The Senator Versus Coal

first_imgThe Senator Versus Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The coal industry — responsible for much of the CO2 pollution driving climate change — is dying, and State Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, wants to help bury it. Hancock, whose district encompasses much of the East Bay, from Rodeo to San Leandro, has spent the last half year drafting legislation designed to prevent millions of tons of coal from being transported by train through the East Bay and exported from a marine terminal that is to be built in Oakland near the foot of the Bay Bridge. Hancock also wants to block any future coal export schemes in the state.Hancock made a last ditch effort to convince Utah’s lawmakers that subsidizing an Oakland coal terminal is unwanted and risky. “I strongly oppose your bill to invest $53 million in Utah taxpayers’ money to build a coal-export terminal in California,” Hancock wrote in a March 2 letter to Utah Senator Adams. “Environmental groups from Oakland and the Bay Area strongly oppose the transport of coal and are working together to stop the project.”Hancock also informed Adams of her four anti-coal bills that will be considered by the California Senate in April. “I would think that Utah residents would also question whether their hard-earned tax dollars should be going to build a railroad and port terminal in another state instead of promoting sustainable economic development in Utah,” she wrote.Some Utah lawmakers raised Hancock’s criticisms during debates in the Senate and House of Representatives last week, but Adams’ $53 million coal subsidy was approved by both houses and will likely be signed by Governor Herbert.Hancock said the use of public money is a bad investment in a “dying industry” and can only result in environmental damage and economic losses. She said it appears that the coal industry is attempting to use public money to stay afloat, because private investors have all but abandoned coal.“Institutional investors are pulling out of coal,” said Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a think tank that promotes renewable energy development. “The industry isn’t collapsing, it has collapsed.”last_img read more

Investors plan to use Repsol’s net zero carbon commitment to pressure rest of oil and gas sector

first_imgInvestors plan to use Repsol’s net zero carbon commitment to pressure rest of oil and gas sector FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Investors cheered Spanish group Repsol’s pledge to slash net carbon emissions to zero by mid-century, saying they hope it will pile pressure on rival oil and gas companies to follow suit in the fight against climate change.The world’s top oil and gas companies are under heavy pressure, not only from environmental groups but also from institutional investors, to fall in line with targets set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming.Repsol on Monday became the first leading energy firm to commit to a net-zero emission target, outdoing Royal Dutch Shell that had set out an ambition to halve emissions by 2050.“It is clear that this is a very significant commitment from Repsol that raises the bar across the oil and gas sector,” said Adam Matthews, Director for Ethics and Engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board, who co-led discussion between a major group of investors with Shell on a climate resolution last year.“We have been pressing fossil fuel companies to commit to align with a net zero emissions pathway by 2050 for some time. It is good to see Repsol showing this leadership, including clear milestones along the way,” said Natasha Landell-Mills, head of stewardship, Sarasin & Partners. “In the end, shareholders need to know their companies are looking forward, not back, when it comes to the energy transition.” Sarasin & Partners manages 14.3 billion pounds ($18.35 billion) in assets.Repsol’s targets encompass 95% of all its emissions, including from fuels sold to clients. It also wrote down 4.8 billion euros ($5.3 billion) in the value of its oil and gas assets to reflect its lower oil and gas price outlook. Repsol said it would sharply increase its low-carbon power generation capacity by 2030, partly by expanding its renewables business. [Ron Bousso, Simon Jessop]More: Investors urge Big Oil to follow ‘poster child’ Repsol’s climate pledgelast_img read more

