Downtown Cullowhee doesn’t look much like the thriving little town Rick Bennett found when he first moved to Jackson County in 1966. In the golden era of the 1970s, he reminisces, the little town boasted 17 restaurants, four gas stations, three grocery stores.
A far cry from the struggling crossroads in existence now, where cheap student housing fills buildings once inhabited by small businesses that just couldn’t make it and abandoned buildings punctuate the space between the few that have managed to stay open. The decline stems back to the construction of four-lane N.C. 107, which allowed traffic en route to Western Carolina University to bypass Cullowhee.
It’s breeding season for elk, and that means that fields in the Cataloochee and Oconaluftee areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are closed to use until Oct. 30, when this season, known as the rut, ends. Even when elk are not present, people are not allowed to walk into the fields, which are the prime elk herd habitat.
A National Audubon Society study of bird species in the continental United States and Canada released last week shows that global warming threatens more than half of the bird species in that geographic area, including North Carolina species such as the golden-winged warbler, brown-headed nuthatch and American oystercatcher.