The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

News

  • Enviros to TVA: Retire the fossil-fuel pacifier
    Dulce Torres Guzman
    Thursday, 22 September 2022

    Cumberland FPTVA’s Cumberland Fossil Plant near Clarksville is the subject of a suit filed by environmental groups, including Appalachian Voices and Southern Environmental Law Center.  Tennessee Valley Authority 

    SELC, others file suit in hopes of dissuading TVA from future fossil options

    This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

    CLARKSVILLE — On behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center asked TVA to prepare a supplemental environmental statement to address concerns with TVA’s draft environmental impact statement, which details the agency’s plans to retire the Cumberland Fossil Plant.

    The Cumberland Fossil Plant, about 22 miles southwest of Clarksville, is TVA’s largest coal-fired power station and was built between 1968 and 1973. TVA plans to retire each unit of the two-unit, coal-fired steam-generation plant separately: one unit no later than 2030, and the second unit no later than 2033. But the plant will need to be replaced, and TVA is currently considering three alternatives to fossil fuel, including natural gas and solar energy, according to its draft EIS.

    (Tennessee Valley Authority already plans to close down the Knoxville-area Bull Run fossil plant in Claxton next year).

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  • Plant native species to help the world just outside your door
    Ben Pounds
    Tuesday, 20 September 2022

    IMG 3876Gerry Moll is seen in the native garden of his home in the 4th and Gill neighborhood of Knoxville.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

    People are restoring native plants on their properties. You should, too.

    ‘There are a lot of messes out there and this is something that you can do right at home that has a positive effect.’

    KNOXVILLE — If you want to help native wildlife and attract it to your yard, plant some native plants and kick back on your porch and watch them grow. That’s a good place to start.

    That’s the message from Native Plant Rescue Squad founders Gerry Moll and Joy Grissom.

    People walking by Moll’s garden in the Fourth and Gill neighborhood off Broadway just north of the city center will see tall plants; not hedges or other foreign plants, but various short trees and native flowers. It looks like an explosion of growth on both sides of the sidewalk, but it’s not chaos.

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  • These artists are a bunch of animals
    Doug Strickland
    Tuesday, 20 September 2022

    American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) paint art for the Aquarium's fall fundraising auction.An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) paints art for the fall fundraising auction for the Tennessee Aquarium. The auction runs through Sept. 26.  Tennessee Aquarium

    Wildlife masterpieces mark an artistic autumnal fundraiser for the Tennessee Aquarium

    CHATTANOOGA — While getting ready to tackle his next artistic masterpiece at the Tennessee Aquarium, Avior the red-ruffed lemur likes to take a few steps to center himself: languid naps in the sunshine, delicate nibbles of romaine lettuce, a resounding howl to focus his energy. 

    Only after these rituals are complete can this master of composition — a true “Lemur-nardo” da Vinci — begin putting paw and tail to canvas to create his next opus. 

    Avior’s latest triumph — made using non-toxic, animal-friendly tempura paint, naturally — is a 16-by-20-inch piece created in collaboration with his fellow lemurs and social media star Atlanta-based artist Andrea Nelson (TikTok video). Avior and Nelson’s masterwork is one of more than two dozen pieces of art made by aquarium animals now up for bid during the Tennessee Aquarium’s online fall fundraising auction. The auction will conclude at noon on Monday, Sept. 26.

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  • Foreign freshwater jellyfish have been swimming among us since the 1930s
    Stephen Lyn Bales
    Monday, 12 September 2022

    Bales Freshwater jellyfish

    Freshwater jellyfish: Here one year, gone the next.

    KNOXVILLE — Paddling along the still water of Mead’s Quarry Lake you notice the air bubbles created by your oars. They are all around your canoe near the surface.

    It’s a hot early September afternoon and the nearly transparent bubbles seem to take on a life of their own. You slow to watch and yes, they undulate, rising and falling in the pristine water of the abandoned marble quarry.

    Air bubbles do not undulate!

    Taking a clear plastic cup, you lean over the gunwale and scoop up one of the penny-sized bubbles to get a closer look.

    Tentacles? Air bubbles do not have tentacles. What you are looking at is a freshwater jellyfish and the heat of late summer is its mating season. It’s a blossom of jellyfish as hundreds gather together near the water’s surface. They are commonly known as peach blossom jellyfish

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  • Citizen scientists are taking stock in Smokies, and the inventory keeps increasing
    Thomas Fraser
    Wednesday, 07 September 2022

    1 smokies most wanted infographic credit Emma Oxford GSMA

    This story was provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    GATLINBURG Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating the success of a community science project led by nonprofit partner Discover Life in America (DLiA) called Smokies Most Wanted. The initiative encourages visitors to record life they find in the park through the iNaturalist nature app. DLiA and the park use these data points to map species range, track exotic species, and even discover new kinds of life in the park. 

    “iNaturalist usage in the Smokies has skyrocketed from just four users in 2011, to 3,800 in 2020, to now more than 7,100 users,” said Will Kuhn, DLIA’s director of science and research. 

    In August, the project reached a milestone, surpassing 100,000 records of insects, plants, fungi, and other Smokies life submitted through the app. Among them are 92 new species not previously seen in the park.

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  • Public comment: Environmental group leaders say TVA makes input difficult
    Dulce Torres Guzman
    Tuesday, 06 September 2022

    Handout from TVA Listening Session Aug. 30 2022Scott Banbury with the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club said a handout provided at TVA’s Aug. 30 listening session stated recordings of the meeting were not allowed; a TVA spokesperson said recordings are, in fact, allowed. Flyer provided by Scott Banbury

    Is TVA trying to gag its critics?

    This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

    KNOXVILLE — While the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility company that provides power to millions in Tennessee and other states, allows for public input into decisions, the process isn’t simple or transparent, say some regular attendees.

    Take, for instance, a recent public listening session: representatives of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club say they were told they could not record the session despite a spokesman for TVA saying the opposite.

    According to TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks, attendees are always allowed to record public meetings, provided they don’t cause a disturbance, but minutes before the session, members of the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club were prohibited from doing so.

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  • Knoxville continues to foment a green industrial revolution
    Ben Pounds
    Wednesday, 31 August 2022

    IMG 3713Spark CleanTech Accelerator participants join Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon during an Aug. 31 awards ceremony. Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

    Knoxville celebrates sustainable technology startups from across the country

    KNOXVILLE — Leaders of start-up green businesses specializing in services and products ranging from carbon reduction to cleaning products and piping wrapped up some warp-speed lessons Aug. 31.

    At the conclusion of the three-month Spark CleanTech Accelerator the leaders of environmentally sustainable businesses from across the country took home some awards and got a strategic pep talk from Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.

    “I’m very committed to all things green and sustainable,” she said. “Orange and green are complementary colors." She spoke of making Knoxville a “clean tech hub,” not just for Tennessee but internationally. She envisioned “a cleaner Knoxville and a cleaner world.”

