The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: great smoky mountains national park

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.

Published in Feedbag

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.”

Published in News
Wednesday, 27 July 2022 18:39

Falling tree kills child in Great Smokies

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.

Published in Feedbag

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.

Published in News

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.

Published in News

Clean Up PileVolunteers who helped with the Save our Smokies cleanup on April 23 are shown here among their booty. Anna Lawrence/Hellbender Press

Amid the booze bottles and toilet paper, it’s ‘incredible what we found here’

Cleanup crews cleared garbage Earth Day weekend across Great Smoky Mountains National Park from mountain crests to the shores of Fontana Lake.

Save Our Smokies, which organized the April 23 event, called it the largest single cleanup ever attempted in the park. Volunteers wrangled some 5,000 pounds of garbage.

Save our Smokies Vice President Benny Braden said the organization removed 10,133 pounds of trash in all of 2021.

“Litter is a big problem. We can clean up a location and two months later we have to be back there because it’s worse than when we started,” Braden said in an interview Saturday morning at the Tremont section of the national park. “What gives us hope is our volunteers showing up,” he said, citing their tireless dedication.

Published in News

GATLINBURG Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash hosted a dgital meeting April 14 urging the implementation of a $5 daily parking fee for Smokies visitors to raise money for park maintenance, law enforcement and visitor services.

The meeting included an overview presentation introducing the rate changes and a question and answer session. 

Published in News

Indiana batThe endangered Indiana bat is among threatened and endangered species in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southern Appalachians show red as a warning on new detailed biodiversity maps 

This story was originally published by the Sylva Herald.

SYLVA Great Smoky Mountains National Park has long been known for its abundance of different species of flora and fauna.

Credit old mountains in a warm, sunny and wet region with varying types of climate, soil and stone for that large number.

“The park is almost certainly the most biodiverse national park in North America,” said Paul Super, national park science coordinator. “And certainly the most studied of any national park.”

A group of environmental organizations recently put together a series of maps illustrating the regions with the biggest threats to their biodiversity, and the area around Jackson County and the national park showed up in the red, showing risk. One such map, based on NatureServe data, is among the most detailed maps of endangered and threatened species ever produced.

Published in News

Parson Branch RoadDead hemlocks are seen along Parson Branch Road near Cades Cove. National Park Service

CADES COVE Great Smoky Mountains National Park contractors began removing at least 800 dead hemlock trees along Parson Branch Road, an eight-mile primitive backcountry road that connects Cades Cove with U.S. 129 on the western edge of the park.

The road has been closed since 2016 because of the tree hazards and damage to the road surface. The hemlocks succumbed to the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic insect that has wreaked havoc on hemlock stands and their accompanying ecosystems.

The road passes several trailheads, and is used by emergency vehicles as needed. The park initially identified some 1,700 trees that posed a hazard to the adjacent roadway, but that number has naturally declined by about half over the past six years.

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park provided $100,000 for the hazard-mitigation project. That was matched with $50,000 from the federal government.

Once the dead trees are removed, work will begin to rehabilitate the roadway and ensure its safety. 

The roadway could reopen this summer, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

Published in Feedbag
Celithemis elisa femaleThe calico pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) is among 77 new species discovered in Great Smoky Mountains National Park over the last decade. Wikipedia Commons

Apps and public research help uncover new layers of life in Southern Appalachia

This article was originally published by Smoky Mountain News.

Visitors armed only with a free app and love of nature have documented more than 4,000 species in Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 2011, according to the nonprofit Discover Life in America, including 77 not previously documented in the park by anyone else. 

DLiA, which manages the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory project that aims to catalogue all species residing in the extremely diverse park, recently analyzed more than 71,000 records from the app, iNaturalist, to discover the impact these casual observations have made on the project. 

Published in News
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