The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

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ES Initiatives (37)

EarthSolidarity™ Initiatives are endeavors to which anyone can contribute in deed as well as in spirit, that

  • minimize waste and environmental impacts
  • increase community resilience
  • respect and protect ecosystem processes and all forms of life
  • contribute to good living conditions for everyone around the globe
  • affirm and celebrate our interdependence and interrelatedness in the Web of Life!



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Sturgeonfest 2023

Join in a great event on Saturday, Oct. 7 for Sturgeonfest 2023 where you will have the opportunity to see the release of baby sturgeon into the French Broad River.
When: Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The sturgeon release will begin at 11 a.m. and there are 1,000 baby sturgeon to release.
Due to habitat degradation, barriers to migration, overharvest and pollution, lake sturgeon have been almost extirpated from much of the Southeast US for more than 50 years.
In 2015, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission joined surrounding states in the Southeast Lake Sturgeon Working Group in an effort to restore lake sturgeon to the Tennessee and Cumberland river systems.
Brood stock comes from the Wolf River in Wisconsin, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to collect eggs and milt for transportation and hatching at the Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery in Georgia.After hatching and growing, lake sturgeon are sent to the USFWS National Fish Hatchery at Edenton, N.C. and the Wildlife Commission’s Table Rock State Fish Hatchery for several months before release.
Approximately 2,000-9,000 juvenile lake sturgeon have been stocked annually in the French Broad River since 2015.
Dylan Owensby of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services says lake sturgeon are slow-growing, long-living fish. They might live up to 150 years and can grow more than 6 feet and up to 200 pounds. Females mature at 14 to 33 years of age and reproduce only once every four or more years. Males mature at 8 to 20 years of age. Sturgeon are bottom dwellers feeding on larval insects, crayfish and mollusks.
Learn more about lake sturgeon at
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community_biochar-reduced.pngCommunity biochar production in Boone.  Appalachian State Energy Center

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

74_annular_eclipse_detail.jpg“Ring of Fire” annular eclipse.  NASA

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. 

Published in Feedbag, Events, Earth
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IMG_9118.jpegLaunching a raft for the rapids on the Ocoee River to raise awareness for TennGreen’s effort to acquire land along Clear Creek in Morgan County.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press 

A raft trip on the Ocoee helped save faraway Clear Creek

DUCKTOWN — We threw our backs into paddling as the raft dipped and crested.

We were on the Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee, but Clear Creek, 118 miles away in Morgan County, was the reason for the occasion.

I joined the group, some of whom were staying in nearby cabins overnight, for rafting and a cookout.

It was part of a TennGreen push to buy and preserve 180 acres of land along Clear Creek. It will then sell 23 of those acres, which includes a house. It will donate the rest to the Obed Wild and Scenic River, an adjoining federal conservation area.

Cool water deluged us, rapid after rapid. In one case we spun with momentum. We high-fived with our paddles when we hit clear spots after a successful run.

That evening, we unwound with hot dogs, burgers both vegetarian and meat, potato salad and s’mores among other treats at the Cabins at Copperhill.

TennGreen Deputy director Christie Henderson said buying the Clear Creek land would allow for a connected wilderness area in which plants and animals could have a safe corridor. It also would preserve the view of the night sky from potential light from new houses. 

Published in News, Event Archive, Water

Cumberland Trails summit coming in October


The Cumberland Trail Summit is happening October 19-21, 2023. The Cumberland Trail Summit is an opportunity to showcase our trail communities. The Summit will focus on outdoor recreation, community building and educational programs

The mission of the Cumberland Trails Conference is to provide paid and volunteer labor, equipment, supplies and vehicles to design and construct the Cumberland Trail under the auspices of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The continued development and construction of the Cumberland Trail is accomplished through a working relationship between the Cumberland Trails Conference (CTC), the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Park, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.  The CTC, private corporations, foundations, individuals and others assist TDEC in raising funds for land acquisition, providing maintenance and further developing the Cumberland Trail.

The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail State Park operates a professional trail crew mostly in the north sections.

The Cumberland Trails Conference also maintains a professional trail crew that works twelve months a year.  Additional labor comes from thousands of hours of volunteer service provided through the CTC, including through the CTC BreakAway, a college Alternative Spring Break program.