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  • There’s a whole world in the dirt beneath your feet
    Tara Lohan
    Friday, 26 August 2022
    Dust bowl soilThe Dust Bowl of the 1930s resulted in the displacement of tons of soil in the midst of a drought similar to the one that grips the Southwest today. Library of Congress
     

    Dirt is far from just dirt. It’s a foundation for life.

    This story was originally published by The Revelator.

    Look down. You may not see the soil beneath your feet as teeming with life, but it is.

    Better scientific tools are helping us understand that dirt isn’t just dirt. Life in the soil includes microbes like bacteria and fungi; invertebrates such as earthworms and nematodes; plant roots; and even mammals like gophers and badgers who spend part of their time below ground.

    It’s commonly said that a quarter of all the planet’s biodiversity lives in the soil, but that’s likely a vast understatement. Many species that reside there, particularly microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists, aren’t yet known to science.

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  • Southeast Tennessee ridges and rivers will benefit from $10m infusion of federal natural resource funding
    Casey Phillips
    Thursday, 25 August 2022
    Crimper on Sequatchie Valley FarmA crimper is attached to the back of a tractor on a farm in the Sequatchie River Valley. A relatively recent agricultural technique, crimping has been shown to reduce farmers’ input costs and improve soil quality. Recently, USDA approved funneling $10 million into a six-county region of Southeast Tennessee. This money will fuel conservation-minded improvements for landowners, including lowering the cost to rent equipment like crimpers and subsidize the planting of cover crops to improve soil health and reduce sedimentation in nearby streams.  Tennessee Aquarium
     

    Targeted collaborative conservation will help local agricultural operations improve soil and water quality and protect aquatic life

    CHATTANOOGA Tennessee is as much a patchwork quilt of farms as it is an intricately woven lacework of streams and rivers. Soon, farmers and the aquatic life living alongside them will reap the benefits of $10 million in federal funds to support water-friendly agricultural improvements in the rolling uplands of the state’s southeastern corner.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the allocation of more than $197 million to support Regional Conservation Partnership Programs (RCPP) throughout the nation. These initiatives promote coordination between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partnering organizations that are already engaged in conservation efforts.

    Among USDA’s list of 41 approved projects this year is a five-year allocation of $10 million — $2 million per year — to fuel the “Ridges to Rivers” program, an RCPP focused on agricultural improvements in a six-county region spanning the Sequatchie River Valley and Walden Ridge. This federal funding matches $11.8 million already being invested in the region by more than a dozen local partnering organizations that applied to receive this funding.

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  • Skunked: Collapsing fisheries pose a dire threat to the planet
    Coty Perry
    Monday, 22 August 2022

    Chilean purse seineA purse seine on a Chilean fishing vessel captures tons of mackerel. NOAA

    We need to navigate to where fish sticks in your mind

    You can read Coty Perry’s full report on overfishing at YourBassGuy.com.

    When you hear about sustainability, one thing that often flies under the finder is the topic of overfishing. Many will say that overfishing is a natural response to the need for more fish, but it runs much deeper than that.

    The goal of this article is not to shame any specific industry, country or company. The goal is to shine light on an issue I believe is highly under-reported by mainstream media.

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  • Coral, waste, water and weeds: Environmental vignettes from a UT journalism class
    Kaylee Walper, Mallory DeVore, Grace Ellison, Kathryn Kavanagh
    Thursday, 18 August 2022

    An empty Circle Park as trees bloom on April 02, 2020. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of TennesseeAn empty Circle Park is seen in April. The park is adjacent to the UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media. Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

    Everybody has a story about the natural environment. Look around, and into yourself.

    University of Tennessee journalism professor Mark Littmann asks students in his environmental writing class every semester to write short sketches about environmental issues they may observe during any given day. Such an assignment requires an almost poetical approach. Here's a sampling from spring semester.

    A reef of bones

    Huge schools of rainbow-colored fish weave through the brightly colored corals as Sir David Attenborough describes a day in the life of a fish on the television screen. A little girl is mesmerized; this is no Disney fantasy but real life. The nature shows on Animal Planet capture her imagination and soon mornings and afternoons are spent watching big cats and meerkats navigate the wild spaces they call home. She finds an instant favorite in the book “The Rainbow Fish” and celebrates turning four with a sparkly rainbow fish cake, hand decorated with sprees for rainbow scales. She insists someday she will swim among the fish in their magical undersea world. 

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  • Activists urge TVA to take advantage of historic US climate bill for energy-efficiency improvements
    Dulce Torres Guzman
    Tuesday, 16 August 2022

    TVA 1 2048x1365A hopper car on a train filled with coal to be delivered to a TVA coal-fired plant. John Partipilo/Tennessee Lookout

    Climate bill designates TVA as a potential recipient of clean energy investments and loans

    This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

    KNOXVILLE  Clean-energy advocates are urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to use funds provided through the Inflation Reduction Act to deliver environmentally friendly energy to Tennessee customers. 

    The massive bill Congress passed Friday includes $370 billion for clean energy investments and listed TVA as an entity that is eligible to take advantage of clean energy credits and loans to significantly reduce the cost of energy-efficient infrastructure. 

    On Aug. 12, the Clean Up TVA Coalition, including the Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Appalachian Voices, urged TVA to take advantage of the legislation and make funds available to its affiliated local power companies, which can then offer energy-efficient options for customers.

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  • Monarch butterflies, an ephemeral but regular glimpse of beauty, are fluttering toward extinction
    Stephen Lyn Bales
    Wednesday, 10 August 2022

     Bales Monarch on coneflowerA monarch butterfly, recently declared endangered despite decades of conservation, is seen atop a coneflower. Stephen Lyn Bales

    Dramatic monarch declines mean the bell tolls for we

    KNOXVILLE — Monarch butterflies are ephemeral by nature. The orange and black dalliances that flitter through our lives, our yards, and our countryside like motes of dust are here one minute and gone the next. We pause for a few seconds to watch the “flutter-bys” and then move on.

    For about all of the Lepidopteran family, where they come from, where they go, their raison d'être, we don’t ask. They are winged wisps that pass through our busy lives. But that is not true with this orange and black butterfly, named to honor King William III of England, the Prince of Orange. But two people did ask.

    Norah and Fred Urquhart lived in Southern Canada and in the late 1930s they noticed that the monarch butterflies seemed to all be fluttering south this time of the year. Could they possibly be migrating and if so, where did they go? The notion that a butterfly might migrate south for the winter seemed hard to fathom. Yes, broad-winged hawks migrate. But a flimsy butterfly?

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Earth

  • That ain’t country: Activists protest proposed downtown tree removal in Knoxville
    Thomas Fraser
    Friday, 19 August 2022

    KNOXVILLE — People assembled at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 to speak for the trees threatened by development of an art installment at the half-acre Cradle of Country Music Park at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive downtown.

    The Harvey Broome Chapter of the Sierra Club organized the protest against the removal of five mature oak trees to make way for the sculpture and its base, which was originally commissioned to a New York City artist in 2018 and will cost the city $600,000, according to reporting from Compass. The online news outlet also reported Friday that Councilwoman Seema Singh has requested a pause in the project to determine whether there are alternatives to removing the trees.

    “While five trees will be removed, 12 are being preserved, and nine new trees are being planted. It is a net gain of four trees. Over time, as the new trees mature, there will be more canopy than exists now,” city spokesman Eric Vreeland told Hellbender Press.

    The project was commissioned under former Mayor Madeline Rogero, who was quoted at the time in a city government blog post as saying: “We’ve been increasing our collection of public art in recent years — both in terms of quantity and quality. The Public Art Committee has done a great job in commissioning a wide variety of intellectually-stimulating murals, sculptures, painted stairs, metal relief and other pieces. And now, this latest project will completely transform a small underused pocket park into a dynamic downtown focal point.”

    Knoxville’s influence on the nascent country music scene is described in a walking tour offered by Visit Knoxville that highlights the city’s connections to country stars such as Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and the Everly Brothers.

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  • Parking fees set for Smokies; camping costs will increase
    Thomas Fraser
    Monday, 15 August 2022

    IMG 6088You might have to pay to park at some of these trailheads in Great Smoky Mountains National Park starting next year. These old trail badges are displayed in Fontana Village on the south side of the Smokies. Thomas Fraser/Hellbender Press

    Smokies parking fees will generate $7 million in revenue for park infrastructure

    GATLINBURG — Getting outside just got more expensive.

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced Monday the park would proceed with plans for a $5/per day parking pass required of all cars staying in one spot for more than 15 minutes.

    Weekly passes will be $15, and annual passes will be available for $40, according to a release from the park service. Fees will also increase $3 for backcountry and campground permits, meaning campers and backpackers will have to fork over $8 a night.

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  • Falling trees accountable for very few deaths in Smokies, but they do happen
    Thomas Fraser
    Monday, 01 August 2022

    CITIZEN TIMES: Child killed by falling tree was a very rare twist of horrible fate

    Karen Chavez of the Asheville Citizen Times wrote a great article on tree-related deaths in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and beyond following the death last week of a Georgia child killed by a falling tree as she was occupying a tent in Elkmont Campground.

    She reports the death of the child was only the 11th tree-linked death in the national park’s history.

    The first such death was reported in 1934, when a Civil Conservation Corps worker was killed. Tree-related deaths since are normally associated with roadways and hiking trails.

    “‘Deaths related to falling trees or limbs account for about 2 percent of total recorded deaths in the park. It’s an incredibly rare and tragic occurrence and accounts for the first-ever fatality caused by a tree falling on a tent in park history,’” according to an interview Chavez had with park spokeswoman Dana Soehn.

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  • Falling tree kills child in Great Smokies
    Thomas Fraser
    Wednesday, 27 July 2022

    ELKMONT — A 9-year-old girl died early Wednesday after a tree fell on a tent she was occupying in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    The unidentified child was among a group of people camping in Elkmont Campground when the red maple, 2 feet in diameter, fell shortly after midnight and crushed the girl in her tent, according to the National Park Service.

    The girl and her family had traveled to the national park from Georgia. Her father and two siblings weren’t injured, according to the park service.

    Elkmont Campground remains open, but the family’s campsite and an adjacent campsite were temporarily closed.

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  • Light pollution blurs our contact with the heavens and makes our noses run
    Yuyu Zhou
    Friday, 15 July 2022

    nasa middwest nighttimeThe Midwest U.S. is seen in this image taken at night from the International Space Station. It's a good representation of the challenges presented by light pollution in the Southern Appalachians and beyond. NASA

    Light pollution is disrupting the seasonal rhythms of plants and trees, lengthening pollen season in US cities

    This story was originally published by The Conversation. Yuyu Zhou is an associate professor of environmental science at Iowa State University.

    City lights that blaze all night are profoundly disrupting urban plants’ phenology — shifting when their buds open in the spring and when their leaves change colors and drop in the fall. New research I coauthored shows how nighttime lights are lengthening the growing season in cities, which can affect everything from allergies to local economies.

    (Hellbender Press has covered light pollution, such as this great article from Rick Vaughan).

    In our study, my colleagues and I analyzed trees and shrubs at about 3,000 sites in U.S. cities to see how they responded under different lighting conditions over a five-year period. Plants use the natural day-night cycle as a signal of seasonal change along with temperature.

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Air

  • SACE belays solar power on Global Climbing Day
    Thomas Fraser
    Friday, 19 August 2022

    MEMPHIS Area residents were invited to a film screening of “Keep the Lights On” and a panel discussion at the Memphis Rox climbing gym with community members, local advocates and policy experts. The event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, coincided with Global Climbing Day, and professional rock climbers Nina Williams, Manoah Ainuu (who recently summited Everest), Olympic Silver Medalist Nathaniel Coleman, and Fred Campbell hosted and participated in community and climbing-oriented events prior to the film screening and conversation. 

    The film follows Memphis Rox staff member and leader Jarmond Johnson, recounting his experiences with intermittent energy access growing up in South Memphis, his growth into a gang activist and mentorship role at Rox, and, ultimately, working with professional rock climber and environmental activist Alex Honnold (best known for the academy award-winning film, Free Solo) to bring solar energy to the gym. Following the screening, Jarmond and a panel of experts discussed takeaways from the film, and how equitable access to solar energy could help all Memphians keep their lights on. 

    — Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

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  • SACE sees many silver linings in Senate climate bill; House passage expected
    Amy Rawe
    Monday, 08 August 2022

    UN Climate ChangeA rainbow pierces gray skies during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. United Nations

    Climate activists stress positives of Senate climate bill despite its shortcomings 

    Amy Rawe is communications director for Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

    KNOXVILLE — The U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), an estimated $430 billion bill, of which approximately $370 billion will be allocated to investments in clean energy and to address climate change.

    It’s the single largest climate investment in U.S. history, and if it passes the House, will put the country on a path to be able to achieve roughly 40 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, reestablishing our influence in meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

    If passed, the Inflation Reduction Act will:

    • Give opportunities to hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in well-paying jobs manufacturing, installing, and maintaining clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation
    • Lower Americans’ cost of electricity by spurring the development of hundreds of gigawatts of low-cost clean energy, including wind, solar, and battery energy storage.
    • Protect drivers from expensive and volatile fuel costs through financial incentives to switch to electric vehicles.
    • Reduce households’ bills through historic investments in rebates and tax credits for home energy efficiency and efficient electric appliances.
    • Promote environmental justice and direct resources and benefits to disadvantaged communities, which are often overlooked for investment and bear heavy costs of fossil fuel pollution.
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  • U.S. Supreme Court’s recent clean-air ruling renews spotlight on fossil-energy producers like TVA
    Anita Wadhwani
    Tuesday, 12 July 2022

    TVA 4 Cumberland FP

    Supreme Court air-pollution ruling calls into stark context all that must be done

    This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

    KNOXVILLE — The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change has renewed the spotlight on the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public utility and Tennessee’s primary source of electricity.

