THE DIRT: Weekly Outdoor News from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

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Photo Courtesty of Don McCullough via Flickr

This week in THE DIRT: a new documentary film profile’s Emma “Grandma” Gatewood’s 1955 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, much needed repairs come to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a dairy farmer in North Carolina is sentenced for dumping cow excrement into the French Broad river, and a National Park visitor is tazed in Hawaii while flying a drone.

Emma Gatewood was the first woman to ever complete a solo thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, and she did it in 1955 at the age of 67. Now a new documentary is portraying her astonishing feat.

“It’s been a long road to bring this project to fruition, but we’re almost there,” Filmmaker Bette Lou Higgins told the Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County Ohio.

Higgins and others began making the film—a documentary they’re calling ‘Trail Magic’— back in 2009. It will be officially debuted during a two-day event, May 28 and 29, at the TrueNorth Cultural Arts Center in Sheffield, Ohio.

The Blue Ridge Parkway will be seeing some much-needed repairs thanks to a joint funding efforts from Congress and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Both the foundation and Congress are providing $357,370 in matching funds for a total of $710,035 in improvements. Slated projects include rehabilitation of the Mount Pisgah amphitheater, repair and restoration of historic structures at Johnson Farm near milepost 86, and the repair and restoration of the historic Polly Woods Ordinary near Peaks of Otter, Virginia.

A dairy farmer in North Carolina has been sentenced to four years of probation and six months of home detention after discharging cow feces into the French Broad River. William “Billy” Franklin Johnston is the owner of one of North Carolina’s largest dairy farms—Tap Root Dairy, LLC. Johnston, a Mills River town council member and acting board member on the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, was personally fined $15,000, while his company is being ordered to pony up $80,000 and placed on a strict environmental compliance plan.

Beyond the Blue Ridge: A ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park used a stun gun to subdue a park visitor after the visitor refused to bring down a drone he was flying over a large pool of lava. The altercation represents an ongoing debate about drone use in National Parks. The National Park Service says that drone’s have been used to disturb scenery and harass wildlife and prohibited their use back in June of 2014.

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