U.S. EPA Reversal Won’t Save San Antonio Coal Plant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享San Antonio Business Journal:The Trump administration’s abolishment of the Clean Power Plan will not save a coal-fired power plant slated for closure in San Antonio.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has terminated the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced on Monday. Implemented in August 2015, the state-based plan had an ambitious goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030. While environmentalists decried the Trump administration’s decision and threatened lawsuits, San Antonio’s city-owned utility company CPS Energy said the EPA’s decision does not affect its plans to decommission the coal-fired Deely Power Plant by the end of 2018. The San Antonio-based utility company is however, planning to keep the neighboring coal-fired Spruce Power Plant in operation.Once considered to be the cheapest source of generating electricity, coal is one of the most polluting and has now become more expensive than natural gas and wind power, thanks to the shale revolution and technological innovations in renewable energy.CPS Energy, meanwhile, remains committed to reducing its carbon footprint and plans to replace Deely’s aging generators with a modern natural gas plant, CEO Paula Gold-Williams said Monday in a statement.“While regulations may change over time, our focus will always remain on creating value for our customers and community, executing smart economic decisions and making San Antonio a better place to live,” Gold-Williams said.More: Death of Clean Power Plan won’t save San Antonio coal plant slated for closure U.S. EPA Reversal Won’t Save San Antonio Coal Plantlast_img read more

Berman: Trans Mountain an economic, environmental mistake

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Star – Edmonton:Controversial environmental activist and professor Tzeporah Berman and Premier Rachel Notley went toe to toe over pipelines and policy at an Alberta Teachers’ Association conference on Saturday.Berman, a York University professor who previously served on the Alberta’s government’s Alberta’s Oil Sands Advisory Group and drew controversy for her staunch anti-pipeline position, argued that an end to global demand for fossil fuels is nigh while Notley vigorously defended the government’s approach to tackling climate change as well as the need for the Trans Mountain pipeline.Berman said the world is reaching a point of no return when it comes to climate change and accused politicians of paying lip service to the problem while ramping up production and supporting new infrastructure for oil and gas projects.“You don’t build a $10 billion pipeline for 5-10 years. You build it for 40 or 50. If in 50 years the world is still producing so much oil that we need a Trans Mountain pipeline for that level of production from Alberta, we’re in big trouble,” she said.While she praised Alberta for being innovative and open-minded to change, she also painted a grim picture for the future of the province’s oil industry, pointing to the high level of greenhouse gas emissions the oilsands create as well as the high production cost of bitumen. She said the idea that there’s an oil boom around the corner and that new pipelines will lead to economic prosperity is a “false storyline.”“The painful but far more practical reality is that Alberta bitumen is a high-carbon, high-cost product that can’t compete with U.S. shale,” Berman said. “We can’t do it on price, and we’re going to be struggling to survive as the world transitions to clean energy.”More: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and enviro-activist square off on Trans Mountain Berman: Trans Mountain an economic, environmental mistakelast_img read more

Distributed renewable energy projects proving to be a major new job source across Africa

first_imgDistributed renewable energy projects proving to be a major new job source across Africa FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Quartz:The rise of decentralized renewable energy as a solution to electrification rates across Africa—the slowest growing globally—is also bringing with it a solution to high unemployment.As startups in the space continue to prove the viability of their services as alternatives to traditional power grids, they’re starting to create direct jobs at a scale that’s already comparable to local utilities.A “job census” report of the renewable energy sector  shows the sector’s workforce—in terms of direct, formal jobs—is already comparable to traditional power grids and utilities in Nigeria and Kenya (the report’s analysis also included India and reflected similar impact). The report by Power for All, a non-governmental organization focused on promoting renewable energy, categorizes pico-solar appliances, solar home systems and mini-grids as well as standalone and grid-tied commercial and industrial systems as part of the renewable energy sector in its analysis.In Nigeria and Kenya, the impact of renewable energy jobs is also significant and still growing. Renewable energy companies in Kenya account for 10,000 jobs—only 1,000 fewer than the national utility, while in Nigeria the sector employs 4,000 in formal jobs compared to 10,000 employed across the country’s traditional energy sectors.Much of the sector’s growth has been fueled by a growing crop of companies looking to resolve unreliable power supply through renewable energy led by solar power PayGo products, which allow consumers to pay with mobile money. As these solutions show promise, the companies are backed by millions of dollars in venture capital: off-grid tech was the third highest funded startup sector in Africa last year, according to analysis by Partech Ventures.As market adoption and investment-fueled expansion is expected to continue to grow, so will the sector’s job creation impact: renewable energy jobs are projected to grow by 70% in Kenya and over 100% in Nigeria over the next four years. The impact is also much wider once you factor in both informal jobs in the sector as well as jobs created thanks to improved electricity supply and access.More: Off-grid renewable energy is helping tackle two of Africa’s biggest problemslast_img read more

Slippage in Indian coal consumption, first time in a decade

first_imgSlippage in Indian coal consumption, first time in a decade FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Quartz India:The amount of the fossil fuel consumed by India’s power generators, most of them coal-fired, during the ongoing financial year that began in April is on track to fall for the first time in over a decade. The reason for this decline is a combination of factors, including the rise in electricity generation from other sources and the overall slowdown in the country’s economy. From April to October this year, coal consumption by thermal power plants declined by 2.3 million tonnes compared to the corresponding period last year, according to an analysis of official data by Charles Worringham, a contributing researcher at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a non-profit based in Australia. India is often viewed as a safe harbour for coal, which is fast being abandoned by developed countries in the wake of climate change.Apart from China, the world’s largest consumer of the fuel, growth in coal demand comes largely from India. Long-term forecasts suggest that the country’s coal consumption will steadily rise over the next decade, and perhaps even beyond. In 2018, growth in India’s coal demand had far outpaced that of other energy sources, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA). State-owned miner Coal India, which produces more than 60% of all the coal consumed in the country, has for years been under pressure from the government to ramp up production to reduce dependence on coal imports and complaints of coal shortages at power stations.But in the first half of this financial year, the firm mined 241 million tonnes of coal, 6% less than its production in the corresponding period last financial year. A shortfall in Coal India’s production should have led to a rise in imports to meet the domestic demand. But imports have also been falling since September, suggesting that, at least for now, India’s appetite for the fuel is not growing as fast as expected.More: This year, India’s power plants may consume less coal for the first time in a decadelast_img read more

