Editorial: Illinois Utility Strives to Thwart Electricity-Generation Transition

first_imgEditorial: Illinois Utility Strives to Thwart Electricity-Generation Transition FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus (Moline):Barely eight months after Illinois’ landmark Future Energy Jobs Act became law, Ameren Illinois wants state regulators to rewrite the rules.Critics estimate that, if the Illinois Commerce Commission accepts the lower energy savings targets contained in the efficiency plan Ameren filed with the ICC, consumers could pay 30 percent more on their bills.Meanwhile, the downstate energy provider which serves thousands in our area, will reap millions in bonuses despite not meeting the original 16 percent waste reduction target originally required by the law to trigger them.A spokesman says the utility asked for the reduction because it prefers to spend its dollars helping low-income communities. Ameren hasn’t spelled out how higher monthly bills will help those already struggling to keep the lights on, or why such a corporate cost shift is necessary given the additional low-income assistance built into the act.For those reasons and more regulators should reject Ameren’s effort to slice by more than a quarter these critical goals for cutting energy waste. ICC commissioners should do so not only for customers, but for all energy consumers in the state, those who work in the industry and for the good of the environment.As readers know, the Future Energy Jobs Act has been lauded as trailblazing state energy policy that should serve as a model for the nation. To achieve it, negotiators brought to the table such unlikely allies as energy providers, conservationists and consumer advocates.The provision that preserved Illinois nuclear energy production including at Exelon in the Quad-Cities, captured most of the headlines. But, importantly, the act also increased the use of renewable energy, protected thousand of jobs and is expected to add thousands more while promoting energy efficiency, thus decreasing — not increasing — costs to consumers.Those energy saving rules are the ones which Ameren seeks to rewrite. It’s interesting to note that ComEd has not asked for a similar reduction, despite energy savings targets which were set higher than Ameren’s. If Ameren wins the day, will a request from ComEd follow? Will it embolden utilities to ask for other changes?More: Tell the ICC not to lower energy savings targetslast_img read more

New EPA proposal not likely to end disputes over new gas pipeline projects, experts say

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Even as industry welcomes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposal aimed at preventing states from blocking infrastructure projects, experts say that the policy is unlikely to give gas pipelines the boost they want.The Aug. 9 rule-making proposal — the latest volley in a battle between states and the Trump administration over lengthy delays to gas projects — would limit state’s authority under the Clean Water Act to block pipeline construction if a project does not meet state standards. However, while the policy would likely shake up federal-state dynamics on infrastructure projects and appears destined for lengthy court battles, the proposed EPA rule is unlikely to prevent states from denying pipeline developers critical water quality permits, several lawyers and energy analysts said.“There is a plausible case to be made that this decision and that this proposed rule is more of a victory for style over substance in terms of being able to effectively rebut recalcitrant state governments that are not interested in permitting new natural gas pipeline,” said Rob Rains, an energy industry analyst at Washington Analysis LLC.The rule could make it incrementally easier for developers to sue states over unfavorable decisions on Section 401 applications, but it would not cut state politics out of the review process, said Katie Bays, an energy analyst and co-founder of research and consulting firm Sandhill Strategy.“Superficially, you would say that more favorable guidance from the EPA strengthens the legal position of pipeline projects and LNG projects that have struggled to obtain 401 certificates from states…That’s the hope and that’s what the administration is attempting to do here,” Bays said. “However, because the guidance does not remove the ability of the states to reject an application for a water quality certificate, they can still do that.”Rains, too, said the scope of what the EPA can accomplish through regulation will remain limited, particularly if Congress is unwilling to change the underlying law. “Yes, the EPA can initiate this rulemaking. They can tighten up these requirements,” he said. “But there is already this prevailing dynamic where the states get a say in this. If Massachusetts or New Jersey or New York or whomever — Virginia — don’t want a project going through, then they have tools at their disposal. It’s not too complicated.”More ($): Stalled gas pipeline projects unlikely to get relief under EPA rule, experts say New EPA proposal not likely to end disputes over new gas pipeline projects, experts saylast_img read more

Australian grocer Coles expands renewable energy commitment, signs major solar PPA

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Construction of three large-scale solar farms proposed for regional New South Wales could be underway as early as next month, after a landmark deal between Australian supermarket giant Coles and UK-based renewables developer Metka EGN.The 10-year deal – claimed as a first for a major Australian retailer – will see Coles purchase more than 70 per cent of the more than 220 gigawatt hours of electricity that will be generated by the three PV plants, which will be built and operated by Metka near Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee.This would be enough to meet around 10 per cent of the retailer’s electricity needs, a statement said, and would add to the commercial solar already installed on 30 Coles outlets, and to plans to install rooftop PV on a further 38 stores this financial year.The three solar farms at the centre of the deal, totaling 260MW in capacity, were originally developed by Terrain Solar – the company behind the under-construction Warwick Solar Farm, now owned by and set to supply the University of Queensland – and were acquired by Metka earlier this year.Terrain chairman David Griffin said the deal struck between Metka and Coles meant that construction of the solar farms would go ahead in September, and all three projects could be finished and supplying power to the grid by July 2020.The three NSW solar farms, meanwhile, are the latest in Australia to be built off the back of corporate power purchase agreements, as big businesses and energy users turn to large-scale renewables to cut costs and bolster their sustainability. Notable corporate PPAs of the recent past have included Australian steel giant BlueScope agreeing to buy the bulk of the output from the Finley Solar Farm, which has just started sending power to the grid in NSW. And in March last year, brewing giant CUB signed a 12-year power purchase agreement with BayWa to buy just under half of the output of the 112MW Karadoc solar farm in Victoria, completed late last year by German company BayWa – accounting for nearly 90 per cent of CUB’s total electricity needs.More: Landmark deal to power Coles underpins three NSW solar farms Australian grocer Coles expands renewable energy commitment, signs major solar PPAlast_img read more

Sembcorp completes 800MW of new wind power capacity in India

first_imgSembcorp completes 800MW of new wind power capacity in India FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Technica:Sembcorp Energy India Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Sembcorp Industries, has announced completion of its 800 MW wind energy projects in India.The wind projects were awarded to Sembcorp under the first, second, and third auctions conducted by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The company was awarded 250 megawatts of wind capacity under the first SECI auction, whereas 250 megawatts and 300 megawatts, respectively, were awarded to the company under the second and third SECI auctions.With the commissioning of its 300 MW wind project, the company has become the first independent wind energy producer to commission the entire capacity awarded under all three auctions of SECI. It is also has the largest operational wind portfolio under the SECI auctions.The 250 megawatt project under the first auction was installed in the Chandragiri district of Tamil Nadu. The other two projects of 250 megawatts and 300 megawatts under the second and third SECI auctions were commissioned in the Bhuj district of Gujarat.The company said that all its wind assets can provide enough energy to power more than 600,000 homes and offset 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The Indian Union power and renewable energy minister R.K. Singh has dedicated the three wind projects to the nation via video conferencing.Sembcorp owns and operates total of 35 assets with the cumulative capacity of 4,370 megawatts including 1,730 megawatts of renewable energy projects. The company is reportedly planning to sell its stake in its thermal power projects.[Saurabh]More: Sembcorp commissions 800 megawatts of wind power projects in Indialast_img read more

NextEra Energy to add 700MW of battery storage at existing California solar projects by end of 2022

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):NextEra Energy Resources LLC expects to place in service nearly 700 MW of fully contracted battery storage projects in California before the end of 2022, it said Aug. 31.The battery storage systems will be located at six of the company’s existing solar projects and will comprise 63 MW at the Blythe 110 solar project 115 MW at the Blythe II solar project 115 MW at the Blythe III solar project 230 MW at the McCoy Solar Energy Project 110 MW at the Arlington solar project and 65 MW at the Yellow Pine Solar project.The output of all but one of the projects is secured under long-term contracts, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Contract counterparties include investor-owned utilities, a community choice aggregator and a corporate customer.The projects represent a capital investment of nearly $800 million. The NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary recently secured approval for 523 MW of projects that needed state permitting.“Once these projects are operational by the end of 2022, Californians will benefit from more low-cost, emission-free solar energy during more hours of the day, as well as improved reliability across the regional electric grid,” NextEra Energy Resources President and CEO John Ketchum said in a news release.Aside from these projects, the company said it has nearly 2,000 MW of shovel-ready or near shovel-ready battery energy storage projects in California that it could deploy to meet state energy storage capacity requirements. NextEra Energy Resources is also developing a 1,300-MW pumped storage hydro facility in California that it said could help diversify the state’s storage resources.[Nephele Kirong]More ($): NextEra to commission nearly 700 MW of battery storage in California by 2022 NextEra Energy to add 700MW of battery storage at existing California solar projects by end of 2022last_img read more

