of villagers seeking to end their own extreme poverty utilizing local resources and labor. With a small amount of donated funds ($12,000 to $18,000 annually), villages become self-sustaining in just five years. That’s only $60,000 to $90,000 total to bring an average of 1500 people out of extreme poverty!

Getting Involved

While Trey and Madison are excited to begin the journey, traveling with friends along the way and being encouraged along is an added benefit. Individuals can truly track progress and work to meet up with Trey and Madison along the way for short periods, hike locally near their home or even on their treadmill! Wherever you hike, get pictures and video and post them using #Hike4Hope. To join the fun financially, show your support by giving through Hike4Hope.Rocks or email daphne.keys@ghni.org to set up your own Hike4Hope donation page!

However, you participate, follow along the blog to learn how Trey and Madison process along their journey and if they run into any fun challenges! GHNI will be posting regularly at Hike4Hope.Rocks. Finally, you can check out this short message from Trey and Madison:





Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Monday, June 4, 2018

Smokies Service Days Return

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are excited to announce that the popular “Smokies Service Days” volunteer program will resume this month. Park staff will lead service opportunities on Saturdays beginning June 9. 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, native plant gardens, 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. 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:

June 9: Campground Clean-Up at Elkmont
June 16: Campground Clean-Up at Smokemont
June 30: Gardening at Oconaluftee
July 7: Picnic Area & Campground Clean-Up at Deep Creek
July 21: Campground Clean-Up at Cosby



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Secretary Zinke Announces 19 New National Recreation Trails in 17 States

Continuing his work to expand recreational opportunities on public lands, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today designated 19 national recreation trails in 17 states, adding more than 370 miles to the national recreation trails system of more than 1,000 trails in all 50 states.

"By designating these new national trails, we acknowledge the efforts of local communities to provide outdoor recreational opportunities that can be enjoyed by everyone," said Secretary Zinke. "Our network of national trails provides easily accessible places to exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas while boosting tourism and supporting economic opportunities across the country."

On Saturday, June 2, hundreds of organized activities are planned as part of National Trails Day, including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications. Trails of the National Recreation Trails system range from less than a mile to 485 miles in length and have been designated on federal, state, municipal and privately owned lands.

"The network of national recreation trails offers expansive opportunities for Americans to explore the great outdoors," said National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith. "As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System, I hope everyone will take advantage of a nearby national trail to hike or bike."

While national scenic trails and national historic trails may only be designated by an act of Congress, national recreation trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture in response to an application from the trail's managing agency or organization.

The National Recreation Trails Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with a number of Federal and not-for-profit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trails website.

For more information on the newly designated trails, please click here.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Clingmans Dome Tower Temporarily Closed June 4 through June 15

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed Monday, June 4 through Friday, June 15 to complete a rehabilitation project that began last year. Workers need to apply a final surface overlay along the tower ramp.

While visitors will not be able to climb the tower, the Clingmans Dome parking overlook area will remain open and offers outstanding mountain top views. The visitor contact station and store, the trail up to the tower, and all access to the trailheads in the vicinity will remain open. Visitors should expect some construction traffic in the vicinity of the contact station and along the trail.

Last year, contractors repaired deteriorated areas on the concrete columns and walls, stabilized support walls at the base of the ramp, and repaired stone masonry. This work has been made possible through funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded in 2016 to the Friends of the Smokies on behalf of the park after being one of the top nine, most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks Campaign.

Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, the tower is a prominent landmark and destination as the highest point in the park. The observation tower is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. Some minimal preservation work today on the tower will ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.

For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm.

About Partners in Preservation: Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, awards preservation grants to historic places across the country. Since 2006, Partners in Preservation, a community-based partnership, has committed $16 million in preservation funding to nearly 200 diverse sites in eight different cities across the country.

Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United States and to preserve America’s historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com