24 Hours in Maryland: The Four State Challenge

first_imgIn Maryland, the Appalachian Trail runs for 40 miles along the crest of South Mountain, traversing the entire state as it heads north toward Katahdin. Maryland’s A.T. is regarded as the flattest 40 miles of the entire trail. By the time most thru-hikers reach Maryland, a solid 1,000 miles into their journey, they’re in killer shape and a little bit bored. After knocking out some of the most mountainous terrain along the footpath, the relatively flat stretch of trail through Maryland presents an opportunity for a speed hike. Enter the Maryland Challenge, a perennial thru-hiking test where backpackers attempt to push through the entire state in 24 hours. Tack on a couple more miles on either side of the state and you can set foot in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania in the same day. Call that the Four State Challenge. Thru-hikers tend to refer to the challenges as simply “the Death March.” The A.T. may be flat through Maryland, but 40 miles in a day is never a piece of cake.“After finishing the challenge, we hitchhiked to the nearest town in Pennsylvania and crashed in a hotel with a case of beer and a lot of Domino’s pizza,” says Ian Mangiardi, a 2009 thru-hiker who completed the A.T. and Four State Challenge with his best friend Andy Laub. Together, they were known as The Dusty Camel. “We had to take a zero day after hiking through Maryland.”Just because the A.T. is consistently flat through Maryland doesn’t mean it’s boring, a common misconception among thru-hikers entering the state for the first time. The trail follows South Mountain as it heads north, offering views from rock outcroppings and some of the spiffiest shelters on the entire trail. The A.T. in Maryland also gives hikers access to some of America’s most significant history. Brutal Civil War battles were fought on South Mountain and the first memorial to George Washington sits along the trail. You also get to walk across the Mason-Dixon line at the north end of the state.There’s plenty of reason for a backpacker to linger, but the flat terrain and “manageable” miles make the Four State Challenge too tantalizing to resist for most thru-hikers.“We pushed ourselves throughout the entire A.T. trek, averaging 19 miles a day,” Mangiardi says. “When we reached the flat stretch through Maryland, we wanted to rock n’ roll and see how far we could push our bodies in a day.”The allure of the Four State Challenge has spread beyond the thru-hiking community, with weekend warriors testing their own limits on the Maryland stretch of A.T. The Mountain Club of Maryland even organizes a march through the state every other May, attracting 150 masochistic hikers from all over the country.Maryland’s a gorgeous state. Why not walk it all in a day?Highlights of the Four State ChallengeYou’ll hike just under 45 miles to complete the Four State Challenge. But it’s not all about knocking out miles and watching the clock. There’s plenty of reason to stop and smell the roses along the trek. Here are a few highlights from the Four State Challenge.Harper’s Ferry: Walk through downtown Harper’s Ferry, in West Virginia, which is the “psychological halfway point” for thru-hikers because the A.T.C. head office is located in town. Most would-be thru-hikers drop off the trail before reaching Harper’s Ferry. Walk through downtown, then cross the Potomac on a trestle foot bridge.Weverton Cliffs: After climbing from the Potomac to the ridge of South Mountain, take the short side trail to the edge of Weverton Cliffs for a killer view of the Potomac below.Gathland State Park: There’s only one memorial to war correspondents in the U.S. You’ll walk by the 50-foot arch/castle dedicated to the men and women who tell the stories of war in Gathland State Park.Washington Monument: Just 100 yards off the trail, you’ll find the first monument ever constructed in honor of our First President, a 30-foot high stone cylinder.Annapolis Rocks: If you’re really trying to make time, you can skip most of the spur trails to overlooks throughout the Maryland section of the A.T. But the quarter-mile side trail that leads to Annapolis Rocks is worth the effort thanks to the view of Greenbrier Lake to the south.High Rocks: As you get closer to Pennsylvania, you can also take a quick detour to High Rocks where, if you’re lucky, you’ll see hang gliders launch.  The loop trail leading to the rocks is only one-tenth of a mile.Mason Dixon Line: Just after crossing into Pennsylvania, you’ll see a wooden sign marking the Mason Dixon Line. Be careful. You’ve just entered Yankee territory.Do it YourselfThe Four State Challenge requires roughly 43.5 miles of hiking from the Potomac River to the Mason Dixon Line. Arrange for a shuttle or park two cars, one at the train station in Harper’s Ferry, the other in Pen Mar County Park in Pennsylvania. Plenty of hikers have tried the challenge only to fail, so don’t let the flat terrain fool you. Most knock out the state in under 20 hours. To give yourself the best opportunity for success, start well before daybreak and hike the first couple of hours in the dark.The Mountain Club of Maryland’s organized Challenge hike takes place on May 4. Three More A.T. ChallengesThru-hikers have to keep themselves entertained when slogging through “the green tunnel.” Here are three off-the-wall challenges commonly undertaken during the epic journey along the A.T.Half-Gallon Challenge: Pine Grove Furnace State Park, in Pennsylvania, marks the geographical midway point for A.T. thru-hikers. Tradition dictates that all thru-hikers buy a gallon of ice cream and try to eat the whole thing in an hour.West Virginia Challenge: The A.T. only runs through West Virginia for 2 miles. Consider this anti-challenge-challenge: try to spend as many nights as possible in the Mountain State, moving at least 200 yards from your previous campsite each day.Facial Hair Challenge: Sorry ladies, but this is just for the boys. No shaving from day one. How fabulous is your beard after six months in the woods?last_img read more

Outdoor Gear Made in the Blue Ridge

first_imgLocal. It’s more than just a word. These days, it’s a mentality, a lifestyle, even a philosophy. If you are a supporter of local farmers, businesses, or musicians, you should check out these seven companies that house and manufacture their products right here in your backyard. Here is your guide to gear made in the Blue Ridge.1. Jackson KayakSparta, Tenn.The Story: When Jackson Kayak co-owner Eric Jackson was six years old, he ran his first set of rapids, an event that would spark a revolutionary lifestyle for Eric. Aside from being one of the world’s top whitewater paddlers, Eric had also dabbled in boat design with Wavesport. When his first two children, Emily and Dane, began paddling more frequently, Eric thought it was time for kayaking manufacturers to start making boats for youth. When others didn’t agree, Eric went out on his own and started Jackson Kayak in 2003. The company released its first boat, the Fun1, in time for the 2004 boating season. The Fun1 was designed for kids and proved to be a hit in the kayaking community. Within a few short years, Jackson Kayak would become the number one seller of whitewater kayaks in the world.The Gear: 2014 RockstarThe new design of the Rockstar is, according to Jackson Kayak, their best hull design yet. Both shorter and lighter than previous versions, the 2014 Rockstar has a new hip locker pad system, more volume in the middle of the boat for better retentiveness and edge stability, and a shorter and slicier bow that still has plenty of space for the feet.$1,249, jacksonkayak.com 2. SylvanSport Brevard, N.C.The Story: SylvanSport owner Tom Dempsey is no stranger to the outdoor manufacturing business. As the former owner of Liquid Logic Kayaks, he’s well acquainted to what adventurers look for in a product. Tom sold Liquid Logic and invested his time into creating a lightweight, multifunctional camper. In 2004 he and his team of experienced outdoor designers founded SylvanSport, which now distributes their signature GO to customers across the country and overseas.The Gear: GOThe GO camping and travel trailer has been described as more versatile than a Swiss Army knife. At only 840lbs, practically any car can pull GO. All parts are made and assembled in the United States. The camper itself collapses into a low profile design, which increases fuel efficiency while maintaining a ground clearance of 13 inches. GO acts like a pop-up camper, extending into a durable, specialized Kelty tent that sleeps as many as six people. When the tent is not extended, use the trailer to haul everything from kayaks to four wheelers and refrigerators. GO is truly customizable and fits any and every one of your needs.$8,495, sylvansport.com3. Bedrock Sandals Charlottesville, Va.The Story: Bedrock Sandals co-owners Nick Pence and Dan Opalacz met on the West Coast through their involvement in AmeriCorps, but were drawn together more so because of their interest in minimalist footwear. Both were recovering from injuries at the time, and after some initial experimentation, the two launched their product on Kickstarter and made over four times the amount of money they had set as their goal.The Gear: Earthquake Sandals V2 As the benchmark Bedrock footwear, the Earthquake model is designed for everyone. Whether you’re a runner, hiker, or simply a barefoot enthusiast, these are the sandals for you. Made with a 6mm Vibram rubber sole, military grade straps, and an elasticized rubber heel made from a recycled bike tube, these are about as lightweight and minimalist as you can get. Bedrock Sandals also come with a lifetime sole warranty and their attention to customer service will ensure that you get the right size sandal for your foot.$54, bedrocksandals.com4. YAMA Mountain Gear Charlottesville, Va.The Story: If you walk down the hall from the Bedrock Sandals warehouse, you’ll find the one-man-show, YAMA Mountain Gear. Gen Shimizu, who is the owner, marketing manager, product developer, and gear manufacturer of this lightweight tent and tarp making company, went to college for mechanical engineering. After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and spending three months on the Pacific Crest Trail, Gen started his company and has been spreading the good word about adventure and lightweight backpacking options ever since.The Gear: Cirriform SW 1P This lightweight tent is the perfect alternative for solo hikers who like a little breathing room. At 19.5oz, the Cirriform SW is handmade by Shimizu and comes complete with a Cuben Fiber Canopy, Silnylon Floor, and No-See-Um Ultra Mesh. It packs down to a compact 10” x 7” x 5” size yet, when set up, provides backpackers with 41” of headspace and 26” at the rear.$420, yamamountaingear.com5. Man-PACKFront Royal, Va.The Story: Aaron Tweedie was working as a general contractor when the idea for a Man-PACK came to him. He wanted something that was lightweight, durable, versatile, and manly. After some research, Tweedie concluded that a product like this simply did not exist for men. His solution? He made his own. After refining multiple prototypes, Tweedie launched his product on Kickstarter, and the campaign was a huge success.The Gear: Man-PACK Classic 2.0This heavy-duty canvas bag can be worn three different ways to fit your activity needs. Whether you’re taking a hike or barging through city crowds, the Man-PACK can be kept on your back, by your side, or in front of you to keep your belongings safe and secure. The main compartment is ideal for holding 8” x 11” files, laptops and e-readers. The adjustable chest strap has a quick-release clasp and utility pocket. The side beverage pocket is collapsible so it’s there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. For men with a larger girth, be sure to check out the Man-PACK 2.0 XL.$45, man-pack.com6. Farm To FeetMt. Airy, N.C.The Story: Farm to Feet president Kelly Nester, also president of parent company Nester Hosiery, has been in the sock business for years. Nester wanted to see something out of a sock that transcended great performance. When the Great Recession hit and millions of Americans lost their jobs, the public began to consider where products were manufactured. That’s when Nester got his idea. He wanted a product that reflected the local mentality that was sweeping the nation. His brainchild, Farm to Feet, mimics the “farm-to-table” approach in its commitment to supporting and utilizing everything American, from wool suppliers to state-of-the-art machines.The Gear: Adventure Hike SeriesNo matter which of the three styles of Farm To Feet socks you chose, each one is guaranteed to be 100% American. With everything from wool to nylon, elastic, and packaging sourced within the United States, you can be sure to feel good about supporting this domestic business. Each pair of socks has a compression fit from the Achilles through to the middle arch, seamless toe closures, and special cushioning to ensure a comfortable fit. The reinforced design of the sock allows your favorite pair to last for years.$23, farmtofeet.com 7. Eagles Nest Outfitters Asheville, N.C.The Story: Peter and Paul Pinholster are not only brothers but also lifelong adventure partners. They discovered the benefits of hammock living in the late 1990s while visiting Costa Rica and New Zealand. When they returned to the States, they realized the American version of hammocks were in need of an update and so, in the summer of 1999, the brothers turned their garage from storage shed to hammock warehouse. With the help of their mother’s Singer sewing machine, they created the first models of the parachute hammock. After relocating to Asheville, the company grew from a windowless, one-room facility to a renovated, 18,000-square-foot warehouse and office building.The Gear: The DoubleNest This small, lightweight hammock packs down to the size of a large grapefruit and weighs in at 19 ounces, making it the perfect addition to any outing. Crafted from 70D nylon, this hammock is breathable enough for hot summer days yet durable enough for any adventure.$70, eaglesnestoutfittersinc.comlast_img read more

