Monday, August 19, 2019

Shenandoah National Park Announces Reopening of Big Meadows Wayside

Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Jennifer Flynn is pleased to announce the reopening of Big Meadows Wayside at mile 51 on Skyline Drive. The popular historic campstore, gift shop, and restaurant has been undergoing renovations since last winter.

Superintendent Flynn said, “This work has prepared the Wayside for another 50 years of service while retaining the historic fabric of the building.” Among the most visible changes is the reconfiguration of the interior space. The restaurant has been returned to its historic placement on the meadow side of the building so diners have a view of the iconic Big Meadow.

Other changes include a fire suppression system and an entirely new electrical system. The renovation was completed by the Park’s concessioner Delaware North, Inc. (DNC). DNC officials joined Superintendent Flynn for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, August 15, 2019.



Jeff
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Smokies Resumes Paving Work on Little River Road

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the pavement preservation project on Little River Road will resume Monday, August 19. A thin pavement overlay will be applied to the entire length of the roadway between Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Townsend Wye, along with associated pull-offs and parking lots, and Elkmont Road leading to the campground. The project should be completed by September 20, 2019, though work schedules are subject to revision as needed for inclement weather.

Visitors traveling on Little River Road should expect weekday, single-lane closures and traffic delays from August 19 through September 20. Single-lane, daytime and nighttime closures are permitted from 7:00 p.m. on Sundays through 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. The lane closures will be managed with flagging operations. Parking areas and pull-offs will be closed intermittently for pavement application. To better accommodate visitors during periods of high visitation, no lane closures will be allowed during weekends, holidays, or on Sunday, September 15 due to anticipated high traffic associated with the annual Fall Rod Run in Pigeon Forge.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded the $ 6.5 million paving contract to GC Works, Inc. Road work will include the application of a thin lift overlay to preserve the life of the pavement. Potholes will be patched before application of the pavement overlay.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Programming Note: Friends Across the Mountains Telethon Tonight

Tonight is the 25th annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon. As in years past, the event will again be broadcasted on WBIR-TV Channel 10 in Knoxville, TN and WLOS-TV Channel 13 in Asheville, NC from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM.

The broadcast will highlight projects and programs that Friends of the Smokies has funded over the years. It's a fun event that raises awareness of both the Park's needs (as the only major national park without an entrance fee), and the ways that Friends of the Smokies helps to fulfill some of those needs every year. The telethon raises roughly $200,000 each year, and has raised more than $3.6 million dollars over the last 24 years.

Volunteers will be on hand to help answer phones and keep running totals of the money raised throughout the evening.

If you wish, you can make a donation right now by clicking here.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, August 12, 2019

USDA Forest Service extends comment period for draft regulations on management of national forests

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is extending the public comment period on proposed changes to modernize how the agency complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposed rule would give the Forest Service the tools and flexibility to manage land and tackle critical challenges like wildfire, insects and disease while improving service to the American people. Based on the importance of the proposed rule, the Forest Service is extending the comment period by 14 days to allow more time for public review and comment.

The proposed rule was published June 13, 2019, and the public comment period was originally set to end on August 12, 2019. With the extension, the comment period now ends on August 26, 2019.

Revising the rule will improve forest conditions and make it simpler for people to use and enjoy their national forests and grasslands at lower cost to the taxpayer. The revised rule will also make it easier to maintain the roads, trails, campgrounds and other facilities people need to use and enjoy their public lands.

This announcement will also be published in the Federal Register. Public comments are reviewed and considered when developing the final rule. Instructions on how to provide comments are included in the online notice.

More information is available at https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/revisions/index.shtml.

Comments may be submitted through www.regulations.gov by searching docket number FS-2019-0010. Comments can also be submitted by mail to NEPA Services Group, care of Amy Barker, USDA Forest Service, 125 South State Street, Suite 1705, Salt Lake City, UT 84138; or by email at nepa-procedures-revision@fs.fed.us



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, August 9, 2019

Smokey Bear turns 75 today!

Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear, the mascot of the U. S. Forest Service created to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires.

Smokey Bear's famous message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was created in 1944 by the Ad Council, making it the longest running Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign in U.S. history.

Smokey's correct full name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a hit with "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused confusion among Smokey fans ever since.

The U.S. Forest Service authorized the creation of Smokey Bear on August 9, 1944. Smokey's debut poster (see picture above - on right) was delivered on October 10 of that year by artist Albert Staehle.

Be sure to check out the Smokey Bear website to see the history of the AD campaign. The site includes an interactive trail by decade with an extensive collection of old posters, TV/radio spots (including the famous Bambi TV spot), and other memorabilia.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, August 8, 2019

N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation Seeks Public Input on Elk Knob State Park Master Plan

The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on the Elk Knob State Park Master Plan. The Master Plan will be a twenty-year plan that covers the entire state park, which contains over 4,200 acres spanning Watauga and Ashe Counties. The park is sited within the Amphibolite Mountains, an ecological hotspot of global significance.

E2 Landscape Architecture in Asheville is working with the Division and the public to develop the master plan, initially identifying both the recreation and conservation needs for the park. Stakeholder input is important to the process, and the open house-style public meeting will allow feedback from the community.

The public meeting will be held on Aug. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Optimist Park Clubhouse, located at 1012 State Farm Road in Boone. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and can expect to spend 20-30 minutes to review, discuss, and weigh in on their preferred recreational amenities for the park.

Amenities that will be considered for the master plan include a natural and cultural heritage center or visitor center, day use areas, campground areas, and hiking trails including sections of the Northern Peaks State Trail.

An online public survey is available for those who cannot attend the public meeting. Interested citizens can take the survey by visiting https://www.ncparks.gov/elk-knob-state-park/future-development.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking