The Naturalist's Corner: Musings from count year 2018

This past spring was one of the more trying ones with regard to my annual U.S. Forest Service bird point…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Lake J eagles

Most readers know the pair of bald eagles that nested at Lake Junaluska this spring were unsuccessful. There is no…
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Telling NOC’s story: Book shows early years of outdoor center through the eyes of staff, leaders

It was 1972, and the world of whitewater paddling was changing. Americans were just about a decade into experimenting with…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Back in the saddle

I have had, since 2004, one of the best gigs any bird nerd could ask for. That was when I…
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Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

In popular culture mules get a bad rap, cast as stubborn, ornery and even mischievous.  But Danny Gibson, animal packer for the…
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Backyard trails: Local mountain bike trails surge in popularity

In 2013, Western Carolina University cut the ribbon on 7-mile trail system zig-zagging an otherwise unbuildable piece of university property.…
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A.T. identities: Thru-hikers share their trail names’ origins

On the Appalachian Trail, everybody’s story is the same, in a sense — the chill of the cold, the heat…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Testing the early spring winds

I had the great pleasure of leading an early spring birding trip for Alarka Expeditions this past weekend, April 21-22.…
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Wildflower spotting: New book guides search for April blooms

The combination of a stress-filled week and the dawn of a perfect, sunny and 70-something degree day worked like a…
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‘Enjoy yourself’: WNC duo runs with outdoors-inspired sunglasses brand

For Nick Provost and Peter Moyle, co-owners of the startup outdoors brand Gnarcissist Gear, it all started with granola bars…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Puc Puggy’s digs

One of Western North Carolina’s most celebrated visitors acquired his love of — and curiosity about — nature at his…
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Walking Waynesville’s watershed: Hike offers rare glimpse into unspoiled area

Of all the rugged places in Western North Carolina, one of the most pristine and unique is also one of…
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From enemy to ally: Kudzu Camp seeks to overturn misconceptions

It was 1983 when Avram Friedman first rolled into Sylva, driving the repurposed school bus that was home for him,…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Spring has sprung

It doesn’t take a calendar to know spring is here. Spring is surely in the air but it’s also in…
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The sediment spotter: Fifth-grade science project spurs real-world change

While elementary, junior high and high school students from across the region offered a plethora of good ideas during last…
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Trail town chow down: Franklin A.T. season launches with hiker meal

When Sharon Van Horn organized the first-ever Thru-Hiker Chow Down in Franklin, she and her husband Bill were pretty fresh…
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Fingers still crossed

Status of the Lake Junaluska eagles remains a mystery, but I still have my fingers crossed for a successful nesting…
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One mile at a time: Long-distance run will raise money for SCC students in need

The first time Matt Kirby attempted the 72-mile Georgia Death Race, he almost didn’t finish.  “I had a friend who…
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Working for the watershed: Clapp steps down after 14 years as WATR’s director

It’s been nearly four decades since Roger Clapp, then a math and science teacher for a middle school in Virginia,…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Birds in the hand

The Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History in York, South Carolina, is one of the few year round banding…
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Opening the gates: Lake Logan opens up to public recreation

Lake Logan is a familiar fixture of any cruise along Haywood County’s stretch of N.C. 215, an 80-acre expanse of…
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Many ways down the mountain: Adaptive ski program opens doors at Cataloochee

The sky is a flawless, cloudless blue over Cataloochee Ski Area as Mark Brogan, 37, suits up for a morning…
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The eagles have landed

The eagles’ neighbors have known for months, observant birders and other Lake Junaluska regulars have either known or suspected, and…
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A diverse portfolio: Seed bank works to protect genes of WNC plants

It’s been just about 10 years since the day Joe-Ann McCoy, then living in Iowa and working as the national…
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Linked to the landscape: Community envisions Plott Balsams’ future

The doors opened, and the room filled — with hikers, bikers, ecologists, conservation workers, economic development professionals and Cherokee tribal…
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Worth protecting: Conservation organizations partner to preserve Parkway lands

Born in the upstairs of the Post Office building his mom ran in Crabtree, Robert Williams, now 87, has always…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Christmas vacation, part deux

The day after our water dance with manatees in Crystal River we headed across Florida to Merritt Island National Wildlife…
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Breaking the backlog: Deferred maintenance in the billions for national parks

Drawing more than 300 million visitors each year, the National Park Service is both a reservoir of natural beauty and…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Will eagles dare?