Caving in the Time of White Nose Syndrome

first_imgMy friends described a secret world lurking beneath the mountains, one with narrow passages leading to underground waterfalls. Caves abound right in my backyard, or rather, under my backyard. Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia have over 14,000 caves, making it the area with the highest concentration of caves in the U.S. I couldn’t wait to see for myself. But what about bats?Often viewed as flying rodents with rabies, bats get a bad rap. Turns out bats aren’t dangerous little creatures after all – they actually save us money and keep us healthy. Bats are the primary predator of nighttime insects that ruin crops. Without bats, farmers would be forced to turn to dangerous pesticides more frequently. A 2011 study by the U.S. Geological Survey reported that bats save farmers more than $3.5 billion a year in reduced pesticide use.Bats keep us healthy in another way. By keeping the insect population in check, bats reduce the spread of disease. Eating some 1,200 mosquitoes per hour during their feeding time, even just one bat in our backyard reduces our risk for contracting dengue fever or the West Nile virus. In recent years, a deadly fungus called White Nose Syndrome has decimated bat populations across the East. White Nose preys on bat colonies during hibernation, when a bat’s strength is already low and its immune system is suppressed. The fungus displays itself with a white smudge on the bat’s muzzle. Bats with the fungus behave oddly, like flying outdoors during cold winter months or gathering at cave mouths when they should be hibernating.  As a result, bats burn off their winter fat reserves, making them much more susceptible to freezing or starvation.Scientists estimate the fungus has already killed some 5.5 million to 7 million bats across 20 states, since the problem was first detected in 2006. If a solution isn’t found, several species of bats could become extinct within the next 20 years. The fungus flourishes in cool environments so the year-round 55 degree Fahrenheit temperature of most caves is ideal.My decision to go caving turned on both legal and ethical considerations. I planned to go caving in Georgia, where caves remain open. Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources considered mandatory cave closures because of White Nose Syndrome, but ultimately decided against it. Many other states have imposed mandatory cave closures to human traffic, but none of them report successfully containing the fungus.But just because I could legally go caving, didn’t mean that ethically I should. Before making my decision, I considered whether I would be spreading the fungus. Many speculate that recreational cavers exploring different caves with dirty equipment carry the spores with them. Since this was my first time venturing into a cave, my gear posed no potential for spreading the fungus. Knowing there was no chance of being a so-called “pathogen polluter” went a long way to quell my conscience.Still, I wondered whether my very being in a cave would disturb the bats. I rationalized it this way: When I learn something firsthand, the experience becomes intertwined with how I view the world. The more time I spend in nature, the more personal and important the preservation of the mountains, rivers, forests, and, yes, especially the bats, becomes to me.Going Deep: Caving at Pettijohn’sOur caving destination, Pettijohn’s Cave, is a wild cave in Lafayette, Georgia. Folks refer to it as “sacrifice cave” because it’s so accessible, sparing other nearby caves from visitors. Although the six miles of known passages are well mapped, Pettijohn’s still presents the possibility to discover new routes.Left to my own devices, I would have walked right past the cave entrance.  Our group leader led us to a rock cluster and started maneuvering his body around the boulders down a chute, which at first glance appeared to be a dead end.I followed him through a short passage to an enormous room. The aptly named “Entrance Room” is some 500 feet long and 30 feet high. Red clay adorned every inch of the cave’s surfaces, from ribbons weaving decorative patterns on the walls to spiral projections coming out of the floor.We continued to the far end of the room, where we slid, scrambled around boulders, and belly crawled through the “Pancake Squeeze” to reach a narrow chamber.  