Wildlife through a lens: Highlands couple explores the outdoors one photograph at a time

The years since retirement have been anything but dull for Highlands residents Ed and Cindy Boos. From Ecuador to Kenya…
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A wall can’t stop these migrants

Regrettably a wall through desert and riparian lowlands along the Mexico-U.S. border will have terrible effects on terrestrial fauna whose…
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Learning by growing: Veggie garden a teaching tool for Swain students

A summer of hard work is paying tasty dividends for some kids in Swain County 4-H — dividends paid in…
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Probing for pollinators: Miniature world of pollinators comes to life in Highlands

In the lull between summer’s peak and fall’s color arrival, things are on the quiet side at the Highlands Biological…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Pardon me Roy, is that the cat that chewed your new shoes

Number one daughter had a big camping weekend planned with friends and their families at Lake Chatuge over Labor Day.…
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Team Ruebel hits the trail: Hiking is a bonding force for father-daughter duo

Once Jay Ruebel started seeing the billboard, which advertised the 28.3-mile Trailblaze Challenge hike, it seemed like he couldn’t stop…
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A total eclipse of science

Two independent natural phenomena have occurred over the past few days that will be etched in the memories, minds and…
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‘We never gave up hope’: After 11 days missing, Tennessee teen walks himself out of the Smokies

Austin Bohanan, 18, had been lost in the wilderness for 11 days when he woke up the morning of Aug.…
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Protecting mountain gold: Balsam uses dye to thwart ginseng poachers

Brian McMahan and Johnny Nicholson can both remember boyhood days spent in the mountains, hunting the elusive ginseng plant. Coveted…
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Roller coaster in the sky: Solar eclipses inspire awe and enchantment for WCU professor

Enrique Gomez was 16 years old the first time he experienced the shadow of the moon. Gomez, now an associate…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Beach bump

Friends and followers of “The Naturalist’s Corner” know I’m keeping a year-list of birds I see/hear this year. As I…
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To try a tri: Race day is a whirlwind for a first-time triathlete

As I stood freezing on the dock above 67.3-degree Lake Logan, the main thought running through my head was a…
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Plotting Cullowhee Dam’s future: Organizations weigh environmental and financial costs of repair and removal

Nearly a century old, the aging Cullowhee Dam is at a crossroads — with risk of failure increasing, Western Carolina…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Rock Hill on the river

My family and I were in the Rock Hill, S.C.-Charlotte area a few weeks back to visit my sister and…
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WNC’s deadliest waterfalls

The attraction between people and waterfalls is nothing new, with a couple waterfall deaths per year typical between the Great…
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Winged wonders: Butterfly house is a living exhibit at the N.C. Arboretum

It’s one of those summer days that’s so hot and humid it’s impossible to walk even two steps without sweating,…
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The Naturalist's Corner: MOU – MIA

Issues surrounding the management of the country’s national forests have always been thorny. It’s easy to see why — there…
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Under the Pigeon: Snorkeling workshop gives an up-close look at aquatic diversity

The clear water of the West Fork Pigeon River tumbling from its mountain headwaters takes on a yellowish hue through…
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Becoming a trail town: Sylva embraces the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

White dots will soon pepper the sidewalks of downtown Sylva as the town sets out to claim its identity as…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Escargot — no

There was much concern regarding the noonday globe snail, Petera clarkia nantahala, after the Tellico Fire burned through the Nantahala…
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A magical thing: Retiring Parkway superintendent reflects on 37 years with the Park Service

Mark Woods will retire as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway on July 3, but on July 4 he’ll don…
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Above it all: Fryingpan hike offers vast views, diverse plant life

It’s just a short walk from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Fryingpan Tower — 1.5 miles roundtrip — but in…
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The Naturalist's Corner: That’s a wrap

Another spring, another season of bird points in the can. Each spring brings its own unique set of adventures, dilemmas…
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Trails that dance: Cherokee opens 10.5-mile trail system with plans to expand

The snip of a ribbon declared the destination that mountain bikers are hailing as “amazing” and “world-class” to be open…
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Life on the road: Asheville couple trades stability for life of mobile adventure