Total, Marubeni team up on 800MW solar project in Qatar

first_imgTotal, Marubeni team up on 800MW solar project in Qatar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:French oil major Total and Japanese conglomerate Marubeni have won the rights to build Qatar’s first utility-scale solar PV project, due online in time for the 2022 World Cup.The 800-megawatt Al Kharsaah development will use more than 2 million bifacial solar modules, making it one of the largest bifacial projects anywhere in the world.Total and Marubeni will own a 40 percent stake in the project with Siraj Energy, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Electricity & Water Company, owning the remainder. The full investment for the project is estimated to be 1.7 billion Qatari riyals ($467 million).Qatari national power firm Kahramaa has signed a 25-year power-purchase agreement for the output of the project. The first 350 megawatts will be operational next year with the full project scheduled for completion in 2022.Kahramaa President H.E. Eng. Essa bin Hilal Al-Kuwari claimed the PPA price was the lowest ever for a solar power project but did not state the value of the winning bid. In November, Dubai claimed to have taken the record with a bid of 1.7 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour for the next 900-megawatt phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. ACWA Power, the winner of that tender, is already using bifacial modules in a previously completed phase of the same solar park.“Al Kharsaah, Total’s largest solar project to date, will contribute to our ambition to deploy 25 gigawatts of renewables by 2025,” Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné said in a statement. “This project further strengthens our long-term partnership with Qatar in oil, natural gas, refining and petrochemicals and expands it to include renewable energy. It is a very clear symbol of the strategy of Total to become a global energy company.” Total has 3 gigawatts of renewables in operation so far, with solar projects spread around the globe including in Chile, South Africa and Japan.[John Parnell]More: Total and Marubeni to build 800MW solar plant in Qatar ahead of World Cuplast_img read more

Green steel pilot project begins operating in Sweden

first_imgGreen steel pilot project begins operating in Sweden FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Swedish green steel venture HYBRIT, owned by SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall and miner LKAB, on Monday started test operations at its pilot plant for fossil-free steel in Lulea, Sweden.A successful development of the HYBRIT project could have big implications for efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions, with SSAB alone accounting for 10% of Sweden’s total and 7% of Finland’s.The official start of operations at the plant, which will produce fossil-free sponge iron, essential for the steel production process, was attended by guests including Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.“There is a lot still to be done, and there are challenges remaining, but I dare to claim that this is a globally unique plant,” SSAB CEO Martin Lindqvist said.The HYBRIT project aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.SSAB aims for the first fossil-free steel to be commercially available by 2026, and to become fossil free in its operations by 2045.[Johannes Hellstrom]More: Sweden’s HYBRIT starts operations at pilot plant for fossil-free steellast_img read more

Running Season

first_imgMyself and a few Charlottesville Area Trail Runners members at the top of Turks MountainIt is upon us. No man, woman, child, or beast can escape its clutches. To try to resist is futile. Just accept your fate. That’s right, its winter.As a cyclist, this time of the year is what I am supposed to look forward to the least. Who cares that this dreadful season includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, if I can’t ride my bike what is the point.Lucky for me, this is hardly my take on winter, as I revert back to my high school roots and get my run on. That’s right, the bikes are put up in storage and I lace up my kicks and hit the trail. Trail running to me is like a day on the bike, one big adventure. My backyard has miles and miles of trail that are closed to bikes, so long distance trail running allows me to explore these sweet stretches of singletrack.I know what you’re thinking, running is boring, I don’t have anyone to run with, and there is no way that running a downhill can be as fun as biking one. You’re wrong about running being boring. Hit up some technical trails, and you will be picking lines just like on a bike. You’re wrong when you say you have no one to run with. I looked up local running groups in Charlottesville, where I live, and now have an amazing network of people to run with. Lastly, I agree that running a downhill is not as fun as hitting it on two wheels but hey you can’t win it all.The beauty of running is how simple it is. You need some active clothing, a pair of shoes, and you’re good to go. Also, during the winter you can keep warmer and don’t have to struggle taking 15 different layers like on bike rides. The best thing about trail running is if you feel tired, then just hike. After all you’re in the woods and you’re allowed to slow down and enjoy it.While I do enjoy longer mileage, any distance can be fun. It will help you keep off the winter weight, make these cold days pass quicker, and get you out in nature.Lace those shoes up, and hope to see you on the trail!last_img read more

