Student Tent City to Focus on Homeless Experience

first_imgBURLINGTON, Vt.Champlain College students plan to spend the week of Nov. 17-21 learning about what conditions are like for a growing number of families and individuals who have lost their home. Some 180 students have already made the commitment to sleep in tents on the Aiken green on campus and attend workshops and seminars to learn about social services and the underlying reasons related to homelessness. A series of workshops and lectures will also explore the issue throughout the week.The fourth annual Tent City is being held during the national observance of Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, according to Ashley George, service coordinator for the Center for Service and Civic Engagement at Champlain College. Each year, the week before Thanksgiving, the National Coalition for the Homeless (www.nationalhomeless.org) helps to organize events across the country to take part in a nationwide effort to bring greater awareness to the problems of hunger and homelessness.We are working hard this year to emphasize the educational aspect of Tent City. We are not trying to simulate being homeless, but rather to raise the overall awareness of our students, staff and faculty about the challenges people are facing in these economic times, George explained. This year, more students signed up to spend a night or more in the tent city on the campus Aiken Green than in year’s past, George noted, and organizers had to limited the number of overnight participants to 60 students per night. Students will also be able to experience a typical soup kitchen menu at the dining hall with a limited menu similar to those often served in homeless shelters and food shelves. Events like this are tremendously important to helping the community understand the issues of homeless people, said Deb Bouton of the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS). We can’t do the work we do without the support of the community and an event like this one by Champlain College students is amazing. Bouton said COTS is already facing long waiting lists for shelter space for families and individuals and expects the need to grow as winter weather arrives. A series of workshops and seminars will complement the Tent City experience, George said. There will also be a fund-raising aspect to the weeks event with students collecting donations to help the Committee on Temporary Shelter with its community programs. Last year, students raised nearly $2,500 for COTS. Champlain College Tent City guest speakers every evening at 8 p.m.: Monday, Nov. 17: Former Champlain College students will talk about planning the first Tent City. Tuesday, Nov. 18: The Poverty Wall, an interactive activity will explore the stereotypes that surround people who are homeless. Wednesday, Nov. 19: Patrick De Leon, the drop in Coordinator at Spectrum Youth and Family Services, will speak about youth homelessness issues in Vermont. Thursday, Nov. 20: A panel of staff and clients from COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) will speak about the experiences of individuals and families who are homeless in Vermont. What are the real barriers to housing in Burlington and in Vermont? There will also be time for questions and comments at the end. A candle light vigil on Aiken green will directly follow the speakers at 9 p.m.Champlain College Tent City daytime activities and workshops: Monday, Nov. 17, 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Hauke Lounge Social Service Office- Mock intake procedure, anyone is welcome to come meet with a social worker to experience the process of applying for food stamps, Section 8 housing, and other services. Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2 to 3 p.m., meet at Tent City on Aiken green – Walk to COTS Shelters, students will walk to one of the COTS family shelters as well as the daytime and overnight shelters for Individuals. Wednesday, Nov. 19, 1 to 2 p.m. in Hauke Lounge Staff from the Vermont Workers Center will come to discuss issues such as Healthcare and Livable Wage and how they impact people that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Thursday, Nov. 20, noon at the Tower Room at the IDX Student Life Center, Brown Bag Lunch focusing on poverty and homelessness with a guest speaker from COTS. This event is sponsored by The Office of Diversity and Inclusion.All events are free and open to the public. To learn more, contact Service Coordinator Ashley George at the Center for Service and Civic Engagement at Champlain College, (802) 383-6632. Or by email at ageorge@champlain.edu. To learn more about COTS, visit www.cotsonline.org or call 864-7402. Champlain College was founded in 1878 and currently has nearly 2,000 undergraduate students. To learn more about Champlain College, visit www.champlain.edulast_img read more

Vermont delegation seeks to stimulate economy with transportation waiver

first_imgVermont delegation seeks to stimulate economy with transportation waiverWASHINGTON, DC, November 24 – In order to stimulate the economy and meet pressing infrastructure needs, the Vermont congressional delegation is seeking to waive the state and local match requirement for all federally-funded highway, transit and rail projects through September 2009.The move would give Vermont and other states facing tight budgets a much-needed boost to improve roads and bridges, support public transit agencies and upgrade rail lines at no additional cost to the federal government.Transportation officials have reported that because of growing budget deficits at the state and local level, many ready-to-go projects simply cannot move forward without untying the strings of the required match. Under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, states are typically required to meet a 10 or 20 percent match for federally funded projects.By waiving the match requirements, states and municipalities will be able to continue upgrading the nation’s crumbling infrastructure while stimulating the economy and quickly creating new jobs. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch are drafting legislation they plan to introduce in the coming weeks that would grant this waiver through September 2009.Leahy said, “It’s clear that Vermont’s infrastructure has suffered due to limited state funding. By allowing the free flow of federal funds to these projects, Vermonters will see improved roads and bridges, as well as additional jobs. With tight state budgets all over the country, Congress has a responsibility to enable the completion of projects that are already lined up and ready to go.”Sanders said, “Any economic recovery package should first improve our crumbling infrastructure by improving our roads, bridges and public transportation. The elimination of the state and local match would complement increased funding and heighten the effectiveness of economic recovery efforts. Our nation’s state and local governments are currently taking in far less revenue due to falling property values and reduced sales tax revenues, and also face higher borrowing costs in credit markets. These cities and towns are on the front line of our economic crisis and they would be the first to benefit from reduced matching requirements.”Welch said, “Vermont’s growing transportation budget shortfalls and lengthening project backlogs are bad news for our state’s economy and worse news for the safety of its drivers. As our roads and bridges crumble and our economy falters, we must work hard to find common-sense solutions to both problems. This no-cost waiver is a solid first step on our road to recovery.”last_img read more

Vermont gets an ‘A’ for financial security of families

first_imgIndividuals and families in Arizona, South Carolina and the Delta states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas lag behind the rest of the country in key aspects related to their financial stability, including measures of net worth, homeownership and housing affordability, business ownership, health insurance coverage and academic achievement. These states received an overall grade of “F” on the 2009-2010Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which rates states not only on poverty and job figures, but also on a broad set of categories and measures related to sustained prosperity. The Scorecard was released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a national economic nonprofit.CFED’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard — online at scorecard.cfed.org — measures the financial security of families in the United States by looking at the whole picture of asset ownership and protecting against financial setbacks. The Scorecard ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 58 performance measures in the areas of Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. In addition, the Scorecard also assesses states on the strength of its policies to help individuals and families build financial security.”As the country recovers from this recession and tries to build a more durable and robust economy, decision makers need to look at a broad picture of where Americans stand, and what policies are in place to address economic vulnerabilities. The Scorecard provides that perspective,” said CFED President Andrea Levere. Levere also pointed out that every state has weak areas, and that even the states that received “F” grades perform well in some categories.Nationally, the Scorecard notes that even before the current recession, economic vulnerability was increasing, especially among low- and middle-income families. Among the findings:While U.S. households overall registered a 27% increase in net worth between 2004 and 2006, median net worth fell during that period for the 40% of U.S. households earning less than $37,000 a year.The number of individuals with employer-provided health insurance fell sharply, to 60.9% from 63.2%, leaving more Americans vulnerable and financially unprepared for health emergencies.Between 2006 and 2008, median amount of revolving debt, including credit card debt, rose 64% from $1,805 to $2,960.While more than one in eight households live below the federal income poverty line, nearly double that amount (22.5%) are asset poor, meaning they have insufficient assets to stay out of poverty for three months in the event of job loss. More than 14% of American households live in extreme asset poverty, meaning they have zero or negative net worth.For every dollar in wealth held by white households, African-American households have 10 cents and Latino households have 15 cents.The national leaders on the 2009-2010 Scorecard — those states that earned an overall “A” in performance measures — were Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. Grades and detailed data for all states is available at scorecard.cfed.org.By comparing the states, the Scorecard not only highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each state, but it also exposes the wide differences between states on a number of items directly tied to financial prosperity. Some of the findings include:More than 22% of jobs in this country are in occupations that pay a median wage that is insufficient to raise the earner’s household above the poverty line. In West Virginia, 38.5% of jobs are low-wage. Washington, D.C. has the lowest percentage of low-wage jobs at 7.2%.The highest homeownership rate is in Minnesota (nearly 75%) while New York has the lowest homeownership rate at 53%.The average home in Kansas costs about twice the median income of a Kansan; in Massachusetts, the average home runs six times the state’s median income.89.6% of employers in Hawaii offer health care benefits to their employees compared with only 40.1% of those in Montana.More than 91% of the people in Massachusetts have health insurance while only 72.5% of Texans are insured.The Scorecard includes a detailed look of state-to-state information on 12 policy priorities that can help residents build and protect assets. Information on each of these policies — which range from first-time homebuyer assistance and payday lending protections to college savings incentives and access to health insurance — is available atscorecard.cfed.org. While every state has enacted at least a handful of these policies, the Scorecard’s assessment of these policies shows there is significant room for improvement.”These policy priorities are not radical ideas, but things that many states are trying right now,” Levere said. “But when we look at the funding, the scope of their efforts and the enforcement of regulations, we find that in most cases states haven’t been putting a very strong commitment into their efforts.”As part of its Scorecard work, CFED has formed partnerships with advocacy organizations in 25 states to utilize theScorecard to educate policy makers and the public on policies that can help Americans build and protect assets and financial security, and to improve policies at the state level.CFED expands economic opportunity by helping Americans and their children build assets, save for the future, start and grow businesses, pursue education and become homeowners. We identify, refine and help realize good ideas and develop partnerships to promote lasting change. We bring together community practice, public policy and private markets in new and effective ways to achieve greater economic impact. Established in 1979 as the Corporation for Enterprise Development, CFED works nationally and internationally through its offices in Washington, DC; Durham, North Carolina; and San Francisco, California.To stay up-to-date on the latest news from CFED, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CFEDNews(link is external).To view the Multimedia News Release, go to: http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/cfed/39626/(link is external)(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090921/NY78564(link is external) )Source: CFED. WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2009 /PRNewswire/ —last_img read more

