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Wednesday, 02 January 2008 00:00

Hits and misses

The Carolina Field Birders (CFB) conducted their sixth annual Christmas Bird Count this past Saturday (12/29.) The annual CBC count is sponsored by the National Audubon Society and is the longest running ornithological database in the world. Initiated 108 years…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Parkway views from Waynesville overlook protected

A ridgeline tract adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooking Waynesville has been saved from development, thanks to the acquisition of the property by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A Christmas gift

Citizens of Washington County, hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and Navy pilots who would have been put in harm’s way received a Congressional Christmas gift when the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill de-authorized construction of an Outlying…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Hike to Pinnacle Peak

There are two ways to hike to Pinnacle Peak, which is renowned for its 360-degree views from the Plott Balsams.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Pinnacle Park's future

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Sylva Town Board members are brainstorming for ways to manage Pinnacle Park, 1,100 acres of land located at the northern part of town that is widely used by locals for hiking and camping.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Gifts that keep giving

Looking for a Christmas present? Western North Carolina is home to many outdoors organizations, conservation groups, outing clubs, nature societies and environmental non-profits in need of charitable contributions.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

The new year begins

I know, I know, it’s not Jan. 1 yet. But that’s just a date on a calendar. This year, Dec. 23 is the beginning of the new year. Dec. 22 is the winter solstice — the longest night of the…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

A year from the Naturalist’s Corner

“ATBI identifies 5,000-plus species — 1/10/07 I have written several columns regarding this ambitious program to document all species within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which began on Earth Day in 1998. By January 2007 over 5,000 species new…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

Preserving the giant’s rock

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Up in the mountains along Caney Fork Road in Jackson County lies an important prehistoric artifact to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Judaculla Rock, a large soapstone boulder located approximately three miles off…
A group of eco-conscious citizens and Ingles grocery store in Bryson City teamed up last month to encourage shoppers to use their own canvas bags when shopping, cutting down on wasteful plastic bags.
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 00:00

Haywood water quality a mixed bag

Haywood County consistently has some of the best water quality in North Carolina, according to stream samples collected by volunteers in an ongoing water quality monitoring project orchestrated by Haywood Waterways Association.
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 00:00

Christmas Past

By Kathleen Lamont I loved Christmastime when I was growing up. I came from a blue-collar family where my father worked as a mechanic for the Los Angeles City School District. He repaired small engines in the grounds maintenance department.…
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 00:00

The winter song of the great horned owl

As cool dark nights descend upon us to signal the onset of winter, the great horned owls have commenced their annual “singing” along the dark ridges above our home. These great birds don’t sing, of course, in the manner of…
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 00:00

Local author pens best hikes with dogs

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Dogs are popular hiking companions on the trails of Western North Carolina. Now, Fido and his adventurous owner will have some help exploring with the recently published Best Hikes with Dogs, a guide by…
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 00:00

Winging it

It’s that time of year again when passing fronts will mean passing visitors at Lake Junaluska. Waterfowl were riding the cold winds that kicked up on Thanksgiving.
By George Ivey • Contributing writer What in the world would bring together the Great Smoky Mountains and the country of Iceland way up there in the cold waters of the North Atlantic?
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:54

Homeward bound

After Jersey and the Big Apple (see last week’s Naturalist’s Corner —, it was time for a leisurely trip home. We headed south to Cape May and took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry across the Delaware Bay to Lewes, Del.…
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:54

The dam is gone, so how’s the Tuck doing?

Learn about biological changes afoot in the Tuckasegee River since the removal of the Dillsboro dam two years ago during a program by a fish biologist at 7 p.m. July 23 in Sylva. Mark Cantrell of the U.S. Fish and…
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:52

Canoe trip to explore the Little Tennessee

A guided canoe float trip down the Little Tennessee River will be held on July 19 as part of the Highlands Biological Foundation Think About Thursdays series. 
The fast growing sport of Open Water Swimming has been added to the Lake Logan Multisport Festival held Aug. 4 and 5 at Lake Logan in Haywood County. The open water event will be held on Sunday. The weekend’s events…
Girls on the Run is reaching out to elementary and middle school girls in Franklin to get involved in a group running program designed to build self-esteem and confidence. An open house for girls, their parents and volunteers will be…
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:50

