Monday, August 31, 2020

Friends Across the Mountains Telethon Has Been Cancelled

Late last week I received a notice in my email stating that Friends of the Smokies has made the decision to cancel the annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon this year. Here's their message
Dear Friend,

As we face the stress of these difficult times, we have been thinking about our supporters. People like you help us sustain our mission to preserve, protect and provide for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so everyone can enjoy it today and for generations to come.

Sadly, due to the pandemic, we had to cancel our Friends Across the Mountains Telethon but thankfully, our partners at WBIR & WLOS are creating a televised Donor Drive that will be taking place later this year. We want to share the ongoing needs of the park with you and celebrate your commitment to the Smokies. If you live in East Tennessee or Western North Carolina, you can tune in live for a unique tribute to the park and see how Friends like you are making a difference. We’ll also share these stories online for everyone to enjoy after the broadcast. Please visit FriendsAcrossTheMountains.org for more information as dates are announced.

Friends of the Smokies needs to raise $75,000 for a new fully equipped search and rescue vehicle as well as additional funds to support other critical park needs.

Friends of the Smokies supports the park in ensuring guests have a safe and memorable visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park as it reopens to its full capacity.

In order to meet the financial needs of the park we are asking for your support. If you are able, please consider making a donation today, so we can assist Great Smoky Mountains National Park in welcoming back millions of visitors safely this season and for years to come. Together we are making a difference.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Friday, August 28, 2020

Conservation Corps North Carolina Crew Completes Black Mountain Crest Trail Restoration Project

A Conservation Corps North Carolina (CCNC) crew of young adults worked with volunteers from the North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association to complete high priority trail work on the Black Mountain Crest Trail in the Pisgah National Forest. The CCNC crew consisted of five 18 to 24 year-old AmeriCorps Members led by a trained Crew Leader. The crew worked on the Black Mountain Crest Trail project August 3-12. Together, crew members and volunteers completed 7.3 miles of trail maintenance from the base of Celo Knob at Bolen’s Creek to Deep Gap. The group constructed large drains to reduce erosion and cleared the corridor with brush cutters to make the trail more accessible for hikers. The CCNC crew camped in the backcountry near the project site the entire time they worked.

The Black Mountain Crest Trail project was one of several projects the CCNC crew worked on for the United States Forest Service (USFS.) The crew worked for seven weeks doing trail construction and maintenance for the USFS in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Their other projects in the National Forest included completing three miles of trail maintenance on the Sassafras Creek and Snowbird Creek trails in the Cheoah District and removing 62 fallen trees while doing trail maintenance on Shinbone Ridge in the Tusquitee District.

Conservation Corps North Carolina is a program of Conservation Legacy, a national program that supports CCNC and other local programs across the nation. Conservation Corps program are a legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and engage youth and young adults on high priority conservation projects that protect ecosystems and restore, improve, and protect North Carolina’s public lands and outdoor recreation resources.

The CCNC crew camped in the back country near their work sites, just over three miles up the trailhead from Bolen’s Creek on the slopes of Celo Knob for ten days. They worked on water erosion issues on the Black Mountain Crest Trail as well as cleared the trail corridor of growth and debris from Bolen’s Creek to Deep Gap August 3 through August 14. “These young adults worked incredibly hard, often amid all kinds of weather conditions, to restore and improve trails in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests so they are sustainable and offer visitors a more safe, welcoming, and enjoyable hiking experience,” said Jan Pender, CCNC Program Manager.

The CCNC crew members included crew leader Luke Knight or Erie, PN; Alysha Pennachio of Boone, NC; Drew Edelson of Charlotte, NC; Chase Perren of Oxford, NC; Travis Bosler of Spirit Lake, IA; and Peter Chege of Raleigh, NC.

The CCNC crew was sponsored by the United States Forest Service with additional support from the Duke Energy Foundation and Fred and Alice Stanback.




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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Smokies to Resume Additional Campground and Picnic Area Operations 2

The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning on Thursday, September 3, the following additional areas will be accessible:

* Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, and Cosby Campgrounds
* Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Tow String Horse Camps
* Heintooga and Look Rock Picnic Areas
* Little Greenbrier Road

In addition, the following spaces continue to be available:

* All park trails, backcountry campsites, and shelters
* All visitor centers and restrooms
* Cable Mill in Cades Cove and Mingus Mill near Oconaluftee
* Cades Cove, Elkmont, Deep Creek, and Smokemont Campgrounds
* Anthony Creek Horse Camp
* Big Creek, Cades Cove, Chimney Tops, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Areas
* Spence Cabin and all Picnic Pavilions for day-use rental
* Concession Operations: LeConte Lodge, Sugarlands Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables, Cades Cove Campstore, and Smokemont Riding Stables

