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Wednesday, 27 December 2006 00:00

Outside in 06

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The Smoky Mountain News Outdoors section has printed scores of news about the environment, adventure sports and outdoor activities in 2006. Of course, there was also a whole bunch of news about the people who take part in these activities or who have a passion for the environment.

Here’s a sampling of some of the best quotes from our Outdoors section from the past year.

January

“We were all kind of excited when we saw a bike shop was coming. We kept driving by until we saw an open sign.”

— Bob Gatis, an avid biker, on the opening of Waynesville Bicycle Company.

“They did holler at me, stuff like ‘Fish down there in the river, son,’ until I showed up on Outdoor Life Network.”

— Eugene Shuler, an expert flyfisherman and owner of Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing, on practicing casting techniques in his yard.

“There are probably more black bears now than any time in modern history.”

— Mark Jones, black bear specialist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, citing an estimated 4,000 black bears in WNC.

“To me it’s very relaxing. Your mind is totally focused on one objective.”

— Adam Fox, owner of Fox Mountain Guides, on ice climbing.

February

“It’s nothing to play roulette with.”

— Dick Hamilton, director of the N.C. Wildlife Commission, defending a ban on bringing more elk to the Smokies due to threats of chronic wasting disease.

“TVA’s pollution is making North Carolinians sick, damaging our economy and harming our environment.”

— N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper on a lawsuit the state filed against the Tennessee Valley Authority to clean up its dirty coal-fired power plants.

“If one of these things is found, there’s no telling how high is high.”

— Tom Biscardi, a Bigfoot hunter, investigating reports of Bigfoot sightings in the Cherokee area.


March

“We’ve had an increase in business, and I think it’s directly affected by the Olympics.”

— Chris Marion of Skis and Tees in Maggie Valley after selling out of Olympic snowboarder Shaun White’s line of signature gear.

“It is absolutely ludicrous. It is just asinine.”

— Dwight Caldwell, a horseback rider in Haywood County, on a proposal to sell off tracts of the national forest, which died in Congress due to public outcry.

“We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the land and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the places they call home.”

— Tracy Davids, director of Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, on a lawsuit to get the cerulean warbler listed as a threatened species in the wake of an 80 percent decline in its population in 40 years.

“They aren’t afraid of green briar patches and snakes.”

— Bob Pinkston, a forestry instructor at Haywood Community College, on the hands-on education that gives HCC graduates an edge in the natural resources field.

“Fish on!”

— Dave Clancy, a fly-fishing guide with Lowe’s fly shop during a filming on the Tuckasegee River for Carolina Outdoor Journal.


April

“Let’s crank up the grouse call.”

— Jerry Smathers, revving the idle on this ATV to lure Gus the Grouse out of the woods on his farm in Canton. Gus mistakes the ATV idle for the territorial sound male grouse make by beating their wings.

“Never go anywhere without a helmet.”

— Owen Simpson, a mountain bike racer.

“We are not used to something that looks like fungus moving around.”

— Smokies park biologist Paul Super on the mysterious characteristics that makes slime mold difficult to classify and a major topic of research.

“The key to this sport is technique, accuracy, and practice.”

— Jay Blackburn, a HCC forestry student, who placed in the top five in the national timber sports circuit, which features competitions like ax throwing and cross-cut sawing.

May

“You have great landowners who care about protection of the land for the next generation and the next generation after that, and you have a great local land trust.”

— Bill Holman, the director of the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, listing the critical ingredients for conservation at a Land Trust for the Little Tennessee celebration.

“To most people, any sucker is a sucker.”

— Dr. Robert Jenkins, hypothesizing on why the sicklefin redhorse, a large fish in the Little Tennessee and Hiwasee river basins, went unrecognized as a distinct species until recently. The term sucker refers to a type of fish that spends the day snuffing along the river bottom.

“All the spots for the entire year filled up within a week.”

— Kyle Petevo, media director for Nantahala Outdoor Center, on the popularity of the first ever commercial raft trips down the Cheoah River.

“The first thing they are going to do when they get to the bottom of a big rapid is yell ‘yaaa-hooo!’”

— Buzz Williams, director of the Chattooga Conservancy, who wants to keep the upper Chattooga closed to paddlers to preserve the wilderness and solitude experience for others.

“You’re able to pull the rope up whenever you want.”

— Mark Singleton, director of American Whitewater, describing a “tree-house” mentality of those who want to keep the Chattooga River off-limits to paddlers.

June

“It is like a treasure hunt everyday when I go out and look for these places.”

— Josh Kelly, an old growth tree hunter who is mapping undiscovered old growth pockets in the Southern Appalachians with Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project.