    The case involved EPA efforts to implement a key provision of the Clean Air Act in a challenge brought by 15 Republican-led states. That provision, which never went into effect, would have required existing power plants to shift from dirty sources of energy — such as coal — to cleaner sources, including solar and wind, as part of an urgent effort to reduce global warming.

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  • ORNL researcher models fire’s growing footprint in a changing climate
    Thomas Fraser
    Thursday, 07 July 2022

    COVER 1208 GatlinburgsInferno3Wild turkeys forage in charred hardwood forest soon after the 2016 Gatlinburg fires, which moved from the Smokies to developed areas in Sevier County. An ORNL model predicts wildfire threats will increase in the Southern Appalachians because of climate change. Thomas Fraser/Hellbender Press via Knoxville Mercury

    ORNL report: Local wildfire danger will likely loom larger because of climate change

    OAK RIDGE — This cruel summer, the Southern Appalachian region is already baking in above-normal temperatures and basking in poor air quality. 

    Air temperatures in Knoxville flirted with 100 degrees on July 6, which were well above average and prompted the National Weather Service to issue a heat advisory for much of the metropolitan area.

    It’s hard to definitively link a heat wave to global warming, but one oft-cited consequence of climate change is the growing intensity of wildfires, even in the traditionally moisture-rich Appalachians. The range of climate change effects is difficult to pin down, but one constant in the study of climate change is an expected increase in overall temperatures, which can power wildfires via both fuel increases and volatility.

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  • SACE released its annual utility decarbonization tracking report, and it’s not pretty
    Heather Pohnan and Maggie Shober
    Wednesday, 22 June 2022

    methane leaksBloomberg reports that methane leaks from the natural gas sector may be far worse than estimated by the EPA. While replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas ones reduces air pollution it may not help at all with climate change because methane is 30 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2.  Image source: Kayrros SAS

    Report: Many utilities are not reducing carbon emissions despite public assurances to the contrary

    KNOXVILLE — Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and experience rapid and deep reductions to avoid a potentially catastrophic future, according to a new analysis by air-quality and climate advocates. Emissions must reach net zero by the early 2050s to limit warming to 1.5 degrees (C) in order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

    Many utilities and municipalities have acknowledged this dynamic, but the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy s fourth annual “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast" report highlights that current utility resource plans are not in line with this overarching target. Obstacles to getting utilities on track that are discussed in our report include: increasing reliance on fossil gas, underutilizing energy efficiency, and placing limitations on popular technologies such as rooftop solar. There’s still a lot of work to do before any Southeast utility is on track to decarbonize.

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Water

  • Updated: Summer of weather anomalies continues as deadly floods ravage SE Kentucky
    Thomas Fraser
    Thursday, 28 July 2022

    ky floodsHeavy flooding is seen in eastern Kentucky this weekend. State of Kentucky/Office of Gov. Andy Beshear

    Another round of severe flooding hits the Southern Appalachian region

    UPDATED: The death toll from last week’s unprecedented flooding in Kentucky reached at least 29, as some areas contended with additional flooding over the weekend. Fifteen of those, including four children, died in Knott County, which is about 100 miles north of Kingsport.

    Water service to nearly 67,000 connections has been affected, as well as 17 wastewater-treatment systems in eastern Kentucky, according to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office. 

    “We are currently experiencing one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history. The situation is dynamic and ongoing,” Beshear said in a statement.

    “What we are going to see coming out of this is massive property damage and we expect loss of life. Hundreds will lose their homes. And this will be yet another event that will take not months, but years, for our families to rebuild and recover from.”

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  • Nursing vanishing sharks far from the sea
    Doug Strickland
    Wednesday, 20 July 2022
    Newly hatched Shorttail Nurse Shark pups (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum) at the Tennessee Aquarium.Tennessee Aquarium
     

    Tennessee Aquarium hatches endangered shark species

    CHATTANOOGA — The Tennessee Aquarium reached a significant milestone just in time for Shark Week with the recent hatching of three critically endangered short-tail nurse shark pups. 

    The diminutive youngsters, which hatched July 7, are the product of three adult short-tail nurse sharks — one male and two females — which arrived at the aquarium along with eight juveniles and eight fertilized eggs from a facility in Canada last year.

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  • Torrential rains in Smokies destroy trails, roads and other infrastructure
    Thomas Fraser
    Thursday, 14 July 2022

    7.13.22 Porters Creek Road washoutA washout is seen along Porters Creek Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park following torrential rain on July 12. National Park Service

    Flooding causes Smokies damage, prompts water advisory for Sevierville 

    SEVIERVILLE — Extremely heavy rain on July 12 in the Smoky Mountains caused a cascade of problems now just coming to light.

    Sevierville and Sevier County issued a boil-water advisory early Thursday after debris flushed by Tuesday’s floodwaters clogged the city water utility’s main intake on the French Broad River, leading to pressure decreases that opened up lines to possible outside contamination.

    In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbrier campground was closed indefinitely after the swollen Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River wiped out roads, trails and bridges in the area.

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  • Lost and found: The long-awaited return of the robust redhorse
    Ethan Hatchett
    Sunday, 26 June 2022

     

    Georgia’s Ocmulgee River is a case study in the decline of Southern river fisheries, and their revival

    Ethan Hatchett is a writer for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

    MACON — The Ocmulgee River has changed. The cloudy water once ran clear. The sandy bottom was once rocky. Fish swam upriver to breed from places as distant as the Altamaha River, which the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers join to form near Lumber City and the Atlantic Ocean.

    European settlement changed the river. Centuries of agriculture and development stripped away much of the land’s vegetation that filtered the flow, causing the Ocmulgee to fill with sediment. The soil particles gradually moved through the waterway, covering gravel that fish spawned in, smothering fishes’ eggs, mucking up the water and even building up on the banks, saturating the ground with sediment.

    It is impossible to know how many freshwater fish the Ocmulgee lost since the first Europeans arrived. Many species disappeared without being discovered. Yet on a clear afternoon in May, DNR aquatics biologist Paula Marcinek led a team on the upper Ocmulgee in search of robust redhorse, a “lost” fish found in 1991.

    Read DNR’s blog post about efforts to restore the robust redhorse, plus news of a new grant that will expand the work and rare video of these fish spawning.

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  • Tennessee Aquarium marks a milestone in its effort to bring native brook trout back to mountain streams
    Casey Phillips
    Thursday, 16 June 2022

    Reintroduction Assistant Kaylee Clayton, left, Jim Hill Fellow for Conservation Anthony Hernandez, center, and Reintroduction Biologist Teresa Israel cross a stream during a Southern Appalachian Brook Trout release.Reintroduction Assistant Kaylee Clayton, left, Jim Hill Fellow for Conservation Anthony Hernandez, center, and Reintroduction Biologist Teresa Israel cross a stream during a Southern Appalachian brook trout release. Tennessee Aquarium

    Emblematic brook trout get a second chance at home in Southern Appalachian streams

    Casey Phillips is a writer for the Tennessee Aquarium.

