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

IMCA Modified wins in Texas put Sobbing, White, Wolla on Fast Shafts All-Star ballot

first_imgWyatt Howard, Mitchell Hunt, Bricen James, Aaron Johnson, Austin Kiefer, Cody Laney, Jeff Larson, Josh Long, Ryan McDaniel, Josh McGaha, Zach Madrid, Wade Manning, Hunter Marriott, Chris Mills, Clay Money and Bob Moore.  Rodney Morgan, Josh Most, Chris Nieman, Jason Noll, Jay Noteboom, Jake O’Neil, Brad Pounds, Tom Quint, Dereck Rhoden, Kyle Rohleder, Anthony Roth, Joel Rust, Cory Sample, Jim Sandusky, Robby Sawyer and Marlyn Seidler. IMCA Arizona Dirt Track Tour and Winter Challenge winners Casey Arneson, Chaz Baca, Jason Noll and Ricky Thornton Jr. all were already vote eligible. VINTON, Iowa – Three IMCA Modified events in as many nights in Texas put new candidates on the ballot for the 2020 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational.  Jeff Aikey, Drew Armstrong, Austin Arneson, Casey Arneson, Chaz Baca, Eric Barnes, Brandon Beckendorf, Tom Berry Jr., Steven Bowers Jr., Cayden Carter, Kellen Chadwick, Cory Craver, Cory Davis, Zane DeVilbiss, Ethan Dotson and P.J. Egbert.  Chris Elliott, Trevor Fitz-Gibbon, Junior Flores, Kelsie Foley, Troy Foulger, Jeremy Frenier, John Gober, David Goode Jr., Josh Goodwin, Daniel Gottschalk, William Gould, Jordan Grabouski, Kevin Green, Richie Gustin, Clay Hale and Bobby Hogge IV.  Jesse Sobbing topped the Saturday night Ice Breaker main event at Abilene Speedway before rookie Jon White Jr. and Jason Wolla were winners at Heart O’ Texas Speedway and Grayson County Speedway, respectively. The 80 drivers on the All-Star ballot now include: And Kelly Shryock, Todd Shute, Brandon Smith, Jesse Sobbing, Andy Strait, Shawn Strand, Matt Szecsodi, Jeff Taylor, Ricky Thornton Jr., Eric Tomlinson, Marcus Tomlinson, Nick Trenchard, Rob VanMil, Jon White Jr., R.C. Whitwell and Jason Wolla.last_img read more