U.S. Solar Installations Grow by 17% in 2014, Passing Natural Gas

first_imgU.S. Solar Installations Grow by 17% in 2014, Passing Natural Gas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Chris Martin for Bloomberg News:Solar power developers added a record 7.3 gigawatts of capacity in the U.S. last year, up 17 percent from 2014 and surpassing natural gas installations for the first time.Residential installations climbed 66 percent, the fastest-growing segment, and accounted for 29 percent of all photovoltaic systems, according to a report Monday from GTM Research and the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association.California, North Carolina and Nevada were again the top three solar states. Utah jumped from 23rd to 7th, while New Jersey slipped to 10th from sixth.The gains reflect the growing demand for clean energy sources as the U.S. and other nations seek to curb greenhouse gas emissions, as well as falling prices that make solar power more competitive with gas.Total U.S. solar installations now exceed 25 gigawatts, equal to about one quarter of the country’s nuclear fleet, and up from just 2 gigawatts five years ago.Full article: U.S. Solar Surged 17% in 2015 Led by Demand for Rooftop Powerlast_img read more

Dutch insurer reduces ties to thermal coal projects, aims for 2030 phaseout

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Intelligent Insurer:From 1 July this year, Dutch insurance and asset management company Nationale Nederlanden (NN) said it will “stop providing insurance services to companies that derive more than 30 percent of their revenues from thermal coal mining or that use at least 30 percent thermal coal for power generation”.This is the company’s new coal exclusion policy aimed at cutting coal use. It also means that existing insurance contracts that use coal at these levels will not be renewed.NN said it would develop guidelines to ensure that by 2030, it will only provide new insurance cover to clients that have an exposure of 5 percent or lower to coal-related activities.The group said it would restrict its investment in coal “to ‘close to zero’ by 2030” and engage with power generation firms to encourage a move to lower carbon alternatives, adding that it had revised its insurance underwriting policy to “create consistency across its business” and align with the investment side.However, green campaigners questioned how NN would be able to implement its coal exclusion policy for companies involved in both coal power and mining activity. They noted that NN is one of the biggest investors in Polish coal, with around €398.4 million investments. Polish coal company PGE is a major coal plant developer, but is also reportedly planning an expansion of the Turow mine. NN’s policy does not state whether the company will exclude PGE, and other such companies, they said. Campaigners also noted that the policy “does not prevent NN from investing in companies planning new coal plants with a coal exposure below 30 percent”.NN follows Allianz and Hannover Re in its commitment to fully phase out its own assets. The deadline of 2030 is aligned with climate science goals to keep global warming below 1.5°C.More: Green groups tentatively welcome Nationale Nederlanden coal exclusion policy Dutch insurer reduces ties to thermal coal projects, aims for 2030 phaseoutlast_img read more

External Frames Live!

first_imgIn a previous column, I covered two major companies, Kelty and JanSport, who will introduce retro-style, external-frame backpacks in 2011. The article pitched external-frame packs as throwbacks—bulky, exposed and skeletal products that were left behind two decades ago by anyone serious about carrying loads in the great outdoors.But the external-frame lives on, and it’s not just for the retro crowd. A new entry in the category, High Sierra’s External Frame pack series, include the classic exposed-frame look but with modern touches including hydration-reservoir sleeves and eco-minded PVC-free construction.One pack in the High Sierra line, the Foxhound 50, has a top-load main compartment, contoured straps, and a mesh panel to let air flow between your back and the pack load. There is a removable media pocket on the front to store a GPS unit or an iPhone. It costs $110.High Sierra is hardly the only company in the external game. In addition to their retro lines, Kelty and JanSport sell modern external-frame models. Other companies that sell externals include ALPS Mountaineering, Mountainsmith, Coleman, Texsport, Cabela’s, and Outdoor Products.ALPS, a small company in rural Missouri, offers two external models. The Red Rock, a 2,000-cubic-inch model, costs $89.99.Outdoor Products has a couple packs in the category, including the bargain Dragonfly External Frame Youth Pack. It costs as little as $39.99 on web retailers like Campmor.com and features a plastic-composite frame.Coleman’s Bozeman X 60 has water repellency and a slick, modern look with silicone-treated nylon in a diamond rip-stop pattern. It costs about $150. There is an adjustable torso pin-and-ring system for positioning the frame and pack on your back.The Scout model from Mountainsmith, made for youth, costs $109 and is marketed as offering a “supportive external frame that provides a comfortable backpacking experience for kids.” Its frame is made with 6061 aluminum and it has a “sleeping bag sling,” which looks like a small hammock hanging on the bottom of the pack.Why go external? Cheaper price is a good place to start. To be sure, you can find deals on internal-frame packs. But at retail, external-frame packs are often cheaper than comparably-sized internals.For hot weather, externals can be a good option. With a frame propping the load away from your back, air flow is increased.Some backpackers claim externals offer better support with heavy loads. The packs can sit high and tower up behind your head, offering a higher center of gravity for the load.One thing is for sure: As a backpacker, with an external-frame pack you will stand out. The exposed-frame look is one of a bygone era in the backpacking world. Could these special packs make a comeback? Seems a few big companies are betting externals can.—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.last_img read more

