Quick Hits: Algae Beer, Bundys Walk Free, Public Land Growth and More

Brewery Makes “Algae Beer” to Spotlight Water Pollution

Water is the main ingredient in beer, so Ohio’s Maumee Bay Brewing Company recently decided to bring attention to the troubled waters of Lake Erie by a brewing “AleGae,” a green-colored beer given its hue to spotlight toxic algae blooms in the Great Lake. The beer, a sour double IPA, gets its color from green tea powder and unique flavor from the addition of kiwi. Industrial and agricultural pollution regularly causes algae blooms in Lake Erie, especially in the summer.

Snoozing at School

With a growing number of studies revealing the significant health benefits of sleep, officials at Virginia Tech are making it easier for students to catch some shuteye. Last year, the school installed three sleep pods around campus in Blacksburg, with the goal of making students more productive by offering opportunities for an impromptu snooze. The pods consist of a recliner inside a dome-like capsule outfitted with soft music and special lighting to help students relax. After 20 minutes of shuteye, students are woken up with flickering lights, gentle vibrations, and a steady increase in the music volume. The pods can then be cleaned with nearby disinfectant wipes for the next user. Cathy Kropff, Tech’s director of Hokie Wellness, said sleeping areas were requested by students, and although the pods cost more than $8,000 a piece, she believes the price is worth it for improved health on campus.

North Carolina State Park to Be Expanded

North Carolina announced plans to expand Hammocks Beach State Park, a gem in the eastern part of the state anchored by the undeveloped three-mile Bear Island. The park’s new 289 acres on the mainland will be used for more campgrounds, hiking trails, and put-ins.

Raid Federal Land, Walk Free

Nevada native Cliven Bundy was released from federal custody after a judge ruled his case a mistrial with prejudice. Also acquitted of all charges were Bundy’s two sons, Ammon and Ryan, and militia member Ryan Payne. U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro proclaimed that federal prosecutors acted recklessly by withholding evidence and violating the defendants’ rights to a fair and speedy trial. Two years ago, the Bundy family raided and took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and engaged in an armed standoff.

The Bundy Standoff was a result of over 20 years of disputes between Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management. In 1993, Bundy refused to renew his permit for cattle grazing on BLM public land as an act of protest over changes made to grazing rules. Over the years, the situation worsened, and in 2013, a federal judge ordered Bundy to refrain from trespassing on the public land as he had yet to pay any grazing fees. In April 2014, Bundy and other protestors led the armed standoff against the BLM when they tried to remove cattle from the land. The standoff ended with BLM director, Neil Kornze, releasing the cattle to Bundy in order to de-escalate the situation. As of 2015, Bundy continued to graze his cattle on federal land without paying any grazing fees.

As a result of the case being declared a mistrial with prejudice, Bundy cannot be retried for any charges related to the 2014 standoff. Many consider Bundy’s disrespect for public land egregious and worry that his actions will inspire others to threaten public land managers.

West Virginia Sandwich Shop Puts Axe Throwing on the Menu

A deli in Charleston, W.Va., recently opened the Mountain State’s first indoor axe-throwing range. Customers at the Lucky Dill Deli can now rent one of five axe courts at the sandwich shop’s new addition, Axes and Ales. As that name suggests, the business will also serve beer and wine at the new space. That might sound a little sketchy, but owner Chadrick Harper told WSAZ, “We’re here to have fun, but we’re also here to be safe.” Precautions include required safety trainings before reserving an axe court, which costs $40 per hour.

Obed Wild & Scenic River Grows

A donation is expanding the federally managed Obed Wild & Scenic River by 161 acres, including two miles of river frontage along some of its most epic rapids, including Widowmaker and Keep Right. Mary Ann Gibbons, whose family acquired the land more than a half-century ago, donated the land with the goal of protecting its “spectacular scenery and biodiversity.”

Super Stars

In December, the world’s leading astronomers officially recognized 86 previously unnamed stars. Most of the new names honor indigenous cultures around the world instead of the traditional Greek monikers. One of these recently named stars, Chalawan, named after a crocodile king from a Thai folktale, can be seen in Ursa Major near the Big Dipper.

Places to Go, Things to See: