The Election-Year Coal Campaign in Montana

first_imgWhy? Because Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will be in attendance. And besides the president and his Clean Power Plan, which the Supreme Court recently put on hold, the state of Washington is enemy No. 1 in Montana’s coal country. The Election-Year Coal Campaign in Montana FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Kellyn Brown for The Flathead (Montana) Beacon:For years, Colstrip has provided energy to Pacific Northwest cities. Its four coal-fired generating units light up hundreds of thousands of homes in Washington and Oregon – meeting demand in urban areas with growing populations and manufacturing. Now both states are weaning their grids off coal at the expense of Montana jobs. And now a central theme in the 2016 election cycle, the question has surfaced: Who’s to blame?Gubernatorial Republican candidate Greg Gianforte has made his feelings clear. He blames, at least partially, incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Gianforte’s background is in tech, but he has increasingly criticized the governor over what he perceives as his unfriendliness to coal.In response to Bullock hosting the Democratic Governors Association fundraiser in Big Sky, Gianforte called it “a slap in the face to the folks in Colstrip worried about losing their jobs and their entire community.”center_img Washington’s legislators recently passed, and Inslee is expected to sign, a bill providing a way for Colstrip shareholder Puget Sound Energy to raise funds to close two of Colstrip’s oldest units. There was no timeline attached to the legislation, but Puget Sound can access the money in seven years.There are several more factors working against Colstrip. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis told Washington’s utility commission that the two units under consideration for closure are in dire financial straits, partially because of pollution regulation and partially because of market factors – mainly, cheap natural gas.Controlling the coal narrative is important. And the reason for coal’s struggles – regulations or simple economics – matters in Montana’s election, especially in the campaign for governor. It’s the difference between placing blame on individuals for an industry’s struggle, and placing blame on the industry itself. Last week, in another major coal development, there was another opportunity to do both.On March 10, Arch Coal announced it would suspend plans for the proposed Otter Creek mine in southeastern Montana. The company, which holds the second largest coal reserves in the country but was driven to bankruptcy last year, waded into the 2016 election by at once blaming its decision on the weak coal market and the long permitting process.“Arch can no longer devote the time, capital and resources required to develop a coal mine on the Otter Creek reserve,” the company said in a news release.Gianforte blamed Bullock for not issuing a permit in a timely manner. But his fellow Republican and former colleague at RightNow Technologies, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, placed blame squarely on President Obama.“This decision is an unfortunate repercussion of President Obama’s all-fronts assault on domestic energy production,” Daines said.Meanwhile, state officials said Arch Coal failed to submit necessary data to move the permitting process forward. “We’ve essentially been on hold for the last year waiting for them to respond,” Tom Livers, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, told the Great Falls Tribune.There’s lots of blame to go around for coal’s struggles. There are far fewer solutions.last_img read more

Eighth Consecutive Quarter of More Than 1 Gigawatt of U.S. Solar Additions

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Solar Energy Industries Association:In Q3 2017, the U.S. solar market installed 2,031 megawatts direct current (MW). Of that total, 51% came from the utility PV segment, which added more than 1 GW for the eighth consecutive quarter.For all of 2017, non-residential PV is the only segment expected to grow on annual basis. The segment’s growth comes from projects rushing to install before rate and incentive structures changes in select markets, along with the continued emergence of community solar, which is on track to grow by more than 50% year-over-year.Meanwhile, residential PV is still expected to fall year-over-year for the first time ever. This downturn is happening even though more than half of all states in the U.S. have now surpassed grid parity. Rather, the downturn has more to do with two major competitive landscape constraints. First, segment-wide customer-acquisition challenges are constraining growth in major state markets. Between Q1 and Q3 2017, the top 10 states still drove more than 80% of the market, but fell 16% year-over-year. Second, national residential solar companies have slowed operations and pursued more profitable sales channels by pulling back on less-scalable channels such as door-to-door sales, which has come at the expense of growth.Meanwhile, the year-over-year downturn for utility PV in 2017 has been softened by projects that pushed out their completion dates from 2016 as a result of the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit extension. These projects that have spilled over into 2017 represent more than 50% of this year’s utility PV forecast. While Q3 was a relatively soft quarter for utility-scale, Q4 is expected to yield 3.9 GW of new installations.Under GTM Research’s base-case outlook, U.S. solar is expected to fall year-over-year again in 2018 before rebounding in 2019, in large part due to trends in utility PV procurement. During the first half of this year, most utility solicitations have focused on projects that can come on-line with a 30% federal ITC in 2019 or later by leveraging commence-construction rules. Utility PV’s recovery is also driven by procurement outside renewable portfolio standards, with more than 75% of the current pipeline coming from voluntary procurement, PURPA, off-site corporate procurement, and California-based community choice aggregators.Within the distributed PV market, residential solar is expected to resume 10% to 15% annual growth between 2018 and 2022, as customer-acquisition challenges are incrementally addressed and the market’s growth becomes less reliant on a small handful of national installers. Meanwhile, non-residential PV is expected to fall in 2018 due to the aforementioned revisions to state incentive programs, virtual net energy metering rules, and solar-friendly rate structures across major state markets. The segment is expected to resume year-over-year growth in 2019, in large part due to growth in community solar across emerging legislative driven markets, namely New York, Maryland and Illinois.More: Solar Market Insight Report 2017 Q4 Eighth Consecutive Quarter of More Than 1 Gigawatt of U.S. Solar Additionslast_img read more

