Planning to begin on massive Canton recreation parcel

Despite the reticence of some local governments to spend money on non-essential services due to uncertainty in revenues amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Town of Canton and Haywood County are moving full speed ahead with development of the Chestnut Mountain project. 

Public land managers discuss closure decisions and plans for re-opening

While people nationwide are lamenting the loss of bars, restaurants, concerts, festivals and countless other aspects of community life amid the COVID-19 crisis, for many in Western North Carolina the deepest blow has been the loss of access to hundreds of thousands of acres of cherished public lands. 

Keeping the doorstep green: Canton likely to receive 448 acres for outdoor rec

If all goes as planned, Canton will soon have a 448-acre park for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor recreation activities just a mile from town limits. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy hopes to close on the property, known as the Chestnut Mountain Tract and currently owned by Canton Motorsports LLC, within the next couple months. 

Grant advances conservation efforts for Canton Motorsports tract

Efforts to conserve the 488-acre property currently owned by Canton Motorsports got a boost when the N.C. Department of Justice awarded the project a $150,000 Environmental Enhancement Grant.

A time for change: Outdoor Mission Camp expands its focus under new name

Neither Jamie and nor Ruffin Shackleford ever attended summer camp as children, but they believe they were built to lead it. 

Jamie first heeded that calling at the tender age of 10, when she invited all the neighborhood 3- and 4-year-olds to attend her three-day-a-week backyard summer camp. All it cost them was a quarter to help pay for snacks. 

Betting on Cherokee: Fire Mountain Outpost opens on Qualla Boundary

Motion Makers Bicycles in Cherokee is starting 2020 with a new location and a new roommate, but the same optimism about the future of outdoor sports on the Qualla Boundary. 

The bike shop’s Cherokee location first opened 2018, sharing a two-story yellow building on Big Cove Road with Franklin-based outfitter Outdoor 76. The concept was solid, but the logistics proved problematic. Four months after opening in Cherokee, Outdoor 76 launched a third location in Clayton, Georgia. Travel between the three locations was time-consuming, and the two-story layout was a challenge. 

The year in quotes

It’s often been said that there’s wisdom to be found in the rhythms of nature, and that’s certainly true. But there’s also wisdom — and humor as well — in the words of those who spend their time outdoors, soaking those rhythms into their souls. Some of their words are featured here among The Smoky Mountain News’ favorite quotes from 2019’s outdoors section.

Learning in the real world: Smokies outdoor education center turns 50, plans expansion

As it nears the end of its 50th anniversary year, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has its eyes set on the half-century to come. Within five years, the nonprofit aims to build out a second campus to supplement its existing facilities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Walker Valley. 

Ride on: Kids mountain biking park opens in Jackson

More than a year of planning, collaboration and plain old-fashioned hard work has resulted in a new kids bike park along the Jackson County Greenway, an accomplishment celebrated during a sunlit ribbon-cutting event held at noon Thursday, Oct. 24.

“This park right here, not only is it a tangible, concrete resource for kids immediately and today, but it also stands for, I think, effective and incredibly positive collaboration and partnership between our organization and Jackson County, which I think could materialize into other exciting things,” said Michael Despeaux of the Nantahala Area Southern Off Road Bicycling Association. 

Outdoor economy efforts continue

If the United States’ outdoor recreation industry were its own country, it would be the world’s 25th largest economy. And, while towns like Moab and Boulder and Jackson Hole might have more name recognition on a nationwide scale, Western North Carolina has everything it takes to command a large piece of that hypothetical country’s pie.

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