High Five: May 2012

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1. Watch Out for the Pink Deer

Fairfax County, Va.

If you see deer running around the woods of northern Virginia branded with pink stripes, it’s not a misguided graffiti prank. Wildlife biologists in Fairfax County are marking deer with a pink-dyed pesticide in an effort to eliminate ticks. By killing black-legged ticks before they can latch onto their hosts, county officials are hoping to reduce the transmission of Lyme disease to humans. Deer are lured into the paint job with bait stations containing corn. The county insists the pesticide is not toxic to the animals.

2. Downtown Whitewater

Columbus, Ga.

With the late spring breach of two dams, the city of Columbus is moving forward to create the longest urban whitewater course in the world. A 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River is being developed as a downtown whitewater course for paddlers and rafters, with river access points and engineered features like a standing wave. Although the course isn’t expected to open until 2013, boaters were already hitting the Hooch’s unshackled rapids after the dam went down.

3. No More Free Rides

Outer Banks, N.C.

Those used to cruising the sands of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina’s Outer Banks will now have to pay to bring cars on the beach. The National Park Service recently announced that off-road shore driving now requires a permit—$50 for a week and $120 for a year. Beach cruisers will also be restricted to certain areas to protect birds and vegetation, and drivers will be required to watch an instructional video. Some were miffed about lost fishing access, while others championed the reduced environmental impact. But most people were wondering, what took so long? Management of Hatteras access was mandated by a presidential directive back in the 1970s, and apparently took a whopping four decades to complete.

4. Keep it Down…Trees are Trying to Get It On
Durham, N.C. 

Recent research from North Carolina’s National Evolutionary Synthesis Center claims noise pollution is making it hard for trees to do the deed. The nonprofit science center, jointly operated by Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State, studied a patch of New Mexico forest located near noisy gas wells, and found that consistent industrial racket deterred pollinators from helping trees reproduce. The research also found that noise was deterring animals from consuming and eventually redistributing plant seeds, something that could reduce the natural expansion of critical habitats.

5. Scouts honor the Mountain State

fayetteville, W. Va.

If you build it, will they come? The Boy Scouts of America are banking on it as they move forward with the Summit Betchel Family National Scout Reserve, a 10,600-acre complex in West Virginia’s New River Gorge region. It’s shaping up to be an adventure playground with a vast trail network, climbing walls, zip lines, and skate park. Structured to accommodate 40,000 campers, the reserve will be the permanent home of the Scout Jamboree, starting in 2013. And in 2019, it’s also bringing the World Jamboree to the U.S. for the first time in more than a half century.

Beyond the Blue Ridge

Kids These Days

Hueco Tanks, Texas

At 10 years old, bouldering wunderkind Ashimi Shiraishi recently matched the hardest problem ever ascended by a woman. In late March, Shiraishi became the third woman to send the V13 Crown of Aragorn in Texas’ Hueco Tanks. Shiraishi, who turned 11 just before press, has gained notoriety as subject of the short climbing film “Obe and Ashima.”

Boozing Bike Thief  Has a Heart

Aspen, Colorado

It turns out the thief who stole Aspen resident Jay Martin’s Trek bike was drunk and just needed a ride home. Martin’s bike was dropped off near the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office with a handwritten note of apology that said: “Sorry. I stole this bike. I rode it home. Please give it back – Drunk.”

That’s an Expensive Trike

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Things didn’t go as well for a 10-year-old boy on Florida’s Gulf Coast, who apparently stole a $400 tricycle from his neighbor. While he tried to claim the trike as his own, police matched the serial number to a three-wheeler reported stolen and the boy was charged with a felony.

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