Troubled Wyoming coal company to pay executive bonuses early

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Casper Star Tribune:Cloud Peak Energy executives won’t have to wait for bonuses from their troubled coal company. The Wyoming firm, one of the state’s largest producers of coal, announced Tuesday that it was ditching gradually-paid retention plans agreed upon in November in favor of lump-sum payments to entice its executive team to stay.Cloud Peak has rapidly become one of the most vulnerable large players in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The employer of nearly 1,000 workers at two Wyoming mines is currently at risk of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange for sustained low stock prices. One of its recent cost-cutting measures included ending retiree health benefits.In addition to an accelerated bonus schedule for executives, Cloud Peak announced Tuesday that it had hired new advisers to explore its options, including a potential sale. The financial advisers chosen by the company, FTI Consulting and investment bank Centerview Partners LLC, are both retained by Westmoreland, the bankrupt coal firm attempting to sell its western mines, including the Kemmerer mine in Wyoming.Clark Williams-Derry, a financial adviser for the Sightline Institute – which advocates for a move away from fossil fuels — said Cloud Peak’s announcements Tuesday may signal that leadership doesn’t expect to exist long enough to collect the previous long-term retention bonuses. He was critical of the shifting of incomes toward management considering the company’s likely path.The new payments for Cloud Peak executives replace long-term incentive plans and bonuses. CEO Colin Marshall, for example, will receive a bonus of 150 percent his annual base salary. Chief Financial Officer Heath Hill, Chief Operating Officer Bruce Jones and the general counsel, Bryan Pechersky, will receive bonuses of 115 percent of their salary. Two other executives will receive bonuses equal to 100 percent of their base salary.Cloud Peak owns the Cordero Rojo and Antelope mines in Wyoming as well as one coal operation in Montana. The Wyoming mines employed 959 people as of December.More: Troubled Wyoming coal firm speeds up bonuses it says will retain execs Troubled Wyoming coal company to pay executive bonuses earlylast_img read more

Texas Senate approves legislation aimed at curbing municipal restrictions on rooftop solar

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Houston Chronicle:The solar industry has run into obstacles over the past few years as it tries to convince Texans to install solar panels to generate their own electricity. The industry has battled homeowner associations that don’t want panels in their neighborhoods, doesn’t benefit like it does in other states from laws that require utilities to buy excess power and faces restrictions from some cities, especially in the Dallas area, that prohibit the panels on rooftops.But the industry may be getting some traction to fight municipal restrictions after the Texas Senate passed a bill this week that would prevent cities from placing restrictions on solar panels.A companion bill in the Texas House has not moved forward since it was introduced, according to legislative records, but Katherine Gensler, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Washington, D.C.,-based Solar Energy Industries Association, urged the Texas House to take up the measure.More: Bill would stop Texas cities from barring solar panels Texas Senate approves legislation aimed at curbing municipal restrictions on rooftop solarlast_img read more

S&P: Announced U.S. coal-fired plant retirements to cut annual demand by more than 65 million tons