Appalachian Trail Dispatch: Family

first_img Editor’s Note: Blue Ridge Outdoors contributor Chris Gallaway is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. He will be periodically checking in with BRO and sharing the story of his hike. This is his fifth dispatch from the A.T. Read his other dispatches from the trail: A Cold Start, Trail Magic, Difficult Winter, Monuments, and Spring!Experiences on the Trail are made richer by sharing them with people you love. That fact made this past weekend a highlight of my hike that I will carry with me forever. Last Thursday I was joined in Damascus, Virginia by Sunshine, my mom, and my brother (with his huskie Kaya) for an adventure on the AT. We staged our hike from the Lazy Fox Inn, sorting gear and distributing food for a three-day trek up to the Grayson Highlands. A heavy rainstorm serenaded us in sleep on Thursday night, but by Friday morning it was clearing into some of the most beautiful weather I have ever seen as we left Damascus and began climbing up the Appalachian Trail.We walked through three days of idyllic Spring, following the Whitetop Laurel River (swollen from the recent rain) as we wound up through the hills outside of Damascus. We kept a leisurely pace, laying in a sunny field on the second afternoon and sleeping ourselves into a bit of sunburn. When the weather turned rainy atop the Grayson Highlands it only served to add a new aspect to our hike, shrouding the heath balds in a mysterious veil of fog. We all delighted in watching Kaya interact with the ponies there, first shivering with apparent nervousness and then greeting the little animals with equal curiosity and affection.It was all too good to put into words. We walked down from the Highlands on Monday afternoon and rode bikes out of the clouds and into a sunny day down the Virginia Creeper Trail and back to Damascus. We celebrated with a cold dunk in the river behind the Lazy Fox, a toast of champagne, and a proper hiker pig-out at the Blue Blaze Cafe. The pleasure my family took in the hike and the wonder they experienced along the way produced some of the most vivid memories I will have from this long journey.Now, as I sit in Mojo’s Cafe and prepare to resume my solo hike this afternoon, the weather outside is suited to my mood: gloomy, grey, rainy. It’s hard to go on alone after such a highlight experience, but I know that so much good awaits me. From here on out the Appalachian Trail will be entirely new to me—I’ve never walked a section of the AT from here to the end. I will watch Spring emerge along the way as I settle into a more typical hiker’s routine, planning my progress four and five days out, no longer meeting friends or family along the way. And so excitement and hope mingle with melancholy as I gear up for the next stage of the hike. Here’s to the continuing journey and the steps already laid! last_img read more

The August Issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors is Live and On Stands Now

first_imgThe August issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine is one near and dear to our hearts. It’s also one of the annual favorites with you, our loyal readers. By the time August rolls around we are, to put it simply, hot. And that’s partly why our 12 Favorite Swimming Holes feature was so important to this issue.And, we’ve got our look at Blue Ridge region’s Top Adventure Colleges. Ah, college days. Don’t miss our contributors’ most memorable college experiences in the front of the mag when you pick it up on a newsstand near you.You’ll also find stories on the latest paddling trend, kayak fishing; the Paleo Diet; a summer reading list by editor Will Harlan; we take a trip up to West Virginia to see the Hillbilly Gypsies; and more news and features from around the South and Mid-Atlantic.And we’ve got the beta on new gear for summer and what you’ll likely want to have before you head back to school. Because just like the 16 alumni featured in our top outdoor colleges roundup, we are all lifelong students. Here’s to enjoying the last month of summer.featuresGET SCHOOLED Meet 16 alumni from the South’s top outdoor colleges, including the reader-selected winners of this year’s Adventure College Bracket.LOST A sea kayaker discovers new waters—and a surprising new appreciation for technology.12 SWIMMING HOLES OF SUMMER Our dozen favorite swimming spots are nestled beneath some of the most scenic and spectacular waterfalls in the South.BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Kayak fishing provides stealth and easier access to new water. Here are nine favorite spots for kayak anglers to wet a line.departmentsEDITOR’S NOTE A wild summer reading listFLASHPOINT The real Paleo diet — less hunter, more gatherer?QUICK HITS BMX in Brevard / Warrior hike marches on / Gauley land protection / Share the road lawTHE DIRT A fish-eye-view of wild Appalachia / Kentucky’s first ultra is more than a raceTHE GOODS Back to school gearTRAIL MIX Hillbilly Gypsies revive old mountain soundslast_img read more