Bringing back the native river cane

River cane, a native type of bamboo that once grew in large stands along mountain rivers, has gotten a helping hand from at-risk youth at Oconaluftee Job Corps Center in the Smokies.
A special guided hike to the Ridges of Cedar Knob in the Highlands area will explore a high-elevation granite dome on Friday, July 20. The hike is part of the Eco Tour series hosted by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, designed…
Join a renowned mushroom forager for a guided mushroom hunt from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday July 29. “Stalking the Wild Mushroom” will be led by Alan Muskat, known as the “Mushroom Man.” Muskat demystifies the art of…
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:46

A measure of hope for the hemlock forests?

A scientist fighting to save the dying hemlock forests of the Southern Appalachians will give a talk on ongoing efforts and challenges at 7 p.m. on July 26 at the Highlands Nature Center.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:46

Smokies workshop to engage teachers

An all-day workshop on July 31 will explore the ethics and ethos behind ecology and conservation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The workshop is part of the Leopold Education Project, which promotes thoughtful land stewardship by forging a…
The historic cabins, churches, school houses and farmhouses that date back to the times of early Appalachian settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are in need of a little TLC from volunteers.
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 00:00

Smokies plates lead to annual sales record

Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park appear to have hit a home run with a new license plate design sporting the image of a black bear.
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 00:00

Pardon the irruption

Common redpolls have been reported in Chatham County and evening grosbeaks in Catawba County here in North Carolina. Bohemian waxwings and pine grosbeaks have been recorded from Maine to Michigan and Wisconsin. It looks like winter finches may be on…
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 00:00

The last syrup of makers

By Brent Martin • Contributing Writer I recently met with Merritt Fouts, a multi-generational resident of Macon County, to talk about his family’s syrup making that would take place the next day. Merritt is a retired school principal and editor…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Snow is once again blowing at the Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, marking the official start of the winter ski season in Western North Carolina.
Wednesday, 14 November 2007 00:00

Avian rescue at Central Elementary

It’s a little unsettling to hear your kindergartner’s voice when you answer the phone at midday. But I could tell immediately from Izzy’s voice that she was OK — just a bit excited.
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 00:00

Saving rain makes sense

By Kathleen Lamont This month’s column was a tossup. I was encouraged by a recent article on the Haywood County landfill to carry on my persistent campaign for backyard composting and was going to shelve the rainwater collection idea. That…
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 00:00

A life in the rapids

By Jennifer Garlesky •Staff Writer The raging Class II rapids of the Cacapon River, which flows along the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, hooked Doug Woodward on whitewater paddling.
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 00:00

Watershed to be clearcut – planted in tobacco

OK, now that I’ve got your attention — there has been a recent flurry of hyperbole, rhetoric and misinformation regarding the Waynesville Watershed and its management plan. Clearly this flood of ink was designed to influence town elections.
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 00:00


It’s Halloween and goblins, ghouls, witches and vampires are wreaking havoc — and that’s before they get all that sugar in ‘em. And what would Halloween be without bats? Not a single haunted house will be without these fiendish creatures,…
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 00:00

What to do when you meet a bear

In his younger, more naïve hiking days, Joel Zachary found himself watching in slow motion as a bear charged toward him.
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 00:00

Bear frenzy over acorns attracts a crowd

Sometimes Bill Stiver, a wildlife biologist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, feels more like a social scientist than animal expert — especially when it comes to bears and tourists.
The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee has taken the protection of the historic landscape one step further with the recent purchase of a century-old general store in the Cowee community in Macon County.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 00:00

The Naturalist's Corner

I’m so dizzy I tripped over the equinox and fell backwards away from the sun, and now I’m spinning so fast it takes me longer to raise my head high enough to see the sunrise. The light quickly passes my…
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 00:00

