Your daily outdoor news bulletin for October 9, the day Che Guevara was executed in Bolivia in 1967:

Is the Appalachian Trail Closed?

Um, yes and no. With the government shutdown entering Day 8, it’s time to get a little bit serious about public land closures and dig a little deeper into the nitty-gritty issue of the Appalachian Trail. The¬†portions of the trail that run inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, and other NP lands are obviously closed, as the parks themselves are closed.¬†Approximately 700 miles of the 2,180-mile A.T. is managed by the National Park Service outside of separate national parks in a federally owned corridor; these sections of trail are also closed. Where the A.T. traverses national forest land is a grey area as the national forests are reportedly supposed to be closed, but it does not appear that anyone is being prevented from accessing the trails. The good news is that state parks remain unaffected by the shutdown, so where the A.T. runs inside a state park, state forest, or game land, you should be all good to hit the trail. Here is a good blog post explaining both the complicated make up of the trail and the rules regarding access during a federal government shutdown. The post also emphasizes that with most rangers furloughed, volunteers blocked, and trail organizations idle, you are truly hiking the trail – any trail really – at your own risk. The chances of things going wrong may be the same, but the chances of being rescued in a timely matter are way, way lower.

For the official position of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy regarding the shutdown, click here.

GA Bike Registration Bill Killed

Georgia cyclists fought the law, and they won. State lawmakers in the Peach State recently proposed House Bill 689 which would have required cyclists register their bikes, buy license plates for their bikes, and pay an annual registration fee of $15 for their bikes. That’s tough, but violators would face misdemeanor charges and up to $100 fine. That’s also tough, but here’s the kicker: the law would have dictated “when and where cycling is allowed.” This arose from citizens in north Georgia – you know, the part of Georgia that is mountainous, beautiful, and perfect for cycling – concerned with safety and their roads being overrun with bikers. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out, bike registration laws in places such as San Diego and Los Angeles failed because nobody did it and enforcing the laws cost more than than they were making. The article also makes some great points about funds appropriations, and gets pretty meta with state politics, politicians, whose a rider, whose not, etc. Well, the bill was spiked at a town hall meeting after a majority of the speakers opposed the bill. Although the bill has a two year life cycle, the likelihood of it being passed in an election year is low.

NC Man Kills Bear in Yard

A North Carolina man is under investigation by wildlife officials following an incident with a bear in his yard. An by incident, I mean he shot the bear and the bear died. The man is not being named as he has not been charged with crime as of yet, but the shooting sparked outrage in his West Asheville neighborhood. The man was working in his driveway when a neighbor called to say a bear was heading their way. The man went inside and grabbed a 30-30 rifle and instead of just sitting in his house and watching a bear go by – which is pretty cool in itself – he came back out and shot the year and a half female dead. Wildlife officials are consulting with the District Attorney Ron Moore to determine whether to charge the shooter for killing a bear out of season – a misdemeanor with a max penalty of $4,000 along with a two year ban on hunting. No mention of discharging a firearm inside city limits, in a neighborhood, for no apparent reason. Also, the comments on the Citizen Times story are priceless.