Iberdrola launches five year, €75 billion investment plan targeting renewables, grid improvements

first_imgIberdrola launches five year, €75 billion investment plan targeting renewables, grid improvements FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Iberdrola SA launched a €75 billion investment plan for the 2020 to 2025 period, including a commitment to invest €68 billion organically in renewable energy, networks, storage and intelligent solutions for its customers. The remaining €7 billion will be allotted to the pending acquisition of PNM Resources Inc. by Avangrid Inc., which is majority owned by Iberdrola, according to a Nov. 5 news release.The company expects to invest an average of €10 billion per year between 2020 and 2022, and €13 billion per year in the 2023 to 2025 period. More than half of its organic spending, or €34.68 billion, will be invested in renewable energy, with around €27.2 billion going into networks.Geographically, €14.35 billion will be spent in its home market Spain, representing a 60% increase over the previous plan and 21% of the group’s total. Another €34 billion will be invested in the U.S. and the U.K., with €11 billion going toward other international areas.Iberdrola is targeting renewable energy capacity of 60 GW by 2025, after hitting 44 GW in 2022. At the end of the period, the company’s renewables portfolio will be made up of 26 GW of onshore wind, 4 GW of offshore wind, 16 GW of solar and 14 GW of hydropower.Iberdrola is targeting to be carbon neutral by 2030.Meanwhile, network investments will bring the company’s regulated asset base to €47 billion by 2025. The company is also planning to have 600 MW of installed green hydrogen production capacity by 2025, and 800 MW by 2027 together with Spanish fertilizer maker Fertiberia SA.[Nephele Kirong]More ($): Iberdrola launches €75B spending plan to 2025last_img read more