Recovery After DDT

first_imgWithout the 1972 ban on DDT and ensuing protections, the bald eagle (left) and peregrine falcon (right), let alone dozens of other bird species, would likely be gone now in the continental U.S. Photo Cred: iStockPhotoEarthTalk®E – The Environmental MagazineDear EarthTalk: I understand there is good news about the recovery of bird species like the Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and others owed to the 1972 ban on DDT. Can you explain? — Mildred Eastover, Bath, MERachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book, Silent Spring, told the real-life story of how bird populations across the country were suffering as a result of the widespread application of the synthetic pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which was being used widely to control mosquitoes and others insects. Carson reported that birds ingesting DDT tended to lay thin-shelled eggs which would in turn break prematurely in the nest, resulting in marked population declines. The problem drove bald eagles, our national symbol, not to mention peregrine falcons and other bird populations, to the brink of extinction, with populations plummeting more than 80 percent.Luckily for the birds, Silent Spring caused a stir, and many credit it with launching the modern environmental movement. Indeed, one of the world’s leading environmental non-profits, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), initially formed in 1967 in reaction to the DDT problem. The group’s first order of business included filing lawsuits in New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington DC to force a ban on DDT. EDF enlisted the help of dozens of scientific experts—ornithologists, ecologists, toxicologists, carcinogenesis experts, and insect control specialists—to testify at multi-month hearings to prove its point in regard to the dangers of DDT. In 1972 environmentalists’ prayers were answered—and their hard work vindicated—with the federal government finally banning DDT.But with lots of the pesticide already dispersed through ecosystems far and wide, not to mention myriad other threats to bird habitats and the environment in general, no one could be sure whether populations of eagles, falcons and other predatory and fish-eating birds would come back from the brink. While the federal Endangered Species Act went a long way to protect these at-risk species and some of their habitat, non-profits also played a key role in helping specific species recover. To wit, the Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 by a leading Cornell ornithologist to help nurse peregrine falcon populations hit hard by DDT back to their once abundant numbers. Researchers with the group pioneered methods of breeding peregrines in captivity and releasing them into the wild; such techniques have since been adopted widely by biologists trying to bring other wildlife species back from the brink of extinction. Thanks to a combination of factors and the hard work of bird lovers and scientists, peregrine falcons are once again common across the U.S., graduating off the national endangered species list as of 1999.The bald eagle’s recovery is perhaps the best known example of how our environmental laws worked to restore not just a resource but our very national symbol. In the mid-1960s fewer than 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles existed in the continental U.S.; today, thanks to the DDT ban and other conservation efforts, some 10,000 pairs of bald eagles inhabit the Lower 48—that’s a 20-fold population increase in just four decades! In 2007 the federal government removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List. Without the 1972 ban on DDT and ensuing protections, the bald eagle, let alone dozens of other bird species, would likely be gone now in the continental U.S. And without the song of the birds, the spring would be a very silent time indeed.CONTACTS: EDF, www.edf.org; Peregrine Fund, www.peregrinefund.org.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.last_img read more

Daily Dirt: Conservation Land Grab and GSMNP Campgrounds Closed

first_imgYour outdoor news bulletin for June 24, the day the U.S. Air Force released it’s definitive report in 1997 that nothing happened in Roswell, N.M. that day a UFO landed there in 1947, or maybe didn’t, but probably did:Conservation Land Grab in N.C.Nearly 6,000 more acres of land in the Southern Appalachians is going to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. A deal was struck with former N.C. congressman Charles Taylor’s family and will encompass land in Transylvania County. The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has purchased 2,100 acres of the planned 8,000 acres that will eventually become Headwaters State Forest. The CMLC is raising funds and applying for grants to help fund the purchase of the rest of the acreage, which could take up to four years. The Nature Conservancy has also purchased 4,000 acres in Tennessee to be added to Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That project is called “Bridging the Smokies.” Every little bit counts!Natural Bridge to be National Park?Speaking of conservation land grabs, there appears to be a movement pushing for Virginia’s Natural Bridge to become a national park. Despite it’s natural uniqueness, the property is privately owned but is up for sale for the third time in 25 years. Although the bridge is designated as both a Virginia and national historic site, this changing of hands has understandably made the public nervous about its future. As it stands, Natural Bridge is something of a tourist trap, with a hefty entry fee and the usual gift shop tawdriness – there is also an inn, conference center and 1,600 acres of undeveloped property. So Rep. Bob Goodlatte has asked the National Park Service to take a look at the property to determine if the site is suitable for a national park. This is only a study, and the first step in a long process, but it seems to be a step in the right direction for the state of Virginia and the country.Great Smokies National Park Campgrounds ClosedSix Great Smokies National Park Backcountry Campgrounds have been closed until further notice due to bear activity in the area. Lower Walnut Bottom campsite 37, Mount Sterling campsite 38, Upper Walnut Bottom campsite 36, Beard Cane campsite 11, Ottercreek campsite 29, and Sugar Cove campsite 34 are all closed until further notice. On a side note, viewing the list of developed campgrounds that are “closed due to budgetary shortages” is fairly depressing, and include some of the most popular spots in GSMNP. Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, and Look Rock campgrounds are all closed, with no reopen dates, due to monetary contraints. That being said, still plenty of places to sleep in the park, so don’t hesitate to get out there, just call ahead as usual.last_img read more