The Cumberland Trail is an extensive foot trail constructed and maintained largely by volunteers from Tennessee and across the nation. The Trail is managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Building the Cumberland Trail is a grassroots effort, driven by communities along the trail, government agencies and a broad network of volunteers. This successful private/public partnership is a model often cited to demonstrate the power of volunteerism and public/private partnerships.

When completed, the Cumberland Trail will extend more than 300 miles from its northern terminus in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky to its southern terminus at the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park located on Signal Mountain just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee.

— Cumberland Trails Conference

Published in Feedbag, Action Alert, Events
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Lunch atop a Skyscraper by Charles Clyde Ebbets, 1932

Lunch atop a skyscraper, first published in the New York Herald-Tribune, Oct. 2 1932.  publicdomain  Charles Clyde Ebbets 

View the story behind this famous photograph of the structure which was known initially as the RCA building, then GE building, now 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It also is a story about the national solidarity felt during the Great Depression — emblematic for EarthSolidarity!™ needed now to deal with our present global emergencies. 


‘All that is solid melts into air’

John Rennie Short is professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Maryland. This article was originally published in The Conversation.

The hollowing out of U.S. cities’ office and commercial cores is a national trend with consequences for millions of Americans. As more people have stayed home following the COVID-19 pandemic, foot traffic has fallen and major retail chains are closing stores, and prestigious properties are having a hard time retaining tenants.

(Some Southeastern cities, like Knoxville, Asheville and Greenville have seen the opposite occur).

In May 2023 the shuttering of a Whole Foods market in downtown San Francisco received widespread coverage. Even more telling was the high-end department store Nordstrom’s decision to close its flagship store there in August after a 35-year run.

In New York City, office vacancy rates have risen by over 70% since 2019. By spring of 2023 Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a stretch of high-end shops and restaurants, had a 26% vacancy rate.

A recent study from the University of Toronto found across North America, downtowns are recovering from the pandemic more slowly than other urban areas and “older, denser downtowns reliant on professional or tech workers and located within large metros” are struggling the hardest.

Like many U.S. cities, Portland, Oregon, is losing downtown businesses. This cuts into urban revenues and creates a perception of decline.

Over more than 50 years of researching urban policy,  U.S. cities have weathered through many booms and busts. Now there is a  more fundamental shift taking place. Traditional downtowns are dying or on life support across the U.S. and elsewhere. Local governments and urban residents urgently need to consider what the post-pandemic city will look like.

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

For more information visit the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area website or call 423-569-9778.

Oak Ridge research suggests rough weather ahead

OAK RIDGE Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Northeastern University modeled how extreme conditions in a changing climate affect the land’s ability to absorb atmospheric carbon — a key process for mitigating human-caused emissions. They found that 88 percent of Earth’s regions could become carbon emitters by the end of the 21st century.

Climate extremes lasting months or years could reduce plant productivity, which governs Earth’s capacity to produce food, fiber and fuel. Events such as wildfires could generate bursts of emissions from carbon stored in forests.

The team used the open-source Community Earth System Model to simulate multiple variables, which enabled a holistic understanding of how climatic conditions interact. 

“Our results suggest that meteorological extremes will become more frequent, intense and widespread due to the compound effect of high temperature, drought and fire,” said ORNL’s Bharat Sharma. “Tropical regions may face these to the most extreme degree.”

— Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Public can learn more about distilled Knox Urban Forest Master Plan Sept. 13


KNOXVILLETrees 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.

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trout_bradley.jpg.webpMichael Bradley, a fly-fishing guide, on Raven Fork in the Oconaluftee area of the Great Smoky Mountains.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Climate change could steal your fish

Dan Chapman is a public affairs specialist for the Southeast Region of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

CHEROKEE — The mountains of the Southern Appalachians were scraped clean a century ago. Headwater ecology changed as the canopy of trees disappeared that was shading the streams from all but the noonday sun. Rainstorms pushed dirt and rocks into the water muddying the feeding and breeding grounds of fish, amphibians and insects. 

Lower down the mountain, newly cut pastures edged right up to the creeks while cows mucked up the once-pristine waters. Invasive bugs killed hemlocks, ash and other shade-giving trees. Pipes, culverts and dams blockaded streams and kept animals from cooler water. 

The trout never had a chance.

Now they face an even more insidious foe — climate change. 

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