    CHATTANOOGA — A team from the Tennessee Aquarium, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Trout Unlimited hiked along — and occasionally waded through — a pristine tributary of South Fork Citico Creek in Cherokee National Forest. 

     Navigating an obstacle course of tangled mountain laurel branches and moss-slickened boulders in late May, the team followed the stream as it gently descended through the Appalachian uplands. When a calm pool or shaded rocky overhang presented itself, they paused to dip their nets into five-gallon buckets filled with wriggling juvenile Southern Appalachian brook trout.

    These little fish, raised to about two inches over six months, were the focus of more than six months of work at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and the impetus for the hours-long trek into the East Tennessee woods.

    Read 350 times More...

Voices

  • Has the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians lost its ‘right way’ at Exit 407?
    Rick Vaughan
    Sunday, 31 July 2022

    Will West LongCherokee tribal council member, historian and ethnographer Will West Long holds a traditional Cherokee mask, which he often recreated. He was an active chronicler of Cherokee custom, heritage and tradition and died in 1947 on the Qualla Reservation in Swain County, North Carolina. WikiCommons

    As plans gel for massive new developments, has the Eastern Band lost its ancient way?

    SEVIERVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Transportation is eyeing a second interchange for exit 407 at Highway 66 along Interstate I-40 in Sevier County. 

    Exit 407, already one of the most congested interchanges in Southern Appalachia, accesses the main highway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the nation. The park reported a record 14 million visitors in 2021.

    The exit also serves crowds flocking to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

    But the new interchange would primarily serve a 200-acre development to be called Exit 407: The Gateway to Adventure.   

    Scheduled to open spring 2023, and fully operational in 2024, it’s expected to attract 6.7 million people annually. The first phase includes a theme park and a 74,000-square-foot convenience store with 120 gas pumps, making it the world’s largest such store.

    Read 429 times More...

  • Report Card for U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge Operations: Failing grades in stakeholder engagement and environmental decision making
    Virginia Dale
    Friday, 10 June 2022
    EMDFlocation
     

    Editor’s note: As reported in Hellbender Press, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) was reprimanded by the Southern Environmental Law Center for neglecting its duty to follow guidelines and proper procedures mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Of immediate concern was OREM’s pretext and information — or specifically lack of pertinent information — released ahead of the public meeting on May 17, 2022 about its project for a new “Environmental Management Disposal Facility” (EMDF).

    With regard to NEPA compliance, Oak Ridge Operations has been the black sheep in DOE’s stable because it never prepared the required site-wide environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). At said public meeting, Virginia Dale, Corporate Fellow Emeritus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, commented on another tangent of shortcomings — not spelled out by Federal law — but matters of common sense, competent decision making and good community spirit.


     

    Public comments by Dr. Dale

    My name is Virginia Dale. My family roots in Tennessee go back to 1798. I’ve lived in Oak Ridge more than 3 decades. I have a PhD in environmental sciences and my comments come from my perspective as a citizen, scientist, and most importantly a grandmother who wants all of our children to live in a safe environment.

    It is absolutely necessary that the contaminated legacy buildings on the Oak Ridge Reservation be cleaned up.

    My concern is that the clean up occurs in a proper and timely fashion.

    I am a co-principal investigator on a project supported by the National Science Foundation to identify best practices for stakeholder engagement in environmental decision making. Since our team has learned that appropriate engagement results in better decision making, I evaluated how well those 6 best practices apply to DOE’s decisions regarding the EMDF.

    1. The full diversity of interested stakeholders be identified and engaged — DOE:  C

      1. I know of no effort to specifically engage either the people who live in west Oak Ridge nor those in Lenoir City, who are closest to Bear Creek and the streams into which it flows and who are most likely to access and even fish in the contaminated waters. Many of those people are Hispanic and primarily speak Spanish; yet none of the posted signs are in Spanish.
      2. I was so glad to see the Fact Sheets in Spanish
      3. However, EPA has made a specific effort to reach out to the community in Scarboro, which has been discriminated against in the past, but that community is not at high risk with the proposed landfill.
    2. The values of the ecosystem should be identified for all stakeholders — DOE:  F

      1. I am not aware of any effort to document who uses the contaminated waters of Bear Creek or Poplar Creek into which it flows, or how they use it.
      2. The use of an established forest for the site does not consider its value as a habitat for many organisms even though the ORR has diversity on a per area basis that is similar to the Smokies.
        1. The proposed new landfill site is in an area of the ORR that the OREM End Use Working Group designated to be kept uncontaminated, while other areas were stipulated to be permanently sacrificed to contamination.
        2. This site has shallow and upwelling groundwater (hydrology unsuitable for waste disposal), is in a watershed that has been relatively unaffected by past federal nuclear activities, and supports mature forest and wetlands.
    3. Listening deeply takes time and attention — DOE: F

      1. Careful listen requires answering all questions, making sure the nuances are understood, and using communication tools appropriate for the audience.
      2. Questions asked 4 years ago have still not been answered.
    4. Trust should be established, which requires upfront transparency as to timeframe, process, and results as well as the costs and benefits of potential outcomes — DOE: F

      1. The video “20 years of success” is misleading because
        1. The site filled up too fast
        2. Spills occurred
          1. The landfill has had a series of overflow events that basically dumped untreated effluent into Bear Creek.
          2. That overflow water averaged more than double allowed concentration of uranium in drinking water.
      2. Although DOE has been asked, they have not provided
        1. Costs of off-site transport vs onsite storage — nor the number of employees and type of jobs engaged in each alternative. I expect that offsite transport would require more analysts to document the material while the on-site option would require more truck drivers.
        2. Waste acceptance criteria have never been provided (the Fact Sheet on Waste Acceptance Criteria says what will not be included — not what will be or what the criteria are for acceptance). The Waste Acceptance Compliance Plan is still in development.
      3. While a field demonstration has been proposed, it seems that some aspect of this demo could have been started in the time since 2018 when questions were formally asked.
      4. DOE’s “Site Groundwater Characterization” fact sheet figure on page 2 is highly misleading, for it does not show the waste (of 75') to scale with the rest of the layers (which total 26').
    5. Being flexible requires that as new information becomes available that changes are made in the analysis and process — DOE: F

      1. Even with record rainfall in the intervening 4 years since the last review, no new analyses have been provided that assess how the landfill will operate under increased rain.
    6. Accountability by all parties is necessary. This means that all question or concerns be addressed in a timely fashion — DOE: F

      1. Data, models and their assumptions should be made available.
      2. Questions should be answered — yet queries raised 4 years ago have never been addressed.