Recovering a ghost

NBC News did a segment of their “Fleecing of America” on the $27.8 million proposed by the recovery plan, which prompted a flurry of emails in the blogosphere and across birding listservs noting that $27.8 million was a paltry sum…
By Kathryn Sherrard • Contributing Writer Do you like to visit a state or national park? Why? For thousands of us, it is the chance to see wildlife. People flock to see bears, elk, moose, deer, wild turkeys, foxes, coyotes,…
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 00:00

The wilderness around the corner

For the more intrepid sojourner, the word “wilderness” may conjure up visions of Death Valley, the Alaska Peninsula or the Atchafalaya Swamp. For a soon-to-be 2-year-old and a soon-to-be 6-year-old, a wilderness may be as close as a nearby weedy…
When Matt Rosenthal opened the doors of a new fly-fishing shop in Waynesville last week, word spread quickly among the fishing community. All week, fishermen moseyed through the new Waynesville Fly Shop, sizing up the owner Matt Rosenthal as much…
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 00:00

Verdict out on the North Shore Road

The National Park Service announced its long-awaited but much expected decision last week over the North Shore Road: don’t build it.
More than 400 acres on a mountain in Sandy Mush have been protected thanks to a special conservation fund created by the Buncombe County commissioners.
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:12

Appalachian Trail turns 75

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, measuring roughly 2,180 miles in length from Georgia to Maine.
Dr. Dan Pittillo will explore the natural history of the southern Appalachians at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2 at the Highlands Nature Center as part of the Zahner Conservation Lecture series. In a geological discussion, Pittillo will go back to…
A Farm to School project will provide food awareness and better nutrition education for students and staff at five Haywood County school while also helping local farmers. The project — funded by a $22,000 grant from the Community Foundation and…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:01

Volunteers needed at Cataloochee Ranch

Volunteers are being sought for a workday at Cataloochee Ranch in Haywood County that will enhance the habitat for migratory birds and improve water quality. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and Nature Valley are partnering with the Southern Appalachian…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:00

Reward for elk information upped

 A $20,000 reward is being offered for information about the recent killing of three elk near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Mount Sterling area of Haywood County.  Last month, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation offered a $5,000…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:59

Hear the creeks’ cry for help

While heavy rains have washed wayward trash into creeks in recent weeks, kids from Whitehouse, Tenn., helped scoured the banks of Richland Creek in Waynesville for litter as part of a summer youth project for Whitehouse First United Methodist Church.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:58

Get a taste of space science

Several all-day Space Science Labs for adults or kids will be held on various dates in late July and early August at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, led by working astronomers and engineers.
Treading lightly on the land isn’t always easy if you’re sitting on top of 1,000 pounds and four stout hooves, but backcountry horsemen in the Smokies have been learning new practices for minimizing their impact to the environment while trail…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:57

Volenteers needed to man Clingmans Dome

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to help staff the visitor contact station at Clingmans Dome through Nov. 30.             The visitor station at Clingmans Dome sits at an elevation of 6,300 feet and is a point source…
Learn about the early locomotives and logging railroads that once wound their way through mountain hollers and hillsides during the annual Train History Day at the Cradle of Forestry on Saturday, July 28. Western North Carolina train historian Jerry Ledford…
Kids can get up close and personal with wolves and their owner, Trapper Rob, at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 27. Rob Gudger and his program “Wolf Tales” is so popular that it…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:55

Try your hand at backyard chickens

A class for people who have an interest in the benefits of raising their own chickens and/or turkeys will be held at the Stecoah Valley Center from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 6. Raising poultry can provide fresh…
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:54

Coping with gray treefrogs

The call of, “Come see! A frog!” is one oft repeated in the Hendershot household from spring through fall as toads go by both names – toad and/or frog. So the other morning when Izzy called to, ”Come see this…
By Melanie Threlkeld McConnell • Correspondent A rolling stone gathers no moss, so says the proverb, but it would if Annie Martin had her way — and be the better for it. Martin, also known as Mossin’ Annie, is leaving…
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

Taking stock of our local treasures

By Kathleen Lamont There has been a lot of planning, talking and meeting lately regarding the buzzword of the decade: “sustainability.”
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

NC birding trail wings its way to the mountains

Site nominations for the mountain region of the North Carolina Birding Trail kicked off Oct. 1. Sites for the coastal region and piedmont region have been selected and mapped.
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

Dillsboro dam debate rages on

A plan by Duke Energy to tear down the century-old Dillsboro dam drew a crowd of opponents to a public hearing last week held by the N.C. Division of Water Quality.
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

What’s in a permit?

