The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Wolf Naegeli

Tuesday, 25 October 2022 22:59

Beavers mitigate forest fires

beaver gc2f524423 1280European Beaver  Image by Ralf Schick from Pixabay

NPR: California enlists beavers in battle against climate change

Forest areas with beaver dams are less prone to severe fire damage because of more consistent soil moisture and less extreme air aridity and temperature conditions. Read about it or listen to Randy Simon’s 2-minute beaver podcast on National Public Radio’s Earth Wise web page.

Advance Knox Choices WeekAdvance Knox proposes three growth scenarios for the future of the unincorporated areas of Knox County.

If you missed the community meetings and the Zoom event during Advance Knox’s “Choices Week,” you can still take the survey online!

If you are unfamiliar with the Advance Knox project, you may find it helpful to watch the first 19 minutes of the Choices Week webinar recording before taking the survey.

Advance Knox is a process to prepare a land use and transportation plan for Knox County that is informed by research and community input,” according to its website.

In March 2022, Advance Knox offered a first round of public input opportunities during its “Ideas Week.”  As reported in Hellbender Press, community meetings were held all over the county. Participation opportunities at special group presentations, a Zoom webinar, and individual commenting on the website were similar to those of Choices Week.

VIENNA — Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s energy and climate minister announced that she would take the case to the European Court of Justice if the union’s executive proceeds with plans to include nuclear and natural gas in the EU taxonomy of sustainable finance.

About gas, Gewessler said that it releases unconscionable amounts of greenhouse gases. “Just because something is less bad than coal doesn’t make it good or sustainable.”

Regarding nuclear energy she said it has unpredictably high risks, referring to Chernobyl and Fukushima. She also mentioned as great concerns, the safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel and lack of a global solution for its final storage.

ELOlogoELO is a student-run organization at the University of Tennessee College of Law. It is not directly affiliated with the University of Tennesse or any particular non-profit organization. It is dedicated to providing students and attorneys with learning opportunities and leadership experiences.

Networking environmental leaders across Appalachia and the State of Tennessee

Knoxville — APIEL is a relative newcomer to the small circle of inclusive U.S. public interest environmental law conferences. Because it is organized by law school student volunteers, APIEL is affordable to attend for students as well as citizens from all walks of life.

APIEL is much loved and considered essential by regional nonprofit leaders and activists. It is also highly acclaimed by seasoned environmental lawyers. With just 12 conferences under its belt, APIEL has risen to rank among leading peer conferences with a much longer track record, such as the  Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon School of Law (39 events), the Red Clay Conference at the University of Georgia School of Law (34) and the Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law (28).

Knox County Commission finalizes action to limit citizen rights to oppose developments.

KNOXVILLE — County Commission passed on second reading Monday an amendment to the county’s process for appealing Planning Commission decisions, according to Compass.

Hellbender’s initial story and updates follow:

“The revised measure passed on first reading with seven out of 11 votes, but Commission Chair Richie Beeler said his support was soft and he would need to be persuaded to vote for it a second time next month. If approved, the ordinance would give developers the option to have appeals of their plans heard by the BZA or in Chancery Court,” Compass reported.

Residents and developers who do not agree with a decision of the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission to permit or deny a land use that is somewhat unusual for their neighborhood can appeal to the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). If their appeal is denied they may further appeal to the City Council, and as a last resort to the Circuit Court.

Knox County residents and developers, however, are not allowed to appeal to County Commission if the county BZA denies their appeal. For a second reconsideration, they must directly go to court, which tends to be prohibitively expensive for many.

Now Jacobs and most county commissioners want to take away the option to appeal to the BZA for such projects outside the city limits, leaving the Circuit Court as the one and only way to have concerns reconsidered.

Published in News

OAK RIDGE — WBIR channel 10 News 2-minute video highlighting a controversy that has been brewing for a decade.

Infographics and more details added May 5, 2022

Tree clearing would radically degrade the visual experience and take away shade crucial to enjoyment of a walk during increasingly hot weather

On April 4, TRISO-X LLC, a subsidiary incorporated last August by X-Energy LLC, disclosed plans to build a plant at Horizon Center to manufacture a new kind of “unmeltable” tri-structural isotropic nuclear fuel (TRISO) for high-temperature pebble-bed gas reactors. It will use uranium, enriched to less than 20 percent, to fabricate spherical, billiards-ball sized High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) pebbles.

