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Breathing easy in the Smokies is a better bet than it’s been in decades. Ozone pollution is down 36 percent,…
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 17:39

Albinism in plants

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The other day, while chasing birdies for the Forest Service, I encountered a pretty wildflower along an abandoned logging road.…
In a woodsy neighborhood up a winding mountain road from Franklin, late May is pretty quiet — at least from…
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 16:09

Beige – the new orange

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Neotropical migrants can be flashy things — think scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak or those tiny butterflies of the…
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 15:49

Giving new farmers a boost

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By Katie Reeder • SMN Intern Demand for locally grown food is soaring in Western North Carolina, but recruiting — and…
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 15:11

WCU researchers making their mark

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Scientific work by professors and students at Western Carolina University is earning recognition and winning research money. The Cullowhee campus,…
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 15:31

Avian adventures

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What better way to spring into the season than chasing migrants across Western North Carolina? I was with the Franklin…
When Michael Bradley first picked up a fly rod in 2011, he wasn’t looking for anything more than a relaxing…
The Haywood Historic Farmers Market hopes to open its selection to an even larger portion of the population by exercising…
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 02:55

Cumberland Island National Seashore

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Cumberland Island, which is composed of Great Cumberland Island (the national seashore) and Little Cumberland Island (private), is one of…
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 02:35

Pedal like a girl: Women give mountain biking a try

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Four years ago, Jennie Wyderko — then finishing up her undergrad at Virginia Tech — had barely even touched a…
From paved 5K routes to epic trail runs and triathlons, Western North Carolina is rife with outdoor races of all…
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 16:02

The swamp a ghost saved

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Yay! Spring break! That special time to be sequestered with adolescents and/or pre-adolescents in about 50 square feet while hurtling…
Solar power is on the rise across the U.S., and a campaign recently launched in Western North Carolina is urging…
Sarah Davis loves bats. They’ve been the wintertime residents of Linville Caverns for as long as she can remember, a…
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 15:49

Put the forest first!

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I was commiserating with a friend who works for the Forest Service just after it was announced that they were…
A pair of hikers camped near the Lower Falls in Graveyard Fields got a rude awakening March 16 when a…
If the stack of boxes piling up on the counter of the outfitter store at Nantahala Outdoor Center is any…
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:27

Hail, hail the gang’s still here

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I’ve recently been seeing lots of posts like these on Carolina Birders’ FaceBook page: “… My pine siskins have departed,…
It’s been nearly 20 years since Burt Kornegay first started looking into land along Hickory Knoll Road in Macon County,…
The plans are set: Waynesville’s getting invaded this fall, and the army will be 1,000 strong.  Semi trucks will haul…
Sipping hot tea while swaddled beside a propane heater, warmth beaming as wind whips snowflakes around the mountaintop outside. A…
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 15:01

A Golden secret

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There is one winter visitor to our North Carolina Mountains that is probably happy the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed…
History will no doubt remember Paul Carlson as one of the great visionaries of our time in Western North Carolina.…
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 16:21

Countin’ in the cold

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I had originally intended to spend today (Monday, Feb. 16) doing a couple of short surveys for the annual Great…
Stepping into Kirk Wall’s custom-carpentered, immaculately decorated mountaintop home, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d knocked on the wrong…
Pushing through 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 of biking and 26.2 of running, it was all Jennifer Jacobson could do…
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 16:09

The bizarro world of plan revision

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The Haywood County Board of Commissioners decided that today (Feb. 2) was the day they would boldly venture into the…
Though a mixture of rain and ice pelted the windshield as I headed toward the Balsam Gap access of the…
It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for water-lovers in Western North Carolina. After more than a decade of…
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:49

The uncommon common goldeneye

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The best way I know of to get a rare bird to fly the coop is to write about it.…
Scott McCleskey didn’t really know what he was saying yes to when he boarded the plane to Alaska, pack of…
Kadie Anderson was packing up camp after a night in the backcountry with her two Australian shepherds when the peace…
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 17:13

Double the fun

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I had the pleasure of participating in two Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) this past weekend. The first was the Balsam…
Rain was beginning to set in on a fog-ridden day on the slopes when Annie Dephouse gave her 5-year-old charge,…
When Jim Brendle put together the first Smoky Mountain Relay in 2009, it was a pretty small affair. With only…
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 00:00

Golden poster-bird

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It seems like the golden-winged warbler (GWWA) has become the non-game poster bird for everything from clearcuts to shelterwood cuts…
It was still a couple weeks till Christmas, but Santa Claus already had his boots shined and suit cleaned in…
Hiking the Appalachian Trail had been in the back of Andy Smith’s mind for a while, ever since a coworker…
There’s plenty of tradition and symbolism that goes along with the holiday season, but for birders no tradition is more…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:52

Extreme commenting on plan for national forests

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Yogi Berra said it best — “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” When I read Holly Kays’ Nov. 12…
The sicklefin redhorse is a sneaky kind of fish. It wasn’t discovered as a species until 1992, and even with…
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:55

Lake J is heating up

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I was fortunate to be able to spend a few hours last Saturday morning (Nov. 23) with members of the…
Things have gone well for the Smokies elk, and they’ve risen from reintroduction experiment to established population. But meanwhile, they’ve…
Word on the river is that more and more people are getting into fly fishing, spurring a push for fly-focused…
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 16:48

Hello darkness, my old friend

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The full Hunter’s Moon is waning and the night sky will be revealing more of her secrets till we spin…
Brian Railsback learned a valuable lesson when he missed a September meeting of the Western Carolina University Honors College Student…
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 15:17

Greenery is a Southern Appalachian specialty

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This region has been furnishing the eastern United States with quantities of various evergreen materials (trees, running ground cedar, mistletoe,…
When the North Carolina Audubon Society announced its campaign to install 10,000 small-holed bird boxes to bolster the population of…