Outdoor Updates: Six Tennessee State Parks recognized for performance in environmental sustainability

Photo: Morning Sunshine at Radnor Lake courtesy of Getty Images by Heather M Bell

Six Tennessee State Parks recognized for performance in environmental sustainability 

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has recognized six of the 56 Tennessee State Parks with platinum level status for their performance in environmental sustainability in the state’s Go Green With Us program, the department said in a press release. The six parks achieving platinum status are Bicentennial Capitol Mall, Burgess Falls, Cumberland Trail, Cummins Falls, Johnsonville and Radnor Lake.

“Our state parks have implemented responsible practices in sustainability, and we are proud of their record in this important effort,” said Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of TDEC. “We hope Tennesseans will recognize their achievements and follow the parks’ lead.” 

Officials warn public to watch for the crop-devastating spotted lanternfly

Officials in multiple states, including Pennsylvania, are warning the public to keep an eye out for the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that can devastate agriculture. The spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 70 plant species, ABC News reports.

So far this year, sightings of the insect have increased dramatically in Pennsylvania. The state Department of Agriculture received 33,015 reports through July 17, compared to 5,603 for the same period last year. A Penn State study found that the spotted lanternfly cost the Pennsylvania economy about $50 million, including $9 million in direct costs to growers and forest landowners.

EPA approves naturally occurring nookatone to fight mosquitos and ticks

Looking for a way to fight outdoor pests like mosquitos and ticks without the use of synthetic repellents? Enter nootkatone, an oil found in cedar trees and grapefruits that was approved by the EPA last week to fight mosquitos, ticks, bedbugs and fleas.

Dr. Ben Beard, deputy director of the division of vector-borne diseases at the C.D.C. told The New York Times that nootkatone is not oily, lasts for hours and has a pleasant grapefruit-like scent. “If you drink Fresca or Squirt, you’ve drunk nootkatone,” he said. 

Australian man repeatedly punches great white shark to save his wife

A man in Australia bravely fought a great white shark that attacked his wife. Mark Rapley and his wife Chantelle Doyle were surfing on Saturday when a great white shark attacked Doyle, biting her on her right calf and then her right thigh. The woman was able to jump back on her board, but Rapley paddled to her side and began punching the shark.

After the attack, Rapley helped his wife to shore where emergency personnel were waiting. Doyle was airlifted to the hospital where she is in serious but stable condition.

Registration is open for the Hendersonville Triathlon

Not all events are cancelled this year. Case in point: the Hendersonville Triathlon will take place on Sunday, September 20 at Patton Park in Hendersonville, NC. The event consists of a 400m pool swim, 12.5-mile bike and 5k run and is taking a number of preventative measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Athletes that don’t feel comfortable competing in an in-person environment can sign up to participate in the virtual event. Virtual participants can participate anytime starting August 11 through September 30. To learn more about the event or to register, visit https://idaph.net/hendersonville-triathlon/

Study shows using neck gaiter as a mask may be worse than not wearing one

Many hikers, runners, bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts prefer to use a neck gaiter as a mask while out on the trails but a new study shows that using a neck gaiter as a mask may spread more respiratory droplets than wearing no mask at all.

A study out of Duke University that looked at the effectiveness of different masks found that neck gaiters allowed 10% more airborne droplets than un unmasked control subject. The reason, researchers believe, is the polyester-spandex “neck fleece” appeared to split larger droplets into many smaller droplets. “Considering that smaller particles are airborne longer than large droplets,” researchers said, “the use of such a mask might be counterproductive.” 

Organizers of the Hellbender Regional Trail Plan seek public comment

Once complete, the multi-purpose Hellbender Regional Trail will connect Western North Carolina’s Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Henderson and Transylvania counties. The biking and pedestrian trail with stitch together dozens of local greenways, with only a few newly build additions necessary, The Laurel of Asheville reports. 

At current funding levels, it will take 50 years for the project to be complete, possibly longer. Organizers are seeking public comment on a draft of the Hellbender Regional Trail Plan. Comments will be accepted until August 21. To view the plan visit: http://frenchbroadrivermpo.org/multimodal/

REI puts its brand-new HQ campus up for sale just months after it is built

The pandemic has changed the way everyone operates, and outdoor mega-retailer REI is no exception. This summer, the company was supposed to move into their new eight-acre, state-of-the-art headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. But the pandemic forced the company to implement a remote work policy which CEO Eric Artz told employees has caused executives to rethink their strategy. “Our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different than the one we imaged more than four years ago,” he said.

With the new building up for sale, the company will now have smaller “headquarters” in multiple locations. “Our model for the future of the company is going to center on maximizing flexibility, allowing people to work the way they want,” chief customer office Ben Steele told SNEWS. “On that front, I think our employees can see the huge potential that we see.” 

Climbers in Utah pressure BLM to cancel auction of more than 85,000 acres surrounding Moab

After weeks of sustained advocacy from the climbing community, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it has cancelled its plans to auction more than 85,000 acres of recreation-rich land around Moab, Utah for oil and gas leasing, the Access Fund announced. Some of Moab’s iconic climbing areas, such as Mineral Bottom Road, Hell Roaring Canyon, Spring Canyon and Lost World Butte, would have been impacted. The land was slated to go up for auction in September.

“We’d like to thank all of the climbers around the country who responded to our call,” says Access Fund Executive Director, Chris Winter. “This is a big win for the climbing community and is proof that we’re a powerful force for protecting public lands.”

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