“Once your eyes adjust to the dark, you see all kinds of glowy things.”

— Wanda DeWaard, a field guide in the Smokies, on the phenomenon of a colony of synchronous fireflies that blink in unison.

“I like looking out this window at that mountain land knowing that future generations will be able to enjoy the same unspoiled view without roads and houses scarring those steep slopes.”

— Bryson City Mayor T.L. Jones on the conservation of the town’s 750-acre watershed.

“How much ‘wilderness’ is enough?”

— Steve Henson, director of a Southern Appalachian forest products industry association, challenging the need for a road-building and logging ban in roadless areas of national forests.


July

“You’re in the mountains. Generally you’re not going to find a flat course.”

— Greg Duff, race planner with Glory Hound Events, on the challenge of mapping routes.

“It is more than just myself that would use that water.”

— TJ Kruger of TJ’s Whitewater Adventures arguing for a shift in water releases from dams on the Tuckasegee, which currently favor the concentration of rafting companies on the lower stretch of the Tuck.

“The idea is to catch them as fast as we can.”

— Bill McClarney, an aquatic biologist, giving instructions to a team of volunteers helping with an electroshock survey in Cartoogechaye Creek.

August

“It’s night and day.”

— Smokies biologist Kim Delozier on the 80 percent survival rate of baby elk this year compared to only 25 percent last year. The park trapped and relocated black bear from Cataloochee during elk calving season.

“Every other river in the entire National Forest Service Wild and Scenic River system is open to boating.”

— Kevin Colburn with American Whitewater advocating for the upper Chattooga River to be opened to paddling.

“That’s exactly the point.”

— Pam Simion, a hiker in Highlands, who wants the paddling ban to stay in place.

“We had 45 entry forms come in the mail in one day.”

— Wendy Johnson, race organizer, on the rejuvenation of the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race.

“To be quite honest, most fishermen aren’t that good.”

— William Cope, a Jackson County fly-fisherman, contending the Smokies’ decision to lift a 30-year ban on native brook trout fishing will have a negligible impact on the population.

“When it is code orange — or even a day like today when it’s borderline code orange — I’ll still go outside, but I won’t do a lot of physical exertion like go hiking.”

— Park Ranger Susan Sachs, stationed at a 5,000-foot elevation research station in the Smokies, talking about ozone pollution.


September

“For years, the whole game was trying to get a ‘cheater’ boat as we called it. You tried to figure out a boat that was mis-handicapped.”

— Billy Richards, a paddler, on the old method of staggered starts in the Tsali Triathlon that gave slower boat models a head start. The proliferation of boat models meant some were ranked wrong and given a head start they didn’t deserve.

“Back away slowly while watching the bear, but don’t turn and run as this can trigger the bear to chase you.”

— Great Smoky Mountains National Park warning visitors bears could be more aggressive in seeking food this year due to an acorn and berry shortage combined with record bear numbers.

“That’s a euphemism for ‘They are declining but we don’t know how much or where.’”

— Dr. Michael Freake, a researcher in the Smokies, on the listing of hellbender salamanders as a species of special concern.

October

“It is an irreplaceable regional and state treasure. It deserves protection.”

— Carolina Mountain Club resolution calling on the state to ante up money to buy Chimney Rock and protect it as a state park.

“That’s my magic drink.”

— Jason Bodnar, a marathon runner, sharing his secret recipe: one part Gatorade and one part defizzed Coke added to eight parts water in his water bottle.

“You’re in a place where time stood still.”

— Ben Eudy, a caver in Bryson City, on the allure of spelunking.


November

“Those of us who hike into the backcountry have a reasonable expectation of a backcountry-esque experience.”

— Al Smith, a backpacker in the Smokies who was shocked to find people using horse-drawn carts and hand-carts to haul “excessive quantities of camping gear” into the national park backcountry campgrounds, including boom boxes and deep fat fryers.

“I don’t think anyone knows how much time we have or if it is too late. All can we can do is operate under the assumption its not too late.”

— Avram Friedman, director of the Canary Coalition, on global warming.

“We are very excited because Congressman Taylor had one of the worst environmental records.”

— Jody Flemming, director of WNC Alliance, on what the defeat of Taylor and new Democratic majority in Congress will mean for the environment.

December

“Every other state around us has Sunday hunting.”

— Rick Queen, a hunter in Haywood County, advocating for the ban on Sunday hunting to be lifted.

“Your body definitely goes through a transition.”

— Pam Forshee, owner of Smoky Mountain Bikes, on the challenge of staying fit in the winter.

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