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Wednesday, 25 November 2015 00:00

Outdoors roundup

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Discussion of Cherokee relationship to water highlights HWA dinner

 The special relationship of the Cherokee people to their waterways will be the focus of a program held in conjunction with Haywood Waterways Association’s annual membership dinner and awards ceremony from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. 

Barbara Duncan, education director at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, will share Cherokee folklore surrounding the Pigeon River and waterways in general to accompaniment from musicians with the Cherokee Friends. The Friends are a volunteer group of cultural ambassadors organized through the museum. 

The evening will also include Haywood Waterways’ holiday buffet dinner, short business meeting, 2015 year in review, silent auction and awards ceremony. 

$15 for dinner. RSVP by Wednesday, Dec. 2 to Christine O’Brien, 828.476.4667 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Awards for drinking water defenders

Projects that have gone above and beyond to protect public drinking water can get some kudos through awards from the N.C. Source Water Collaborative, which is currently seeking nominations. 

The six categories are surface water planning, groundwater planning, surface water implementation, groundwater implementation, education and leadership.

A statewide partnership to protect drinking water, the Source Water Collaborative was founded in 2011 from a team of nonprofits, universities, agencies, regional councils of government and professional associations. 

Dec. 1 is the deadline for nominations.


‘Litter sculpture’ to be unveiled

An environmental art exhibit featuring the creations of art classes from five Haywood County schools will open at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, in the Waynesville Town Hall lobby on Main Street. 

Titled “Recycle Your Art Out,” this artistic display is part of a competition sponsored by Commission for a Clean County. The initiative challenged students to create sculptures out of litter, with Pisgah High, Tuscola High, Bethel Middle, Canton Middle and Waynesville Middle schools joining in. 

“This is a most exciting project of the CCC and one which we hope will raise environmental awareness and also go big-time in the schools,” said JoAnna Swanson of the CCC. 

Participation awards — handmade plaques from recycled barn wood — will be given, and refreshments served. After the Dec. 1 event, sculptures will be moved for display at locations throughout the county.


Watersheds the focus of 2016 Soil and Water Conservation contest

Teachers wanting to get their kids thinking about the watershed they live in might want to consider building the “We All Live in a Watershed” contest into their curriculum this year. 

Sponsored by county Soil and Water Conservation District offices, the contest offers prize money and a chance to compete at the state level. Children in third through fifth grade can enter a poster contest, sixth-graders can submit an essay or slide show, seventh- and eighth-graders can compete as public speakers, and ninth-graders can enter a design contest. 

All entries must speak to the theme “We All Live in a Watershed.”

Submission deadlines vary by district but are generally scheduled for late January. Students who wish to participate but are not a member of a class that is participating can turn in entries to county Soil and Water Conservation District office.


Give cooking oil a second life

When the turkey is done this Thanksgiving, recycle the vegetable oil rather than pouring it down the drain. 

• Haywood County recycling centers accept waste vegetable oil cooled and stored in a plastic bottle with a sealable lid. 

• Macon County accepts used cooking oil at its Franklin landfill and Highlands transfer station, where it can be poured into a designated storage container. 

Cooking oil can be reprocessed as biodiesel and home heating oil, reducing waste in landfills and waterways. When poured down the drain, oil clogs pipes and sewer lines, incurring high maintenance bills. 

Solid grease or veggie oil that is mixed with animal fats cannot be recycled. Place these materials in a container to solidify and then throw it in the trash. 


Otter spotters wanted

A citizen science project aiming to get the scoop on otters in the Smokies is seeking “Otter Spotters” to record their observations. 

Volunteers record any otter sightings and observations within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and submit them — plus photos — to the project. 

“We are naturally drawn to an animal that appears to spend much of its time at play,” said Tiffany Beachy, Tremont’s citizen science coordinator. “In addition, they are important aquatic predators and have a vital, positive impact on the streams they occupy.”

Streams with otters tend to have greater fish and mussel diversity, better water quality and improved nutrient distribution over those without. 

River otters are native to the area but were eliminated from the Smokies in the 1990s as habitat destruction and uncontrolled fur trapping took their tool. A reintroduction program released 137 otters to the park between 1986 and 1994, and while initial monitoring showed the otters took well to their new homes, no long-term monitoring was established. 

To record otter sightings and submit photos, select “join this project” at or download the iNaturalist app and search “Otter Spotter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” 

 Tiffany Beachy, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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