Let the Fly Fishing Season Begin

first_imgThe trees have shaken off their snowy mantles. The early spring flowers have begun to poke their heads up through the hard ground. The robin puts in an appearance after his long absence. And fly anglers up and down the East Coast dust off their gear and check to ensure that their waders still fit. Yes, it’s that blessed time of year again—that time when every fly angler asks himself the same question: Where shall I fish?South Holston River, Tenn.The South Holston River is one of the best fisheries on the entire East Coast. Bold words, you say? Yes, they are—and they’re words I’ll stand by. I have fished the SoHo a number of times myself and was here just last year with Jon Hooper, general manager of the famed South Holston River Lodge, and author Tom Gilmore, who was doing research for an upcoming book on tailwater fisheries (rivers below dams). I tagged along to take supporting photos. “Believe it or not, there are still lots of folks who don’t know about this river,” Hooper told us. “The thing is that once folks come here, they generally come back because the fishing is so darn good.”The water released from the Holston Dam is clean and cold and supports roughly 4,000 trout per mile. The trout here are primarily rainbows and browns; on a good day SoHo anglers can land several fish over 14 inches, though that certainly won’t be everyone’s experience. But one thing is certain: The SoHo’s trout are very strong and fight like crazy—especially the browns. The generation schedule on the SoHo changes often, which means the fish change their feeding locations and habits accordingly. Anglers should consider casting streamer patterns when power is being generated, or when fishing after a rainstorm when the water is murky.Wading anglers can access the river below the dam at several locations. Alternatively, consider tackling the SoHo by drift boat with a guide. Check in with local experts before you embark; they know the ins and outs of every bend of the river. South Holston River Fly Shop (southholstonriverflyshop.com) in Bristol, Tennessee, and Mountain Sports Ltd (mountainsportsltd.com) in Bristol, Virginia, are two hotspots. They carry countless local patterns like Kraft’s Kreelex, a great baitfish imitation that works wonders on trout.Should you wish to stay in the area to fish the Holston for several days, check into the South Holston River Lodge, which provides excellent accommodations and superb guides. For more information, contact Jon Hooper at South Holston River Lodge (southholstonriverlodge.com). To check the river’s generation schedule, go to tva.gov/sites/sholston.htm.Davidson River, N.C.Looking for quiet pools, rock walls, and rhododendron-covered banks? Look no further than North Carolina’s Davidson River, which is about as close to trout heaven as you can get. The Big D draws thousands of visitors each year but is mercifully protected from overdevelopment by the surrounding Pisgah National Forest.The lower reaches of the Davidson from the French Broad to Avery Creek are quite deep and hold most of the river’s water—and that’s good news: The state stocks heavily here, and general tackle rules apply. The bad news is that occasionally you’ll have to contend with tubers and spin anglers. In this area, anglers might want to try throwing big streamers early in the morning, especially if the water is off-color or high from recent rains.Most fly anglers fish the catch-and-release section from Avery Creek upstream to the headwaters of the river. The fish hatchery that operates on the Davidson has abundant parking, but don’t go looking for solitude. The browns that call this section of the river home look like miniature submarines and prefer to lie along the banks, occasionally surfacing to take in a midge.The upper reaches of the Davidson are quite small; anglers can actually hike up to the point at which the river is nearly small enough to jump across, though they’ll have to do some bushwhacking. You’ll find tight cover up here; prepare to roll cast. The good news is that this part of the river sees much less pressure. If quarters are too tight, then move back downstream. The river will widen as it picks up more water, and the canopy cover will begin to abate. Numerous access points exist along Route 475 for those whose eyes are peeled. And don’t be afraid to check out Looking Glass and Avery Creeks.The Davidson in Pisgah National Forest is open to the public. For a few bucks, however, excellent private access is available through Kevin Howell, owner of Davidson River Outfitters. “You need to make your first cast count on the Davidson, because these are not forgiving fish,” says Howell. “I also recommend that you pay strict attention to your wading. Poor wading on the Davidson has saved more trout than catch-and-release ever has,” he jokes.Davidson River Outfitters carries all the flies you’ll need to fish here—but one of my all-time favorites remains Howell’s Big Nasty, an exceptional crayfish pattern Kevin Howell developed for North Carolina’s finicky trout. (Pssst: I’ve often used it for smallmouth bass.) For more information, stop by Davidson River Outfitters (davidsonflyfishing.com).Duke’s Creek, Ga.The Peach State acquired Smithgall Woods State Park in 1994 from Charles Smithgall, a local businessman and conservationist. Smithgall agreed to sell his family’s private retreat—over 5,500 acres of pristine wooded landscape—to Georgia with the understanding that the state would preserve the area. State officials wisely agreed and today, in addition to the great fishing, visitors will find plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, and spots to camp.Duke’s Creek delivers what you might expect from a mountain trout stream, complete with moderate canopy cover and spooky trout. This fishery is only four miles long and in most places less than 20 feet wide, but don’t let its small size fool you into thinking that this is an easy fishery. Overhanging branches make casting a challenge. You’ll have to navigate large boulders while you wade (though you can use them as cover). Wary trout use the logs embedded in the creek’s banks (to improve shore stability) as cover—and to break you off once they’re hooked.Yes, that was a 20-inch fish that just surfaced and smugly refused your fly—but no, it was a rainbow and not a steelhead. Broad shoulder browns also call this fishery home, and they delight in breaking you off not long after you set the hook.Jake Darling works as a guide for Unicoi Outfitters (unicoioutfitters.com) in Helen and offers some advice for rookies: “You have to fish deep here because these fish are large and aren’t likely to come up easily for a dry fly in the early spring.” Good patterns for Duke’s Creek include stone flies in various colors with a WD40 or black zebra midge as a trailer.Nestled in northeastern Georgia, Duke’s Creek is easily accessed by anglers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Fishing here is catch-and-release only and is restricted to Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday unless you have reservations to stay on site at one of the six lovely cottages that are open to the public at reasonable rates. A $5 parking pass is required. You’ll need to make reservations to fish. For more information on Duke’s Creek and Smithgall Woods State Park, go to gastateparks.org/SmithgallWoods.Gunpowder Falls River, Md.If you’re at the Gunpowder looking for falls, prepare for disappointment. The river has no falls at all and most likely got its name from a nearby foundry that produced guns during the Revolutionary War. The river was also the site of a copper foundry; in fact, the copper used on the Capitol dome after the War of 1812 was extracted from here. Though no one is extracting copper now, anglers do come from miles around to try their hand at extracting the local trout.The Gunpowder boasts an unbelievable population of wild trout ranging from 3,500-5,000 trout per mile, rivaling even the best Western rivers for fish per foot. Although the typical trout here is 9 to 10 inches, 18-inchers are not unheard of. Though you may catch rainbows and brookies, the overwhelming majority (about 95 percent) of the Gunpowder’s fish are browns.  This river is filled with wild fish that don’t suffer rookie anglers lightly. Consider hiring a local guide to show you the ropes.The Gunpowder is nearly 53 miles long, but most fly anglers concentrate on three sections covering about 17 miles. The first section, stretching from Prettyboy Dam to Falls Road, is entirely catch-and-release and may be fished by traditional anglers as well as fly rodders. Blowdowns are plentiful here, and pocket water is abundant. Anglers need to pay strict attention to their patterns, as strikes will not only come fast, but the trout seem to know that running below the limbs of submerged trees provides a sure release from careless anglers.The second section of the river runs from Falls Road to York Road. This is classic trout water with runs, riffles, and the occasional long pool. The third frequently fished section of the river is deeper and much slower than the other two. This area stretches from York Road to Bluemont Road and is well worth your time. A word of warning: The fern cover is so thick along this river that in some places you can’t see your own wading shoes while standing on the bank. Proceed with caution. Gelsoe’s Little Black Stone Fly is a superior local pattern; you’ll find it and anything else you’ll need at Backwater Angler (backwaterangler.com) or at Great Feathers (greatfeathers.com), both full-service fly shops very close to the Gunpowder.Rappahannock River, Va.Virginia’s Rapp has a long and colorful history. The Algonquian Indians named the river Rappahannock, which means “rapidly rising and falling waters,” no doubt referring to its daily tidal fluctuations as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. George Washington grew up along the banks of the Rappahannock River on his sister’s plantation, Ferry Farm, where he undoubtedly spent many youthful days fishing.The Rapp begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains and tumbles past the famed Rapidan River to its final destination. Because the Rappahannock empties into the bay, it hosts hundreds of thousands of migrating shad each spring. From the last week in March through the first week in May, anglers flock to the Rapp in search of these hard-fighting fish. Striped bass also migrate here, pushing the shad toward their own spawning grounds. They feed heavily on the shad as they migrate upstream, and they have been known to slam the fly of inattentive shad