Ancient Appalachia: The Southeast’s Old-Growth Forests

first_img“It’s all been logged.”That’s what I was told when I asked if there were any old-growth forests left in the South. Growing up in rural Western North Carolina, I was intrigued by the tales of the huge trees that once grew in my neighborhood. The thought that not one acre of forest had been left unlogged for me to enjoy saddened me, and didn’t fit with what I saw in the woods around me. Some steep, rocky areas and property boundaries had large and seemingly old trees. The more people I asked, the more complex the answers became. When I asked knowledgeable locals and outdoorsmen about specific areas like Spring Creek Gorge, I got promising answers like “Well I know that’s never been logged in my lifetime.”For the past three years, I have been working in conjunction with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition and other conservation groups to document and protect the last vestiges of the original forest cover that blanketed the Blue Ridge when European settlers first arrived. Since 1994, this project has turned up over 114,000 acres of old-growth on the six National Forests of the Southern Blue Ridge – that’s 4.5% of our local National Forests, or 1.5% of the Blue Ridge as a whole. At least 14 biologists, ecologists, foresters, botanists and citizen scientists who have worked for 12 years with little or no funding to protect these special places by giving them a voice.The reason these ancient forests need advocates, is that occasionally, the U.S. Forest Service comes up with a project that proposes logging of old-growth. An example this year is the Globe Timber Sale in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. In such cases, conservation and recreation groups ask the Forest Service to exclude the old-growth sections from the logging proposal. The Globe Project is still being planned by the Forest Service and needs a lot of public input to keep the old-growth from being logged (see “Save the Globe” on page 24 for more details).Environmental and recreational groups have succeeded in protecting old-growth in this manner for the past ten years. But the outcomes are not always successful. At Hoover Creek in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest, 200 acres of old-growth were logged despite the outcry of locals. After the trees had been cut it was apparent that many had been over 200 years old.In some cases, the Forest Service does not intentionally log old-growth, but simply does not have accurate information about the millions of acres of forest it manages. With the Forest Service receiving inadequate funding each year, citizens are left to do the work of identifying and protecting old-growth forests.Almost all of the known old-growth sites in the Blue Ridge are still with us because of one or a combination of three factors: steep slopes, early purchase date (usually before 1925), and lack of commercial viability. Usually, steep slopes and noncommercial forests go hand in hand. Soils at such sites are dry, because they drain quickly, and are often leached of nutrients. Some sites, however, have rich soils or occur on gentler slopes above gorges, waterfalls, or other impediments to logging, and these sites grow not only old, but big trees. Finally, a different class of site, including many of the smaller tracts bought from farmers or seized from them by eminent domain, have old-growth forest for historical reasons. Some farmers kept their woods as places to hunt or to graze their livestock on chestnuts. Some, like Robert “Boogerman” Palmer, were simply reclusive and refused to sell their land to timber companies.Serendipity is the final factor that saved some old-growth forests. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is an example of this. Little Santeetlah Creek was on the verge of being logged several times, but the flooding of Santeetlah Lake stopped logging and then financial catastrophe to the parent logging company forced the land to be sold. The land changed ownership many times and finally, in 1936, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest was created, just as equipment was being moved to the area to log it.Some are skeptical of the emerging picture of 100,000+ acres of National Forest old-growth, and rightly so, they have been told the same stories about the history of our forests that I have. The roots of this myth originate in the perception that all old-growth forests have giant, eight-foot-diameter trees. Unfortunately, those places were logged first. What we have left is less impressive size-wise, but just as inspiring in character.Here is the criteria generally used to classify old growth:1) A lack of human disturbance: Old-growth forests lack logging roads, skidder trails, and cut stumps. Consider that chestnut blight could be considered a form of human disturbance, and that American chestnut was important in most of our native forests, so every forest in the Blue Ridge has had some human disturbance. Uncut chestnut debris, however, can be a reliable indicator of a lack of historical logging.2) The presence of old trees: All the sites in the SAFC data base have canopy trees whose ages are confirmed at over 150 years of age, and some have trees confirmed at over 300 years of age; a small handful are known to have trees in the 400+ year range. All of these sites are very remote, and unsuitable for agriculture. The big logging boom in the Southern Blue Ridge was 80-100 years ago, so 150 years is a reasonable proxy for old-growth status.3) A mixed-age canopy: When trees die of old age, or fall because of a natural disturbance like a storm, they leave canopy gaps that allow younger trees to grow, creating a mosaic of tree sizes and ages.4) The presence of coarse woody debris: Coarse woody debris is a fancy biological term for decaying wood. Old forests usually have copious amounts of decaying wood, varying from freshly fallen, to indistinguishable