Horizon Center,

situated among sensitive natural areas, was designed as an upscale light-industrial and office park. Despite its fancy landscaping with sculpture gardens, it failed to attract the many buyers that had been anticipated when it was created a quarter century ago. A principal argument for its establishment was that Oak Ridge needed to attract more private enterprise to reduce dependency on Federal jobs.

Terragenics’ $38 million plant, which was built to manufacture implantable radioactive pellets to treat prostate cancer never went into full production and was abandoned in 2005. 2015, with Governor Haslam in attendance, Canadian CVMR promised 620 jobs, using the plant for it’s first U.S. production site and to move its headquarters to it from Toronto, too.

Friday, 22 April 2022 14:58

Maybe we should call it Ocean Day

Best Earth Day feature: We still know so little about so much that is vital to life on our planet

CBS News — Stunning midwater creatures of the deep sea

You have to endure a half-minute commercial to see this 6-minute report on the fascinating footage captured by a high-tech marine science project of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Make sure to turn on full-screen viewing, if you can. Have you ever seen a bloody belly comb jelly?

We think you’ll agree it’s the most worthwile video you watched today.

AdvanceKnoxGibbsYou can still share your own ideas to improve and protect our community   Advance Knox

Updated again on May 4: Hundreds of ideas, complaints and comments, many of them with map locations, have been posted on the Advance Knox website.

As announced in Hellbender Press earlier, Advance Knox held a series of public input events across Knox County during its Ideas Week at the end of March.

If you missed those in-person gatherings and could not attend the virtual session, we hope you recorded your preferences and opinions online at the Advance Knox website.

You can now see what others had to say about your neighborhood and your favorite places.

And, even if you already participated, you may have had new ideas or important thoughts not recorded yet. Please let us know,

— what you treasure in Knox County

— what you miss

— what you think is most important to consider as the county keeps growing.  

The interactive facility to submit ideas will remain open online through May 10as suggested at the last Advisory Committee meeting.

Dry Hollow before the bulldozersDry Hollow before the bulldozers devastated it. This rural area is zoned agricultural except for the old commercial/light industrial cluster and the church area at right. The barn at the end of the church parking lot and the trees in the project area are already gone! The trees can grow back over time if Knox county commissioners make a wise decision.  Synthetic virtual oblique aerial view generated by Atelier N / Hellbender Press

More and much improved picture galleries

May 20: included new “Six on Your Side” report from WATE TV Channel 6 News

Massive residential development planned without regard for beautiful farmland, historic context and rich wildlife habitat — what’s at stake?

SOUTH KNOX COUNTY — When you drive out of Knoxville on Chapman Highway toward Seymour and Sevierville, you see little more than ugly strip development. That bleakness is interrupted only when passing through narrow gaps in the ridges, which tend to focus your view even more on the heavy traffic. No notable pleasant vista until just before the county boundary at Shooks Gap! If you look to your left, across the slope of Berry Highland South Cemetery, you get a brief glimpse of Dry Hollow.

That is the only view I remember from my first drive on Chapman Highway after moving to East Tennessee in 1985. Then, we did not yet have so much urban sprawl that one hardly gets a feeling of having left Knoxville before crossing into Sevier County and momentarily passing through a corner of Blount County.

Knox County offers opportunities for public participation in the overhaul of planning guidelinesKnox County offers opportunities for public participation in the overhaul of planning guidelines  Knoxville-Knox County Planning

Framework for growth in Knox County

Advance Knox is a comprehensive planning process initiated by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs “to guide growth, land use, transportation, economic prosperity, and quality of life.”

The process is intended to result in a new Knox County general plan and subsequently shape revisions of the sector plans. Together, that set of major plans establishes criteria for further plans by Knoxville-Knox County Planning, such as local area and annual plans, as well as timing and implementation specifics for the Knox County portions of the Regional Transportation Planning Organization’s Long Range Regional Mobility Plan.

At each 90-minute Ideas Week event, you’ll learn about the process through idea generation and map-based activities. It’s a chance to share what’s important to you.

— Sunday, March 27 – 1:30 p.m. at Gibbs Middle School

— Monday, March 28 – 5:30 p.m. at Hardin Valley Middle School or Carter High School

— Tuesday, March 29 – 5:30 p.m. at West High School or Northshore Elementary School

— Wednesday, March 30 – 5:30 p.m. at Powell High School or South Doyle Middle School

Knoxville-Knox County General Plan 2033, adopted in 2003, established the framework for the current sector plans and was amended with the Knoxville-Knox County Park, Recreation and Greenways Plan in 2010.

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