anglers.Spin fishermen favor the Rapp, particularly during shad season; fly anglers should also expect to share water with all varieties of paddlers. Most of the time, though, there is plenty of water for everyone; anglers should keep their eyes open for small watercraft and expect to be flexible in their positioning. If you see a kayak, simply hold your cast. Unlike skittish trout, shad appear oblivious to kayaks and other watercraft. Shad tend to stay deep in the water column and generally don’t rise to flies, but they do aggressively strike at bright subsurface patterns.One of the prime locations anglers visit when fishing the Rapp is just below and above the Route 3 bridge in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In the spring it’s not uncommon to look from the bridge and see schools of shad so thick that they black out the bottom of the river. You can park your vehicle along River Road or in Old Mill Park and then wade up or downstream.A word of caution: Wade safely. The Rappahannock is dangerous, fast-moving water. Remember, too, that more than one angler has walked out onto rocks to reach a prime spot in the river only to find those same rocks submerged by tidal flows when he tried to exit the river. Anglers who are interested in the Rapp but are a bit intimidated by its size and power might prefer to hedge their bets and take a beginner trip with the Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers (ffflyfishers.org). These guys and gals are truly the experts of this river and are eager to help anyone who wants to learn.You have your pick of flies suitable for spring shad fishing, but for many years my go-to pattern has been Tommy’s Torpedo, created by fishing guide Tommy Mattioli. Tommy created several shad patterns, available at all Orvis locations throughout Virginia and at Green Top Sporting Goods (greentophuntfish.com) near Richmond.New River, W.Va. / Va.In his book Follow the River, James Alexander Thom relates the incredible true story of Mary Draper Ingels who, in the summer of 1775 at the age of 23 and already eight months pregnant, was kidnapped by a Shawnee raiding party. Draper later fled from her captors and traveled for 43 days, covering nearly 1,000 miles in rough country with nothing but the clothes on her back. She survived on berries and roots she dug from the ground by hand. When asked how she had managed to find her way home, she said simply, “I followed the river”—Virginia’s New River, that is.If there’s one river in Virginia that is under-utilized by anglers, it’s the New River. Beginning in North Carolina, the New River meanders back and forth across much of Virginia. The river consistently flows northwest and eventually meets the Gauley River to form the Kanawha in West Virginia. Ironically named, the New River is actually quite old. Some have speculated that the only the Nile in Egypt is older than the New. For many folks the New River is a place for rafting, kayaking, and swimming before a shoreline lunch. It’s also a must-fish location for smallies, blue gills, stripers, and of course musky.There are several good guides who call this river their home waters, including Britt Stoudenmire, owner of New River Outdoors Company, in Pembroke, Virginia. Stoudenmire fishes the river hundreds of days a year and knows the section that flows through southwest Virginia like the back of his hand.“This river is awesome, and landing 50-75 smallmouth bass in a single day is very doable in the later part of the summer,” Stoudenmire says.Early season fishing for beefy smallies in late March is also doable, but that style of fishing is generally done in deep water with conventional fishing gear. Stoudenmire should know, as his clients come from all over the country and stay for multiple days at a time in family-friendly cabins which he rents out to visiting anglers.Fly anglers who take on the New River can score big-time with a variety of patterns and differing methods of fly fishing. Musky anglers will need to cast big streamers with hooks as large as 6/0, and nearly as large as a small squirrel. Musky easily reach 15 pounds here and really aren’t considered big fish until well past the 30 inch mark. Be prepared, however, to do a lot of casting and not necessarily a lot of catching. Smallie anglers can score big time as well with top water patterns like Walt’s Poppers in sizes #6 to 1/0. These poppers aren’t easy to find but if you do, try Walt’s Carolina Blue Popper and his Tan-Bellied Frog in #6 and up.Streamers work very well on the New River, and no one knows that better than guide Mike Smith, owner of New River Fly Fishing and co-owner of Flymen Fish Company. Smith has helped develop an entire line of flies tailored for the New River. These patterns also work well in other rivers, and even have applications in saltwater as well. To get a closer look at the patterns Smith helped create, check out Flymen’s website. For more information on lodging options and fishing the New River for multiple species of fish, contact Britt Stoudenmire at New River Outdoor Company.Beau Beasley (beaubeasley.com) is an award-winning conservation writer and the author of Fly Fishing Virginia, and Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic. He writes for Blue Ridge Outdoors when he isn’t chasing fish with a fly rod.last_img read more

