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Wednesday, 14 June 2006 00:00

Things that go blink in the night

By Michael Beadle As springtime visitors flock to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see the phenomenon of synchronous fireflies, researchers are hoping to learn more about how and why these beetles produce such amazing light shows. It may well…
Rafting fans have only two more shots this year at a trip down the Cheoah River, a rugged river in Graham County that has just recently been opened to rafting.
Wednesday, 07 June 2006 00:00

History and wildflowers

By Ed Kelley The burning sensation on the back of my heels made me wish I had packed some moleskin. Blisters are adversary number one for the hiker. Luckily, I haven’t had them in years, but friction, moisture, heat, and…
Wednesday, 07 June 2006 00:00

When paddle comes to shove

The only thing rippling more than the water through the rocky headwaters of the Chattooga is the controversy regarding the U.S. Forest Service’s ban on paddling in that stretch. It is a ban that has been in place for 30…
Josh Kelly looked up from his topo map, took a step back and eyed the steep bank in front of him, scanning the line of the mountain until it disappeared out of sight. Somewhere through the tangle of rhododendrons, over…
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:43

An unapologetic scientist

The cosmos loom large and wondrous again, and much of the credit goes to one charming, affable but steadfastly rigorous — when it comes to scientific principles — host Neil deGrasse Tyson. 
Michael Beadle, a local poet and educator, will read poetry that speaks to the mystery of nature and wildness 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the Haywood Public Library in Waynesville. “Call of the Wild” will feature poets…
Registration is up and running for the 31st Cullowhee Native Plant Conference to be held July 16-19 at Western Carolina University. Workshop topics include native plant propagation, nature photography and garden design tips, while field trips will include visits to…
A summer lecture series dedicated to natural history and conservation will kick off with a talk from Dr. Lee Alan Dugatkin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the Highlands Nature Center.  Dugatkin is a biology professor at the University…
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:33

Local agriculture robust in WNC

Local food sales are surging in Western North Carolina, and agriculture is alive and well.  Direct farmer-to-consumer food sales in the region increased nearly 70 percent between 2007 and 2012, growing from just under $5 million to more than $8…
 A book by Western Carolina University biology professor and Highlands Biological Station director James Costa titled Wallace, Darwin and the Origin of Species has been published by Harvard University Press. The book provides an in-depth look at the work of…
The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters has released its 2013 scorecard for North Carolina legislators, a number based on the legislators’ voting record on key environmental issues.  This year, a record number of legislators — 82 — earned a…
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:29

Annual garden tour a go in Haywood

The Barn at the Mountain Research Station, on Raccoon Road in Waynesville, will serve as the hub for ticket purchasing, vendor presentations and tour directions. The station includes a range of soil types and elevations and a diversity of horticultural,…
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:28

Falling tree gives Arizona woman a fright

Jan Eagle got a scare when a tree fell on her campsite at Cataloochee Campground during her stay at Great Smoky Mountains National Park May 30. Eagle, who lives in Tucson, Ariz., was on the first day of her 12-day…
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:27

Youth to reenact ancient fishing practices

Children will get a chance to learn firsthand about Cherokee fishing traditions by re-enacting a fish harvest on an ancient stone fishing weir at 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 23, on the Tuckaseegee River.
Outdoor Mission Camp, an affiliate of Youth For Christ USA based in Maggie Valley, is offering a wilderness camp for Western North Carolina students, grades 6 to 12, on a donation basis, as well as a 10-week wilderness discipleship course…
A black bear — and possibly one of its cubs — is dead after a run of bird seed raids resulted in a confrontation with a Maggie Valley homeowner’s 12-gauge.  “Everyone has a right to protect their property, and it…
Wednesday, 31 May 2006 00:00

The Naturalist's Corner — Thunderstorm

The other evening with toddler and infant asleep, my wife and I found ourselves alone as a thunderstorm rolled over the Balsams. We turned out the lights and watched and listened as the storm approached with the sky flickering brighter,…
Wednesday, 31 May 2006 00:00

Riverwild

A blistering fight over whether paddling should be allowed along the upper stretch of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River has landed in court. American Whitewater, the premier national paddling advocacy group whose headquarters are in Jackson County, filed a…
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 00:00