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):U.S. coal producers delivered 65.5 million tons of coal, about 8.7% of the coal mined in 2018, to power plants set to retire between 2019 and 2032, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The analysis excluded plants that retired before July 4 in 2019. Meanwhile, only one coal-fired power plant has been built in the U.S. since 2014, a 17-MW plant at the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks campus.Despite efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to boost the coal industry, including the recent passage of the Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule, at least eight coal companies have filed for bankruptcy since Trump took office in 2017, and power companies continue to retire coal-fired facilities.The Powder River Basin delivered about 31.6 million tons of coal to plants retiring by 2032 — 9.8% of the total coal produced in the region in 2018. Three of the eight companies that have filed for bankruptcy since Trump took office, Westmoreland Coal Co., Cloud Peak Energy Inc. and Blackjewel LLC, operate in the region. Other top producers in the region including Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc., both of which now report stronger balance sheets after completing their own bankruptcy reorganizations in recent years.Smaller producing regions also face a shrinking customer base. Southern Wyoming delivered 63.6% of its 2018 production to retiring plants and the Four Corners region delivered 53.8% of its production to retiring plants.Producers face losing a significant portion of their customer base soon, as about 3.9 million tons of coal were delivered to plants set to retire in 2019. The coming years will see retirements affect still larger portions of producers’ 2018 customer base, as about 6.0 million tons were delivered to plants retiring in 2020, about 7.1 million tons to plants retiring in 2022 and about 6.5 million tons to plants retiring in 2023.Planned plant retirements could be booked even earlier in later integrated resource plans, according to Robert Godby, director for the energy economics and public policies center at the University of Wyoming. “Once they announce an earlier retirement that’s not set in stone,” Godby said. “A future IRP could accelerate that plan, and certainly the way the market is going being as dynamic as it has been this could be an issue.”More ($): Nearly 9% of 2018 coal deliveries went to power plants with retirement plans S&P: Announced U.S. coal-fired plant retirements to cut annual demand by more than 65 million tonslast_img read more

Canada’s largest solar project gets $500 million boost from major Danish investor group

first_imgCanada’s largest solar project gets $500 million boost from major Danish investor group FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Calgary Herald:Construction of Canada’s largest solar farm in Alberta is poised to proceed with the infusion of $500 million from a Denmark-based investment group.The decision by the world’s large renewable energy fund, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, to bring global investors into the 1,900-hectare project on farmland near the village of Lomond in Vulcan County is a watershed for the industry, said Dan Balaban of Calgary-based Greengate Power Corp.The Travers Solar Energy Project, to be one of the world’s largest, will feature 1.5 million panels set amid grazing land. It should begin taking shape in the middle of this year and be completed in late 2021, he said.It’s projected to produce 400 MW (megawatts) of electricity with the potential of powering 100,000 homes and creating 500 full-time jobs during construction. The next-largest solar farm is in Ontario, with a capacity of 100 MW.The project is part of a veritable solar energy rush in Alberta that includes the construction by Ireland-based DP Energy of a 25 MW project on 63 hectares of land in Calgary’s Shepherd Industrial Park. Meanwhile, Ontario-based Canadian Solar Solutions has acquired a 20-year contract to supply electricity to government facilities with the building of three solar farms located near the communities of Jenner, Hays and Tilley in southeastern Alberta, which will create 100 MW of capacity. Additionally, a $200-million solar facility which will produce 130 MW is being built by Calgary-based Perimeter Solar about 125 kilometres south of Calgary.Together, these proposed or soon-to-be-completed solar projects could produce 4,000 MW of energy — though it’s not likely that all of them will be built.[Bill Kaufmann]More: Vulcan solar farm — Canada’s largest — receives key $500-million investmentlast_img read more