from soil.5) Snags: Snags are standing dead trees. They provide important habitat for a number of wildlife species including woodpeckers and black bears. They tend to be more common in forests where trees are allowed to die of natural causes.6) Complex character: The most difficult to quantify and reliable characteristic of old-growth forests is their structural and biological complexity. An example of this concept is that old-growth forests tend to have more diverse biological communities than second growth forests of the same type, because there is more physical structure, like snags, to utilize.When the Eastern national forests were purchased around 1913, those responsible for acquiring them where looking for some of the most valuable, and therefore, least logged tracts of land. William Willard Ashe, one of the people most responsible for the surveying and acquiring of Blue Ridge National Forests, stated that “the larger portion of the lands which have been acquired have had the timber cut off, or at least some of the best timber has been cut, but a number of fine stands have been secured within which there has never been the sound of the lumberman’s axe.” But over the years, the knowledge that the national forests of the Southern Blue Ridge contain significant old-growth forests was shouted down by the myth that “It’s all been logged.” Because these forests have been essentially forgotten, the sum of old-growth present before 1940 has been reduced by Forest Service timber sales. Hopefully, as the American people become more aware of this great treasure on their public lands, the remainder can be protected in perpetuity.OLD-GROWTH HIKES IN THE BLUE RIDGEWhile most of the old-growth in the Blue Ridge is far off the beaten path, there are several trails that provide access to some great forests. Of course, the most impressive old-growth in the Blue Ridge is in Smoky Mountains National Park at places like Albright Grove and Ramsay Cascades. However, the following is a guide to trails in all six National Forests of the Southern Blue Ridge that pass through magnificent old-growth forests.HOLCOMBE FALLS TRAILChattahoochee National ForestHighlights: Waterfalls, Huge HemlocksProtection: Informally protectedDirections: From Clayton Georgia, go east on Warwoman Rd. from its junction with US 441. Turn left on Hale Ridge Rd and park at the intersection of Hale Ridge Rd. and Overflow Rd. Rabun Bald Quad.Holcombe Falls Trail is one of the finest in North Georgia because of the beautiful falls on Ammons Branch and Holcombe Creek, and the old-growth acidic cove forest there. One hemlock here was measured by Jess Riddle at 144 ft. tall, making it the tallest hemlock in Georgia. See this grove soon, because if it is not treated quickly, it will succumb to the hemlock wooly adelgid (hwa).EAST FORK TRAILSumter National ForestHighlights: Wildflowers, Old-Growth HemlocksProtection: Permanently protected by Ellicott Rock Wilderness.Directions: From SC 107 near the NC line follow the directions to the Walhalla Fish Hatchery, the trail begins there. Tamassee Quad.From the parking lot to the first hundred yards of the East Fork Trail, you will immediately enter the tallest known hemlock forest. Many of the trees here are over 3 ft in diameter and 160 ft tall. Unfortunately many of the hemlocks appear to have been killed by hwa. The remainder of the East Fork Trail is very scenic, including a nice bloom of spring wildflowers. The trail follows the north bank of the East Fork of the Chattooga, which was heavily logged. However, by looking across the creek to the steep slopes of Medlin Mountain, you can look at unlogged hemlock and hardwood forests.FALLS BRANCH TRAILCherokee National ForestHighlights: Old-growth cove and a spectacular waterfallProtection: Permanently protected by Citico Creek Wilderness.Directions: From the Cherohala Skyway, park at the West Rattlesnake Rock Overlook, where the trail begins. Big Junction Quad.Falls Branch probably has Southeast Tennessee’s most impressive old-growth forest. Both rich and acidic cove forests can be found here with trees attaining sizes up to five feet in diameter. The largest trees are off-trail, through thick tangles of rhododendron, but the trail portion is just as beautiful and ends at the spectacular Falls Branch Falls.HICKORY BRANCH TRAILNantahala National ForestHighlights: Remote with excellent oak-hickory forestProtection: Temporarily protected as “Large Patch Old-Growth” by Nantahala National Forest.Directions: From Andrews, take Junaluska Rd. over Junaluska Gap. Approximately 1.4 miles past Junaluska Gap park at the pull-off on the right, and look for the unmarked beginning of the Hickory Branch Trail across the road. Topton Quad.The lower reaches of Hickory Branch were heavily logged, but for some reason, perhaps the formation of Nantahala National Forest, there appears to have been no logging above 3680’. Counting rings on trees cut by the trail is fun and will reveal ages over 200 years. The montane-oak hickory and high elevation red oak forests here are classic. This trail can be combined with the London Bald Trail and Junaluska Trail to form a loop.SNOOK’S NOSE TRAILPisgah National ForestHighlights: Views, rare plants, dry forest communitiesProtection: Protected as part of the Jarrett Creek Roadless Area.Directions: From Old Fort go east on Hwy 70 and turn left on Curtis Creek Rd. Trail is adjacent to the new RV campground. Old Fort Quad.The Curtis Creek area was part of the first purchase of National Forest in the East in 1913, and has some exemplary patches of old-growth because of it. The Snook’s Nose trail is a great place to get a workout (potential 3000-foot elevation gain), see some rare plants (watch out for turkey beard and Carolina rhododendron), and see a beautiful view. Above 3200’ the trail enters a dry and non-commercial forest that was never logged. Chestnut oak, black gum, red maple, black birch, table mountain pine, and