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Appalachian State University research helps farmers and crop yield
This article was provided by Appalachian State University. Hei-Young Kim is laboratory manager and research assistant with the Appalachian Energy Center.
BOONE — The Appalachian State Nexus Project experiments continue to advance agricultural innovations with biochar to help local farmers. Biochar is a charcoal-like material produced from plant material such as grass, agricultural and forest residues that produce carbon-rich material used for agriculture and horticulture purposes.
Adding biochar to soil increases surface area, pH, plant nutrient availability, and enhances water-holding capacity, according to Appalachian State researchers. It also can sequester carbon in the ground for extended periods of time, which may otherwise find its way into the atmosphere as CO2 or methane.
The qualities of biochar vary depending upon the material it comes from — timber slash, corn stalks or manure.
Fall in to the Ring of Fire on Oct 14
While most people associate “Ring of Fire” with the great Southern country singer Johnny Cash, it will feature a different beat on Oct. 14 when the “Ring of Fire” annular eclipse will cross North, Central and South America.
The moon will pass in front of the sun, and an annular eclipse will be visible over much of the United States and Central and South America. Unlike a total solar eclipse, the moon will not completely block the sun and make day appear like night. It will, however, make the sun appear like a thin ring of fire. The difference between an annular and a total eclipse is that the moon’s orbit varies slightly in it’s distance from Earth. If an eclipse occurs when the moon is at a farther point during its orbit, it will appear slightly smaller and not large enough to cover the sun completely.
All eclipse-watchers on Oct. 14 will need to use special eye protection — such as eclipse glasses or a specialized solar filter — or an indirect viewing method to safely watch. Such safety measures must be used throughout the entire eclipse, no matter a viewer’s location, as even the small ring of sun visible at the peak of the annular eclipse is dangerous if viewed directly.
Live coverage of the eclipse will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Oct. 14 The public may also watch live on social media accounts on Facebook, X, and YouTube.
Public Lands Day looking for volunteers
Big South Fork celebrates National Public Lands Day Saturday, September 23 with a Volunteer Trails Event
Oneida, Tennessee — Take part in the National Public Lands Day celebration at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on Saturday, September 23, 2023.
On this day, the park is looking for volunteers to help build out the last section of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. Interested volunteers should meet at the R.M. Brooks General Store (2830 Rugby Parkway, Robbins, Tennessee 37852) on Saturday the 23rd at 8:30 am ET. Please wear long pants and sturdy footwear.
Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship and encourages use of open space for education, recreation and health benefits. More information can be found online at https://www.neefusa.org/npld.
For more information visit the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area website or call 423-569-9778.
Public can learn more about distilled Knox Urban Forest Master Plan Sept. 13
KNOXVILLE — Trees Knoxville and the city will update citizens on progress on the Urban Forest Master Plan. Trees Knoxville, an organization dedicated to preserve and increase the urban tree canopy on private and public lands in Knoxville and Knox County, will host an open house from 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 13, at the Public Works Service Center (3131 Morris Ave.) to discuss the latest Urban Forest Master Plan.
Trees Knoxville and city urban forester Kasey Krouse will share recommendations from Urban Canopy Works LLC based on public input.
“We have taken everything we’ve learned over the last year and developed draft goals, as well as strategies and action steps to meet those goals,” Trees Knoxville Steering Committee said in a release. “While the plan is not yet fully developed, we would like to update the community on the direction the plan is headed, providing an opportunity to give feedback before the final draft is produced.”
This forum will update the planning process Trees Knoxville and city staff have been working on with a consultant from Urban Canopy to learn about the public thoughts, opinions and goals for the city’s urban canopy — tree cover in public places and on private property.
The hope is a successful forest plan will help the city preserve, grow and care for trees, which play a significant role in public and environmental health.
Public meeting about solutions to remove solid waste in downtown Knoxville is set for Sept.14
KNOXVILLE — On Thursday, Sept. 14, the city, MSW Consultants and DSM Environmental will present findings from the 2023 Downtown Solid Waste Study. The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Lox Salon, 103 W. Jackson Avenue.
Members of the public are welcome to attend and learn about how downtown solid waste and recycling is currently being collected, costs involved, and a look at future collection options.
The Downtown Solid Waste Study was launched to address concerns about downtown growth and increased solid waste production. The city currently spends more than $550,000 each year for downtown trash and recycling services.
