Weekend Pick: Volunteer on the John Muir Trail

first_imgSaturday is National Trails Day, a nationwide series of events hosted by local trail clubs, individuals, and organizations dedicated to keeping the United States Trail System in good working order. Throughout the country, events will be held encouraging people to get outside and hit the trail. Although National Trails Day is organized by the American Hiking Society, mountain biking, paddling, bird watching, trail running, and anything else that involves a trail are all supported by the program. Not only is this a celebration of our trail system and a chance to get more people outside and on the trail, it is also a chance to recognize the thousands of volunteers who spend their time keeping the 200,000 miles of U.S. trails in good working order. They are the ones out there on weekends and evenings doing the manual labor and maintenance it takes to make the trails passable and beautiful.To that end, this weekend give a little something back and volunteer to help clear or cut a trail on public lands this Saturday. There are numerous opportunities to do so in North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee with all the national park and national forest land and you can find a map of official National Trails Day clean up events on their website. We recommend heading for Ducktown, Tenn. and volunteering with the Tennessee Wild Helping Hands to clear up the eastern end of the John Muir Trail. The John Muir Trail is a National Recreation Trail, but is in need of rebuilding, reshaping, and other basic trail repairs. No previous trail maintenance experience is necessary and all tools and safety gear will be provided. Just bring your work boots, lunch, and enthusiasm – long pants would probably be a good idea also.Give back to the trails that have given so much to you and make this Saturday a day of service. You’ll feel good, get some exercise, and set the tone for future generations of trail users.View Larger Maplast_img read more

The Magic Kingdom of Wilderness

first_img“When are you going to take your family to Disney World?”Every fall, my cousin and I watch football games in his “man cave” equipped with sports memorabilia, X-Box, a fully stocked bar and the crown jewel, an HD 70-inch television. As a lifelong Southerner who loves college football, this is nirvana.And for about six years, my cousin pops the Disney question.You see, I have a 10-year-old daughter who has never been to Disney World.The window is closing fast.A year or two ago, American Girl dolls traveled with us everywhere. Planning for a trip to the grandparents in Chattanooga was like organizing a bus load of tourists. In our case, dolls and stuffed animals.These days, fewer and fewer American Girls dolls are joining us, and my cousin, who has an older daughter, has warned me that the Disney princesses are not going to be as appealing come this fall and spring.I have nothing against Disney World or princesses, but this past summer my family decided to do something different. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act by visiting the Citico Creek Wilderness area in the Cherokee National Forest, near Tellico Plains, Tennessee.We literally traded castles and mouse ears for waterfalls and salamanders.We hiked into the Citico Creek Wilderness ending up at Falls Branch Falls, a spectacular roaring 70-foot waterfall. Nurse logs, moss, mushrooms and wildflowers abound. We also snorkeled in the wilderness-fed, Citico Creek, donning wetsuits, floating and exploring for hours in a rushing three-foot clean and clear stream. I will never forget the moment my daughter grabbed my hand when she saw her first colorful darter—a moment of joy and discovery we would experience a hundred times that morning and afternoon.For my entire family, the wilderness became our Magic Kingdom.Disney World in Florida and the Wilderness Act are about the same age. The Wilderness Act passed in 1964; after several years of development, Disney World opened in 1971.Both are uniquely American.We all know the story of Disney, but many of us do not know America’s wilderness story.Fifty years ago this year, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law The Wilderness Act of 1964. The Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and allowed Congress to permanently protect some of America’s most special and beautiful places as wilderness.Today there are 757 distinct wilderness areas located in 44 states and Puerto Rico, designated to preserve and protect wildlife and natural systems for hiking, camping, backpacking, picnicking, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, kayaking and nature photography. These special places provide us clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.Big Frog and Little Frog, Linville Gorge, Shining Rock, Cohutta, Sipsey, and Shenandoah—these are the special names of just a few of our southern wildernesses.And there is one key difference between Disney World and these wilderness areas. Disney is owned by shareholders and is a multinational corporation. We—all Americans—own the wilderness areas.It’s all public land. It is our treasure. Our inheritance. We all have a stake in it. We are responsible for it, and future generations are counting on us to pass it down protected and preserved.In the age of Facebook and social media, my cousin has seen pictures posted of my daughter standing beside waterfalls, big trees and in a wetsuit. He hasn’t mentioned Disney this fall in the “man cave.” But we have talked about our Magic Kingdom–America’s wilderness.In fact, I’ve been asking him, “When are you going to take your family to the wilderness?”—Pat Byington is Executive Director of Wild South (wildsouth.org)last_img read more

Golden Dawn MPs racist remarks spark complaints

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Eleni Zaroulia, the wife of Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and an MP with the neo-Nazi party, prompted complaints in Parliament when she referred to migrants as “subhumans” who are “carrying all kinds of diseases.” The comment prompted Deputy Parliament Speaker Yiannis Dragasakis to ask Zaroulia, who has been appointed to the Council of Europe’s Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, to show more respect. Dragasakis asked if Zaroulia would be sharing the same views when attending the committee meetings. This week, 218 out of 300 MPs voted to lift the immunity of Golden Dawn deputy Costas Barbarousis after he was involved in a raid on an open-air market in Mesolongi, western Greece, last month, when migrants’ stalls were smashed. Source: Kathimerinilast_img read more