The unfinished Foothills Parkway section could become the next big hiking destination

The Foothills Parkway, which runs through the Tennessee foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has been driving a record number of visitors to the park since a 34-mile continuous stretch of road was completed last year. But a 33-mile unfinished stretch of the Foothills Parkway may become the next big attraction to hikers. The original plan for the Foothills Parkway, created in the 1940’s, was for the road to or run 72 miles along the northern boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Today, a 34 mile continuous stretch of road is complete, as well as another 5.6-mile section of the parkway on the eastern end of the park. The remaining 33 miles of planned parkway remains untouched and there’s a good chance it will stay that way. Recently, government leaders met to discuss how the right-of-way to that land could be used for hikers and bikers. A proposal for how best to use the land is now in the works and could be completed in the next couple of months.

New park coming to North Carolina’s Catawba County

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has purchased 188 acres in Catawba County, the first step in a larger effort to acquire lands on the Jacob Fork and Henry Fork rivers for a new state park. Conserving the property, which was purchased from two private landowners, permanently protects one-and-a-half miles of forest along the Jacob Fork River. In addition to conserving the land, the purchase will have a positive impact on the City of Newton’s drinking water, which comes from the Jacob Fork River. The land acquisition also includes Jacob Fork East Corridor; a North Carolina natural Heritage Program designated natural area, and preserves scenic views from the river for canoers and kayakers to enjoy. A private loan and a grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, as well as grants from the Beaver Foundation and Unifour Foundation, enabled the Foothills Conservancy to purchase the property.

A Mountain Valley Pipeline protester barricaded inside the pipeline has been arrested

A Maryland man who barricaded himself inside a portion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia has been extracted and arrested. The 19-year-old was removed from a 42-inch diameter pipe, which was waiting to be welded before being buried. After his removal from the pipeline, the man was arrested and charged with two felonies—threats of terrorist acts and property destruction—as well as two misdemeanors. He was released after posting $8,500 bond. The pipe the man occupied is still draped in banners from an activist group Appalachians Against Pipelines. The banners read “STOP WORK: PERSON IN PIPE” and “MVP: THE TRUE TERRORIST.” The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a controversial natural gas pipeline slated to run approximately 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.