BY THE NUMBERS: BLACK BEARS

56
Number of fatal black bear attacks in the last 100 years.

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880
Highest recorded weight of any black bear in the world. The bear lived in North Carolina.

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12,000 The approximate number of black bears currently living in West Virginia, the most in any Southern state.

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35 Percentage increase of black bear population between 1988 and 1995.

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1 Weight in pounds of a black bear cub at birth.

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0 Number of grizzly bears in the Blue Ridge.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Cross country skiing burns more calories per hour than any other land sport.

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Carolina Coal Emissions on the Rise

North Carolina emits just as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as California. That’s a scary statistic considering it has just a quarter of the population of the Golden State. The reason, according to a recent report from Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA), a new international database that identifies carbon dioxide sources worldwide, is the state’s large number of coal-fired power plants. Over 77 million tons of CO2—the chief contributor to global warming—are emitted in North Carolina each year, ranking the state 14th in the nation above its neighbors Tennessee (17th), South Carolina (21st), and Virginia (22nd). If North Carolina were a country it would be the 21st highest emitter of CO2 in the world. California produces 79 million tons of CO2. Despite these facts, Duke Energy—the nation’s third largest producer of CO2—is pushing ahead with plans to build another large, coal-fired unit in the state. The 800 megawatt power plant expansion at its Cliffside plant west of Charlotte would emit 6.25 million tons of CO2 each year.

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Virginia Ridge and Valley Act Passes the House

This past fall the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to permanently protect nearly 55,000 acres of public lands in Southwest Virginia. It awaits approval in the Senate.“This is the largest wilderness bill in the Southern Appalachians since the mid ‘80s,” says David Carr, Public Lands Director of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The outlook is good. We’re very much expecting it to pass this session.”

A bi-partisan effort first introduced in 2004 by Democrat House Representative Rick Boucher and Republican Senator John Warner, the Ridge and Valley Act would create six new wilderness areas and expand six existing wilderness areas totaling 43,000 acres, as well as 12,000 acres to be designated as National Scenic Areas in the Commonwealth’s Jefferson National Forest. This year, Jim Webb signed on as a co-sponsor in the Senate, which will consider the wilderness measure as early as next month. The bill’s lasting protection would preserve land in portions of Bland, Craig, Grayson, Giles, Lee, Montgomery, and Smyth counties.

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From Queen City to the A.T.

A new trail is in the works that will eventually connect the piedmont suburbs south of Charlotte to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Ground was recently broken on the new Kings Mountain greenway project, which will start as a five-mile stretch from the corner of Battleground Avenue and Quarry Road and eventually extend all the way to the Appalachian Trail. Along the way connections will include footpaths in Crowders Mountain State Park, as well as Kings Mountain State Park, the Kings Mountain National Military Park and the Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina. The first phase of trail building will be completed this year.

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Another Winter Holiday

This one will help you burn off the blubber you packed on at all of your recent gluttonous family gatherings. January 12 is Winter Trails Day, an organized attempt to get people off the couch and onto the trails. Across the United States a series of events will offer snowsports newbies the chance to try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for free. The annual program jointly created by SnowSports Industries America, American Hiking Society, and the Cross Country Ski Areas Association is now in its 13th year. It was started with the intention of turning hikers and runners on to the fitness benefits of cardiovascular snowsports. In the Southeast, try some free shoeing and cross-country skiing at Sugar Mountain in the North Carolina High Country and the Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Md. For more information visit www.wintertrails.org.

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Big Business in the Outdoors;

Outdoor recreation contributes $760 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association of America. Three out of every four Americans participates in at least one form of outdoor recreation each year; bicycling, hiking, trail running, paddling, camping, snow sports, wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting were taken into consideration. The industry supports 6.5 million jobs (five times more than, Wal-Mart, the country’s biggest private employer) and generates $289 billion dollars in retail sales, which tops a handful of other major economic sectors including telecommunications, hospitals, and motion pictures. The sports with the biggest contributions were camping and biking. The South Atlantic produces the largest number of outdoor jobs in the country, and it is second only to the Pacific Coast in total financial contributions.