Using ropes, we lowered ourselves down to an underground stream.Water flowed under our feet as we followed it upstream toward the main waterfall. Walking upright seemed like a luxury after crouching for so long.caving1After scaling the waterfall, we followed a tunnel to another big room. We decided to rest, and turned off our headlamps. The moment the last headlamp clicked off, I felt as if someone had covered me with a thick wool blanket, so heavy was the darkness. It occurred to me just how amazing bats are, that they can thrive in complete darkness. Echolocation, a kind of built-in radar system, helps bats navigate at night. Bats make a twittering sound that’s so high-pitched most humans cannot hear it. When the sound bounces off objects, bat’s keen ears can actually identify the location, size, shape, and even texture of an object based on the echoes. As I grappled in the darkness for my pack, I had a whole new appreciation for bats.Our break ended abruptly when our leader explained that we were in an area of the cave dubbed the “Nervous Breakdown Room” because of the large number of unstable rocks known to exist there. Within a few minutes, I got into a rhythm of squeezing and twisting my way past rocks.The last one in our group of four had just entered the chamber when I felt the rocks around me suddenly shift, making an initial booming sound followed by the sound of dozens of smaller rocks falling. When the last in our group entered the tight chamber, he leaned against an unstable rock, causing other rocks to shift and tumble down the narrow chute. His cursing mixed with the tumbling rocks, creating a sound of chaos and confusion, which echoed off the cave walls. There was now darkness above me where his headlamp had shone. When we called his name, he replied in a voice strained with fear. His left foot was pinned by a rock.Our leader calmly leapfrogged backwards over me to reach him. While he worked to free her foot, I remained as still as possible, not wanting to set off a second rock fall. My thoughts darted. Could I move my body? Was there a path out or were we stuck? Could anyone get help quickly enough? Was I able to reach my food and water in my pack? And I thought about my baby boy, and my mind lingered on this one particular thought – what exactly was I doing in this cave when I could be at home, warm and dry holding my beautiful baby? I started to pray then, to whomever I pray to when things get really bad, and it may have been a coincidence, but just then our leader successfully freed our friend’s leg.Now able to move, we began to ascend with slow, deliberate moves, taking great care not to shift another rock.  Silence settled in as we solemnly retraced our steps back to the entrance. Our excited chatter long gone, we moved quickly to put distance between ourselves and the rock collapse. I was so focused on moving swiftly that I bumped right into my friend. He told me to turn off my headlamp, while switching his own headlamp to night vision.Gazing up, I saw dozens of sleeping bats. A sense of child-like wonder filled me. Wrapped snuggly in their own wings and hanging by their tails, bats looked so unlike any other mammal I’d ever seen. My thoughts drifted to my own two-year old boy. I made a wish – that one day he too might stand in a cave, experiencing the same sense of awe as he cranes his neck to get his first peek of a sleeping bat. In that instant I realized just how big the stakes are for these creatures—and for us.A short walk later we emerged from the cave, feeling off balance, like sailors stepping off a ship after a long stint at sea. I exhaled deeply, relieved to have a good scare behind me.My next breath was a deep one, full of urgency at the task ahead. If we want future generations to be able to share this same sense of wonder, we must figure out how to prevent bats the fate of extinction. Saving the bats goes beyond preserving health and economic benefits for ourselves – saving the bats is essential to preserving our own humanity.How to Save Our BatsBats need human allies for survival. Here are five ways you can help save our bats:1.  Spread the word that bats are worth saving. Write a letter to the editor or give a brief presentation at an outdoor club meeting. Not a writer? Simply like the “Save Our Bats Campaign” on Facebook and share the page with your friends.2.  Support the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act, which allocates $10.8 million in research money to stop diseases that threaten endangered species like some species of bats.3.  Preserve bats’ natural habitat, so that bats can live without too much human interference. This means limiting access and preserving the habitat inside of caves, as well as the streams, fields, and marshes bats also need to hunt insects.4.  Get your kids involved. Bat Conservation International gives kids the opportunity to adopt a bat.5.  Limit cave trips and follow decontamination protocol. Make sure to decontaminate your gear between trips underground. Both Woolite and Formula 409 kill the fungus without harming caving gear. And consider following the example of other cave stewards — set up weekend decontamination stations in the most popular caving destinations, to reduce the chance of humans spreading the fungus.last_img read more