The Old Ball Game

first_imgJust for Kicks: Huarache-clad Tarahumara combine soccer and running in a 50-mile ball-kicking race. Photo: Tania MaldonadoIt was the second-most amazing athletic performance I had ever witnessed. And though I was in Mexico’s Copper Canyons with the Tarahumara, it had nothing to do with barefoot running.I was waiting for Arnulfo—yes, that Arnulfo, the huarache-clad Tarahumara runner featured in the bestselling book Born to Run. The most successful Tarahumara athlete of all time lived in a one-room, mud-brick adobe hut, where he and five others shared a single bed and open-fire stove. In the ox-plowed fields outside his hut, stubbles of corn stalks clattered in the dry wind. A wiry goat bleated.Arnulfo was hauling water from a nearly dry spring two miles down the canyon. While awaiting his return, I wandered over to my friend Rod, who was hunkered in the soft shade of an old-growth pine forest. Rod picked up a pine cone and threw it at me. I grabbed a rotted, knotted pine branch and swatted at it.“This is how baseball must have started,” Rod said. We felt primeval in the ancient forest, swinging our club and shattering pine cones. But really we were two pasty-white gringos with video cameras, hoping to document the last vestiges of Tarahumara traditions before they were destroyed by drug trafficking, clear-cutting, mining, and the worst drought in Mexico’s recorded history.A Tarahumara woman watched us quietly from the edge of the forest. Her scarlet blouse and sapphire skirt flapped in the canyon breeze. Her night-black hair was pinned back by a hand-carved wooden barrette. She tried not to make eye contact. It was taboo for Tarahumara women to speak or even look at a chobochi (their word for all non-Tarahumara people).Rod drew a five-sided plate in the dry earth with the broken end of the pine branch. Instead of pine cones, I grabbed an old, dog-chewed tennis ball from my backpack. Rod swung too hard and fouled off several pitches. He blamed it on the bat. One foul ball landed near the Tarahumara woman. She pretended not to notice.“Do you want to play?” I asked her in broken Spanish. She sat stoic and motionless, eyes forward, hands folded in her lap. But her eyes betrayed her. She sneaked sideways glances at the gringos swatting at a ball with a pine stick.“Come on, take a few cuts,” Rod said.Finally, she stood and walked over to the home plate we had drawn in the dirt. Her name was Josefa, and she had never swung a bat. She held it with one hand, low and parallel to the ground. I tossed an underhand pitch as gently as I could. She clobbered it over the trees with a vicious one-handed swipe. Rod’s jaw dropped to the pine-needled floor of the forest.I threw the next pitch overhand, and again she crushed it over the trees. I peppered her with fastballs, curveballs, spitballs. She hit every one.“She’s a friggin’ slugger,” Rod said.Josefa tried not to smile.Finally Arnulfo returned with water, and we were on our way to an athletic feat even more astounding than Josefa’s home run derby. Arnulfo and 50 other Tarahumara runners were competing the next day in a rarajipari, a centuries-old ball-kicking race. It was a hybrid of running and soccer: two teams each kicked a wooden ball for dozens of miles along steep canyon paths. If the ball went off trail, runners used sticks to dig the ball out of thorn bushes and rocky gulches. As always, the Tarahumara wore their traditional handmade huaraches, which consisted of worn tire tread strapped to their feet with goat leather.Arnulfo carves a wood ball from a sacred tree. Photo: Tania MaldonadoBefore the race, I watched the teams carve wooden balls out of a sacred ash tree. I figured the ball-kicking would be easy, like dribbling a soccer ball. Not quite. After a few kicks, I hobbled off with a bruised foot, splintered toenail, and a bloody, swollen toe.“That ain’t no soccer ball,” I mumbled to Rod. “That’s solid wood.”The next day, I ran alongside Arnulfo’s team in the rarajipari. An hour before the race, Arnulfo handed me a traditional Tarahumara blouse and a loincloth, both of which were made for a five-foot Tarahumara runner, not a six-foot American. I felt obligated to wear traditional Tarahumara huaraches as well. My feet screamed with each step. The crowds laughed at the costumed gringo limping farther behind.Even though I never once kicked the ball, I could barely keep up. The Tarahumara ran faster kicking a hard wooden ball over rocky singletrack than I could run flat-out. They flung the wooden ball thirty yards ahead with spot-on accuracy, like a golfer dropping a tee shot next to the hole, then chased it down and slung it again.As the fifty-mile race wore on, teammates held torches to light the trail. Tarahumara onlookers wagered with piles of clothes and crafts. They cast spells on the opposing team using rattles and drums.At dusk, when Arnulfo’s team kicked their ball across the finish line first, I trailed several meters behind, feet blistered, eyes wet. Never before had I witnessed such endurance. It was true: the Tarahumara really were the toughest people on the planet. No one else could endure 50 rugged miles at breakneck speed kicking a wooden ball while nearly barefoot. Put Meb or Geb—or Pele or Rinaldo—in a pair of huaraches, and they would get dusted by the Tarahumara.They weren’t born with callused feet and gritty resolve. The Tarahumara earned their toughness every day of their hardscrabble lives. There was nothing genetic about it.There was nothing romantic about it, either. They may be the world’s toughest runners (and most promising baseball prospects), but they feel pain just as much as we do. They still wince when they stub their toes. They hurt with hunger pangs when their crops fail and their corn cribs are empty.Millions of Americans are now wearing minimalist running shoes, and that’s probably a good thing. We chabochi don’t need as much cushioning—in our shoes or in our lives. But it will take more than changing our footwear to tap the Tarahumara’s toughness. Their endurance goes far beyond running. They are as deep as their ancestral canyons, pure as the water that carved them. And as vulnerable.last_img read more

