Updated September 4: Nantahala River re-opened! Read the story here

Portion of NC’s Nantahala River closed for up to two years – although the order could be rescinded much sooner.

After an August 25 landslide sent mud, trees and debris rushing into the Nantahala River, the U.S. Forest Service has announced a public closure of 8 miles of the river within the Nantahala Gorge, indicating that the closure could last up to two years. Forest Service staff assessments have found locations within the river with up to a 90 percent blockage of woody debris, which creates danger for anyone rafting, kayaking or otherwise recreating in the river. 

The closure is effective between the Beechertown Launch Ramp and the Silvermine Takeout Ramp on U.S. 19. The economic impact and impact to wildlife that live in and along the river has not yet been determined, but the Nantahala Outdoor Center, which runs commercial rafting trips down the river, told the Asheville Citizen Times they could experience six figure losses. Outfitters stress to the public that the Nantahala Gorge is still open for business, with ziplining, jeep tours, restaurants and retail all up and running.

Hikers missing in Washington State rescued after five days in wilderness with no food

Hikers Marshall “Buster” Cabe, 64, and David James, 59, were rescued from Washington State’s Sulphur Creek in Snohomish County, 14 days after leaving for a planned one-week backpacking trip from the Downey Creek Trailhead. The families of the men alerted authorities after they failed to return home on August 24.

The hikers became lost when they tried to take an old shortcut that was overgrown, eventually losing the trail altogether. Shortly thereafter, James lost a boot and his sleeping bag in a campfire accident, and then his knee brace, so Cabe tried to hike out to get help. They ran out of food five days before their rescue, and Cabe said he resorted to eating huckleberries and ants, which he says tasted like sweet tarts, to stay alive. Search and rescue helicopters located both men a few hours apart. James was hospitalized with severe dehydration.

India tiger census shows population growth

A headcount of wild tigers in India has shown that population numbers have grown by a third over a four-year period. In 2014, the tiger census counted 2,226 tigers in India. In 2018, that number had grown to 2,967. The country is now home to about 70 percent of the world’s tigers.

It’s a major win for conservationists. Nine years ago, India set a goal of doubling its tiger population by 2022, a goal that they’ve reached four years early. Still, it’s estimated that the world has lost at least 95 percent of the tiger population that once lived on earth. There are currently only about 4,000 tigers left in the wild, spread throughout a dozen countries in Asia. Tigers face a number of threats, from loss of habitat to poaching.