Running the Summits

first_imgThree women trek 260 miles across the 40 highest peaks in Southern Appalachia in a record-setting seven days.Top trail runners Rebekah Trittipoe of Bedford, Va., Anne Lundblad of Asheville, N.C., and Jenny Anderson of Lynchburg, Va., journeyed to the 40 highest and wildest reaches of the Southern Appalachians to set a new speed record.South Beyond 6000 (popularly known as SB6K) challenges hikers to reach the 40 southern Appalachian peaks exceeding 6,000 ft. in elevation. Only 170 people have completed the challenge in 40 years, and only one other person has conquered them all in one consecutive 260-mile trek.Why were three of the country’s most accomplished ultrarunners considering such a wild adventure so different from their usual competitive undertakings? Trittipoe confessed she was anxious for a “women-only” adventure, and after contacting a few unsuspecting friends with her notion, “Anne and Jenny took the bait.” After considering several possibilities, Lundblad suggested SB6K.“Competitions are fun and exciting, but I wasn’t really finding the sense of internal challenge and accomplishment that I was looking for,” said Lundblad. “We all liked the idea of combining long distance running with bagging peaks.”The SB6K peaks are geographically distributed throughout the southeast’s highest ranges; these include the Great Smokies, Plott Balsams, Great Balsams, Blacks, Great Craggies, and Roans. Fourteen of the 40 peaks have no maintained trail to their summits. Crowned with nearly impenetrable spruce-fir forests and often guarded by a bloodthirsty maze of blackberry thickets and briars, these mountains are the giants of the southeast’s wildest country.Lundblad admitted that she had little off-trail experience. “Before this run, my only off-trail adventures were when I’ve gotten lost on my trail runs,” she explained.In 2003, Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer ran the SB6K peaks in just under 5 days, setting the overall speed record for the challenge. Supported by an extensive crew he dubbed “The Dog Team,” his route would be mirrored by the trio of women runners atop the region’s highest peaks. In his honor, they adopted feline-themed trail names: Mama Cat (Trittipoe), Dixie Cat (Lundblad), and Bohima Cat (Anderson). The Cat Women also used the upcoming quest to fundraise for Project Athena, an organization providing aid to women athletes who suffer catastrophic health setbacks.After months of training, planning, and route finding, the Pride was ready to pounce in mid-June. They set off from 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies, just after 3 a.m. Following the Appalachian Trail, they reached their second peak, Mount Collins, well before the sun came up. Early starts and running in the dark would be a necessity every day to maintain their 40 mile-per-day pace.By late afternoon on their first day, they reached the eastern Smokies range, one of the most wild and remote areas in the southeast. It is home to the most difficult peaks of the entire challenge, including Mount Guyot, the east’s highest trail-less peak, and Marks Knob, the farthest off-trail peak in the challenge. All of these summits are guarded by incredibly dense forests and steep slopes.“In many ways, the thickness of rain forests are exactly like the type of growth and density we experienced,” explained Anderson, who has trekked in the jungles of Central America. “We climbed over blowdowns, crawled under branches, stomped through briars, and squeezed through closely grown balsam…hunting for the summits,” she added. “It was equally challenging finding our way back down to the trail.”By the end of day one, they had summited nine peaks, finishing in crashing thunder and lightning. Electrical storms are among the most dangerous hazards when climbing the region’s highest peaks. But the danger didn’t end there. The Pride would receive a visitor at Tricorner Knob