TBT: The Mushroom Man

first_imgForaging the Forests for FungiMost of us buy our food from the grocery store. Alan Muskat gathers his food from the forest.He collects dandelion greens and nettles for salads, and he harvests an assortment of wild berries, but it’s his talent for tracking down tasty toadstools that’s earned him the nickname “Mushroom Man.”“Once you attune your eyes to mushrooms, you notice what you’ve never noticed before: hidden edible treasures, in plain sight,” says Muskat.For 15 years, he has been gathering mushrooms from lush Southern Appalachian forests. He has sold hundreds of pounds of this found food to regional restaurants each year, and he also guides mushroom workshops and expeditions. Muskat’s focus on fungus has attracted the national spotlight: he has been featured on food shows nationwide and dined with celebrity cooks from the country’s finest restaurants.Screen-shot-2015-10-22-at-1.40.27-PMPhoto Courtesy of Sandra Cohen-Rose“Mushrooms are as delicious as they are nutritious, and they’re all fresh, local, organic, and free,” says Muskat. They’re loaded with minerals and vitamins, especially B and D, and they taste meaty because they’re packed with protein. So why aren’t more people gathering these incredible edibles? Fungophobia, says Muskat.“Mushrooms are far more beneficial and less dangerous than most Americans believe,” he says. There are over 10,000 mushroom species on this continent, and only five or six are deadly poisonous. He encourages novice mushroom hunters to focus on the five most common mushrooms in Southern Appalachian forests—and their nonedible look-alikes. The best way to learn is to hike with an expert.“Eating wild mushrooms—like driving and having sex—has some measure of risk. But practically everybody does it anyway,” he says. In Spain, France, Russia, and most of the non-Anglo-Saxon world, mushroom hunting is virtually a national pastime: children gather mushrooms before they can read and write, and mushroom meals are a culinary conversation piece. Even here in Southern Appalachia, mountain folk religiously gather morels every spring.Screen-shot-2015-10-22-at-1.43.44-PMPhoto by HardWorkingHippie Via FlickrHarvesting mushrooms takes some work, but not as much as you might think. Muskat finds more mushrooms in neighborhoods than in remote forests. And don’t worry about over-harvesting mushrooms, says Muskat. Picking mushrooms is like picking berries; as long as you don’t destroy the fungus from which it grows, mushrooms will continue to sprout. Mushrooms are the fruiting part of a vast underground network of fungus strands called mycelium. These underground webs are vital in recycling nutrients, feeding trees, and replenishing ecosystems.“Most of us want to use mushrooms, typically for food or medicine. But you will gain far more from befriending fungi than by using them,” says Muskat. “Making friends with fungi involves getting to know them: understanding and appreciating their role in the environment and learning what they want in exchange.”Muskat uses clever and creative methods to educate others about mushrooms and their essential ecological roles—including humorous memory aids (“The poisonous Amanita mushroom is pronounced like the 80s Hall and Oates song “Maneater”) and even a mushroom rap. It’s all aimed at reconnecting people to the wild.Screen-shot-2015-10-22-at-1.47.36-PM“Chicken of the Woods” Photo by Vic Nanda“Wild food makes you wild—that is, free,” he says. “Gathering your own food is a lesson in self-esteem that you can carry over into other areas of your life. Can you learn the skills and trust yourself enough to eat what you alone have identified, or will you always need to eat processed food wrapped in cellophane?” •Want to learn more about the world wide web of wild mushrooms? Attend Muskat’s Making Friends with Fungus workshop on September 4 or his Off the Eaten Path wild foods retreat beginning September 10. Visit alanmuskat.com for more info.FUNGI FORAGING TIPS• In general, the more mature the forest, the more mushrooms you’ll find.• Some mushrooms are more common under specific trees. For chanterelles, go to deciduous woods. Boletes often prefer pine forests.• The best time to search for mushrooms is about five days after a good rain.• Avoid areas where mushrooms could have soaked up toxins, like a golf course, well-manicured (pesticide-laden) lawn, or places downwind of a coal-fired plant.• The first time you are eating a new edible species, cook some, but eat only a tablespoon. Any bad response—like nausea or an upset stomach—will usually happen within two hours.• Cook wild mushrooms well: When a guidebook says a variety is edible, it’s talking about the cooked version of it.last_img read more