Every tree is like a gift

first_imgOboz Footwear knows that gifts are not just for the holidays, so they make the gift of trees everyday.For every pair of shoes the Bozeman, Montana-based outdoor shoe company sells, they plant one more tree through their partnership with Trees for the Future, which supports communities in need in East and West Africa with trees, seeds and the tools and know-how to ensure a sustainable future. The trees provide families and villages with an important source of income in the form of timber, fruit, and other products. These trees also reduce erosion, enrich the soil, provide shade, and provide shelter and breaks from wind. Trees for the Future’s motto—“Plant Trees. Change Lives.”—captures their passionate belief in the restorative power of trees. The charity has planted over 100 million trees since it was founded 1989. Tree planting is only a small part of their unique mission. The group also trains farmers about ‘forest garden’ practices that combine the benefits of trees with the productivity of agriculture, so that communities can use their gift of trees wisely for years to come.Training for the FuturePhoto Credit: Trees for the Future“Trees for the Future might be the coolest charity you may not have heard of,” said Josh Fairchilds of Oboz. “Their on-the-ground work directly improves livelihoods so every tree is like a gift.” All told, Oboz’ donations have enabled Trees for the Future to plant more than 500,000 trees. To put that number into perspective, Trees for the Future says that just 3,000 to 5,000 trees, planted in a dense forest garden, can give a large, impoverished family in the developing world just about everything they need to thrive.“Planting trees on degraded lands changes people’s lives in profound ways,” said John Leary, Executive Director of Trees for the Future. “And bringing degraded lands back into sustainable productivity requires a strong commitment. We, and the thousands of families and communities we serve, are grateful for Oboz’s continuous dedication to our tree planting projects over the years.”Oboz retail display and promoOboz couldn’t plant a single tree without the support of its retail partners. Every year, Oboz applauds their efforts with a progress report on how many trees, they, too, helped ‘plant’ for Trees for the Future. Additionally, retailers such as Footsloggers, Mast General Store and Nantahala Outdoor Center team up with Oboz to create ‘One More Tree’ events at stores to help spread awareness of Oboz’ tree-planting mission. Real trees are part of the fun at those events; anyone who tries on a pair of Oboz takes home a seedling to plant at home or in their neighborhood.PrintWho knew that one more tree—let alone thousands and thousands—can give so much, every day, for years to come?For more information on Trees for the Future, visit www.treesforthefuture.org or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt7SDcPFqh4 for its fascinating story as told by its founder Dave Deppner. last_img read more

Big Changes Ahead for Personal Floatation Devices, But When?

first_imgType V: Speciality LifejacketsThese vests are made for specific activities, and are only safe when used according to each one’s designated standards. Some whitewater and small boat PFDs are classified as Type V, especially rescue vests with added belts, rings, and tow lines. Otherwise, Type V is the grab-bag category for whatever doesn’t fit any of the other qualifications, including full-body suits, decksuits, and hybrid vests.These categories are pretty confusing for the average buyer. First, the categories don’t follow an incremental pattern. The Coast Guard uses a system of increasing numbers from I to V, which under most other conditions would suggest that higher numbers correspond to higher value. Type I, according to instinct, would offer the least protection while Type V would be the most secure. But the PFD system completely ignores this natural pattern and instead assigns each number a rather random definition, where number value and item quality don’t necessarily correlate. This makes it difficult to understand what the categories really mean, and can keep people from choosing the right kind of device to best keep them safe. Plus, this system is completely unique to the United States. Boaters from outside the country trying to find an American vest, or vice versa, can’t rely on the same scale from place to place.Anything that complicates such an important safety choice constitutes a problem, and the Coast Guard has finally realized that it’s time for a total revamp.So get ready to say goodbye to the frustrating five type code system and welcome in a new standard – but don’t get too excited just yet. These big developments likely won’t take the stage until 2017, and the Coast Guard won’t share any further information until the slow process reaches its final stages. For the time being, we can count on a few precious details concerning the overhaul: the Coast Guard plans to focus on moving toward a more universal PFD standard in line with other countries, to entirely replace the I-V type code system, to create more PFD variety, and to more clearly differentiate between models.— Images courtesy of Mustang Survival (types I, II, IV, V) and NRS (type III). Type IV: Throwable Floatation AidsThink buoys, cushions, and life rings here. Type IV aids can’t be worn, and therefore are really only worthwhile to keep stored on larger vessels.PFD5 Type II: Near-shore LifejacketsThe little brother of Type I vests, these are lighter and smaller but don’t have nearly the same long-term abilities. Type II PFDs are meant for calm and easily accessible areas, like flatwater riverbanks and oceanfronts no further than the breakers. Take these guys to the beach, but switch to Type I before heading out much deeper.pfd3 Type III: Floatation AidsSomething a little more familiar. Most recreational and sport PFDs fall under this category, from fishing vests to whitewater jackets. They’re sleek, streamlined, and lightweight, and usually the most comfortable out of the whole range. While Type III’s still can’t boast the same top-notch protection in deepwater or during long waits for rescue as Type I, they still make the best option for small boat activities.PFD4 Paddling is often about taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone: jumping on that big wave, taking a dive into a deep hole, navigating a new stretch of blinding whitewater. But risky doesn’t have to mean dangerous. Safe paddling is fun paddling, and the most important challenge for any boater is to keep out of harm’s way in the midst of so much adventure.Good paddling skills and a reliable whitewater team are only half the battle – the rest lies in the gear. Throwing on a helmet and a lifejacket before hitting the waves seems simple enough, but the number of factors involved in buying, fitting, and understanding these pieces of equipment can make adopting these crucial safety precautions easier said than done.The big news right now is the U.S. Coast Guard recently announced that they are evaluating the current PFD (personal floatation devices, or life jackets) classification system and that changes are on the way. Look for a new rating system by Spring 2016. The next step in PFD design and marketing has been a long time coming, and the wait only continues for now. But positive change is on the way, and watersports participants can look forward to this giant step ahead.Currently, PFDs follow a special rating system consisting of five categories. Here’s the low-down (expect this system to become simplified and easier to understand):PFD1Type I: Off-shore LifejacketsThese PFDs are what you’ll usually see on your typical ship or boat. They’re the most common and versatile option for general water activities, and are designed with deeper or more isolated conditions in mind (such as in the ocean). Big, bulky, and buoyant, Type I PFDs will certainly keep you afloat but can be a burden to wear.PFD2last_img read more