Ching Fu and Jerud Crandall had professional careers and a comfortable home when they left it all behind in 2015,…
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Flagged

I was in Morganton over the Memorial Day Holiday chasing birdies in the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest…
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Sleuthing for salamanders: New DNA technique boosts salamander science

A new scientific tool developed at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will allow salamander-studying scientists to trace the…
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Wildfires as classrooms: WCU students study fire’s effects on Dicks Creek drainage

What was once a wildfire became an outdoor classroom for students in Western Carolina University’s Natural Resource Conservation and Management…
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The bugs are back in to-own, the bugs are back in town

The weather hasn’t been too cooperative this spring with regards to my Forest Service bird point count. First weekend in…
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Trail crews get to work: Smokies crews work to improve trails and recover from storm damage

Dealing with the aftermath of two major storms while preparing for what could be another record-breaking visitor season, trail crews…
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Sylva’s carnivorous plant man: After nearly 30 years and thousands of plants, carnivorous plants still fascinate

When it comes to carnivorous plants, Darwin Thomas knows what he’s talking about. It doesn’t take much to get him…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Even bad days can be good

This past weekend, May 6-7, was the 34th annual installment of the Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition (GSMBE.) The expedition…
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Voices from the trail: A.T. thru-hikers talk about trail names, motivations, and the on-trail experience

My pack was plenty heavy as I set out north on the Appalachian Trial from Carvers Gap, but with my…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Overwhelmed

There are bucket lists and then there are bucket lists. As parents, the bucket lists we envision for our kids…
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Mountain bikes roll into Swain High

A fleet of new mountain bikes has come home to roost at Swain County High School, thanks to a donation…
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Spring fire season arrives: Steady rain keeps wildfire to normal levels as region recovers from historic fall blazes

When rains finally quelled the flames of 2016’s historic fall fire season, firefighters breathed sighs of relief and mountain residents…
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EPA — the Eviscerated Protection Agency

Our new denier-in-chief believes “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make…
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Clyde river park gets a facelift: Plans call for extensive tree planting, walking paths and river access

On the chilly, windy afternoon of April 7, a crew of seven people gathered to install a passel of hefty…
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A perfect place: Walking Lake Junaluska fuels Hill’s fight against cancer

Ron and Chrissy Hill were all set for their retirement in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, having bought a house…
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Stories from mountains: Cherokee man keeps old stories alive, one hike at a time

The last known footprint of the slant-eyed giant Judaculla is not easy to get to. First, there’s the drive to…
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The Naturalist's Corner: It really is spring

I was reconnoitering the Buck Creek Serpentine Barrens on Monday March 27, with Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian regional director at…
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Making it awesome: Cherokee prepares to unveil 10-mile mountain biking system

When Ed Sutton first came to Cherokee in November to break ground on a new trail system, his directive was…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Today’s pterodactyl

A low guttural croak comes out of the fog hanging over the French Broad River. I turn and look towards…
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‘It was a very good ride’: Blue Ridge Breakaway cancelled for 2017 due to declining ridership, funding challenges

Every August since 2010, the Blue Ridge Breakaway has pulled in tens of thousands of dollars for Haywood County businesses,…
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River park would boost visitation, tax revenues

Kelly Custer has been a lifelong lover of the outdoors, from playing sports as a kid to mountaineering adventures in…
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The race is on: Police investigate Pinnacle trail spiking as Assault on Blackrock sees record registration

News spread fast last week after the Sylva Police Department removed more than 50 spikes from hiking trails at Pinnacle…
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What me chase?

Regular readers of “The Naturalist’s Corner” may remember that I’ve decided to keep a 2017 year-list of birds. I noted,…
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Down to bare rock: Smokies’ Chimney Tops could be closed for years following fire

When starting the hike, it’s not immediately obvious why the Chimney Tops Trail should be appointed for long-term closure. The…
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Comprehending climate: Smokies seeks to understand impacts of shifts in seasonal patterns

According to the National Phenology Network, Punxsutawny Phil had it all wrong when he emerged from his hole this month…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Is spring springing earlier?

Back in January I surveyed the Tellico Fire with MountainTrue biologist Josh Kelly. We were there to check out the…
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