Working for play: Trail groups pass forest stewardship to the next generation

coverThe 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.

Get out: Waynesville and Jackson county look to the mountains for parks programming

fr outdoorrecMountains 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. 

Forest users negotiate need for wilderness in new management plan

out frWestern North Carolina is covered with more than 1,500 square miles of national forest, and residents often measure their assets in terms of towering hardwoods, flocks of turkeys and mountain streams.

National forest land belongs to everybody, but “everybody” includes a pretty diverse group of hikers, bird watchers, hunters, mountain bikers, horseback riders, fishermen, paddlers, environmentalists, loggers and so on — all with different ideas and priorities. As the U.S. Forest Service works toward a new guiding management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, it’s a challenge to find a strategy that “everybody” can agree on. 

Parks and rec grants decrease across state

Macon County can count itself lucky for landing a $500,000 state recreation grant to help pay for a softball and baseball complex.

Macon hopes for home run

coverMacon County commissioners decided in a split vote this month to spend $3 million building a tournament-scale baseball and softball recreation complex.

“It’s been two years of pretty steady work, but it’s well worth it,” said Seth Adams, Macon County Parks and Recreation director. “I’m tickled to death that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

In with greenways and yoga, out with ball field sports

fr recreationAn indoor swimming pool, a river park in Dillsboro and more greenways emerged as top priorities in a 10-year master recreation plan created by the Jackson County’s Recreation and Parks Department.

Skaters find their groove at Waynesville’s new concrete playground

Skateboarders from across Western North Carolina have streamed into Waynesville during the past week to try out the town’s newly opened $400,000 skate park.

Vandalism prompts Sylva to mount security cameras in parks

Persistent vandals have pushed Sylva decision-makers to ramp up the town’s surveillance program.

 

Coming soon to two Sylva parks are several new security cameras. Both Bryson and Poteet parks have suffered a rash of vandalism, from smashed bathroom sinks to graffiti.

Higher cost for new restrooms at Waynesville playground could nix project

Renovating the antiquated, shuttered restrooms at the Waynesville Recreation Park will cost more than town officials anticipated, leaving them to question whether to bother or just scrap the plans altogether.

Mountain Momma

I have faint but fond memories of picking strawberries as a kid: the twisty, dusty gravel roads leading to the farm, being handed my very own big-girl pail by the strawberry lady and, most notably, sneaking mouthfuls when my mom wasn’t looking. 

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