With public health in mind, the following facility remains closed:

* Appalachian Clubhouse

Due to storm damage, the following facilities remain closed:

* Upper Greenbrier Road (preventing access to Greenbrier Picnic Pavilion, Porters Creek Trail, and Brushy Mountain Trail)
* Upper Cataloochee Valley Road, beyond Palmer Chapel

All campsites must be reserved online before arriving in the park for the following campgrounds and horse camps: Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Anthony Creek, Round Bottom, and Tow String. No fees are accepted onsite at these locations. Reservations are recommended at the following campgrounds to ensure availability, but credit card payments may be processed on site at these locations: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Group campsites at all campgrounds will remain closed.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our operational approach continues to be centered on examining each facility function and service to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and are regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public areas and workspaces are safe and clean.


The park provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation with over 800 miles of trails, quiet walkways, and self-guiding nature trails where visitors can disperse for a safe hiking experience. By restoring these additional services and access, the Smokies offers even more opportunities for visitors to spread out and responsibly recreate across the park. A safe and enjoyable park experience begins at home. The NPS encourages visitors to plan their visit by checking the park’s website and social media for current conditions and travel tips. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We ask the public to be our partner in recreating responsibly by following CDC and state and local guidance, choosing trails and overlooks without congested parking areas, visiting early in the morning, staying in vehicles while viewing wildlife to avoid crowded conditions, maintaining physical distance from other visitors, and wearing face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

For the most up to date information about facility openings, service hours, and access, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm. Park rangers remain available to answer questions and help with trip planning via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 497-1904, or GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, the park offers a wide variety of outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the Smokes has to offer. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your trip planning.




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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Indian Boundary Loop Trail Bridges To Be Replaced

USDA Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest announced that work will begin September 1 to replace thirteen foot bridges on the Indian Boundary Recreation Area Loop Trail. The bridges are in various degrees of deterioration and are being replaced for public safety and to enhance visitor outdoor enjoyment. 

During replacement work the trail will be open. However, sections of the trail where work is underway will be closed. Beginning September 21 the fishing access parking area will be closed while it is being used to store building material and equipment. The project will be ongoing through fall and winter of 2020-2021.

Tellico District Ranger Stephanie Bland said, "Indian Boundary Recreation Area is one of our most visited sites. Visitors go there to camp, hike, bike, view wildlife, fish and to just enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Public safety and providing lasting outdoor recreation experiences is a very high priority for us. We realize that this project may be an inconvenience for some visitors but the overall improvement to the trail will be very worthwhile."

The Indian Boundary Loop Trail is a 3.1 miles hike/bike trail around a beautiful 96 acre lake.

The Indian Boundary Recreation area also offers a swim beach, small boat launch, accessible fishing pier and an 87 campsite campground.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, August 24, 2020

Voluntary Stewardship Agreement to Advance A.T. Conservation

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (Conservancy), The Conservation Fund (the Fund), and Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (Mountain Valley), announced last week a conservation stewardship agreement that will advance the Conservancy’s work to manage and protect the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Trail), help the Fund secure additional conservation lands for public use, and enhance Trail-related community economic development. As part of the agreement, Mountain Valley has committed up to $19.5 million for use by the Conservancy to conserve land along the Trail corridor and support outdoor recreation-based economies in Virginia and West Virginia.

“Ensuring that lands around the Appalachian Trail are conserved and connected is not only essential to protecting the most famous hiking trail in the world but also critical to preserving a wide variety of additional values,” said Laura Belleville, ATC’s Vice President of Conservation and Trail Programs. “Whether it’s conserving high-priority climate-resilient lands or safeguarding iconic vistas from the Trail, this agreement will greatly advance the pace and scale of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission-critical landscape conservation work. Protection of critical lands in Virginia and West Virginia will also help local recreation-based economies who rely on these lands to sustain a host of outdoor recreation activities.”

Dedicated for use in West Virginia and southwest Virginia, Mountain Valley’s voluntary commitment is the largest funding package in the Conservancy’s history to advance conservation efforts in a single geography. The funds are intended to benefit Trail users and communities in the region; conserve land with significant natural resource values, including climate resiliency; and support the outdoor recreation economies of local communities. The Conservancy, working with the Fund, will use Mountain Valley’s funding to secure a net conservation gain to the Trail, as well as to benefit the public natural resources of the region near the Trail, including the Jefferson National Forest.

“One of MVP’s primary objectives is the preservation and protection of our cultural, historical, and environmental resources and we are very pleased to be working with these two outstanding organizations,” said Diana Charletta, president and chief operating officer, EQM Midstream Partners, operator of MVP. “We understand the sensitivities that surround the blending of large-scale infrastructure projects with environmental protection and we recognize the importance of continuing to develop major energy projects in a responsible manner.”