    Overall DOE get a D- in effective engagement of the community. While effective stakeholder engagement is a time-consuming and ongoing process, the total time and effort involved is reduced with early communication and clear engagement. Furthermore, better decisions are made if good practices for engagement in decision making are followed.

    So I ask DOE once again, please provide information on

    • The basis for choosing the site
    • The Waste acceptance criteria details
    • All models and their assumptions
    • Model projections of landfill conditions under increased rain
    • Costs of off-site vs on-site long-term storage of toxic wastes

    Finally (and most importantly, I ask that a plan for complete clean up of the ORR be provided (as required by law) instead of providing information piece by piece. Only by taking a holistic look at hazardous waste disposal can the public have confidence that DOE will fulfill its obligation to clean up the Oak Ridge Reservation.

    Thank you!


     

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency censured DOE in a 50-page document for large numbers of omissions, ambiguities, mistakes and non-compliance with terms of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) in its EMDF Draft Record of Decision.

    The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), likewise, had much to fault in DOE’s plan. TDEC doubts that the plan can satisfy the requirements of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act and of Tennessee’s water quality antidegradation rules, particularly with regard to preventing further mercury pollution.

    Knox News summarized the troubled history of the controversial project in advance of the public meeting: Manhattan Project radiation lingers in Oak Ridge. Critics want more info on a new landfill.

    Read 393 times  

  • Foundation for Global Sustainability appeals to Knox County Commission to preserve the Dry Hollow heritage area in South Knox County
    FGS
    Sunday, 22 May 2022
     

    Dear Commissioner {last-name}:

    We implore you to vote against the request to strip the Agricultural zoning from the core area of the historic Twin Springs Farm in Dry Hollow.
    (11-B-21-SP & 11-F-21-RZ   Request of Thunder Mountain Properties, LLC for rezoning from A (Agricultural) ... Property located at 8802 Sevierville Pike and 0 Dry Hollow Road.)

    This property is an integral part of a forgotten Knox County heritage area that has unique historical, cultural, economic and ecological values.

    Read 236 times More...

  • Is TVA providing the best prices for energy consumers? Congress wants to know.
    Amy Rawe
    Thursday, 10 February 2022
    kingstonThe Tennessee Valley Authority's fossil plant at Kingston. TVA
     

    Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: TVA is not coming clean in Congressional inquiries

    KNOXVILLE — On Jan. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) requesting information regarding business practices that appear inconsistent with TVA’s statutory requirement to provide low-cost power to residents of the Tennessee Valley.
    TVA’s response to the committee’s 16 questions dodges some of the committee members’ key concerns and provides misleading information on several issues, including:
    Read 400 times More...

  • Something is rotten in Russia
    Thomas Fraser
    Monday, 07 February 2022
    download 2

    Menacing military buildup on Ukraine borders and Orwellian denials could snuff peaceful scientific cooperation

    OAK RIDGE — I went to Russia in 2000 on one of the most extraordinary trips of my life. It was a long time ago, and a generation has passed, but I was left with many enduring and positive impressions of the country and its people.

    The newspaper I worked for, The Daily Times in Maryville, paid for my trip to Moscow, then to Siberia, (and back again, to my surprise) to cover a contingent of Blount County politicos/bureaucrats and Oak Ridge DOE types visiting a far eastern Russian town, Zheleznogorsk, that had long been home to both nuclear and chemical weapons processing facilities.
    Read 452 times More...

Creature Features

  • At Gray Fossil Site, paleontologists let the bone-crushing dog out
    East Tennessee State University
    Tuesday, 09 August 2022

    Gray fossil site bone crushing dogIllustration of the Gray Fossil Site bone-crushing dog, recently determined to have been active in the ancient Southern Appalachians. Mauricio Anton via ETSU

    Discovery of ancient ambush predator is one of few large carnivores found at East Tennessee paleontological site

    JOHNSON CITY — Overseen by the Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology at East Tennessee State University, researchers have studied the Gray Fossil Site for over 20 years. They have identified many extinct animal and plant species of the Pliocene epoch that lived there some 5 million years ago. While large herbivores are well known from the site, large predators are relatively uncommon, so far including only alligators and scarce remains of at least one sabertooth cat. 

    Now, there’s a new predator on the scene.  

    A recent study published in the Journal of Paleontology describes a single right humerus (upper arm bone) of an animal named Borophagus, a member of an extinct group more commonly called bone-crushing dogs. The animal is so named for its powerful teeth and jaws. This is the first evidence of any animals in the dog family from the Gray Fossil Site.

    The research was conducted by Emily Bōgner, a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, and alumnus of ETSU’s paleontology master’s program, and Dr. Joshua Samuels, associate professor in the ETSU Department of Geosciences and curator at the Gray Fossil Site and Museum.  

    Read 173 times More...

  • An under-appreciated Black scientist pioneered the modern study of bees and other insects
    Edward D. Melillo
    Wednesday, 03 August 2022

    Charles Henry Turner zoologistZoologist Charles Henry Turner was the first scientist to prove certain insects could remember, learn and feel. Charles I. Abramson via The Conversation

    Charles Henry Turner concluded that bees can perceive time and develop new feeding habits in response 

    This story was originally published by The Conversation. Edward D. Melillo is a professor of history and environmental studies at Amherst College.

    On a crisp autumn morning in 1908, an elegantly dressed African American man strode back and forth among the pin oaks, magnolias and silver maples of O’Fallon Park in St. Louis, Missouri. After placing a dozen dishes filled with strawberry jam atop several picnic tables, biologist Charles Henry Turner retreated to a nearby bench, notebook and pencil at the ready.

    Following a midmorning break for tea and toast (topped with strawberry jam, of course), Turner returned to his outdoor experiment. At noon and again at dusk, he placed jam-filled dishes on the park tables. As he discovered, honeybees (Apis mellifera) were reliable breakfast, lunch and dinner visitors to the sugary buffet. After a few days, Turner stopped offering jam at midday and sunset, and presented the treats only at dawn. Initially, the bees continued appearing at all three times. Soon, however, they changed their arrival patterns, visiting the picnic tables only in the mornings.

    Read 261 times More...

  • Smokies rangers kill bear after it hurts Elkmont campers while seeking food
    Thomas Fraser
    Monday, 13 June 2022

    6-minute video about what to do if you see a black bear

    Smokies officials say euthanized bear was overweight and seeking human food

    GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildlife biologists and park rangers responded to Elkmont Campground on Sunday (June 12) after a peculiarly large black bear injured a toddler and her mother sleeping in a tent.

    Wildlife biologists captured the responsible bear, and it was euthanized Monday, June 13, according to a news release from the park service.

    “The bear weighed approximately 350 pounds, which is not standard for this time of year, suggesting the bear had previous and likely consistent access to non-natural food sources,” said Lisa McInnis, resource management chief.

    Read 497 times More...