A pair of mature bald eagles has been hanging out at Lake Junaluska for a few months now. I have…
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Watery restoration: Waynesville and partners restore stream flows, aquatic habitat

Waynesville is in the midst of a makeover on three of its streams, and it’s a renovation that fish, crayfish…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Swimming with mermaids

Christopher Columbus had a lot of misconceptions about where he wound up in 1492 and what he saw. Mermaids were…
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Resurrecting the truffle: Researchers look to learn about cultivation potential in N.C.

An Old World delicacy tied to myths of the supernatural, the truffle is often construed as a rare exotic, likely…
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Christmastime for birders: Cold weather can’t cool enthusiasm for Christmas Bird Count

At 8 a.m. on a December morning, the newly risen sun had barely warmed the air over Franklin from the…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Bamboo by any other name

Bamboo is the common name applied to a wide and varied group of woody grasses from all around the world.…
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A fire-forged laboratory: Scientists look to learn from 2016 wildfires

When rain finally quelled the wildfires running rampant through the Southeastern U.S. last year, the public was breathing a collective…
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Embracing the season: Cross-state trek presents challenge and reward for Asheville hiking legend

At 34, Jennifer Pharr Davis has conquered her fair share of long-distance hikes, and then some. Her 2011 hike of…
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The Naturalist's Corner: A long time coming

Some time around mid-September I added tic number 207 to my 2017 bird list. It was a merlin I saw…
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Keeping ash in the Smokies: Land managers, conservation groups work to protect ash from invasive pest

At some point roughly 20 years ago, a shipment from Asia arrived in the United States with a passel of…
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Bryson gets fishy: Fly-fishing museum prepares for expansion

In its two years of existence, the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians has shown a willingness to travel.…
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The Naturalist's Corner: Missing the point

I received a few emails after the story of Brent Martin’s departure as Southern Appalachian Regional Director of the Wilderness…
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A place to heal: Retreat center for combat veterans works to establish in Cullowhee

When Margo Capparelli, Ph.D., first began her career, she had little idea that it would develop such a strong focus…
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Earning her place: Bryson City whitewater hall of famer reflects on lifetime on the water

Bunny Johns became a paddler mostly by accident. As a college freshman in the early 1960s, she’d lined up a…
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The Naturalist's Corner: S.P.E.C.M.M.D.S.G.T.

Don’t you love the way it rolls off the tongue — “spec-mm-dsgt?” As in, “what time is it spec-mm-dsgt?”
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Catalyst for adventure: Field school instructors reflect on three decades in the Smokies

The Smoky Mountain Field School was only a couple years old when Joel Zachary came on as an instructor in…
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Keeping the river clean: Adopt-a-Stream volunteers keep litter out of Haywood’s waterways

It’s a sunny, abnormally warm October afternoon, and Tom Anspach is ready to meet it with a canoe on the…
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Stay calm and creep on

Two years in a row — for this Hendershot family that’s like a tradition. We pedaled the Virginia Creeper Trail…
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Growing community: Church garden project brings neighbors together to grow healthy food

Two short years ago, the backyard of Waynesville’s Grace Church in the Mountains was basically just grass, save for a…
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Stocking the Pigeon: Trout stocking a team effort in Haywood

It’s a sunny Friday morning on the Pigeon River when the bucket brigade assembles, five-gallon containers in hand. The stock…
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All’s well that ends with an elk

I had the pleasure of leading a birding trip for Alarka Expeditions on Friday September 29. I had been in…
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Pedaling toward Mitchell: Biking and biology go hand-in-hand for WCU professor

Darby Harris is going on a bike ride Saturday, Oct. 7, but how far he’ll pedal will be a mystery…
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