More than a year ago, Mountain Valley initiated outreach to the Conservancy and the Fund, and numerous other conservation stakeholders, seeking assistance to identify and develop sustainability efforts that would complement MVP’s infrastructure project. The Conservancy raised concerns about potential impacts from the project and accepted Mountain Valley’s invitation to identify solutions. The outcome of these discussions empowers the Conservancy to acquire high-priority lands near the Trail in Virginia and West Virginia. These tracts will enhance the Trail hiker experience and protect views from numerous vantage points. Other protected tracts will create buffers for designated Wilderness Areas and safeguard climate resilient habitats.

In addition, the agreement adds significant Trail-related benefits to the array of environmental commitments Mountain Valley will implement under federal and state permits. There is no relationship between this voluntary agreement and the various federal or state permitting decisions, and Mountain Valley will continue working directly with the agencies to fully address their concerns related to the places, resources, and public values for which they are responsible. Similarly, the Conservancy will continue to engage in the federal permitting process, as it has previously done.

Recognizing the societal controversy regarding natural gas infrastructure projects, Mountain Valley is demonstrating its willingness to acknowledge its potential impacts, as well as its responsibility to be a good corporate citizen. The agreement among Mountain Valley, the Conservancy, and the Fund will result in thousands of acres protected in perpetuity, an enhanced Trail experience, and support for communities in Virginia and West Virginia.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Tennessee State Parks to Host Tennessee Serves Volunteer Events in September

Tennessee State Parks will host volunteer events in September across the state as part of First Lady Maria Lee’s Tennessee Serves initiative.

“We are proud to partner for the second year with Tennessee State Parks and bring Tennessee Serves volunteer events to parks across the state,” said Lee. “We appreciate the many Tennesseans who have volunteered to help preserve the historic beauty of our state and look forward to a great month dedicated to serving our state parks.”

“The first lady is an inspiration for volunteerism in our state, and we are proud to be a part of the Tennessee Serves program again this year,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “This is also an excellent way to keep our parks in great condition.”

The service opportunities at the parks are for all ages and skill levels. They include activities such as landscaping, invasive plant removal, litter pickup, and trail maintenance. Projects include clearing debris at Camp Hazlewood at Paris Landing State Park; cleaning buildings and doing trail work at Fort Loudoun State Historic Park; cleaning up storm damage at Mousetail Landing State Park; cleaning the shoreline of the French Broad River at Seven Islands State Birding Park; and cutting and treating non-native Japanese Knotweed and Multiflora Rose and clearing trash and rock dams at Roan Mountain State Park.

Tennessee Serves projects at parks also coincide with Public Lands Day at the parks on Sept. 26.

The first lady launched Tennessee Serves in 2019 to encourage Tennesseans to serve one another and volunteer in their communities. The three-part initiative includes serving Tennesseans across the state with a special focus on distressed counties; highlighting people and organizations already making a difference; and mobilizing Tennesseans to meet community needs.

For more information about plans at Tennessee State Parks visit https://tnstateparks.com/get-involved/volunteering.

For more information about the first lady’s Tennessee Serves program, please visit https://www.tn.gov/firstlady/tennessee-serves.html.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Bicyclist Fatality in Cades Cove

Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported today the death of a cyclist in Cades Cove.

The cyclist, 60-year old Harold D. Pardue from Elkin, NC suffered severe head trauma and was unconscious following the single-bicycle accident. He passed away as a result of these injuries on Monday, August 17. Pardue was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident which occurred on a downhill section of the Cades Cove Loop Road.

Park rangers provided critical care at the scene of the accident for approximately 30 minutes before American Medical Response (AMR) emergency responders transported Pardue by ambulance to a landing zone where he was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by Mountain Area Medical Airlift. No additional details are available at this time.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Single-Lane Closures on the Spur

The Great Smoky Mountains announced that there will be single-lane closures in effect from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, each week (the park did not specify when this schedule will begin or end).

The park implements temporary single-lane closures along the most heavily-trafficked park roads for roadside work conducted on foot including litter patrol, tree removal, string trimming, mowing, shoulder reconditioning, and culvert cleaning. These temporary closures better ensure the safety of workers along winding roadways with high traffic volumes. The roadways will remain open during these times, but motorists should anticipate traffic delays and are asked to reduce speeds and use extra caution.

For more information about road closures, please follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on twitter or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.







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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Friday, August 14, 2020

Digital Site Passes Now Available for Day Use Areas in Cherokee National Forest

USDA Forest Service Officials announced that beginning August 14 digital site passes will be available for day use recreation areas in the Cherokee National Forest.

To purchase a pass, go directly to https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74437, search “Cherokee National Forest Site Passes” at the Recreation.gov homepage, or scan the QR code below.