Paralyzed Woman Hiking Appalachian Trail

first_img41 year-old Stacey Kozel of Medina, Ohio is not your typical Appalachian Trail thru-hiker.That’s because she is attempting to hike America’s favorite footpath without the full use of her legs.At the age of 19 Kozel was diagnosed with Lupus stemming from a previous car accident. She’s been paralyzed from the chest down ever since.But now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and some inspiring determination, Stacey is in the midst of fulfilling her longtime dream of hiking the 2,000 plus mile Appalachian Trail.13315735_885440018250838_928202423287594417_nHer hike is being made possible by a set of high tech knee braces that cost $75,000 a piece. The braces contain foot sensors that tell a built in computer how much tension Kozel will need at the knees for each step she takes.She hopes that her hike will raise awareness about the life changing braces and make them more available to paralysis victims like herself.“My goal is to bring awareness to these braces so people know they exist and hopefully it gives more people the ability to get out of their wheelchairs and out exploring the world,” Stacey wrote in an article published on AppalachianTrials.com.“There are people that qualify for these braces that either do not know they exist or it gets stopped with an insurance denial. I hope WHEN I make it back to Mt. Katahdin on my thru hike, insurance companies will have a much tougher time telling others that the braces are ‘not necessary.’”At the moment Stacey is somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia approximately three months into her epic journey. Her spirits are said to be high as she attempts to make Appalachian Trail history.Keep up with Stacey’s progress here.Related Content:last_img read more