  • Wild animals just aren’t that into you. Give them space or suffer the consequences.
    Jennifer Weeks
    Wednesday, 08 June 2022

    284114AC 1DD8 B71C 0722E2E4CA635D1FOriginalA radio-collared bull elk is seen at rest in Cataloochee Valley.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Please don’t feed or get attacked by the animals

    This story was originally published by The Conversation.

    Millions of Americans enjoy observing and photographing wildlife near their homes or on trips. But when people get too close to wild animals, they risk serious injury or even death. It happens regularly, despite the threat of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

    These four articles from The Conversation’s archive offer insights into how wild animals view humans and how our presence affects nearby animals and birds — plus a scientist’s perspective on what’s wrong with wildlife selfies. 

    Read 357 times More...

  • Please don’t poison the humble carpenter bees
    Stephen Lyn Bales
    Tuesday, 24 May 2022

    carpenter bee penstemon lgA male carpenter bee takes a break from building its nest to get nourishing nectar from the base of a penstemon.  Juian Cowles/U.S. Forest Service

    Please don’t wage chemical warfare on these busy bees

    KNOXVILLE — Old George Harvey lived two houses upstream from where I grew up on Baskins Creek in Gatlinburg. He had a strange obsession. Using empty jars, Old George would catch bees he found on the flowers and gardens around his house, screw on the lid and line the jars up on a ledge inside his screened-in porch. He’d then watch the bees die.

    We kids thought it was odd and cruel. We’d plot slipping into his porch and freeing all the bees like Elliot freed the frogs from the classroom in the movie “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”

    Read 501 times More...

Feedbag

Your diet of environment and science news

  • Celebrate the wild ties that bind Americans on Public Lands Day 2022 — Saturday, Sept. 24

    fontana

    GATLINBURG — The director of the National Park Service is expected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

    Director Chuck Sams plans to make some remarks in appreciation for the volunteers who help backstop national park maintenance costs before citizens fan out for various tasks across the park. Sams is the first Native American to head the park service, and he will be joined by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard G. Sneed.


  • Hunters are invited to go whole hog on the Tennessee side of Big South Fork

    Big South Fork wild hogsWild hogs are seen rooting in a sensitive area. Hog season opens later this month in Big South Fork.  National Park Service

    ONEIDA — Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area this week announced regulations for those wanting to kill invasive wild hogs during the upcoming fall and winter seasons.

    Most hog populations within the protected areas of BSF are believed to be present on the Tennessee side of the park, which spans the Kentucky border. Feral hogs have been present in East Tennessee for generations. They destroy local flora and fauna mainly by rooting in low-lying mountain and valley areas. They are especially fond of salamanders, many species of which are in grave decline. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hunters are regularly deployed to cull hogs throughout the park.

    “The wild hog is an invasive exotic species that has a significant negative impact to native species and do a great deal of damage to farmlands and residential areas. The damage they cause threatens park resources including federally listed plants,” according to a release from the park service.

    Deer hunting season opens in Tennessee Sept. 24.  During these big game seasons, wild hogs may be harvested with the appropriate weapon that is legal for that specific season and during an extended hog hunting season that lasts from the end of the deer season until the end of February.”

    To clarify:

    1. Archery season: a hog hunter can hunt with a bow or crossbow.
    2. Muzzleloader season: you can hunt with a muzzleloader, crossbow or bow.
    3. Rifle season: you can hunt with a bow, crossbow, muzzleloader, rifle, shotgun or pistol.
    4. Extended hog season you can hunt hogs with anything as long as it is legal for harvesting a deer.

    Hunters in search of wild hogs in the area are told to go to the Tennessee side of the park.

    For more information on hog permits, contact Big South Fork NRRA at (423) 286-7275, or Obed WSR at (423) 346-6294.


  • Smokies researchers make a formal acquaintance with a familiar salamander

    black bellied salamanderJonathan Cox

    Great news from the Smokies via Instagram!

    The “salamander capital of the world” just gained a new member! Meet our 31st species: the Cherokee black-bellied salamander, or Desmognathus gvnigeusgwotli. Its species name means “black belly” in the Cherokee language. Scientists used genetics to find out that it is different from the other black-bellied salamander in the park.

    This salamander is common throughout the park and is known for its extremely dark belly and hunting along the banks of streams. If you see a large, dark-bodied salamander with a flattened tail resting on a river rock or poking its head out of a streamside hole, it’s likely the Cherokee black-bellied!

    Remember to always appreciate salamanders and other wildlife from afar. Many of our salamanders breathe through their skin. The oils on our hands can stress them out, disrupt their breathing or even spread infections. Please help us keep our salamanders slimy and avoid picking them up!

    — Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Action Alert

  • Celebrate the wild ties that bind Americans on Public Lands Day 2022 — Saturday, Sept. 24

    fontana

    GATLINBURG — The director of the National Park Service is expected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

    Director Chuck Sams plans to make some remarks in appreciation for the volunteers who help backstop national park maintenance costs before citizens fan out for various tasks across the park. Sams is the first Native American to head the park service, and he will be joined by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard G. Sneed.


  • Plant native species to help the world just outside your door

    IMG 3876Gerry Moll is seen in the native garden of his home in the 4th and Gill neighborhood of Knoxville.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

    People are restoring native plants on their properties. You should, too.

    ‘There are a lot of messes out there and this is something that you can do right at home that has a positive effect.’

    KNOXVILLE — If you want to help native wildlife and attract it to your yard, plant some native plants and kick back on your porch and watch them grow. That’s a good place to start.

    That’s the message from Native Plant Rescue Squad founders Gerry Moll and Joy Grissom.

    People walking by Moll’s garden in the Fourth and Gill neighborhood off Broadway just north of the city center will see tall plants; not hedges or other foreign plants, but various short trees and native flowers. It looks like an explosion of growth on both sides of the sidewalk, but it’s not chaos.


  • These artists are a bunch of animals

    American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) paint art for the Aquarium's fall fundraising auction.An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) paints art for the fall fundraising auction for the Tennessee Aquarium. The auction runs through Sept. 26.  Tennessee Aquarium

    Wildlife masterpieces mark an artistic autumnal fundraiser for the Tennessee Aquarium

    CHATTANOOGA — While getting ready to tackle his next artistic masterpiece at the Tennessee Aquarium, Avior the red-ruffed lemur likes to take a few steps to center himself: languid naps in the sunshine, delicate nibbles of romaine lettuce, a resounding howl to focus his energy. 

    Only after these rituals are complete can this master of composition — a true “Lemur-nardo” da Vinci — begin putting paw and tail to canvas to create his next opus. 

    Avior’s latest triumph — made using non-toxic, animal-friendly tempura paint, naturally — is a 16-by-20-inch piece created in collaboration with his fellow lemurs and social media star Atlanta-based artist Andrea Nelson (TikTok video). Avior and Nelson’s masterwork is one of more than two dozen pieces of art made by aquarium animals now up for bid during the Tennessee Aquarium’s online fall fundraising auction. The auction will conclude at noon on Monday, Sept. 26.