Duke Energy must get a permit from the N.C. Division of Water Quality before it can tear down the Dillsboro dam. There has been a good deal of confusion over whether the state already issued this permit or not —…
By Michael Beadle Several Western North Carolina running teams recently concluded the 208-mile Blue Ridge Relay Race from Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia to downtown Asheville. About 600 runners from 48 teams ran the third annual race from Friday…
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 00:00

Peering into the deep blue

Bluebird skies are wonderful for lots of things. For example, along U.S. Hwy. 64 west of Franklin the other day the clear blue created the perfect backdrop for the dazzling display of blue and yellow produced by the masses of…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:18

Learn about seed saving and lending

A program on the local seed lending library in Jackson County will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 8 at the county extension office. The program is sponsored by the Jackson/Swain Master Gardner Association and the speaker will be…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:17

Learn to identify plants from the best

Dr. Dan Pittillo will lead a two-part workshop on plant identification beginning at 10 a.m. on Aug. 6 at the Highlands Biological Station. The morning session (10 a.m.-noon) will be a review of plant structure, then a picnic lunch (bring…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:17

Carnivorous plant tour in Highlands

The Highlands Botanical Garden will offer a free tour focusing on carnivorous plants of the Southern Appalachians at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 13. The tour is one of the regular free garden tours the Highlands Nature Center offers of its…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:16

Teachers and students become park rangers

Local teachers and students will return to school with a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from a summer working with park rangers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:15

15K trail run at Camp Daniel Boone

The Daniel Boone Scramble 15k Trail Run will take place on Aug. 11 at Camp Daniel Boone in Haywood County. The Daniel Boone Scramble has a variety of terrain for runners to negotiate. “Their shoes will hit single track dirt,…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:14

Teddy Roosevelt helps J-MCA raise money

Joe Wiegand, regarded as the nation’s premiere Theodore Roosevelt impersonator, will bring the conservation-minded president to life during a fundraising dinner for the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the Cedar Creek Racquet Club. Wiegand brings…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:14

‘Why do you love AT’ video contest

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) — to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the completion of the AT — is hosting a video contest to find out what people love most about the A.T. The contest entitled “Why Do You Love…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:13

GSMNP visitation trending upward

Visitation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the rise, a good sign for Western North Carolina counties who depend on the park as a key cog in the tourism industry. June was up 7.2 percent over the…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:10

Classic hike series heads to Mt. Cammerer

The Friends of the Smokies next “Classic Hike of the Smokies” will be to the top of Mt. Cammerer, where a historic fire tower affords a stunning panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains.
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:09

Main Street Mile in Waynesville is Aug. 10

The third annual Main Street Mile will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 10 in downtown Waynesville. The event is followed by a post-race party with food, drinks, children’s games and activities, and live music. All proceeds go directly…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:08

Biking the Trail of Tears

Seven members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and 16 members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma recently participated in “Remember the Removal,” riding 950 miles of the Trail of Tears on bicycles. The RTR riders, who biked up to…
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:06

From the darkness to the light – literally

Legend has it that curious fishermen watching trout seemingly disappear into Humpback Mountain back in 1822 discovered an entrance into what is now known as Linville Caverns. Henry E. Colton of eastern North Carolina and once a state geologist for…
By Jack Moore • Contributor J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost,” and he may as well have been writing about bicycle tourists. This time of year in the Smokies it’s not uncommon to see a cyclist,…
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 00:00

Hurricane survivors

One of those paradoxes of getting older: it seems you have more occasions to gather with friends and family, but these occasions are too often funerals. Last weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Biloxi, Miss., to be with my…
By Michael Beadle Peter Bates inspects a trio of cucumber trees growing closely together on a 20-acre tract of woods in the Balsam Mountain Preserve in Jackson County. He checks to see if one of the trees died from a…
Wednesday, 12 September 2007 00:00

