Out of the gate, the U.S. Forest Service’s first stab at listing potential wilderness areas in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests met with criticism following its release in late November.
Whether concerned about which areas were on the list, which weren’t or the timing of the release, nearly everybody had something negative to say about the wilderness inventory.
More than 100 people filled the room at Asheville’s Crowne Plaza Hotel earlier this month, but they weren’t there for the pretzels. This 16th meeting in the forest management plan revision process for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests drew people from across Western North Carolina representing a spectrum of interests. Those interests all converged on one topic — wildlife.
“The overall theme that I feel like from the wildlife habitat perspective is to manage this forest for diversity,” Sheryl Bryan, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, told the crowd.
More than 300 of the 1,000-plus comments the Forest Service has received so far about its management plan pertained to wildlife, and of those, Bryan said, “we did by far receive the most comments concerning the amount of early successional habitat and the mix of age classes associated with that. So the elephant’s out there and we’re going to talk about that.”
Walk into Bowed Up Outdoors, and the first thing you’ll notice is the friendly banter moving back and forth between customers seated at the stools in front of the gun counter and the staff on the other side of it. Then, your eyes will wander to the lineup of rifles hung on the wall behind the counter and travel past the rows of shooting accessories to the back wall, hung with a variety of bows — compound, recurve and long. An eight-lane indoor shooting range is hidden behind that wall, giving the Maggie Valley shop a claim to fame among counties west of Buncombe.
The woods are quiet on a cool Saturday morning in late March. There’s no wind swaying the still-bare trees or the rhododendrons clustered along streambeds. In this, one of the most remote trails of the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest, the only sound comes from the occasional squirrel plowing through the bed of fallen leaves or bird sounding its call through the woods.
But then a soft buzz begins to float through the air. It pauses briefly, replaced by the sound of voices. A group of three is clustered around a fallen log, probably 2 or 3 feet in diameter, that’s lying across the faint path of the East Fork Trail. They analyze its position on the mountainside, its angle of contact with another trunk below the trail and the severity of the slope. Finally, trail crew volunteers Scotty Bowen and Richard Evans start up again with the crosscut saw, and the buzzing resumes.
Mountains and rivers shape the landscape of Western North Carolina, but when it comes to recreation programming, counties and municipalities tend to focus on facilities and league sports. Both the town of Waynesville and Jackson County, however, are working to look beyond the status quo to point people toward the beauty in their own backyards.
It’s a chilly day on the Tuckasegee River. Air temperature is in the mid-40s, and the water isn’t much warmer.
Eric Johnson struggles to stand upright, bracing his paddle on the river bottom as a chain of four fellow college students leans on him to traverse the Dillsboro Drop rapid.
By Colby Dunn • Correspondent
Though winter may have you couped up inside, you can dream of sunnier days in the outdoors with The Smoky Mountain News outdoor holiday gift guide, a rundown of the season’s hottest gifts from the region’s top outfitters. So for the budding outdoor enthusiast or seasoned nature lover still on your gift list, we’ve got you covered from head to toe, pretty much literally. Or if you’d like to reward yourself for making it out of the mall alive and not using a waffle iron as a weapon on Black Friday, there’s some options for that, too.
No, it’s not Aquaman’s preferred mode of commuting; nor the latest urban workout trend or new-fangled underwater gym equipment.
The aquabike is yet another off-shoot of the classic triathlon now popping up on race calendars — including its first debut at the upcoming Lake Logan Multisport Festival this weekend.
For day hikers who want to take the next step or for a seasoned backpackers who can’t find the time or resources to make that long trip this year, outdoor author Jim Parham is offering up the solution that is just right: the short backpacking trip.
His recently published book, Backpacking Overnights, details 50 one- and two-night trips in the Carolina Mountains. The premise of the book, and Parham’s philosophy, is that backpacking should be easy, accessible and fit into the schedule of the 9 to 5 working stiff.
Franklin’s downtown outdoor gear store just got bigger.