A year from the Naturalist’s Corner

“ATBI identifies 5,000-plus species — 1/10/07

I have written several columns regarding this ambitious program to document all species within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which began on Earth Day in 1998. By January 2007 over 5,000 species new to the park had been recorded and 651 of those were new to science.

This endeavor intrigues me on different levels. First is the sheer bravado of saying we’re going to scour half a million square acres and identify every living thing. Next is the innovative way that “Parks as classrooms” is used to incorporate citizen science by making students and volunteers a part of real scientific inquiry. And lastly, what it says about human nature. We talk about our scientific knowledge and accomplishments and send rovers to Mars claiming to unlock the secrets of the universe while we know so little about the life-giving rock we call home.


“Stairway to Heaven” 2/7/07

The state finally cut a deal with the owners of Chimney Rock Park and now this outstanding natural resource has been protected. If you haven’t been – go.


“The realities of being green” 2/21/07

While many organizations give lip service to “sustainability,” the Western Carolina Forest Sustainability Initiative under the direction of Pete Bates, associate professor of Natural Resources Management at Western Carolina University has been putting a face on sustainability where the rubber meets the road — this article talks about some of the realities of being green and the difficulty of changing paradigms.


“Navy still at war with NC” — 4/18/07 and “Navy’s top 10 reasons for choosing Site C” — 4/25/07

Both talk about the Navy’s determination to locate an Offsite Landing Field near Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (home to more than 100,000 wintering waterfowl) in Washington and Beaufort counties, in rural eastern North Carolina.


“A peek at the watershed” — 5/9/07 and “Watershed to be clearcut, planted in tobacco” — 11/07/07

Waynesville has protected its watershed by placing it in a conservation easement. Part of the easement is subject to some kind of management — including the dreaded “L” word. The idea of management has stirred lots of emotion but few have kept up with or offered input regarding what a management plan would or should include. I believe the next meeting of the watershed advisory board will be at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Jan. 10.


“Alternative ramblings” — 8/1/07

A kind of a recap of a series of columns on alternative energy.


“Alternative science” — 8/8/07

One of a few Ivory-billed woodpecker columns this year regarding that re-discovered (in 2004) yet still not documented “gris-gris” of the southern swamps.


“Keep me in the dark” — 8/29/07

This was a column based on an article from the New Yorker talking about the horrific impacts of light pollution.


“It’s not easy being green” — 9/5/07

Another one of those reality stories — a dam break at Balsam Mountain Preserve (a high-profile “green” development) in Jackson County, sent a sediment plume all the way to Fontana Lake. And subsequent reports disclosed $300,000 in fines levied by the county for ongoing sediment and erosion violations.


“NC birding trail wings its way to the mountains” — 10/3/07

Work on the North Carolina Birding Trail began in earnest in 2003 under the direction of a partnership including Audubon North Carolina, North Carolina Resources Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, North Carolina State Parks, North Carolina Sea Grant and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. The NCBT will link outstanding birding sites from the mountains to the sea. It will connect local and visiting birders with communities and businesses as well as cultural and educational attractions across the state.


“The wilderness around the corner” — 10/10/07

One of the columns I wrote about my kids or kids in general in the outdoors. If you want to see a kid jazzed, just take him to a stream or roll over a rock in the backyard or plant a butterfly garden for her to play in. The only way we will ever succeed in preserving the wild places on the planet is by nurturing the wild places in the hearts of our children and they all have that place.


“Aerial assassins” — 11/21/07

I believe we, here in the 11th congressional district, could have some influence in helping to stop this onerous and un-sportsman-like slaughter of wolves in Alaska. Our congressman, Heath Shuler, sits on the Natural Resources Committee, which will decide if the bill goes to floor for a vote. Contact Rep. Shuler and let him know you would like to see this practice stopped. His district office address is 356 Biltmore Ave. Suite 400, Asheville, NC 28801. The phone number is 828.252.1651 and the fax is 828.252.1651. You can reach his press secretary, Andrew Whalen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Have a great Holiday Season

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