Events

  • Celebrate the wild ties that bind Americans on Public Lands Day 2022 — Saturday, Sept. 24

    fontana

    GATLINBURG — The director of the National Park Service is expected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

    Director Chuck Sams plans to make some remarks in appreciation for the volunteers who help backstop national park maintenance costs before citizens fan out for various tasks across the park. Sams is the first Native American to head the park service, and he will be joined by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard G. Sneed.


  • These artists are a bunch of animals

    American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) paint art for the Aquarium's fall fundraising auction.An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) paints art for the fall fundraising auction for the Tennessee Aquarium. The auction runs through Sept. 26.  Tennessee Aquarium

    Wildlife masterpieces mark an artistic autumnal fundraiser for the Tennessee Aquarium

    CHATTANOOGA — While getting ready to tackle his next artistic masterpiece at the Tennessee Aquarium, Avior the red-ruffed lemur likes to take a few steps to center himself: languid naps in the sunshine, delicate nibbles of romaine lettuce, a resounding howl to focus his energy. 

    Only after these rituals are complete can this master of composition — a true “Lemur-nardo” da Vinci — begin putting paw and tail to canvas to create his next opus. 

    Avior’s latest triumph — made using non-toxic, animal-friendly tempura paint, naturally — is a 16-by-20-inch piece created in collaboration with his fellow lemurs and social media star Atlanta-based artist Andrea Nelson (TikTok video). Avior and Nelson’s masterwork is one of more than two dozen pieces of art made by aquarium animals now up for bid during the Tennessee Aquarium’s online fall fundraising auction. The auction will conclude at noon on Monday, Sept. 26.


  • Citizen scientists are taking stock in Smokies, and the inventory keeps increasing

    1 smokies most wanted infographic credit Emma Oxford GSMA

    This story was provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    GATLINBURG Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating the success of a community science project led by nonprofit partner Discover Life in America (DLiA) called Smokies Most Wanted. The initiative encourages visitors to record life they find in the park through the iNaturalist nature app. DLiA and the park use these data points to map species range, track exotic species, and even discover new kinds of life in the park. 

    “iNaturalist usage in the Smokies has skyrocketed from just four users in 2011, to 3,800 in 2020, to now more than 7,100 users,” said Will Kuhn, DLIA’s director of science and research. 

    In August, the project reached a milestone, surpassing 100,000 records of insects, plants, fungi, and other Smokies life submitted through the app. Among them are 92 new species not previously seen in the park.


  • Step up for fresh produce at New Harvest Park

    KNOXVILLE — The New Harvest Park Farmers Market kicked off in East Knoxville on April 14 and will be open from 3-6 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 29.

    The market will feature 15 small, locally owned businesses and showcase a wide variety of seasonal produce, meats, eggs, plants, prepared foods, and artisan crafts, and will grow to 20 vendors during peak season, according to a release from Knox County.

    A community booth will house the Nourish Moves walking program in which market patrons can track their steps and redeem them for Produce Bucks to be spent at market on fresh fruits and vegetables. New Harvest Farmers’ Market Nourish Moves is a free, weekly walking program for adults and children 2 years or older. To participate, stop by our Community Booth to pick up a pedometer. Each participant receives $3 in Produce Bucks per visit that can be spent on any fruits, vegetables, and food-producing plants at the market.

    Nourish Knoxville will continue to offer SNAP & P-EBT processing and doubling at the market through the Double Up Food Bucks Program. SNAP & P-EBT purchases will be doubled, up to $20 per day in Double Up Food Bucks tokens that are redeemable at the market for free fresh fruits and vegetables.


  • CTV Community Engagement Calendar
    Community Television of Knoxville (CTV)

    CTV’s Community Engagement Calendar provides information about both, date-specific events and the regular programs & services provided by nonprofit organizations.

    Many people still think it is necessary to have a TV cable connection to watch community TV programs. But that’s old history.

    One does not even need to be in the City of Knoxville or anywhere near it, nor have a TV set anymore.

    You can watch all live coverage by Community Television of Knoxville — AND previously aired programs — on any device that has internet access, even on your smart phone.

    (However, be careful to know about any data transmission caps and charges that may apply to your internet connection, and especially your mobile data plan if you’re not using a WiFi connection.)

    Knox CTV also streams Fulton High School's Falcon Radio WKCS-FM 91.1, which is one of only four high school radio stations in Tennessee; one among few nationwide, too.


ORNL tips to run your
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About

  • Hellbender Press

    The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

    (ONLINE version 0.8)
    Copyright © 2020-2022 Hellbender Press | Foundation for Global Sustainability
     
    Hellbender Press
    P.O. Box 1101
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    37901-1101
    865-465-9691
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
     
    Editor and Publisher
    Thomas Fraser
     
    Editorial Board
    Bo Baxter
    Jason Bradley
    Chris Kane
    Wolf Naegeli
    Lauren Parker
    Amanda Womac
     

    Hellbender Press: The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia is a digital environmental news service with a focus on the Southern Appalachian bioregion. It aggregates relevant stories from across the news media space and provides original news, features and commentary.

    Espousing the “Think Globally, Act Locally” ethos of FGS, Hellbender Press promotes the conservation and study of the environment and protections for air, water, climate, natural areas, and other resources that are critical to human health and a robust, resilient economy.

    The Hellbender also champions civil and human rights, especially in matters of environmental justice, equity of access to natural resources and the right to a clean environment.

    Hellbender Press is a self-organizing project of the Foundation for Global Sustainability’s Living Sustainably Program. All donations made for Hellbender Press to FGS are tax-deductible. We offer a free environmental news and information site, but grants and charitable contributions are encouraged and needed to support our work. Much of the content is provided on a volunteer basis by individuals and organizations that share a common cause.

    Hellbender Press encourages the submission of original and relevant articles and photography for consideration to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • Our name

    The hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), a native salamander, is an indicator species. It requires clear, oxygen-rich water to respire, find its prey, and reproduce.

    The presence of hellbenders in a stream is indicative of high water quality and an intact ecosystem.

    Hellbender Press aspires to help you discover the degrees of resilience and sustainability of your community, our bioregion, and planet Earth.

    Hellbender Press informs about what is beneficial for life — here and elsewhere.

    It also points out where we must do better to save what may still be savable.


  • Foundation for Global Sustainability

    FGS is a transdisciplinary, non-profit advocacy organization. It monitors and addresses social and environmental issues in the Upper Tennessee Valley and the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

    FGS works to restore the balance between human activities and the natural life support systems of the Earth. Events, publications, special reports, and outreach by FGS inform and educate the public about vital regional and global issues and how they interdepend.

    FGS fosters and supports conservation initiatives, including

    — action committees that address egregious assaults on our natural heritage, for example, which require temporary assistance only

    — campaigns by other nonprofits, such as

    — groups that want to address systemic problems in a systematic fashion. Among the latter, three evolved to establish themselves as independent 501(c)(3) organization: