Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fee Update
The backcountry camping fee that Great Smoky Mountain National Park announced last year will go into effect February 13. The $4 per person, per night fee was approved by the National Park Service and will be used to improve customer service for backcountry trips. Backcountry campers will have the ability to make reservations and obtain permits via the internet up to 30 days in advance.
The money raised will allow the GSMNP Backcountry Office to expand its hours and provide more rangers in the field.
White-Nose Syndrome Found in Mammoth Cave
The dreaded White-nose syndrome has been found in Long Cave in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, an area previously thought to be free of the disease. First discovered in 2006, White-nose has been attributed to the death of around six million bats in North America and Canada and is also being suspected of popping up in the caves of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fungus grows on the faces of bats during hibernation, causing them to rouse severely malnourished and unable to survive.
Mammoth Cave officials say they will continue to give tours of the park’s caves, but are taking precautions to prevent the diseases spread, including screening visitors as they enter and exit. Tours generate $3.9 million annually in fees from visitors.
New Bouldering Wiki in Development
Bouldering is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the U.S. and information on problems, and whole fields, can be scarce. Salt Lake climber Sundev Lohr is trying to change that with his new crowd sourcing website WikiBoulder. Lohr’s site is based on other user content generated climbing sites like SummitPost, but aims to be more user friendly. Climbers will be able to build topos, map routes, and build personal logs of their climbs, all through a slick interface on their phone or tablet. Users can also load photos and videos of locations and specific problems. In its infancy, the site mainly features Utah climbs, but several Georgia sites, including Boat Rock, are listed, waiting for someone to enter their data.