Shelter on their first night—a hungry 300-pound black bear that wandered into camp. Luckily, a ranger was present to scare it off, although the bear returned in the middle of the night, knocking into a cooking pot just a few feet from where the women slept. Again the bear was chased away, but no one slept well that night.The next morning, they knocked off three more off-trail peaks in the Smokies, then exited the park to face an arduous 20 miles of road running. Through more heavy downpours, they pounded the Blue Ridge Parkway, and at long last, the skies parted on the trek to Yellow Face, their next 6,000-foot peak. At Yellow Face they soaked in the majesty of the surrounding mountains. The magical moment reinvigorated the Cats and served as inspiration to push onward.The trio would need their newfound motivation to start their third day, setting out before sunup in another torrential downpour to traverse the Plotts. “We climbed Waterrock Knob with lightning crashing all around us,” said Anderson. “It was quite epic.”Briars, blackberry bushes, and nettles obscured the faint paths to the Plott summits. “We surely got half of our war wounds from that trail,” continued Anderson. She later suffered several bee stings, and her body broke out in hives to accompany her cuts and bruises.The Pride, barely escaping the Plotts in one piece, picked up the Mountains-To-Sea Trail and ascended into the Great Balsam Mountains, where they had to contend with Reinhart Knob, one of SB6K’s most notoriously difficult peaks. Though only a short distance from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the summit is well fortified. Its access is so hindered by colossal blackberry thickets that the preferred route involves ascending a perilous rock face through a steep and narrow chute.In locating the correct rock chute, the ladies soon found themselves perilously clinging to the near-vertical mountainside. At its top, they were greeted with a wall of spruce and fir that even sunlight itself rarely penetrates. “We all paid the price in blood and scratches on that one,” said Trittipoe.Day Four brought scenic relief to the battered Cats as their journey took them across the open balds of Shining Rock. Their morning jaunt to the summit of Black Balsam Knob, a grassy bald with a 360 degree view, was greeted with clear skies, breathtaking vistas, and even a breakfast surprise. Their friend Adam Hill greeted the ladies with a meal of eggs and chocolate chip pancakes.Running the Art Loeb Trail over more scenic peaks like Tennent Mountain and Shining Rock treated the ladies to dramatic views throughout the day. “The open balds were spectacular,” said Trittipoe. The women unanimously named this section as their favorite of the journey.It was also the first day that friends and crew members joined the team to run sections of trail. “We finally had a beautiful, sunny day with friends. We could see forever,” said Lundblad. “It was very special.”The fifth day of the challenge took the runners across the Black Mountains, the highest and most brutal range in the eastern United States. From 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain in the East, the route heads north to cross seven more peaks, each one with rugged, overgrown back-to-back ascents and descents. Many are so steep that ropes have been installed to rappel rock chutes.