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Threats to the Blue Ridge Mountains – guest post by Mark Southerland

Mary Julia Pjordani on treeEight acres on the south side of Sugar Mountain in western North Carolina, remain in my family from the first permanent Scotch-Irish (and Welsh) settlement of the mountain by my ancestor Martin Banner and his brothers in 1848. Our family, as well as our adjacent relatives, retain most of the land in its natural state of forest and streams. As a result the biodiversity of the land remains such that 13 species of salamander can be found on it, enough for me to complete a doctoral dissertation on their communities. (Photo of salamander on tree -Plethodon jordani). This homestead remains our connection to the natural and cultural history of one of the most beautiful regions in the United States, the southern Blue Ridge mountains.

The forces threatening this and other southern Appalachian ecosystems include (more…)

The National Trail System

(Excerpt from Saving the Places We Love)

Maine Geo Hike 1107 023Can you imagine exploring a mountainous region without a good trail system? it would take far longer to find your way through the mountains or to find the tallest peak. You might even wander around lost for weeks trying to find your way in and out. Fortunately, today there is a great system of trails throughout the country and, in many cases, good apps for finding your way.

For the most part, these trails are well marked and maintained largely by volunteers. For example, the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail is maintained by 6,000 volunteers in small clubs all along the way from Georgia to Maine ( This is true for many of the trails that crisscross our country. Thanks to all of you who help maintain these trails. (more…)