Friday, June 29, 2012

Wildfires in Southern Appalachians Grow; More Trai...

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Wildfires in Southern Appalachians Grow; More Trai...: As of this morning there are now 47 uncontained large wildfires burning nationwide, up 6 from yesterday. Below is a run down of the three fires burning in the Southern Appalachians:

The Neighbor Mountain Fire in Shenandoah National Park has grown to 800 acres as of yesterday afternoon. The fire is burning north of Route 211 and west of Skyline Drive. Seventy-three firefighters and overhead staff are currently assigned. Heat and rough terrain are expected to slow suppression efforts over the next several days, while the estimated date for full containment is July 15th. The following trails and facilities are closed:

* Appalachian Trail between Elkwallow and Beahms Gap
* Jeremys Run Trail
* Neighbor Mountain Trail
* Knob Mountain Trail
* Knob Mountain Cutoff
* Jeremys Run Overlook
* Byrds Nest #4 shelter

Just north of Shenandoah is the Point 2 Wildland Fire, which has grown to 353 acres as of last night. The fire is located on Massanutten Mountain between Veach Gap and Sherman Gap in the counties of Warren and Shenandoah, in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. The fire is still only 5% contained, but 105 fire-fighting personnel are on hand. The following trails are closed until further notice:

* Massanutten National Recreation Trail (#408) from Shawl Gap to Veach Gap
* Tuscarora Trail (#405.1) is closed from Shawl Gap to Panhandle Road (SR 613)
* Sherman Gap Trail (#403)
* Veach Gap Trail (#484)
* The Little Crease Trail Shelter is also closed

US Forest Service officials in the Cherokee National Forest say a wildfire has burned nearly two hundred acres on the Ocoee Ranger District in Polk County since Monday. The fire is located off U.S. Highway 64 near Goforth Creek in steep rugged terrain. There are currently no threats to any structures.

Approximately 50 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Tennessee Division of Forestry, and various volunteer fire departments are working on containment lines. The extremely steep terrain combined with very hot and dry conditions is making firefighting efforts difficult.

Ocoee Acting District Ranger Andy Gaston said, “Motorist should exercise caution when traveling along Highway 64. Firefighting crews and equipment as well as smoke will be in the area and may cause traffic delays. In addition, the Goforth Creek parking area will be used for firefighting access and equipment parking and is closed to public use.”

Gaston also noted that, “There have been hot and dry conditions over the last few days and this pattern will continue into the weekend and the 4th of July week. National Forest visitors need to be very careful with fire and ensure that campfires are out and cold before leaving.”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Report Finds Annual Spending on Outdoor Recreation

 A report released last week by the Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) shows that outdoor recreation is a major economic driver in the United States — and one that has grown throughout the recession. According to The Outdoor Recreation Economy report, more than 140 million Americans engage in outdoor activities each year, directly delivering $646 billion to the economy and supporting 6.1 million domestic jobs.

This new study reinforces what the outdoor industry has known for a long time — outdoor recreation is a larger and more critical sector of the American economy than most people realize.

The outdoor recreation economy is responsible for:

* 6.1 million direct American jobs
* $646 billion in direct consumer spending
* $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue
* $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue

“During a time when some American industries are struggling, we are seeing solid growth,” said Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports and chair of the OIA Board of Directors. “Since 2005, the outdoor recreation economy has grown approximately 5% annually. In fact, outdoor recreation supports a significant number of jobs, on par with — or, in some cases, more than — other sizeable American industries.”

America is recognized globally as the leader in outdoor recreation. CEOs from leading outdoor recreation companies are calling on policymakers to take action to promote this critical component of the American economy.

“Outdoor recreation directly fuels major sectors of the American economy like manufacturing, hospitality and transportation. Just like any other sector of the U.S. economy, outdoor recreation needs support to continue to thrive,” said Manzer.

“This is the definition of a win-win scenario,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA. “In this country today, we’re battling an economic recession, a healthcare crisis, and we’re trying to create safe and sustainable places for families to live. The outdoor industry provides solutions for all of this. We need to come up with a strategy to protect the industry, its jobs and our customers.”

The outdoor industry can continue to be a growing jobs generator and an economic driver in the United States if parks, waters and trails are managed as a system designed to sustain these economic dividends for America.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Announces Class of ...

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Announces Class of ...: The 2012 Class of the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame was introduced at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet, held at Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, PA on June 8. The 2012 Class included five pioneers of the Trail, including the first two women inductees.

"Each class of Appalachian Trail Museum Hall of Fame inductees includes people who have made a major contribution to the Appalachian Trail, or otherwise have advanced the cause of the Appalachian Trail. The 2012 class certainly upholds those standards" said Larry Luxenberg, founder of the Appalachian Trail Museum and president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society - the organization that sponsors the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame.

This years' inductees include, Emma Rowena "Grandma" Gatewood, David A. Richie, J. Frank Schairer, Jean Stephenson and Major William Adams Welch.

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Woman Reports Sexual Assault on Blue Ridge Parkway...

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Woman Reports Sexual Assault on Blue Ridge Parkway...: This morning's NPS Digest is reporting that a rape took place along the Blue Ridge Parkway last month. A Virginia woman reported that she ...