Trail Mix: Visiting The Carter Family Fold

first_imgI have lived in the mountains of Southwest Virginia for thirteen years now. For much of that time, I have dabbled in both festival promotion and music writing, and a significant part of my focus in both has been on Appalachian folk music and bluegrass.So, you can imagine my shame when, as I was chatting with Rita Forrester, the granddaughter of A.P. Carter, best known as the patriarch of country music, that I confessed to never having been to the Carter Family Fold.Located in Hiltons, Virginia, less than an hour from my house and only minutes from Maces Spring, the ancestral home of A.P. Carter, the Carter Family Fold is, arguably, the epicenter of Appalachian music. The groundwork for the Fold was laid in 1974 by Janette Carter, daughter of A.P. and Sara of the Carter Family, and the Fold began with a simple, but incredible, purpose – to honor the contributions of The Carter Family to American musical culture and to preserve the musical traditions of the Appalachian Mountains.Now run by Rita, Janette’s daughter, the Fold hosts bluegrass and old time concerts each weekend. I recently caught up with Rita to chat about The Carter Family Fold, her role in maintaining its legacy, and all the fine music and food visitors can partake of every weekend. BRO – I know you spent a lot of time with your grandfather in your childhood. He had retired by then, but do you have any memories of him singing?RF – I did spend time with my Papaw, as he lived with us in the years prior to his death. As I was only six when he died, my memories are mostly of him as my grandfather. A.P. wasn’t in the best of health when I was born. Having retired from music, he was running the little one-room country store he built, the A.P. Carter Grocery. When family members visited, though, there was singing. We’d all get together. There would be lots of good food, catching up with all that was going on with those we hadn’t seen regularly, and usually singing at the end of the get together. I remember lots of people – fifty to a hundred or more, normally. Those get-togethers brought my Papaw great joy.BRO – When you think of the many shows you have experienced at the Fold, is there one memory or moment that jumps out at you that is particularly incredble?RF – There have been so many iconic, historic performances at the Fold that it’s difficult to pick just one that stands out. One of my favorites was the 50th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions in 1977. My grandmother, Sara, and my great aunt Maybelle attended. All of their children were there, as was Johnny Cash. My grandfather died in 1960, so he was the most notable missing family member. As it turned out, it was Maybelle and Sara’s last performance together. Maybelle died in the fall of 1978, and my grandmother passed in January of 1979. They had the honor of being the first two women inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame, along with my grandfather, of course, as the original Carter Family. All of Johnny Cash’s performances, especially his last ones, would rank at the top. Those were done after June’s death and just prior to his death. Marty Stuart and Tom T. Hall have presented memorable performances, as did Grandpa Jones and Waylon Jennings. We even had John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on our stage one night.BRO – Where do you see The Carter Family Fold in the musical legacy of Southwest Virginia?RF – The Carter Fold is so unique that it’s actually worth describing how it all came about. My mother, Janette, started music shows in her father’s old grocery. A.P. had started music shows in what he called the park in the early 1950s. Just prior to his death, he asked my mother to see that his musical legacy lived on after he was gone. Starting the weekly music shows in 1974 was her way of fulfilling that promise. The shows quickly outgrew the grocery, and the Fold was built in 1976. The grocery was converted to the Carter Family Museum. Later, A.P.’s birthplace cabin was moved and restored on the grounds. My mother established a rural, nonprofit arts organization at a time when virtually none existed, creating a museum and reconstructing her father’s birthplace home – both historic landmarks. Never having finished high school, she accomplished all of this and went on to receive the Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, their most prestigious award. I believe the Fold will go down in history as having given an honorable and respectful home to old time and bluegrass music. The Fold’s contributions to preserving not just our Appalachian musical heritage, but the wonderful and often unseen beauty of the culture of Appalachia, are immeasurable.BRO – Carson Peters returns to the Fold this weekend. Is it fair that a kid that young has a talent that big?RF – I fell in love with Carson and his family when we met. They personify all that’s good in our music and the very essence of the beautiful place we are so fortunate to call home. Steadfast Christians, they truly are some of the best people I have ever met. Carson will be the first person to tell you that his talent is God-given, and it truly is. He doesn’t take it for granted; he embraces it. If all kids Carson’s age had the wisdom, respect, and love for his fellow man that Carson does, what a great difference it would make in the world we live. Carson has worked very hard to get where he is, and his parents, family, and friends have been behind him 100%. It’s more than fair that he has the tremendous talent he does. He’s deserving of it, respectful of it, and appreciates all that comes with it. Yet, he still finds time to just be a kid. He’s simply amazing. You have to see him to believe just how great he is. I’m one of his biggest fans, and I feel like he’s my own child or grandchild. That’s how much I love him and how proud I am of him and what he’s accomplished. I cry just thinking about how much he and his family mean to me.BRO – I hear you are still top chef, so to speak, at the Fold, and I hear that the food is always awesome. Got any recipes you can share with us?RF – I am still the person who cooks the bulk of the food at the Fold. Working full time makes preparing all the good food a challenge. I often cook until 2 or 3 A.M. on Saturday mornings. Most of the recipes were my mom’s. She was the best cook ever, so I can only hope my cooking is a fraction as good as her cooking was. She was especially proud of the homemade chili for the hot dogs, and it’s still prepared the way she did it. The egg salad we have every week is from her recipe. We always have a special. Sometimes it’s soup beans and cornbread. Last week we had Amish soup and vegetables, from one of June’s recipes. We have served ham biscuits, my Aunt Nancy’s homemade chicken salad, and many other mountain dishes. I can’t take credit for the desserts. Various volunteers bring the wonderful cakes we have each week. Southern Food Ways came to the Fold to highlight the food we serve on Saturdays and at our festivals and events. You can find recipes for our hot dog chili, soup beans and cornbread, and chicken salad on their website. Rachel Ray has even featured our food in her magazine. Mom always wanted the food we serve to be part of the experience of a night at the Fold, like a little taste of Appalachia. She actually wanted folks who come to the Fold to feel like they were visiting her home. Her house was always warm and welcoming and full of love and good food. Hopefully, the Fold and what all the folks experience there is just the same.As is the custom, the coming weeks feature a bevy of old time and bluegrass performers at the Fold. This week, as mentioned, sees Carson Peters & Iron Mountain returning to the stage. Scheduled performances for March and April include, among others, JP Mathes & Fiddlin’ Leona, Jeff Little Trio, and Whitetop Mountain Band. For more information on the show schedule, or just to learn a bit more about this national treasure, be sure to check out the Carter Family Fold’s website.If you are going to be in the area and want to get to the Fold this weekend – say, Saturday night – take a shot at our trivia question down below. In conjunction with the Fold and Heart of Appalachia, Trail Mix is happy to be offering up two tickets to see Carson Peters & Iron Mountain on Saturday. A winner of the two passes will be chosen from all correct responses sent to dave@blueridgeoutdoors.com by noon on Friday, March 24th.Question . . . . Carson Peters appeared on what NBC show hosted by comedian Steve Harvey?Remember . . . . email your answers in! Don’t post them here!Good Luck!last_img read more