Trout Unlimited: Brook trout need help

A report by Trout Unlimited documenting the continued decline of brook trout has given rise to concerns over water quality and invigorated efforts to protect the remaining strongholds of brook trout in WNC.
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 00:00

Recycling gets a boost in the Smokies

Thanks to a new recycling trailer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closer to its goal of diverting half of all its waste from local landfills compared to the 42 percent of park trash that currently is recycled.
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 00:00

The phoenix has crashed

In 2005 the ivory-billed woodpecker rose from the ashes of extinction on the merits of an announcement from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The bird had been rediscovered in 2004 in the Big Woods of Arkansas.
Wednesday, 24 May 2006 00:00

Remembering the Mother Town

By Michael Beadle Kituhwa. To the Cherokee, it represents one of the most sacred sites in the world, the first Cherokee town, a mound where the sacred fire burned for centuries. It is from this site that the Cherokee named…
Wednesday, 17 May 2006 00:00

Of valleys and lilies

I was leading a program for the Theosophical Society at Lake Junaluska on May 6. We were touring the Corneille Bryan Native Garden when we discovered a striking white lily growing in a wet area. There were a few of…
The U.S. Forest Service has been working on a master recreation plan for Panthertown Valley for more than two years now.
Wednesday, 17 May 2006 00:00

Finding the forest less logged

For three years, Josh Kelly has been stalking forests in the Southern Appalachians in search of unmapped old-growth forests and very old trees. “It is like a treasure hunt everyday when I go out and look for these places,” Kelly…
When Dr. Robert Jenkins proclaimed in 1992 that he had discovered a new fish species in the Hiwasee and Little Tennessee rivers, it likely caused a stir among ichthyologists who found their library of fish field guides suddenly out of…
Wednesday, 10 May 2006 00:00

Half a big day

What some masochistic birders do for fun is called a “Big Day.” It’s when birders set out to spend the majority of the day afield recording as many species of birds as possible.
Wednesday, 03 May 2006 00:00

Reaching out for the Little T

When Cass and Mary Lou Combs attended a conservation celebration along the shore of the Little Tennessee River in Macon County last Friday, their mind occasionally wandered from the speaker at hand to thoughts of a new great-grandchild being born…
Wednesday, 03 May 2006 00:00

A brand new world

Anyone who hasn’t been to the woods in the last month would swear they’re in a different world. In a sense, they are. At the end of March most anything above 2,500 feet still looked like winter. A hike today…
Wednesday, 03 May 2006 00:00

Mount Sterling — a hikers’ crossroads

Climbing the 80 rickety feet of metal and wood got my adrenaline flowing a bit. Once up there, I found it to be a precarious perch, especially since the plywood floor was rotten and some of it missing. I was…
Wednesday, 03 May 2006 00:00

Float trips return to Waynesville

The sight of bobbing caravans of inflatable kayaks floating down Richland Creek through Waynesville will return on Saturday, May 6 when Whitewater of Waynesville, a.k.a. WOW, opens back up for its second season.
Five marinas on Fontana Lake have been certified as Clean Marinas in recognition of their efforts to preserve and protect water quality in the Tennessee River system by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the dam at Fontana Lake for…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Don’t touch that fawn

White-tail deer will soon start scouting the fields and forests for hiding places to give birth to their fawns this spring. After giving birth, the doe leaves the fawn lying on the ground and continues foraging for the crucial calories…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Rotten to the core

According to recent stories by Knight Ridder news services, the Bush Administration thinks our national parks are too fat. A mandate called the “core operation analysis” has been issued directing park officials across the country to cut between 20 and…
When a heavy rain washed into Paul Super’s garage last month, soaking a couple of bags of freshly-purchased mulch in the process, it triggered a dormant slime mold in the mulch to spring to life in a bright yellow ooze,…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

The healing power of slime molds

New research on slime molds at the University of Georgia has generated hope for the millions of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases that a cure could one day be possible.
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Winged migration of a different sort

After getting all the two-leggeds to bed last night I went out to the yard to wrangle the four-leggeds. Dusk was slipping into night. The full “fish moon” was climbing above the mountains on the southeastern horizon.
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

The ivory-billed swami predicts

For those not acquainted with the ivory-billed swami, I will give you a bit of history. This is from the Smoky Mountain News edition on Jan. 30, 2002, as Zeiss Optics was mounting a search for the ivory-billed woodpecker in…
By Michael Beadle Some people bike for the fun of it. Some people bike to race. For Franklin’s Owen Simpson, it’s a bit of both. Over the past three years, Simpson — who also goes by O.J. — has been…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

I wanna another peep outta ya!

Jeepers creepers, don’t ya here those peepers. Gram for gram, Pseudacris crucifer is one of the loudest amphibians out there. The spring peeper weighs in at three to five grams and is about an inch long. When males congregate around…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Park: Don’t blame us for the ladybugs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials say they have been erroneously blamed by some residents for introducing large, black and orange ladybeetles that congregate en masse in residential areas.
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Gus the gruffy grouse gets territorial

Jerry Smathers is public enemy number one for a ruffed grouse named Gus that lives on the forest bordering Smathers’ pasture in Dutch Cove of Haywood County. Whenever Smathers boards his all-terrain vehicle to ride from his house to his…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Deep into Gorges State Park

By Ed Kelley Tiptoeing quickly across the Toxaway River, my ankle gaiters did the job and kept the cold water out of my boots. With higher water, fording the river could be dicey. I had chosen the Auger Hole trail…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Alien vs. Predator in the GSMNP

A new breed of predator beetles that could help fight the hemlock wooly adelgid were released in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park two weeks ago. The hemlock wooly adelgid is a bug from Asia that has invaded the Southern…
For the first time in more than 30 years, fishermen in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be allowed to catch and keep brook trout under new experimental Park fishing regulations starting April 15.
Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:00

Burroughs Wellcome Fund welcome

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has renewed its commitment to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s inquiry-based, hands-on science education programs. That is music to this tone deaf naturalist’s ears.
Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:00

Filming on the fly

By Sarah Kucharski Standing in the shallows of the Tuckasegee River between Webster and Dillsboro, cold water flowing around the ankles of his waders, longtime fisherman Steve Henson asked fly-fishing guide Roger Lowe what they could expect from the day’s…
The Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers gathered on the Blue Ridge Parkway this spring, instruments in hand, to help the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation raise the $50,000 they still need to complete the $350,000 Graveyard Fields restoration project. 
Libraries across the mountains are in summer mode with a robust lineup of educational programs for kids. Special guests will offer several free programs on science and nature topics, as well as their regular line-up of story times and other…
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:13

Get your race on with Haywood Waterways

Haywood Waterways is now selling “trout” to compete in their annual Trout Race held at 5 p.m. on June 22 in Maggie Valley in conjunction with the weekend PlottFest.
Comments are open regarding a proposed prohibition on coyote hunting in a five-county area in northeastern North Carolina. The area is home to the world’s only native red wolf population, which look similar to coyotes — posing a dangerous case…
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:07

Foraging field day in Cashiers

Famed Asheville forager Alan Muskat will answer all your burning questions about forest foods during the next installment of the Village Nature Series at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, at the Village Green Commons in Cashiers, with a private foraging…
It’s a little after 7 p.m. when the first trolley shows up to Elkmont Campground. Green, red and yellow, the flashy Gatlinburg transit vehicle seems a bit out of place in the backwoods greenery of Great Smoky Mountains National Park,…
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:14

A wet and wonderful weekend

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, my family and I spent a long weekend on Fontana Lake. The small “fishing” cabin near Prince’s Boat Dock is not the Ritz but it has all the comforts of home and a…
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:13

Smokies elk get new tracking collars

Biologists will get a boost in monitoring Smokies elk populations, thanks to a $13,720 grant Friends of the Smokies received from Charter Communications, Inc. The grant money purchased 15 radio collars and two receivers to track and monitor the large…
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:12

Horse exhibition to benefit Panthertown

A horse exhibition hosted by Friends of Panthertown from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 28, will raise money for conservation and trail maintenance in Panthertown Valley, a national forest recreation area near Cashiers.
Visitors are invited to check on the progress of the American chestnut restoration effort at Cataloochee Ranch in Haywood County with self-guided and guided tours this summer.
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:11

Franklin man inducted to A.T. Hall of Fame

Franklin has a hall-of-famer following the induction of Rev. Rufus Morgan into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame earlier this month. 
It wasn’t until Brad McMillan got his canoe on the water that the moment hit him. He’d been preparing for this for a long time, both mentally and physically, and he’d just watched his three friends in kayaks descend the…
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 13:32

Local water supplies get state recognition

Maggie Valley Sanitary District and the town of Waynesville got props from the N.C. Division of Water Resources for an outstanding drinking water supply earlier this summer. The water providers were two of 38 statewide to receive the N.C. Area…
A coalition of 17 organizations based in Western North Carolina is calling for a public hearing somewhere in the western part of the state on new oil and gas rules being developed the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission. Three public…
The next public meeting in the forest plan revision process for Pisgah and Nantahala national forests is planned for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 10 in Asheville. Wildlife habitat and managing for ecosystem integrity and diversity will be the…
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 13:29

WNC trails hit the app store

A new app for iPhone and Android will give hikers a guide to more than 300 hikes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Georgia and upstate South Carolina.
The Hemlock Restoration Initiative is seeking proposals to turn $50,000 worth of grant funding into a win in the battle to save hemlocks from the wooly adelgid.
Part contest, part festival, part education and part science, the 2014 Discover Life in America BioBlitz will bring citizens and scientists from across the country together in a race against time to see how many fungal species they can count…
Walk into Bowed Up Outdoors, and the first thing you’ll notice is the friendly banter moving back and forth between customers seated at the stools in front of the gun counter and the staff on the other side of it.…
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 04:08

Outdoors events for kids

Kids program offers chance to touch bones, or delve into digestion Haywood Public Library will get more than skin deep with a forensic anthropology program at 3 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the Waynesville branch and Tuesday, July 29, at…
Nantahala Lake spawned two state fishing records within a week during the month of June. Until now, the state record for a kokanee salmon was 3 pounds, 9 ounces, set in 2009 by Swannanoa resident Ashley Swann, but Fred Mix…
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 03:51

Trout tournament coming up in Cherokee

The annual Cherokee Dog Days Fishing Tournament will be held in Cherokee again July 18-19, with $10,000 in cash prizes available.
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 03:50

New map and website highlight Swain fishing

A new website and brochure highlight all the fishing opportunities available in Swain County.
The 11th annual Mountain Wildlife Days will take over Sapphire Valley Resort near Cashiers, N.C. June 18-19, activities ranging from a presentation on with world of mammals to a raptor demonstration to bluegrass gospel music. 
It’s no secret that an accurate weather forecast is hard to come by in the Smokies. But after two months of intense measurements at more than 100 stations around the region, scientists working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration…
North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley called last week for roadless areas to be protected in the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests — in opposition to a Bush Administration move last year that lifted bans on logging and road building in…
By Michael Beadle By day, Nancy Lux crunches numbers as a certified public accountant in Waynesville. After work, you may see her whizzing by on her road bike breaking the sound barrier. Well, maybe not that fast, but in an…
Wednesday, 15 March 2006 00:00

Spring is on the wing

Step out on the deck with your morning coffee or pause in the yard for a moment after you strap the kids in the car for the ride to school and listen. Yep, those are birds singing. Chickadees, tufted titmouses,…
Concerned by continuing decline of the cerulean warbler, five conservation groups, including some based in Western North Carolina, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Secretary Gale Norton calling for the bird’s protection.
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has announced a three-year, $138,600 grant to renew its support for science education programs for middle and high school students on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Wednesday, 08 March 2006 00:00

A daffodil by any other name

Around 8 a.m. last Sunday (Feb. 26), my wife and I backed out of the driveway and headed to Clyde’s restaurant so my daughter Izzy could have a pancake for breakfast. It was around 19 degrees. On the side of…
Wednesday, 08 March 2006 00:00

Land for sale — yours

When Dick Morgan, a fisherman from Maggie Valley, heard that two acres on Hurricane Mountain was on the chopping block in the proposal to sell off portions of the national forest, the gravity of the plan hit home. One of…
Wednesday, 08 March 2006 00:00