— City of Knoxville
Guided Bird Walk with Dr. Chuck Nicholson, September 16 at Big South Fork
Oneida, Tennessee – This September 16, at 8:00 AM (ET), don’t miss the unique opportunity to explore the lush landscapes of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, guided by Dr. Charles Nicholson. The walk will begin at the Bandy Creek swimming pool at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and promises to be an easy, enjoyable experience for all ages.
Dr. Nicholson is not just an experienced birder; he’s an authority on the subject with over 35 years of specialized experience in the Big South Fork area. A committed member of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, Dr. Nicholson has served multiple roles within the organization, including president and journal editor.
Dr. Nicholson holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a focus on birds. He is the author of the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee, a seminal sourcebook for bird enthusiasts, and served as adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Nicholson has led numerous birding field trips and even offers a course on birdwatching.
This bird walk serves as the perfect prelude to the 31st Annual Haunting in the Hills Storytelling Festival, inviting everyone to connect with nature before diving into the rich tapestry of stories that the festival has to offer.
For more information about this special event as well as other events, call 423-569-9778, or visit online: www.nps.gov/biso.
Volunteers nurture life in an Oak Ridge cemetery
OAK RIDGE — The northern corner here is a small place teeming with treasures, including the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area.
Elza Gate Park off Oak Ridge Turnpike, also known as Tennessee Highway 95, is the starting point for walking trails taking visitors through a cedar barren, a somewhat open habitat including eastern red cedars. The barrens include plants more similar to a prairie than many East Tennessee forests. The trail reaches a cemetery dating before the founding of Oak Ridge.
Woven together in this small area there is a natural mix of wildlife and historical preservation. Visitors to the loop trail will encounter a pine forest and a wetland area complete with a boardwalk to observe birds. Tennessee Valley Authority designated the land as both an Ecological Study Area and Small Wild Area.
- elza gate park
- oak ridge
- tennessee valley authority
- samuel worthington
- global ecology and conservation
- tennessee citizens for wilderness planning
- jimmy groton
- melton hill lake
- nature conservancy
- worthington cemetery ecological study area
- tva oak ridge
- red cedar barren
- tennessee prairie
- invasive plant control
- exotic species
- ann hewitt worthington
- citizen pest plant control
Thanks to an East Tennessee science powerhouse, recycling might become easier
This is the first in a series about ORNL’s Technology Innovation Program 2023
OAK RIDGE — Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a catalyst they say can break down a range of plastics, including polyesters, polycarbonates, polyurethanes and polyamides through a low-energy green process. In lay terms, the process can recycle many plastic-based carpets, ropes, other textiles, bottles, mattresses, protective equipment, car components and other things that weren’t previously easy to recycle into valuable chemicals.
Tomoronori Saito, a researcher at ORNL’s chemical sciences division presented some results of research at ORNL on July 14 as part of a symposium highlighting commercially valuable work that takes place at one of the country’s main science laboratories. Saito and fellow researcher Arif Arifuzzaman showed off plastics in varying levels of disintegration using their catalyst. It was part of the lab’s Technology Innovation Program 2023, promoting the lab’s research for possible business partnerships.
Completed Walker Sisters Cabin renovations secure moments in Smokies time
GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the Walker Sisters Cabin is once again open to the public. The park closed the two-story cabin in late 2021 while the park’s Forever Places crew addressed safety concerns and completed renovations. The crew, a team of skilled carpenters and masons, replaced the roof and portions of the wall timbers, stabilized the foundation, added new floorboards, and restored the fireplace.
“We are proud of the expert work our dedicated Forever Places team did to restore the cabin,” said Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski. “And we are grateful to the Friends of the Smokies for their generous support to help us preserve such an iconic piece of Smokies history.”
The Friends of the Smokies, the park’s philanthropic partner, provided funding for this critical work as part of the Forever Places campaign. Forever Places protects and preserves the historical resources in the park by hiring skilled preservation crew members and supplying materials and tools.
Visitors may reach the Walker Sisters Cabin by hiking about 1.5 miles along the Little Brier Gap Trail located near the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. The cabin dates to the 1800s and the Walker sisters lived there until 1964.
— National Park Service
Help protect an Oak Ridge graveyard dedicated to the study of life
OAK RIDGE — Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning will for the second year host a group of volunteers from Transformation Church on July 15 at the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area to remove Dahurian buckthorn and other invasive species. This is the second year of help at the site from church members, and is one of several service projects church members will conduct throughout the Knoxville area. Volunteers will also help pick up litter and do some trail work.
— Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
EPA finally capping toxic waste at South Knoxville Superfund site
KNOXVILLE — The Environmental Protection Agency this week began putting a protective cap on the former Smokey Mountain Smelters site to control its pollution.
The EPA said the cap will protect nearby waterways by stopping stormwater runoff from combining with the toxic waste on site. Engineers and workers began the project the week of July 6.
By cutting it off from the stormwater, the EPA hopes to stop toxins from flowing away either through groundwater or runoff. The site is off Maryville Pike in South Knoxville. Caleb Properties purchased two of the site’s three parcels at the Delinquent Property Tax Sale on May 16. EPA is building the cap and storing the waste in the area Caleb Properties purchased. The agency stated Caleb Properties committed to “allocating a portion of the development of the site for community benefit,” and they’ll still have to work with the EPA’s remedy for cleanup.
Hellbender Press has reported on the cleanup sites and environmental legacies.
Take a moment at a wayside to think of African Americans in the Great Smokies
GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials unveiled two new waysides at Mingus Mill on May 23 as part of the larger African American Experiences in the Smokies project.
“The new signs and the African American Experiences in the Smokies project are so important to tell the untold stories of Black people in the region,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.
Vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and poet Eric Mingus performed a new piece of music that speaks to and of Mingus Mill, its location, and the people who lived there, including his ancestors. A Santa Fe-based musician, Eric has recently re-connected with his family’s story that is rooted in the park through the African American Experiences in the Smokies project. Eric is descended from Daniel Mingus, a formerly enslaved carpenter, and Clarinda Mingus, the daughter of Daniel’s enslaver.
Hellbender Press previously reported on the Smokies project.
One of the new waysides tells the story of the nearby Enloe Slave Cemetery, where several African Americans are interred. The other wayside tells the story of Eric’s father, legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus Jr., and his family.
The African American Experiences in the Smokies project is supported by the Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains Association, which help fund research of the historic presence and influence of African Americans in the southern Appalachian Mountains from the 1540s through today.
— National Park Service
Nonprofit’s plan to purchase equestrian property faced opposition but raised important future farmland issues
UPDATE: The Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission rejected the proposal for a KARM facility citing zoning restrictions. Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries may still bring the proposal to the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals.
NEW MARKET — Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries plans to purchase River Glen, a storied equestrian facility in Jefferson County, to eventually help disadvantaged clients overcome substance-abuse issues and societal disparities.
The proposal has detractors, but proponents cast it as a way to also ensure the continued operation of an established working horse farm and long-term site of equestrian events, especially dressage. The horses could even provide therapy.
The New Market debate also raises questions about aging U.S. farmers and ultimate disposition of their agricultural lands.
President and Chief Executive Officer of KARM Danita McCartney said her group plans to purchase 185 acres. In addition to its show-worthy horse facilities, the property borders the Holston River and retains a significant amount of forest along the river and sharp ridge lines.
The property’s owner, Bill Graves, spoke highly of the potential new owners and said he was selling the land largely because he wanted to retire from running the business.
The Jefferson County Planning Commission planned to discuss the nonprofit’s plan for the site at a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at the Courthouse at 202 W. Main St. in Dandridge.
- new market
- river glen
- river glen land use debate
- equestrian facilities in east tennessee
- horses and economy
- dressage in east tennessee
- knoxville area rescue ministries
- horse farm transition
- mattalyn rogers dressage
- knoxville dressage
- horse farms and environmental preservation
- mattalyn rogers horse trainer
- horse therapy east tennessee
- katie fleenor
- foothills land conservancy
- bill clabough
Chestnut researchers rally to fight the blight for good
Chestnut trees disappeared from 200 million acres of forest from northeast Mississippi to southern Maine 100 years ago. The social and ecological significance of such an event, which led to the loss of at least 1 billion trees, can be hard to understand today.
The massive die-off of the American chestnut left a big hole in the ecological fabric of Southern Appalachia and beyond. The tree dominated the forests in size and in the ecological and human services it provided.
While no tree could fully substitute an American chestnut in providing food for wildlife, naturally increasing acorn production from oaks served as a major food source bridge for wild turkey, bobwhite, white-tailed deer and squirrels. The oaks helped fill in the so-called “chestnut gap.”
Try as they might, the oaks never produced the same bountiful harvest.
Now with the work of the 3BUR (Breeding, Biotechnology and Biocontrol United for Restoration) the fight to protect the American chestnut and restore it to the throne of the forest is again in motion.