Carolina hemlock, with thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron, compose most of the forest. For those confident with their map-and-compass skills, there is a beautiful, open forest of tulip poplar and red oak NE of Laurel Knob at 4000 feet, in an area known as the “Rompous Bowl.”CORNELIUS CREEK-APPLE ORCHARD TRAIL LOOPJefferson National ForestHighlights: Outstanding spring wildflowers, Apple Orchard Falls.Protection: Mostly protected by the North Creek Special Area. Some old-growth is still threatened by logging.Directions: Park at Sunset Fields overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Peaks of Otter and Thunder Ridge. Walk down Rt. 812 until you reach the AT. Take the A.T. to the left (northbound) until you reach the Cornelius Creek trail. Follow the Cornelius Creek trail to the bottom of the mountain & Rt. 59 and a parking area. This is also a trailhead for the Apple Orchard Falls Trail. Follow the Apple Orchard Falls Trail to the top of the ridge and the Sunset Fields overlook. Arnold Valley Quad.This hike passes through part of the North Creek Special Area originally protected for songbirds and other forest interior species, and enlarged in the latest Jefferson national Forest Plan Revision. A locomotive wrecked in Cornelius Creek in 1910 (removed for scrap in 1940), bankrupting a timber company, and saving portions of the North Creek watershed from logging. The area between the North Creek Special Area and the Thunder Ridge Wilderness Area (just to the north of Apple Orchard Falls) is open to commercial logging. The Parkers Gap Timber Sale was approved on steep slopes in this area. To view the site of this timber sale, drive down Rt. 812 to Rt. 765 and drive down Rt. 3034; logging will occur down slope of the road. A portion of old growth previously identified in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Jefferson National Forest Plan is located in one of the cutting units. The Parkers Gap Project may begin later in 2006 or early 2007.GARDEN MOUNTAIN-APPALACHIAN TRAILJefferson National ForestHighlights: Remote hiking experience, interesting rocky areas throughout; examples of 400 million year old ancient worm (Arthropycus) burrows or feeding trails can be seen in some of the rocks; much of the water flowing from this mountain provides habitat for the Tennessee dace, a rare, brightly colored fish; go to Chestnut Knob for outstanding views of Burkes Garden.Protection: Most is designated a wilderness study area, and receives strong protection.Directions: From Rt. 42, take Rt. 623 to the top of Garden Mtn. Take the AT southbound (left). Arrange for a shuttle at Walker Gap (Rt. 727) or backtrack to Rt. 623. Garden Mountain QuadWhile not part of the Blue Ridge proper–Garden Mountain is part of the Ridge and Valley Province-the forests around Garden Mountain are good examples of old-growth upland oak types, ranging from dry to moist. Garden Mountain and Chestnut Knob also provide beautiful views of the pastoral valley of Burkes Garden. The Garden Mountain roadless area is one of the areas proposed for wilderness protection in the Ridge and Valley Wilderness Act. Write your representative and senator and ask them to support this legislation.SAVE THE GLOBE: OLD GROWTH FOREST ON THE CHOPPING BLOCKA controversial U.S. Forest Service proposal to cut 231 acres of the Pisgah National Forest adjacent to the town of Blowing Rock, N.C., would include logging two old-growth forests. An evaluation of the area slated for cutting reveals that many of the trees range from 80 years old to well over 300 years old. One chestnut oak was determined to be 328 years old.Adjacent to Julian Price and Moses Cone Memorial Parks near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Globe Forest is a popular recreational destination for bikers, hikers, runners, paddlers, and climbers in the High Country of North Carolina.“We alerted the Forest Service of the presence of old growth back in February and asked them to protect these remarkable trees,” said Ben Prater, an ecologist with Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. “But the agency has ignored our request and fully intends to chop them down.”Last month, hundreds of local property owners turned out to denounce the proposal, which could impact the views into the Globe basin located on the south slopes of Blowing Rock. The Blowing Rock Town Council passed a resolution opposing the proposal in August.“The Declaration of Independence was not even conceived of when these trees sprouted. Daniel Boone was not even born yet,” said Lamar Marshall, a Watauga County landowner. “Shame on the Forest Service for destroying our national treasures. These public lands are our natural heritage. Nothing is sacred anymore. Everything is for sale.”The Forest Service document originally located the Globe Project as being 11 miles northwest of Lenoir, North Carolina. The failure to note that the project was but one mile south of Blowing Rock raised suspicions in the minds of many residents and National Forest users.The Forest Service claims that the proposed logging project will provide habitat for turkey, grouse, deer, and bear and create a network of old growth. The old growth to which the agency refers is future old growth, not existing old growth. One of the stands to be so designated was cut only twelve years ago. The Forest Service refuses to discuss the actual old growth and claims that it is not an issue, since the agency is setting aside forest that it promises to allow to grow old.If the Forest Service continues to plan to log actual old growth, the decision likely will be challenged by Southern Environmental Law Center.Meanwhile, a move is afoot to obtain permanent protection for the forest from Congress. Residents of the Blowing Rock area have prepared a draft bill to designate a Grandfather National Scenic Area, and are seeking Congressional sponsors for it.More info: www.sabp.net.last_img read more