Contractor charged with failure to maintain worker’s comp, violating work-stop order

first_imgAttorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has charged Williston-based home improvement contractor Donald Bevins with three counts of failing to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and two counts of violating a Vermont Department of Labor Stop Work Order.According to documents on file with the Court, Bevins failed to secure workers’ compensation for two of his employees performing roof repairs in Richmond, Vermont and another employee performing roof repairs in Essex, Vermont. In addition, Bevins continued to perform home repairs in Essex and Essex Junction Vermont after the Department of Labor ordered him to stop working immediately.Bevins pled not guilty to all counts and was released pending trial on the condition that he, any company he has an ownership interest in, or anyone working at his direction or request, not perform any home repair.Anyone with a complaint against Donald Bevins is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at (802) 656-3183 or toll free in Vermont: (800) 649-2424. Source: Attorney General, February 17, 2011last_img read more

Vermont Yankee’s $60 million dilemma

first_img NRC makes Vermont Yankee license renewal official | Vermont … Mar 21, 2011 … In a letter dated March 21, 2011, US Nuclear Regulatory Senior Project Manager Robert Kuntz notified Michael Colomb, Entergy Vermont Yankee … Aug 27, 2002 … Vermont Yankee finally sold to Entergy by Robert Smith The deal had more than its share of up and down moments, but the sale of the Vermont … Northstar Vermont Yankee,By Kate Duffy, Vermont Business Magazine. Entergy Nuclear has a $60 million decision to make ‘ whether to invest in refueling Vermont Yankee, even though a federal judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction assuring the company it could continue operating the plant while its lawsuit against the state is pending. US District Court Judge J Garvan Murtha denied the request for a preliminary injunction in a decision issued Monday afternoon. He said Entergy failed to prove during a two-day hearing in June that it would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ before the case, schedule for trial in September, is decided.During the hearing, Entergy’s lawyers argued that without an injunction that would let it plan for future operations, the company may be forced to shut down the plant before its current license expires in March. It would be unlikely to make a $60 million investment in fuel rods without an indication from the court that it might win its case. ‘Entergy, while it has raised the possibility, has not persuaded the Court that a decision to shut down is likely and imminent,’ Judge Murtha wrote in the 18-page decision. Entergy is suing the state in federal court over whether a law that effectively gives the Legislature the right to shut down a licensed, operating nuclear power plant is constitutional. Vermont Yankee, the state’s only nuclear power plant, is slated to shut down on March 21, 2012, at the end of its original 40-year operating license. Citing the plant’s age and history of radioactive leaks, last year the Senate voted 26 to 4 not to allow the Public Service Board to issue a certificate of public good to let the plant operate beyond its scheduled shut-down. In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which regulates all of the nation’s 104 nuclear power reactors, approved a license extension that would allow the plant to continue generating power for another 20 years. Entergy says the plant is safe and reliable and should be allowed to continue operating. It had hoped a preliminary injunction would allow it to do so while the case is pending. Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell, a Democrat, said the state had won an important battle but still has a war to wage. ‘This was a nice win, but really what’s better is that the preliminary injunction was not issued,’ Sorrell said. ‘If one had been granted, that would have been a devastating blow to us because it would have required the finding by the judge, based on his understanding of the facts and the law, that it was likely that Entergy would prevail on the merits of the case as a result of the trial. We would have been really knocked backwards if that were the case.’ In ruling on the failure to prove irreparable harm, Judge Murtha did not address whether he thought Entergy could win its suit based on the merits of its case. ‘I was a little bit surprised that he so carefully skirted the merits,’ said Pat Parenteau, an attorney and professor at Vermont Law School who has been closely watching the case unfold. ‘He gave a few hints of what’s troubling him and things he wants to see addressed at trial. It’s like reading tea leaves in the opinion. But I was not at all surprised he found no irreparable harm.’ Parenteau noted it is extremely difficult to prove irreparable harm in a case like this. Instead, he noted the judge fast-tracked the case, scheduling the trial for September 12-14, in order to address the merits of the case and make a final decision. ‘The judge expressed no views whatsoever on the constitutional issues that Entergy has raised,’ Parenteau said. ‘Reading between the lines, what I see is a judge who believes the state has a right to close the plant for the proper reasons, but a judge who is not 100 percent convinced the state has done that.’ In a statement issued to reporters, Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said the company is ‘disappointed in the outcome.’ He made no indication of whether it will buy the fuel needed for the plant ‘ a decision he previously had said would have to be made by July 23. ‘Our request for a preliminary injunction was about keeping the plant’s workers employed, the plant running safely and the electric grid reliable until this case is resolved. In the upcoming days, we will be evaluating Judge Murtha’s opinion and assessing the company’s near-term options.’ RELATEDCourt denies preliminary injunction in Vermont Yankee caseThe Federal District Court for the District of Vermont issued a decision Monday evening in favor of the State of Vermont and denied Entergy’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the State from enforcing its laws during the pendency of the litigation. In a prepared statement, Attorney General William Sorrell called the decision ‘a very good first step in an important case.’  Mar 3, 2010 … Vermont Yankee engineers and technicians continue their investigation into the source of tritium in the plant’s groundwater.www.vermontbiz.com/node/14600 Vermont Yankee finally sold to Entergy | Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Yankee narrows search for tritium leak | Vermont Business …last_img read more

Vermont Department of Public Service names Asa Hopkins director of Energy Policy

first_imgThe Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) has named Asa S. Hopkins, Ph.D., as the new Director of Energy Policy and Planning. Dr. Hopkins will lead the Department’s policy and planning division, which serves as Vermont’s State Energy Office. In conjunction with the Commissioner of Public Service, the Governor’s office, the Legislature, and other energy stakeholders, Dr. Hopkins will develop and implement statewide energy policy, including energy efficiency and demand resource management programs, renewable energy policy, and electric utility planning.‘Asa will bring scientific rigor and a fresh perspective to energy planning here in Vermont,’ said Commissioner Elizabeth Miller. ‘His experience in energy efficiency and in federal energy policy at the Department of Energy will be of tremendous benefit to the people of Vermont. The Department of Public Service is delighted to welcome him as Director.’Before joining DPS, Dr. Hopkins worked at the United States Department of Energy for Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin, serving as Dr. Koonin’s assistant project director for the DOE’s Quadrennial Technology Review. Before that he served as an analyst at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, providing economic and technical analysis of federal energy efficiency standards for appliances. Dr. Hopkins has a B.S., summa cum laude, in Physics from Haverford College and an M.S. and Ph.D, both in Physics, from the California Institute of Technology. He will join the DPS at the beginning of October.The Department of Public Service is an agency within the executive branch of Vermont state government. Its charge is to represent the public interest in matters regarding energy, telecommunications, water and wastewater.last_img read more

Northeast Kingdom Chamber moving to Green Mountain Mall

first_imgThe Northeast Kingdom Chamber announced today it has signed a long-term lease to move its office into the Green Mountain Mall. The chamber office will relocate to a prime spot in the center, between Radio Shack and the Union Bank, directly across from the mall entrance of JC Penney. The move follows the chamber’s departure from the Pomerleau Building, directly above the St. Johnsbury Welcome Center, a location it had occupied since 2003. The Town of St. Johnsbury, owner of the building, indicated to the chamber in September its desire to rent the entire second floor of the structure to a single tenant and take over operations of the welcome center. The NEK Chamber, established in St. Johnsbury in 1891, has more than 375 business members from throughout the tri-county region known as the Northeast Kingdom. Half of its membership is hospitality related, the remaining 50 percent service-related businesses. ‘The chamber looked at more than 20 locations throughout the region, and the mall space seemed to be a great fit for our organization,’ said Hannah Manley, Northeast Kingdom Chamber president. ‘It will allow us to efficiently serve our membership from a convenient location and will also allow us to prominently display our brochure racks, promoting our members, in the hallways of the mall.’ The chamber move is fortuitous timing for the organization and the mall, which is starting renovations to the center this year. The chamber will not be the only tenant moving into the mall this winter; two other businesses are expected to sign contracts for space within the first quarter of 2012. ‘We are very pleased to have an organization such as the Northeast Kingdom Chamber, a leader in the business community, coming into the mall,’ said Bernard E. Healy Jr., Green Mountain Mall owner. ‘We are in the process of putting a revitalization plan for the mall in place, and we are excited the Northeast Kingdom Chamber will be a strong partner in making these changes happen.’ St. Johnsbury Town Manager Ralph Nelson stated he is ‘absolutely thrilled’ the chamber has decided to remain in St. Johnsbury, adding, ‘There has been a long-standing, strong relationship between the Town of St. Johnsbury and the Northeast Kingdom Chamber. I am very hopeful their relocation will not diminish that.’ Chamber Executive Director Darcie McCann noted the chamber received many suggestions from members and residents on where to relocate its offices, but the suggestion she heard the most was going to the mall. She noted the ease of finding the office, considerable foot traffic, ample parking and public visibility appealed to the chamber in selecting the site. ‘Being in a retail environment ourselves will greatly assist our efforts in attracting stores to the region,’ said McCann. ‘We are very aware our region needs additional stores and companies, and we plan on doubling our efforts in seeking out such businesses and reinvigorating our economic development efforts.’ Construction on the planned chamber space is expected to start immediately and will include a computer resource center for businesses.  The computer center will include two computers, a multi-use copy/fax/scan/printer and high-speed internet that businesses can use free of charge. The computer center is being sponsored by the Vermont Department of Labor, Continuing Education at St. Johnsbury Academy and the Northeast Kingdom Chamber. ‘While it is exciting pursuing a new direction, we must acknowledge that it will be bittersweet leaving the Welcome Center and downtown,’ said McCann. ‘In addition to our increased retail and economic development efforts, we will continue to support the Welcome Center and promote our downtown businesses at our new location.’ The chamber plans to move into its new space in the first few weeks of 2012 and will retain a presence on the St. Johnsbury Welcome Center Advisory Board. CAPTION: Northeast Kingdom Chamber Past President Barbara Olden stands in front of what will be the new chamber offices in the Green Mountain Mall come the beginning of the year. Olden, from Union Bank, will be a neighbor of the chamber office, which will be located between the bank and Radio Shack and directly across the mall entrance to JC Penney.last_img read more