“That section of trail will be embedded in my mind forever,” said Anderson. “It had relentless rocks, mud, technical terrain, and ropes.”Another storm approached as they neared the northern end of the range. In dark skies and pouring rain, the sound of tornado sirens from the valley below reached their ears.Before reaching their final range, the Cats had to tackle another laborious 20 mile road run to reach the Roan Highlands. With bodies worn weak and muscles turning to jelly, the winding asphalt proved demoralizing. “It was like a death march,” said Trittipoe. “I was so tired that my eyes continuously closed and I felt myself weaving all over the road.”When they finally climbed Roan High Bluff, their first peak in their final range, a wrong turn resulted in a short bushwhack through thick rhododendron. They eventually emerged onto a paved trail leading to an overlook, startling several tourists. “We felt like lost zoo animals with the looks that we got,” said Anderson.Meanwhile, their support crew assembled at Carvers Gap to run the final two miles with them. The Pride was crewed by their husbands—Mark Lundblad, Cory Anderson, and Gary Trittipoe—as well as Trittope’s son Seth, and friends Josh Yeoman and Robin Packer.During the seven-day journey, crew members did everything from setting up campsites and cooking food to hiking ten miles with gear to a shelter, getting up at 3 a.m. to make oatmeal, doing laundry, and providing invaluable moral support and encouragement. “And they did it without receiving the glory and attention that we got,” said Lundblad.As the Cats emerged from the forest, their arms and legs were ravaged with cuts, scratches, and bruises. Their strides were shortened by aching muscles. Yet they were all smiling. Hand in hand, they arrived at the top of Grassy Ridge Bald and kneeled together to kiss the final benchmark. They completed SB6K in 6 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes, a women’s record.“I can’t imagine any better people to be with through this experience,” said Trittipoe. “We went as a team, and we conquered as a team.”The team aspect set this challenge apart from many other long distance speed attempts. Several experienced long distance runners predicted they wouldn’t succeed because of the team element. But the women stuck together through some of the most harrowing physical and mental challenges.“We were able to motivate and encourage each other to push through the low points,” added Lundblad. “We had a lot of laughs on the trail. I gained an incredible sense of connection with Rebekah and Jenny, knowing that this experience we shared is one we will never forget.”The beauty of the mountains made the experience unlike any other. “Western North Carolina is one of the most beautiful and challenging parts of the entire country,” said Anderson.“Sometimes we just wanted to bag a peak and leave—tired of being cold and wet,” admitted Trittipoe. “But other times, we desired to linger, hoping to capture the magic of the moment.”And for Lundblad, the trek brought new perspective on her running career. “Through this experience, I discovered that while racing fed my ego, this adventure fed my soul.” •Peter J. Barr is chairperson of the Carolina Mountain Club’s South Beyond 6,000 Challenge and has hiked all 40 summits. His second book, Hiking the Southeast’s Highest Peaks, will be released next summer.ANNE LUNDBLAD“Dixie Cat”AGE: 42HOMETOWN: Swannanoa, N.C.DAY JOB: College CounselorMOTHER: Emma, 9RUNNING: 10-time National Champion, 2005 IAU World Cup 100K Silver Medalist, 6-time USA representative at IAU World Cup, Record Holder for JFK 50M, Mt. Mitchell Challenge, Promise Land 50K, Dupont Trail MarathonFAVORITE PEAK: Black Balsam (Great Balsams)MEMORABLE MOMENT: Known for “Doing a Dixie” for her many falls, including once while standing still.REBEKAH TRITTIPOE“Mama Cat”AGE: 52HOMETOWN: Bedford, Va.DAY JOB: Medical Education Author; Online High School TeacherMOTHER: Caleb, 21; Seth, 18RUNNING: Past winner of Mountain Masochist 50M, JFK 50M, Rattlesnake 50K, 250K Brazil Jungle Marathon, Allegheny Trail Women’s Speed RecordFAVORITE PEAK: Mt. Guyot (Smokies)MEMORABLE QUOTE: “I felt like Dora the Explorer.”JENNY ANDERSON“Bohima Lion”AGE: 35HOMETOWN: Lynchburg, Va.DAY JOB: High School Spanish TeacherMOTHER: Logan, 9; Jordan, 7; Ryleigh, 3RUNNING: Past winner of Terrapin Mountain 50K, Rattlesnake 50K, Forget the PR Mohican 50KFAVORITE PEAK: Yellow Face (Plotts)MEMORABLE QUOTE: “At least we don’t have chiggers.”last_img read more