All I Want for Christmas…

first_imgAll right all you good little boys and girls, let’s think about what we want Santa put under the tree this year.How about a wool PISGAH jersey made by local Pisgah Works? It’s a full zip, with a silver pull ornately designed as a dragon. It has a hood, complete with tiny visor so that it can be worn under the helmet. The visor keeps your face from being leaked on by the annoying drip through the slits in the helmet. The extra-long sleeves have thumb-holes, which are perfect for those days you don’t want a gap between your glove and sleeves. It’s even perfect on the days you almost needed gloves. Of course it has snug rear pockets. The best part is how frigging cool you look, and everybody tells you so.You just can’t get enough base layers, either. That includes socks, which have become nearly as important as shorts. DeFeet, which is a local company, has always kept my toes comfy whether they’re wet in the summer or the winter. Everybody needs a thin, long-sleeve thermal layer with a neckline that doesn’t choke or bind and tucks down low into the shorts. As for tights, it’s that time of year that if you don’t have fleece tights, you probably won’t ride.Since buying whimsical, yet highly functional gear can be a little costly, a great stocking stuffer would be a cool riding shirt from Club Ride. Not only do you look like a sexy cowboy, but the material does not hold stink. You can finish an epic Sunday in it and still wear it to work the next morning. Not only is the line American made by some hot dude in Idaho, but he buys tricot material from a local company who also serves Patagonia.Who wants to struggle anymore with a hand pump. What we need is a sturdy floor pump with a gauge. It works well for cars and motorcycle tires too.It’s pretty much guaranteed that riders are going to go through some tubes, so might as well fill the stocking with a few to stash in the backpack. Other safety necessities might be a small first aid kit (with painkillers and a suture kit). Even a whistle is a good idea, as well as a fistful of Cliff Cubes, which are yummy gummies filled with the necessities for trail-burned legs on a long ride.Speaking of packs, Camelbak is no longer the only choice for hydration. Osprey has busted out with a system that craves details. The bladder has a long handle and screw top that never suctions on too tightly, requiring a Hulk grip to open it. It has a firm back that allows the bladder to slide easily into the pack, providing a smooth surface on the rider’s back. It has small, waterproof, zipped compartments that can be washed out. Never does the tube down to the valve flop around tapping your knee in that irritating fashion. The chest strap has a super magnet that holds the valve in place, just inches from your thirsty lips. Plus, they’ve got a cool purple one that funds breast cancer research.The only other thing I can think of beyond a Go-Pro video camera is a small private fridge in the garage filled with beer.last_img read more

Beer: Be Grateful

first_imgCharlottesville craft beer powerhouse Starr Hill is about to release a brand new summer seasonal, Grateful Pale Ale, and we got a chance to knock out a six pack before the beer hits the shelves.Personally, I’m a sucker for anything that’s reminiscent of the heyday of Jam Bands (girls in flowy skirts, selling grilled cheese from the back of a van so you can buy beer for girls in flowy skirts…), so Grateful Pale started with a big check in the “Pro” category.The beer pours more like a pilsner than a pale, with a light straw, almost transparent color in the glass. You get a huge citrusy (grapefruit) aroma and flavor upfront followed by the typical bitterness associated with hop-heavy beers. But Grateful comes across lighter than most pale ales on the market, thanks in large part to its crisp, lean body and low alcohol content (4.7 percent abv).Now, I hate it when beer reviews stop after that first two or three initial sips. In my mind, you don’t know a beer until you hang out with it, drink several at one sitting, and then live with the consequences the next day. And this is where Grateful Pale outshines its competitors. I’m happy to say that this beer gets better and better as you move through the six pack and doesn’t leave a trace of regret the following morning, unlike many of the local pales you find out there today. I’m looking at you Wicked Weed Brewing! Bottom line: This is a session beer for American pale ale lovers, or a great intro into the hoppiness of pales and IPA’s for craft beer beginners. If you’re looking to transition a friend from the land of Blue Moon into the beautiful world of local beer, this could be your ticket.I’d say it’s my favorite beer from Starr Hill, although to be certain, I’d have to try every single beer they produce side by side…which I’m willing to do in the name of science.We got our Grateful Pale in a six-pack of bottles. If you live between Pennsylvania and South Carolina, you can do the same starting May 1, when Starr Hill releases this summer brew to the public. And here’s something else to look forward to in May—BRO is producing a feature about summer seasonal releases from local breweries, and the best outdoor bars in the South. So May is shaping up to be the best month of the year.Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.comlast_img read more