State judge’s ruling raises another hurdle for planned $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics plant in Louisiana

first_imgState judge’s ruling raises another hurdle for planned $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics plant in Louisiana FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Advocate:A state district judge sent critical air permits for a $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics complex back to state environmental regulators so they can take a closer look at the St. James Parish facility’s emissions impacts on Black residents living nearby.Nineteenth Judicial District Judge Trudy White issued the finding during a hearing Wednesday, telling the state Department of Environmental Quality to more properly evaluate the environmental justice questions surrounding the project, plaintiff’s attorneys said.White ruled two weeks after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would be suspending its wetlands permit for the facility along the Mississippi River to review its own analysis of alternative sites and failure to look at potential sites in neighboring Ascension Parish. Formosa officials said White’s ruling did not suspend the air permits in the interim, but her ruling does add another layer of uncertainty for a project that is expected to create 1,200 permanent jobs, tens of millions of dollars per year in state and local taxes, and millions more in spinoff benefits once built.Along with the Corps wetland permits and a local land use permit, the state air permits allow FG LA, the Formosa Plastics affiliate behind the project, to operate and help clear the path to significant construction investment. The Corps’ decision earlier this month had already halted major construction activities.Last year, a joint investigation by The Advocate, Times-Picayune and ProPublica using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency modeling data found Formosa and other new industrial proposals since 2015 posed an acute impact on predominantly poor and black river communities, though white communities hardly escape it either.Known as the Sunshine Project, the Formosa complex will produce the raw materials for a variety of plastics and has been permitted to emit more than 800 pounds of toxic pollutants, nearly 6,500 tons of criteria pollutants known to cause ground-level ozone and respiratory ailments, and more than 13.6 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, DEQ says.[David J. Mitchell]More: Judge delays crucial permit for Formosa plastics plant; requires deeper analysis of racial impactslast_img read more

Seven Natural Wonders of the South

first_imgScreen shot 2015-06-22 at 2.14.47 PMPhoto by Dion Hinchcliffe3. Seneca Rocks, West VirginiaThe Southern Appalachians may not be as rocky as their counterparts, the Rocky Mountains, but that doesn’t mean we have a shortage of cliffs and stone crags. From Rock City to Old Rag to the Potomac Gorge, we’ve got our share of stone. But the most impressive and unusual outcroppings in our region may just be Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. Seneca consists of a razorback ridge of sheer, vertical fins rising 900 feet from Seneca Creek. The rock is divided into two segments, North Peak and South Peak, divided by a notch. You can reach the top of North Peak via a steep, but accessible hike, but South Peak has the distinction of being the only peak east of the Mississippi that can only be summitted by technical rock climbing.Seneca Rocks loom high above the valley floor, acting as a focal point for the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area.“There are other rock formations like this on the same ridge,” says Arthur Kearns, owner of Seneca Rocks Climbing School. “Nelson Rocks and Judy Rocks are similar, but Seneca is the highest concentration of this sort of cliff around. It’s a big uplift of sheer rock, and the quality of rock can’t be matched, which is why the climbing is so good.”It’s unknown who first scaled the rocks, though evidence of Native American villages has been found in the valley below the formation, so it’s likely that Seneca has been climbed for centuries. One of the first recorded ascents in the 1930s revealed an inscription at the top of the peak, that read “D.B. September 16, 1908.” Climbers started scaling the rocks for sport in the 40s and the U.S. Army used the area to train soldiers for the Italian campaign during World War II. Today, there are almost 400 mapped routes, ranging from 5.0 to 5.12. Seneca is known in the climbing world for its exposure. The climbing on these cliffs is very steep, with impeccable views at all grades. You can climb Seneca as a beginner and have 180 feet of air under your heels on a 5.2 route.See It For YourselfThe best way to experience the wonder of Seneca Rocks is to climb them. Kearns recommends Old Man’s, the most climbed route at Seneca. It’s a 5.3 that will take you to the summit in five pitches, and represents the easiest path to the South Peak.If you’re not up for sending the rocks, you’ll have to settle for hiking to North Peak via the popular Seneca Rocks Trail, which zigzags up the mountain for 1.5 miles starting at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center.4. BLK 69, North CarolinaThanks to the pervasive logging in the Southeast, most of our ancient trees were axed over a century ago. Patches of old growth still exist in the Southern Appalachians, with stands of trees typically dating no more than 400 years old. Patches of old growth bald cypress in the swamps of our piedmont, on the other hand, are often twice as old.  The Okefenokee has 1,000-year-old bald cypress trees, while trees inside the Congaree National Park in South Carolina have been dated to 1,500 years ago. But if you want to find the oldest trees in the South, you’ve got to paddle the Black River near Wilmington, N.C. There, within the pockets of swamp along the Black, you’ll find stands of 1,700-year-old bald cypress, including BLK 69, the oldest dated tree east of the Rocky Mountains. After taking a core sample of the gnarled cypress, scientists estimate BLK 69 took root sometime around 364 A.D.“It’s hard to say why these bald cypress escaped logging,” says Hervey McIver, Onslow Bight project manager for the Nature Conservancy, which manages a 3,000-acre preserve on the Black River. “It could be because loggers like solid trees and so many bald cypress are hollow, we don’t know. But the bald cypress has a knack for surviving. These trees can lose a limb and produce another without much of a problem. The tree just hangs in there.”The Nature Conservancy’s Black River preserve has roughly 1,000 acres of the ancient trees, and more exist outside of the preserve’s boundaries. The gnarled, pretty trees have huge buttresses popping out of the black water. Many of the trees have lost their canopies because of the frequent storms, and some are hollow, but most are still alive and kicking. Finding BLK 69 will be tough. It’s located downstream of the preserve in a swamp called Larkin’s Cove, but it’s unmarked and tough to distinguish from its neighbors.See It For YourselfYour only chance of seeing the ancient trees is by paddling the unmarked Black River. The oldest trees can be found inside the Three Sisters Swamp and Larkin’s Cove farther downstream. To get there, you’ll need to paddle a 14-mile stretch between Beatty’s Bridge and the Route 3 Bridge outside of Atkinson. Three Sisters is located between Henry’s Landing road and the Hunt’s Bluff Wildlife ramp.5. Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, West Virginia The Cranberry Glades may not be an obvious wonder like Mammoth Cave, but dig into the details of this ecosystem, and you can’t help but be amazed. The federally designated botanical area consists of a cluster of high elevation bogs spanning 750 acres at 3,400 feet in elevation. It is the largest system of bogs in the Mountain State, packed with plants that normally grow in much higher and colder climates. It’s a high elevation swamp with plants that are typically found in the arctic tundra of Canada.“You see lots of plants you’re not going to find anywhere else in the region,” says Diana Stull, director of the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. “Basically, you’re looking at an ecosystem that’s left over from the last ice age.”A ghostly white sphagnum moss covers much of the ground, while short cranberry shrubs dominate other sections of the area. All of the surface vegetation is underscored by 10 feet of decaying plants, or peat, that gives the entire forest a spongy consistency. More than 60 unique plant species can be found in and around the bogs, including snakemouth orchids, skunk cabbage (a big, green leafed plant that stinks), wild cranberries, and carnivorous plants like the purple pitcher and the tiny sundew. Carbon dating puts the peat bogs at 10,000 years old, a holdover from colder times. According to a study by West Virginia’s Department of Natural Resources, there are fewer than 20 of these high elevation cranberry bogs in the world.See It For YourselfVisitors aren’t allowed to walk on the spongy surface of the bogs, but the half-mile boardwalk trail will take you through the heart of the ecosystem, and the eight-mile Cowpasture Trail is a natural surface path that forms a loop around the entire botanical area. Picking the cranberries within the botanical area is forbidden, but go early in the morning and you might see black bears foraging the berries and skunk cabbage.6. Stone Mountain, GeorgiaToday, Stone Mountain is etched with the portrait of Robert E. Lee and his Confederate cohorts; there’s also a light show during the summer, a snow park during the winter, and a tram running to the top. But imagine what Stone Mountain would have felt like before it became a tourist destination. Picture this massive granite dome as the Creek Indians saw it: a sheer mountain of rock, rising almost a thousand feet from the piedmont, unlike any other mountain within hundreds of miles. Even with the kitschy tourist trappings, Stone Mountain still looms impressively over its surroundings.Rising 786 feet from the forest floor, Stone Mountain is one of the most unusual granite peaks in the Southeast. Unlike other rock domes in our region, Stone Mountain is almost completely devoid of a forest canopy. Its summit stands bare, a solid rock monolith. And what you see is just the beginning. According to geologists, the rock mountain extends for nine miles underground.Stone Mountain’s history is equally fascinating. At least 12 Archaic Indian sites have been found around the mountain. On the summit, the prehistoric Woodland Indians built a rock wall encircling the top of the mountain. Later, Creek Indians called the peak Lone Mountain and used it as a sacred meeting place. Settlers moving west used the mountain as a landmark in late 1700s. Anything west was considered Indian Territory. Creek Indians finally ceded the land to the state of Georgia in 1821. On Thanksgiving night in 1915, a group of Ku Klux Klan members burned a cross on top of the mountain that was visible from downtown Atlanta. Over the next 45 years, Klan members held meetings on the mountain, which became a symbol of the white supremacist group. In 1963, Martin Luther King put an end to that dark era of Stone Mountain by mentioning it in his I Have a Dream speech, saying, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”See It For YourselfForget the tram, climb the 1.3-mile Walk Up trail from the base to the summit and soak in the views of Atlanta from the top. On a clear day, you can even see the string of Appalachian Mountains rising in the distance. You can also hike or run the five-mile loop around the mountain’s base.Screen shot 2015-06-22 at 3.00.18 PMPhoto by David Wilson7. Natural Bridge, VirginiaThe 20-story limestone arch is 100 feet wide and 200 feet tall, forming a bridge over Cedar Creek, a tributary of the James. The bridge has amazed visitors for centuries. In 1774, Thomas Jefferson bought the natural arch and its surrounding land for 20 shillings from King George III and quickly built a cabin for visitors. In the late 1800s, Natural Bridge was considered one of the natural wonders of the world, on par with Niagara Falls as a must-see site for international tourists.Like most natural arches, the bridge was formed over millions of years. The waters of Cedar Creek slowly eroding away at the softer layers of limestone beneath the bridge that remains today. The Monacan Indian explanation for the bridge is a bit more exciting, though: Once, while fleeing a rival tribe, the Monacan came to Cedar Creek and prayed for a safe route across the bluffs and torrential whitewater. When they stopped praying, the bridge appeared, spanning the length of the canyon. The Monacans called it the “Bridge of God,” and named the route over the bridge, the “Great Path.” Later, the bridge would become an important trade route for settlers, and eventually, the path for Highway 11.See It For YourselfAn easy trail leads to the bridge, while a wax museum portrays prominent figures from American history. A light show illuminates the bridge at night. Also, check out the caverns adjacent to the bridge. You can take a self-guided tour that drops 34 stories into the ground and explores massive rooms of stalactites. •HONORABLE MENTIONSFireflies and FlytrapsSynchronous FirefliesFireflies are common to every backyard in the South, but the Elkmont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park has the only species of firefly in the country that blink in perfect synchronicity. In fact, Photinus carolinus in the Smokies are one of only two synchronous firefly species in the entire world. Flashing is part of the firefly’s mating ritual. Males fly around and flash, while females remain stationary and send out response flashes when they see a suitor they like. For the synchronous fireflies, their flashing is a chemical reaction in their bellies just like other species of fireflies, but scientists aren’t exactly sure why, or how, this particular species has managed to become synchronous. The leading theory suggests it’s the result of stiff competition: each fly can sense when its neighbor is going to flash, and simply tries to flash first. The synchronicity occurs in short bursts and ends abruptly in darkness. You’ll get six seconds of total darkness followed by several rapid flashes, then darkness again.See it for yourself at the Elkmont Campground. The height of synchronous activity in the Smokies is a two-week period in early to mid June. And it’s possible that within the foreseeable future, the Smokies species may be the only species of synchronous firefly left in the world. The other species of synchronous fireflies live in Southeast Asia, but their numbers are dwindling because of timber production and light pollution, which have affected their mating habits.The Venus FlytrapThis famous carnivorous plant may seem exotic, but the boggy areas in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina are the only places in the world where it is found. The plant finds its home in soil that lacks nutrients, then makes up for the dietary imbalance by eating insects. When unsuspecting insects trigger hairs inside the plant’s “mouth,” the flytrap closes, forming a stomach that secretes digestive juices. See it for yourself in the Green Swamp, a preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy, that houses the flytrap and 13 other species of carnivorous plant.SOUTHERN SUPERLATIVESOldest River in North AmericaNEW RIVER350 million years oldHighest Mountain east of the RockiesMOUNT MITCHELL6,684 feetDeepest Gorge east of the RockiesLINVILLE GORGE2,000 feet deepTallest Waterfall east of the RockiesWHITEWATER FALLS411 feetLongest RiverTENNESSEE RIVER886 miles long according to USGSLargest Wilderness area in the SoutheastOKEFENOKEE WILDERNESS354,000 acres You may not have the opportunity to see all of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World for yourself. A trip to see the Aurora Borealis with your own eyes may be out of your price range, and visiting Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls in person might take longer than your one-week allotted vacation. Luckily, the South has its own suite of natural wonders—locations and phenomenon that will beguile even the most experienced adventure traveler. Some of the places that have made our list have been popular tourist destinations for more than a century, while others have only recently been discovered. They all are awe-inspiring in their own way.1. Whitewater Falls and the Blue Ridge Escarpment North CarolinaThere are waterfalls, and then there is Whitewater Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. You’ll hear that label applied to a number of impressive waterfalls in our region, but measuring 411 feet from top to bottom, Whitewater Falls is the one and true king of falling water in this half of the country. Even better? Just downstream, the Whitewater River drops again in another dramatic plunge that measures 400 feet. Both Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls drop along a topographical phenomenon called the Blue Ridge Escarpment—a drastic and sudden 3,000-foot shift in elevation from flat piedmont to steep mountains that forms an abrupt “blue wall.”The Escarpment is blessed with more dramatic waterfalls than anywhere else in the East. That’s because the severe uplands also act as a rain maker: only the Pacific Northwest has more rainfall than the Escarpment. As a result, the region has as many rare species as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it is the center of the world’s salamander population. With ferns, mosses, fungi, wildflowers, and spray cliffs, the Escarpment is a veritable rain forest, and Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls are the tangible manifestations of this dramatic ecosystem.See It For YourselfWhitewater Falls Recreation Area has a paved trail to overlooks of Upper Whitewater Falls. Follow the Foothills Trail for a short hike to see Lower Whitewater Falls in South Carolina. Better yet, hike the entire 80-mile Foothills Trail, which traverses the most severe Escarpment section.2. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky Mammoth is the world’s longest known cave system with 367 miles of explored underground rooms and passages. And there’s still plenty more to explore, with miles of “new” cave discovered every year.“We have a dedicated group of volunteers whose primary job is to explore and map the system,” says Vickie Carson, information officer for Mammoth Cave National Park, explaining that the cave runs beneath four above-ground ridges. “Our explorers drop into remote valleys and find new passages that eventually connect with the main system.”Some cavers estimate there are at least 600 miles of undiscovered cave still awaiting explorers underground. The terrain in Eastern Kentucky is perfect for caves. The soft limestone rock beneath the surface is tipped slightly toward the Green River, and underground streams and rainwater cut away at the limestone over years, slowly creating the passages we now know as Mammoth Cave. And Mammoth contains everything you’d want in a cave: claustrophobic passages leading to spacious cathedrals, underground rivers with blind fish, stalagmites, and stalagtites.See It For YourselfFor the general public, the only way into the cave is through a tour guided by the National Park Service. Check out the Wild Cave Tour for the most in-depth experience. You’ll get six hours underground, crawl through nine-inch-wide tunnels, see underground waterfalls, and drop 300 feet below the surface as you travel through 5.5 miles of cave.last_img read more

Wild Adventure Races

first_imgSheltowee Extreme 3 Adventure Race Morehead, Ky. • July 30 This epic 12-hour race takes place at the Cave Run Lake Recreation Area. Racers paddle the huge 8,270-acre lake, pedal miles of steep singletrack, and scale dramatic clifflines that are dotted with arches. A rogaine format allows beginners to only complete the basic course, while seasoned AR vets get extra points for tougher checkpoints. Backwoods Boot Camp 12-Hour Adventure Race Kingwood, W.Va • August 27 The good news is this race is hosted by West Virginia’s Mountain Area Rescue Group, so if you get lost you’ll most likely be found. The bad news is you still have to get through 12 hours of mountain biking, trekking, and orienteering in the remote Briery Mountains of Preston County. Plus, you have to build your own raft to complete the paddling section on the Cheat River and pass a set of boot camp drills at each checkpoint.Blackbeard Adventure Race Nags Head, N.C. • October 1 At this 50-mile USARA race, you’ll pedal 25 miles through the maritime woods, run on the beach, and paddle and swim in the ocean.Angell’s Adventure Once a top adventure racer, Ronnie Angell now owns Virginia-based Odyssey Adventure Racing. The company, which used to host grueling multi-day races, including the week-long, now-defunct BEAST of the East, has adapted as the sport’s demographics have changed.What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you got involved? I am still seeing growth, but it’s admittedly not the kind of growth we were seeing back in 1999 and 2000 when the sport was red hot. The encouraging thing is that around half the folks that are coming out are new to the sport.Why do you think there was a downturn in interest? Many expedition races like the BEAST of the East faded away because they required too much time for people’s busy lives. Training for a five- or 10-day race requires a huge amount of time that most people just don’t have. People are looking for more of a weekend warrior fix.How can you make the sport more accessible to beginners? Our longest races are now in the 24- to 48-hour range. We’ve also added some six-hour sprint races, and it’s attracted a new crowd that’s starting to realize adventure racing is not just for elite athletes. When many people hear the words “adventure race,” they think it’s something way out of reach. Now these people are starting to cross our finish lines.Why should people try adventure racing? You get to access parts of the wild that most types of races don’t offer. Also, you never get tired of one discipline. You’re always mixing it up between biking, running, and paddling.What’s the key to the sport’s future success? When I first started, race directors tried to make courses as hard as possible. They took great pride in having only 17 percent of the field finish an event. I am still all about creating a challenge, but I want to set people up for success. That’s why many races are now adding optional checkpoints. We’ve had to be creative and design courses that are for everybody. Quotable“This wave will redefine the Nantahala River and bring super-stud play boaters to the river for a long time.” —Chris Hipgrave, multiple US National Kayak team member, about building a world-class wave on the Nantahala River for the 2012 World Cup and 2013 World Championships. The wave will be enhanced this fall and ready to test in the winter. Assemble a crew and brush up on your navigational skills. Adventure races blend multi-sport competition with backcountry orienteering for a full team experience in the wild.Atomic Adventure Race Dawsonville, Ga.  •  May 14-15 The USARA National Championship Qualifier makes unsupported teams of two or three navigate their way through a rugged wooded maze that includes up to 60 miles of mountain biking, 30 miles of paddling on flat and moving water, and 30 miles of trekking. Special Operations Adventure Race Highlands, N.C. • June 11 Beginners can enter the seven-hour sprint race, while experienced racers can tackle the 12-hour option. Both races traverse Nantahala National Forest and include orienteering, canoeing, biking, and rappelling.SPROUTE (Spring Route) Adventure Race Organizers keep secret the exact location of this race near Richmond until one month ahead of the event. Racers in two categories—a beginner-friendly six-hour sprint and a 12-hour sport—should expect plenty of trekking and orienteering, mountain biking, and paddling in the piedmont woods. Odyssey Endorphin Fix Hinton, W.Va. • June 24-26 Probably the toughest two-day race in the country, the Endorphin Fix puts racers through an epic backcountry maze in West Virginia’s New River Gorge. Over 48 hours, soloists and teams of up to four cover 200 miles on foot, mountain bikes, kayaks, and even riverboards. Odyssey One Day New Castle, Va. • July 23 The One Day features a challenging 100-mile  course in George Washington National Forest. The race that includes biking, class II paddling, running, and bushwhacking. last_img read more