SNOWBIRD’S LONG TRAIL: THE FORGOTTEN TRAIL

first_imgThe 1,300-Mile Florida Trail is an often overlooked long-distance footpathSure, there are plenty of winter adventures in the Appalachians, but it’s hard to deny the allure of warm-weather hiking. In February, Florida’s rains have subsided, the bugs are (mostly) gone, the temperatures moderating, and the landscape as lush as ever. Snowbirds, it turns out, are onto something.The backbone of the Florida hiking community is the orange-blazed, 1,300-mile Florida National Scenic Trail, or simply the F.T. The F.T., which stretches from Pensacola Beach to Miami, is “unlike any other long-distance hike in America,” contends local James “Jupiter” Hoher, who operates Jupiter Hikes. It’s wilder, tougher, and more scenic than many assume. As the trail hopscotches between protected swaths of longleaf pines, prairies, and oaks, it’s easy to forget about the pricey, ticketed attractions and high rises. Even more enticing, the F.T. only gets a fraction of the traffic as other long trails. Across much of the trail, skittish Florida black bear or bugling sandhill cranes are more common than hikers.Don’t skip the tiki bars, amusement rides and beaches on your next Florida trip, but carve out some time for one of these five orange-blazed F.T. hikes.Little Big Econ State ForestHalf day / 5 milesThis is the perfect escape from your next family Disney expedition in Orlando. Park at the Barr Street trailhead, and follow the F.T. as it traces the bluffs of the Econlockhatchee River (“Econ” for short). From your vantage point, you’ll likely see a few gators in the tannic waters below. Downstream, link up with the white-blazed Flagler Trail which loops back to the F.T.Big Cypress National PreserveOne day / 6 milesBig Cypress is the only true swamp portion of the trail, so expect solitude, wildlife, slow travel, and wet feet. Trek three miles from the F.T.’s southern terminus at the Oasis Visitor Center, until the trail splits, then turn back. Opt for trail runners instead of sandals and boots, recommends Jupiter, and don’t fret the swamp: “the toughest step is the first one.”Blackwater River State ForestOne day / 8 milesSet a shuttle at Red Rock Road and set off from Blackwater River State Park. Once paralleling Juniper Creek, you’ll be surprised by the steep, red-clay bluffs and diversity of habitats.Ocala National ForestTwo days / 20 milesStart beside the blue-green waters of Juniper Springs, cross through the big scrub of Juniper Prairie Wilderness, and camp under the big sky of Hopkins Prairie. Finish on Salt Springs Trail with a celebratory dip in the constant 72-degree waters of Salt Spring Run.Suwannee RiverFour days / 65 milesCommit to this long-haul section of the F.T. between Bell Springs and Twin Rivers State Forest for a little bit of everything, including sinkholes, springs, shoals, and even the sleepy trail town of White Springs. Here, says Jupiter, is where the F.T. most resembles the A.T. with rolling hills and even a few riverside shelters.last_img read more

Outdoor Updates: National Park Service seeks public comment on permits for races that would close Blue Ridge Parkway

first_imgNational Park Service backpedals on their decision to allow ATVs in Utah National Parks A move by the National Park Service that we reported on last month allowing ATVs in Utah National Parks has been scrapped by the National Park Service just one week before it was set to take effect. The Associated Press reports that the National Park Service said it reversed course after consulting with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and concluding that the rule wasn’t necessary.  National Park Service seeks public comment on permits for races that would close Blue Ridge Parkway The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular spot to host running and biking races and in 2020 there are two new races that would like permits to temporarily shut down the parkway. These new races would require temporary, full closures of the parkway, and the National Park Service is asking for the public’s feedback. None of the races that currently utilize the parkway require full closures. It’s time for seasonal closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway The first proposed permit is for a running race and would require a temporary, full closure of the parkway from Milepost 377, just north of Asheville, to Milepost 383. The race would potentially draw 2,000 runners and would happen on May 2, 2020. The second proposed permit is from The Ironman Group and would have the cycling portion of the triathlon take place on the parkway on June 7, 2020. The permit would require a temporary, full closure of the parkway from Milepost 91 to Milepost 112 near Roanoke. It’s the time of year when the weather turns colder; stores begin stocking their shelves for the holidays and facilities along the Blue Ridge Parkway shut down for the season. The Waterrock Knob visitor center (MP 451) and Craggy Gardens visitor center (MP 364) both closed for the season on November 11. All campgrounds and picnic areas in Western North Carolina are also closed, as is the Pisgah Inn and restaurant. The parkway itself does not close except during periods of hazardous weather including ice and snow.  The public is invited to comment on the proposed permits until November 22.  Comments for the Asheville permit can be entered here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/RevelBRP and comments for the Roanoke permit should be submitted here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/IronmanBRP. The rule would have lined up with Utah state law, which allows ATVs and other off-road vehicles on state and county roads. Instead, the ban on ATVs in national parks, including parks in Utah, still stands.last_img read more