Baby birding

It’s almost fall and the skies are beginning to fill with feathered vagabonds headed to their traditional southern winter habitats. I have noticed mixed flocks of songbirds foraging in my yard recently. Mr. Mom — that’s me on Tuesdays and…
Recreation at a four-wheel drive and ATV playground in the Nantahala National Forest could be curtailed after environmental and outdoor groups have forced the forest service to address ecological impacts of the sport.
By Michael Beadle It’s 5:30 on a steamy Monday night at the Waynesville Recreation Park, and pairs of disc golfers are setting out to play 18 holes on the new course, which opened in April. Kevin McBride of Clyde and…
Wednesday, 05 September 2007 00:00

Chickens and fall garden chores

By Kathleen Lamont I have had laying hens on and off for the past 20 years. My first flock of White Leghorns came from my cousin’s chicken farm. I brought them home, and after a few months of contented pecking…
Wednesday, 05 September 2007 00:00

Its not easy being green

Balsam Mountain Preserve is, first and foremost, a real estate development. As such, it is subject to all the pressures, schedules, deadlines, etc., that plague all developments. What was to (and in many cases has) separate BMP from most real…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:02

Parking lot offers native plant lesson

The native garden located at the Bridge Park parking lot in the triangle surrounding the Jackson County Farmers Market sign provides a mini native plants lesson. On the back of the sign, you will find a map of all of…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:00

Arboretum hosting world renowned gardeners

The Speaking of Gardening symposium Aug. 24-25 at the N.C. Arboretum will bring some of the world’s finest gardeners to Asheville. The annual symposium is a popular event for horticulture professionals and enthusiasts. This year’s event features speakers from the…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:58

Family tours of Tuckasegee tributary

The Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River is offering guided adventure tours from 9 to 11 a.m. each Saturday morning at Monteith Farmstead Park.
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:57

Group celebrating AT anniversary

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Appalachian Trail with a summer games competition from 5-9 p.m. on Aug. 14 at the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville. Participants will compete for a variety…
New state hunting laws make it legal to hunt coyotes and feral swine at night on private lands. The laws were passed in an attempt to control burgeoning populations of the animals, both of which are non-native to North Carolina…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:55

HCC to offer Hunter Safety courses

Haywood Community College’s Natural Resources Division and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will offer Hunter Safety courses from 6-9:30 p.m. on Aug. 20-22 in rooms 309 and 310 on the HCC campus. Participants must attend three consecutive evenings to…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:55

Outdoor Sportsman’s Day Aug. 18

The WNC Sportsman’s Club and the Lake Logan Episcopal Center are sponsoring an Outdoor Sportsmans Day beginning at 9 a.m. on Aug. 18 at the Episcopal Center. Vendors of outdoor-related equipment will be on hand. There will be traditional blackpowder…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:53

Dinner to benefit Elk Foundation

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will hold a fundraising banquet and auction on Aug. 18 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Hotel Ballroom in Cherokee.
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:52

Lecture to center on extinct cougar

Dr. Ron Sutherland will give a presentation on the eastern cougar at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16 as part of the every Thursday Zahner Conservation Lectures at the Highlands Nature Center. “Eastern Cougar: Their ecological importance and prospects for recovery…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:51

Seminars focus on forest stewardship

North Carolina State University’s Forestry & Environmental Outreach Program is co-sponsoring a series of four workshops for private forest landowners called the “Woodland Steward Series: Mountains Program.” The final two programs in the series are Aug. 15 and Aug. 17…
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 13:49

Onward and upward

Last week I wrote about the dark subterranean part of our little family adventure, which was a visit to Linville Caverns (see From the dark caverns of Linville we turned our attention to the light and headed for the…
By Paul Clark • Contributing writer Hundreds of bicyclists will soon be zipping along the scenic byways of Haywood County during the Blue Ridge Breakaway, challenging not only themselves but also the perception that cyclists and cars do not mix.…
Wednesday, 29 August 2007 00:00

Keep me in the dark

Scott McLeod, my editor, tossed an Aug. 20, 2007, New Yorker on his desk and said there was a good article about light pollution in it and wondered if I was interested. I was. But I’m sure that doesn’t come…