The Ocoee and Tellico Ranger Districts Pass is $3/vehicle per day and good at the following sites:

* Kings Slough Boat Launch, Parksville Beach, Parksville Boat Launch, East Parksville Boat Launch, Mac Point Beach, Chilhowee Recreation Area, the Ocoee Whitewater Center, Powerhouse Boat Launch, Towee Creek Boat Launch, Spring Creek Shooting Range, and Indian Boundary Recreation Area.

The Unaka and Watauga Ranger Districts Pass is $2/vehicle per day and good at the following sites:

* Bubbling Springs Shooting Range, Rock Creek Recreation Area, Scioto Shooting Range, Jacobs Creek Recreation Area, Little Milligan Boat Launch, Pond Mountain Shooting Range, Rat Branch Boat Launch, and Shook Branch Beach.

Please note, some sites may have limited cell phone reception, so visitors should purchase site passes before heading to their destination. Site passes can be printed and placed on the dashboard. Digital site passes can also be validated by Forest Service personnel through checking visitor license plates. Where cell service is available, site passes can be purchased on site using a mobile device.






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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Weekend camping in Linville Gorge

Permits are now required to camp in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area on Friday and Saturday nights and holidays through the end of October. To reserve a permit, backpackers must call the Grandfather Ranger District office.

Permits are reservable by phone only. The Linville Gorge Information Cabin is currently closed and walk-up permits are not available at this time. Permits are only available via reservation and permit availability is limited.

To reserve a permit, call the Grandfather Ranger District office between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm at 828-652-2144. Demand is high so expect the phone line to be frequently busy. A group may have up to 10 people.

All permits have already been reserved for all weekends in August. Permits are now available for weekends in September.







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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Great American Outdoors Day" To Become Annual Free Entrance Day

In celebration of President Trump signing the Great American Outdoors Act, Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced free entrance to national parks and public lands for August 5, 2020, and he designated August 4th as the “Great American Outdoors Day.” In future years, every August 4 will be a free entrance day to celebrate the signing of this landmark legislation, joining the other scheduled entrance fee-free days which commemorate or celebrate significant dates. The Great American Outdoors Act will enable national parks and other federal lands to repair and upgrade vital infrastructure and facilities that will enrich the visitor experience, protect resources, and enable increased access for all visitors.

“President Trump has just enacted the most consequential dedicated funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, public recreation facilities and American Indian school infrastructure in U.S. history,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “I’ve designated August 4th as Great American Outdoors Day and waived entrance fees to celebrate the passage of this historic conservation law.”

The Great American Outdoors Act combines two major conservation initiatives into one legislative package. It establishes the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund (Restoration Fund) and guarantees permanent full funding for the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funding of this magnitude will reduce the maintenance backlog, protect critical resources, increase recreational offerings, and focus on long-term sustainable operations for the next century.

The investment will pay dividends. Public lands are an important contributor to a strong and growing outdoor recreation economy that benefits states and local communities. National parks have been experiencing record-breaking attendance in recent years, including hosting 328 million visitors in 2019. National park visitor spending supports nearly 330,000 jobs and contributes more than $40 billion annually to the national economy, including more than $20 billion in communities surrounding parks.

There are 109 national parks that charge entrance fees ranging from $5 to $35. The other 310 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.







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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Great American Outdoors Act Signed Into Law Today

America’s public lands received its greatest boost in decades this morning when President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. This historic Act will provide billions of dollars for public lands projects ranging from landscape preservation to infrastructure improvements.

The Act is the single largest investment in America’s national parks and public lands in history, and marks the most significant conservation accomplishment since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

“This is a great day for our national parks, forests and public lands, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy sends its thanks for the overwhelming support the Great American Outdoors Act received from Congress, the President and outdoor enthusiasts around the nation,” said Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). “The Act will help ensure irreplaceable national treasures like the Appalachian Trail are protected and have the funding they need to enhance safety and accessibility for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.”

The Great American Outdoors Act provides full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and creates a Restoration Fund to address the deferred maintenance needs of federal public lands. Funding LWCF at its fully authorized level — $900 million a year — will double what was available in 2019 for states, municipalities and the federal government to conserve land for recreation and wildlife habitats. The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) as we know it would not exist without the support of the LWCF, which has helped protect such varied locations as Blood Mountain in Georgia, the Roan Highlands of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania and community forests throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

The Restoration Fund will make available $9.5 billion over five years, with $6 billion slated for National Park System units, about $1.4 billion slated for National Forest System units, and $475 million for National Wildlife Refuges. Across all its public lands, the United States has a deferred maintenance backlog of $20 billion. According to the President more than 5,500 miles of road, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings are in critical need of repair. Its estimated that the Great American Outdoors Act will create over 100,000 additional infrastructure-related jobs.







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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park