Outdoor Journal

Go deep: Flittermouse Grotto of Western North Carolina, the local chapter of the National Speleological Society, meets at 7 p.m. the first Friday of each month at the Black Mountain Library (105 Dougherty St.). Visitors and guests are welcome to attend for caving fellowship, or simply to ask what the hell the group’s name means.

Gold-plated ambition: The nonprofit Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park took in a record $188,400 this year through its North Carolina specialty-license-plate program. Motorists pay an annual fee of $30 for the tags, $20 of which goes to the Friends to support conservation projects and programs on the North Carolina side of America’s most-visited national park. In its six years of operation, the program has netted more than $900,000 for the group.

Pet rock: They own it, now how will they take care of it? Earlier this month, the nonprofit Carolina Climbers’ Coalition unveiled a draft management plan for Laurel Knob, the massif the group bought last year. Devised by N.C. State University associate professor Aram Attarian last summer, the document lays out a plan to preserve and protect the climbing destination. See it online at www.carolinaclimbers.org.

Belly up to the water bar: It’s not too early to think about joining a volunteer trail crew next summer, to help spruce up the Appalachian Trail. You’ve hiked it for years, now it’s time to give something back. To download a copy of the 2007 trail crew application, visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at www.appalachiantrail.org or e-mail crews@appalachiantrail.org with questions.

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