Displaying items by tag: water quality

The clear water of the West Fork Pigeon River tumbling from its mountain headwaters takes on a yellowish hue through the plastic of the snorkel mask, revealing a riverbed of rounded rocks that sometimes sit within inches of the surface and sometimes plunge feet below.

Fish swim placidly in the flow, darting only occasionally when the wearer of the snorkel mask draws a bit too close for comfort. Here and there a leaf or a stick streams by like a stowaway for parts unknown.

Simply removing contaminated dirt from the Southwestern Community College shooting range won’t be enough to close out a lead removal project that’s been in the works since April 2014, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced this month. 

out frFrom habitat destruction to competition with non-native trout, Southern Appalachian brook trout have met their share of challenges over the past century. A new study illuminates another issue that trout — and not just brookies — might have to contend with in the years ahead.

Actually, a pair of issues — acidity and warming water temperatures. Neither of these are newly identified problems, but the study looks at their combined effect. The verdict?

out frThere’s excitement in the air as the class, its members scattered across the Pigeon River under cloudy skies in Canton, hunches over the water in an enthusiastic search. Slightly encumbered by awkwardly bulging, oversize wader suits, class members turn over rocks, shuffle their feet across the river bottom and generally stir things up to flush any nearby aquatic creatures into their waiting nets. 

Haywood Waterways Association has provided this education program year after year for eighth-graders in Haywood County, but on Sept. 24, the class wasn’t composed of over-energetic teenagers.

fr watervilleAn algal bloom on Waterville Lake in northern parts of Haywood County has tested positive for a toxin with potential to cause skin rashes and affect liver function.

fr frackingA section of legislation giving the Mining and Energy Commission the authority to decide which local ordinances are OK and which are not when it comes to fracking could be struck down, if a state court sides with a lawsuit recently filed by Clean Water for North Carolina.

As Paul Carlson tooled out of downtown Franklin, houses faded into rolling hayfields, and the Little Tennessee River soon took up its flank position along the edge of N.C. 28.

coverHistory will no doubt remember Paul Carlson as one of the great visionaries of our time in Western North Carolina. As the founder and long time director of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee retires from his leadership role, we pause to reflect on the contributions he’s made.

SEE ALSO: Behind the wheel with Paul Carlson: a two-hour tour of the Little Tennessee 

Few men can claim a legacy in the Southern Appalachians as deep or long-lasting as Paul Carlson’s

fr fairclothHarold Faircloth was recently named Environmental Specialist of the Year in North Carolina after uncovering widespread lead contamination in private wells throughout Macon County.

“I had been so busy with my duties and responsibilities in my position in addition to my research and analysis of the lead in private drinking water wells that I didn’t expect anything,” he said about his award. “I feel as though I have been admitted to a special fraternity of achievers and scholars involved with environmental health.”

Underground contamination leaching from an old, closed-down landfill in Haywood County will cost millions to clean up, a burden homeowners countywide will be forced to bear through higher trash fees over the coming decade.

County commissioners got their first glimpse this month at how much each household will have to chip in over the next 10 years to pay for the cleanup.

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The Naturalist's Corner

Back Then with George Ellison

  • One of the Smokies’ finest poets
    One of the Smokies’ finest poets Editor’s note: This Back Then column by George Ellison first appeared in the Feb. 15, 2012, edition of The Smoky Mountain News. Olive Tilford Dargan is fairly well known in literary circles as the author of From My Highest Hill (1941), a delightful collection of autobiographical…
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