Just the dregs

Those pitching the plan to sell off pieces of the national forest claim the parcels on the list are inconsequential. The tracts on the chopping block are small, isolated islands surrounded by privately-owned land, don’t contribute to forest ecology, aren’t…
Wednesday, 08 March 2006 00:00

Handouts by the numbers

Counties with national forest or park land in their borders get two types of money from the federal government: payment in lieu of taxes, known as PILT, and a 25 percent cut of logging revenue.
Wednesday, 01 March 2006 00:00

A double crested whammy

We were leaving Monroe, La., just after dawn last Sunday, Feb. 19. We crossed over a small levee and dam on Bayou Desiard. There, strung out down the bayou like a flotilla, were 100 or more double-crested cormorants. When I…
Wednesday, 01 March 2006 00:00

Logging plan for Kirby Knob forest upheld

A coalition of environmental groups and local residents lost their appeal against a logging operation in the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. Residents in Macon and Jackson counties joined three regional conservation groups — Southern Appalachian…
A six-part lecture series on nature, ecology and conservation will kick off with a program titled “Plott Balsams Business Case for Conservation” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the Jackson County Library in downtown Sylva. The relationship between the…
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 13:58

Birders bring Africa to Highlands

Highlands will get a chance to experience South Africa through a presentation from Jim and Ellen Shelton, long-time birders whose recent trip across the globe allowed them to glimpse some spectacular birds and mammals.
More than a dozen farmers and gardeners will be featured in the annual Jackson County Farm Tour coming up July 26-27. Tour-goers get a self-guided brochure and can visit the sites in whatever order they please, running from 1 to…
Water quality, aquatic habitats and outdoor recreation will see a boost in Haywood County thanks to $132,000 in new grants awarded through the Pigeon River Fund grant cycle for the first half of the year. The Pigeon River Fund has…
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 13:55

Battle for the brookie

As the only native trout in North Carolina, brook trout is a well-loved fish, but it’s fallen on some hard times. Competition from introduced rainbow, brown and genetically different northern brook trout has taken its toll, as have acid rain…
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 13:55

Rare wetland habitat to get an upgrade

A three-acre wetland near Cherokee Central Schools will get $25,000 worth of restoration work thanks to a grant that Great Smoky Mountains National Park received from the National Park Foundation to help the Ravensford floodplain wetland keep its natural character. …
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 13:54

Growing native in Highlands

A slate of programs July 23-25 at the Highlands Biological Foundation will highlight the benefits of gardening with native plants, including a workshop on maintaining home flowerbeds, a lecture on native plants and a guided tour of the Southern Highlands…
Haywood Community College student Logan Hawks recently placed third in the nation in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series Collegiate Lumberjack Competition. He is the third HCC student since 2007 to rank as a top place finisher in the national woodsmen competition. 
The summer is shaping into a pretty good rafting season for Tee Davis. “It’s awesome, man,” said Davis, owner of Smoky Mountain Adventures. Much better than last summer, anyway. Last year, rains wreaked havoc on the rafting season.  “Night and…
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 04:10

More dialogue – anyone listening?

The next USDA Forest Service public meeting regarding the National Forest Plan Revision will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on July 10 at the Crowne Plaza Resort in downtown Asheville. The new plan will guide the management…
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

A pickle of a Prong

I felt like I should have had crampons on my boots, like the spikes mountain climbers use on ice. The steep trail was so slick I would take two steps forward, then slide back a step.
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

The guns of winter

There was a blast from Vice President Dick Cheney’s 28-gauge shotgun — a gun, by the way, that one Web site touts as “...just right for petite shooters” — and lawyer Harry Whittington was down.
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

Land trusts launch national vetting process

Land conservation trusts cropping up across Western North Carolina and the rest of the country will soon be able to certify themselves with an official accreditation.
Wednesday, 15 February 2006 00:00

We’ll weather the weather, whatever it is

One of my daughter Izzy’s favorite videos is “Little Bear’s Winter Tales.” She likes the episode with the blizzard. The mantra for the characters becomes, “Whether the weather is hot or whether the weather is cold, we’ll weather the weather…
Wednesday, 15 February 2006 00:00

The Bigfoot crew

The team of Bigfoot researchers who came to Cherokee last week to investigate reports of a mysterious creature encounter run the gamut from long-time believers, recent converts and even Bigfoot agnostics.