Find Your Adventure Getaway Package Giveaway

first_imgFirst Name: Last Name: Address: City: State: ALAKAZARCACOCTDCDEFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPARISCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYZip Code*: Phone: Date of Birth: Email*: I would like to receive weekly BRO updates straight to my inbox.* denotes required field GIFT PACKAGE FOR TWO THAT INCLUDES ADMISSION:• 2 nights’ lodging • Tour of Ale-8-One Bottling Plant• Free Bike Rental to pedal Winchester’s Historic Alleyways• Bluegrass Heritage Museum• Blackfish Bison Farm• Guided Canoe/Kayak Rental from Three Tree’s Canoe• Guided Tour & Hike at Lower Howard’s Creek Nature Preserve• $200 in gift vouchers for the Beer Cheese Trail • Winchester Swag Bag Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on May 15, 2016. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before May 15, 6:00 PM EST 2016. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

Love and Empty Promises

first_imgAll relationships need nurturing. Like a flower needs water and sunlight. Or some shit like that. Obviously, I don’t know what I’m talking about because I have not been nurturing my relationship with my road bike. I pulled that thing out of the garage for the first time in a couple of months the other day and it was “reluctant to perform.” Like all of the dead flowers around my house. Because I don’t water them. The brakes were soft to the point of being nonexistent and a persistent clicking noise was emanating from the rear derailleur. I had maybe six gears that worked, total, and every time I tried to shift to the big chain ring, the chain fell off. It was not the high performance machine many of us expect our road bikes to be, and I have nobody to blame but myself.I spent so much time on my mountain bike this summer, I completely forgot about the skinny tired steed in the corner of the garage. I just didn’t have the desire to ride roads. But now it’s fall, and I wanted to get up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to see some of the early color change, so I pulled the old girl out and limped a thousand feet of vertical up to the “Mother Road” and instantly remembered how much I like road biking, especially around Asheville where narrow, sinuous back roads climb steep peaks.The Blue Ridge Parkway sits at the top of those same mountains, like a crown grabbing all of the attention, but I think the real gems are those less ridden access roads and quiet neighborhood streets, where you can pedal for an hour without seeing a car. Where the switchbacks are tight and some of the pitches take everything your legs can give. And yeah, I saw some fall color, the yellow leaves gathering on the edges of the road. I even saw a white squirrel, looking like a ghost haunting the hardwoods beside the road. And my road bike delivered. Even though I’ve neglected it for months, the bike got me through a hell of a ride, like it always does. Good relationships are a give and take, but if I’m being honest, this particular relationship is all me taking and never giving anything back.I pulled into the garage promising I’d clean it, take a crack at that derailleur, throw some new brake pads on. I probably won’t because I’m too lazy to even water the dead flowers sitting next to my garage, but it’s nice to throw out empty promises like that every once in a while. Relationships need those too. Right?last_img read more