out natcornI have seen the light, and I don’t like it. I have seen the light emanating from strip malls; from sports stadiums; from urban skylines; from cul-de-sacs; from factories; from almost any place twilight finds Homo sapiens and I don’t like it.

out natcornSo what’s in the news nowadays? Any bad news for the environment? Let’s see.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013, in the Smoky Mountain News – A story about the retirement of Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis noted “… he faced continuous budget cuts, which reduced the number of full-time employees at the Parkway from more than 240 to 160.”

Louisiana lagniappe

out natcornI know, I know, we’ve been in Louisiana for two weeks now, but when I look back at some of the photos and think of our trip I see a lot in common between public lands there and public lands here. Because of a lot of political demagoguing and hypocritical chest-thumping about fiscal conservatism with one hand while passing obscene subsidies on to the most profitable energy companies in the world with the other hand, over the past few years public agencies like the National Park System, the National Forest Service, National Wildlife Refuges and state and local parks have come to depend on “Friends” groups for basic undertakings like education, outreach and research.

Loosiana part deaux

out natcornWhat better place to start part deaux than Breaux Bridge along Bayou Teche? Firmin Breaux originally purchased the area that is now Breaux Bridge in 1771 from New Orleans businessman Jean Francois Ledée, who had acquired the land as an original French land grant. And, of course, Bayou Teche was already there, had been, in fact, for thousands of years, but not in it’s bayou form. Bayou Teche was the main channel of the Mississippi River up till about 3,000 years ago. And the Big Muddy is inching her way back, cozying up to the Atchafalaya but dams and levees and the Army Corp of Engineers are all there to see that doesn’t happen.


out natcornTranslation — Great Backyard Bird Count at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge; the tradition continues.

Since a spur-of-the-moment GBBC at Black Bayou with my brother back in 2006, I have only missed two years of counting in Louisiana. It’s a great excuse to visit friends and family with a great bird count in a beautiful setting thrown in as lagniappe. And this year’s trip followed suit beautifully.

out natcornOf course, you’re no longer confined to your backyard like you were back in 1997 when the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) launched. Sixteen years later and the GBBC is going global. Anyone around the world with Internet access can participate. The basic count format is the same. One watches at any location for at least 15 minutes – and yes your backyard feeders are still relevant – record the species seen and the number of individuals of each species.

The Rainbow to Nowhere?

out natcornWhat happens when you finally get to the end of the rainbow and there’s no gold in the pot? Perusing The Smoky Mountain News the other day, I ran across Becky Johnson’s piece about the $52 million dollar cash settlement, an agreement supposedly signed, sealed and delivered in 2010 that would pay Swain County $52 million in lieu of a 1943 agreement

out naturalistLimeade, tequila and cointreau is not a wintry mix — that is a margarita; something you may resort to when a wintry mix turns your driveway into a sheet of ice.

The ingredients for a wintry mix are a combination of two or more of these types of frozen/freezing precipitation, snow, ice pellets/sleet, freezing rain and/or graupel (pronounced grapple.) Basic precipitation mechanics are involved.

out natcornIt may not have shaken the Richter scale like the stampede of Republican lawmakers and their realtor and developer lobbyists in Raleigh back in 2011, clamoring to cut funding for the state’s Landslide Hazard Mapping program, but there were more than 50 landslides across Western North Carolina and East Tennessee after the recent heavy rains (official are still trying to get an official count). Thankfully, to my knowledge, there was no loss of life associated with these slides.

Up in flames?

out natcornI sit this morning being bathed in luxurious rain. The kind of life-affirming, life-giving rain the Smokies are noted for. A quick run to town watching the rain cascading down the asphalt, clear here and muddy red there, being sucked in circles down storm gutters or overrunning clogged ones — and a couple of thoughts came to mind.

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