Kevin Bischof is in high demand. Now in his 13th year as a ranger with the North Carolina State Parks, he’s transitioning from serving as superintendent of Mount Mitchell State Park to assuming the same role at Grandfather Mountain State Park. But COVID-19 is delaying the hiring of his replacement, so he’s juggling both jobs.
The route through the Swannanoa Gap — where present-day Old U.S. 70 and Mill Creek Road intersect — was first carved out by Archaic Indians as they came up out of the Appalachian foothills and followed Swannanoa Creek on the way to hunting and gathering opportunities in the mountains. Later, Buncombe County’s first white settlers climbed through the gap as they moved into the area. Historian Dan Pierce shares the gap’s history and culture, as well as suggestions for exploration.
Independence Day will look different this year. Faced with the challenge of preserving tradition while also protecting public health, many community celebrations have pivoted to allow attendees to socially distance as they celebrate the country’s founding — but fireworks can be found at a couple of locations in Western North Carolina.
Although gleaning dinner from nature inherently offers some freedom from the social framework, COVID-19’s disruptions still reached many locals who normally take to the outdoors in spring to gather ramps, morels and other seasonal morsels.
Mike Diethelm, president and founder of Asheville-based SolFarm Solar Co., says a $10 million construction bond requirement for would-be bidders on the solar projects “knocks out so many local medium and small solar businesses, which we have a lot of in this town, and only opens it up to the big guys.”
Asheville Pollination Celebration! returns for its eighth year in June. For the first time, the event includes a photography contest.
As of May 25, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there are zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hot Springs. However, the town is still following statewide protocols to help flatten the curve of coronavirus infections, and businesses such as Laughing Heart Lodge have borne the impacts.
Camps have already suffered layoffs and revenue loss without the spring season, says Sandi Boyer, executive director of the North Carolina Youth Camp Association. But if they can’t operate this summer, they will face nearly 22 months without earned income. “It would be devastating for the camp industry to not open at all,” she says.
“My whole world seems to be closing,” says Danny Bernstein, an Asheville-based outdoors writer who regularly leads hikes for the Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of the Smokies. “Staying 6 feet apart is easy on the trail. But how can we have outdoor activity if almost every piece of public land is closed?”
“This COVID-19 crisis is a crisis for many of us and for us as a society, but it’s also an opportunity because it gives us a chance, a very rare chance, to step back from our busy lives and reflect on where we want to be going as a society,” says Rose Jenkins Lane, spokesperson for Hendersonville-based nonprofit Conserving Carolina.
On March 17, the county announced that it would combine its Soil and Water Conservation District with N.C. Cooperative Extension to form the Agriculture and Land Resources Department. Meanwhile, the managers of numerous area parks and trails have opted to restrict access in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Three draft design concepts for the city-owned Haywood-Page properties were presented during a public work session on the issue Feb. 17, and residents can comment on those designs via online survey through Sunday, March 14.
On Feb. 14, the U.S. Forest Service kicked off a 90-day comment period on the long-awaited draft of a new plan for the forests, set to take effect in 2021 and guide the service’s management approach over the next 10-15 years. Comment online, by mail and at public meetings throughout WNC ends on Thursday, May 14.
“The loss of life and damage caused by current global warming demonstrates that the Earth is already too hot for safety,” states the document approved by a 6-0 vote of Asheville City Council on Jan. 28. “Restoring a safe and stable climate requires an emergency climate mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”
A heartfelt thanks is in order, to the 414 individuals who donated to 2019’s Give!Local partner nonprofits, generating a total impact of $178,804. Every dollar goes directly to local nonprofits making a difference in the WNC community. Mountain Xpress’ fifth annual campaign to raise funds and awareness for local organizations benefiting the community has nearly […]
Winter is the ideal time to begin planting and planning to create a hospitable wild bird habitat.
Have you ever been on or dreamed of going on a big adventure? Then you’re in luck! For Xpress’ 2020 Kids Issues, the theme is “My Big Adventure.” Deadline is Friday, Jan. 31.
Using the slogan “When in doubt, throw it out,” the statewide Recycle Right NC initiative aims to reduce contamination and improve the economic value of recyclables. Additionally, according to the National Weather Service’s Greenville-Spartanburg office, Western North Carolina is likely in for warmer-than-usual conditions over the foreseeable future.