Trail Mix: Jonathon Linaberry, aka The Bones of J.R. Jones, Releases ‘Dark Was The Yearling’

first_imgThere are days when I think it would be cool to step outside myself, to take a few minutes or hours and just become someone else.  New York musician Jonathon Linaberry feels the same way.  In fact, he has gone so far as to create a fictitious persona, J.R. Jones, through which he channels the spirits of early Americana roots players to create beautifully dark, moody and bluesy folk music.Linaberry, under the moniker The Bones of J.R. Jones, has just released, Dark Was The Yearling, his first full length record.  It is outstanding.  Drawing from a wellspring that includes blues luminaries like R.L. Burnside, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, and old time favorites like The Carter Family, Dark Was The Yearling represents a sonic collision between the age old worlds of roots music.  Banjo driven tunes like “St. James Bed” rest side by side with acoustic gems like “The Plan” and the electrified grit of “Fury of the Light.”  This collection, like the spirit of J.R. Jones, feels old, like it was pulled, after being long forgotten or ignored, from a dusty shelf instead of cut in the digital age.  For those less interested in digital slickness, it’s a sound that definitely works.Dark Was The Yearling marks The Bones of J.R. Jones as a new voice resonating with the heaviest timbre of old time Americana.I recently caught up with Jonathon Linaberry to chat about old heroes, playing in a one man band, and whether J.R. Jones prefers beer or whiskey.BRO –  Tell me more about J.R. Jones.  Would I like to sit down and have a beer with him?  Maybe a whiskey?JL – Depends on if you are buying or not.  Honestly, he’s not picky.  If it’s wet, he will probably drink it.  He could chat mostly about anything, but I think if you really want to get to know him, I don’t think talking about his music is a good approach.  At least at first.  He tends to be a little tight lipped about all of that.BRO – The best part about being in a one man band?JL – I suppose it is the fact that I know exactly what to expect.  I can rely solely on myself, which makes things less complicated.  Generally, less complicated means less stress, which makes this whole thing a little more enjoyable.  It can be easy to travel, too, which works well for me.  All I need is a sleeping bag, guitar, and my kit.BRO – The worst part about being in a one man band?JL – I could say the worst part about all of this is the same as the best part.  It depends on my mood.  Flying solo, for all its freedom, can be overwhelming.  Mostly because when things go bad, there is only one person to blame.BRO – We are running “Good Friend of Mine” on Trail Mix this month.  What is the story behind the song?JL – That song went through a lot of transitions.  It took me a while to figure out what it was about.  I think I decided it’s about being so hopefully gone for a girl that, in a way, she is killing you.  It’s so bad that even the voice of the devil in you is the voice of reason.  I hope that makes sense.BRO – You draw inspiration from some of the early Americana and blues greats.  If you could jam or hang out with one of your long gone musical heroes, who would it be?  What might you talk about?JL – Oh, man.  There are so many.  If I had to choose, maybe Skip James of Son House.  To be honest, I don’t think I would have much to say to them.  I’d just want to hear them.  What I love about them is the pain and passion they put into their songs.  And to be able to hear that live . . . . I think it would be soul quaking.You can catch Jonathon Linaberry, as The Bones of J.R. Jones, on Friday, June 27th, at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, New York.  His calendar shows more  upcoming dates in New York and Maryland.  Stay tuned to www.the-wildness.com for more show dates and information on how you can grab a copy of Dark Was The Yearling, the brand new record.Speaking of that new record, Trail Mix would like to give you a shot at getting a signed copy for free.  Here’s what you need to do.  Shoot an email to [email protected] and answer the last question from up above – If you could jam or hang out with one of your long gone musical heroes, who would it be? We’ll pick a cool entry from all of the responses we receive by noon tomorrow (Thursday, June 26th) and get that lucky winner a copy of the record.BonesJRJones_003Good luck!last_img read more