River Right: Special Advertising Section

first_imgBeneath the summer sunshine and craggy Appalachian peaks, the rivers are running. It’s the perfect time to explore the best of our mountain waterways. From flatwater family-friendly lakes to raging whitewater rapids, River Right is your guide to water play in the mountains. In the following pages you’ll find profiles of featured river outfitters, as well as popular riverside destinations and events. For anglers, we also highlight some of the best fishing locations in the region, including world-class creeks and streams to catch bass and trout. Check for updates and discounts on River Right online at VIRGINIA WHITEWATERWest VA WhitewaterIt’s no exaggeration when West Virginia claims to hold America’s Best Whitewater. The Mountain State’s world-class rivers hold a range of paddling and whitewater rafting opportunities for everyone from the adventurous novice to the seasoned expert.The NewKnown as the second-oldest river in the world, the New shows its wild side in West Virginia, as it drops 240 feet over one 14-mile stretch and cuts its way through a 1,000-foot-deep sandstone gorge. The New’s class I to V rapids make it one of the most popular runs in the country. The mild Upper New is perfect for beginner fun with float and fishing trips, while the Middle New beefs up the excitement with class II and III rapids. The famed Lower New delivers stomach-dropping excitement with class IV-V rapids through the heart of the gorge and underneath the longest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.The GauleyEvery fall, hardcore kayakers and rafters wait for a chance to run the mighty Gauley. Ranked one of the best whitewater runs in the world, the Gauley is a combination of heart-stopping excitement and breathtaking scenery. It boasts more class IV and V rapids than any other eastern river and offers one of the most intense experiences in commercial raftingThe CheatNorth of these two rough and tumble rivers, lies the boulder-strewn canyon of the Cheat. Snowmelt and spring rain give the Cheat more than 30 technical rapids in the class III to IV • 800.225.5982ADVENTURES ON THE GORGE, WVPlay wild! Stay Civilized.Adventures on the GorgeAt Adventures On the Gorge, Southern West Virginia adventure vacations are much more civilized than they once were. Although there are still plenty of primitive campsites and pure wilderness for guests seeking the traditional experience, “roughing it” is no longer required. Now the whole family can STAY CIVILIZED while you PLAY WILD!When you PLAY WILD, your inner adventurer is unleashed. Our top-notch equipment and 40 years of expertise help you attempt things you’ve never done before and discover the excitement and serenity of the great outdoors. Whether you’re paddling exhilarating whitewater, soaring through the treetops, scaling sandstone cliffs, or tearing up the trails, you’ll be completely immersed in nature and forever changed by the experience.But every great vacation needs some down time to let the excitement of the day soak in. Take advantage of free onsite entertainment and amenities like Canyon Falls Swimming Hole, hiking and biking trails, easily accessible gorge overlooks, sand volleyball courts, outdoor movies, disc golf, live music, and our children’s playground.And because you really work up an appetite when you PLAY WILD, three award-winning onsite restaurants serve up hearty fare with our trademark hospitality. When it’s time to turn in, diverse lodging options from five stars to under the stars let you decide how much to “rough it” while on your adventure vacation.For more information or to start planning your • 888.383.9933TUCKER COUNTY, W. VA.Tucker CountyTucker County’s fishing options are numerous with most freshwater species able to end up bending your rod. Most rivers contain good populations of trout including Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and West Virginia Golden.The Blackwater River (upstream from the Canyon) is heavily stocked and one of West Virginia’s favorites. Many native Brook trout streams can be found if you look hard enough. April through June is a good time to pursue these trout using spinning gear. There are two special regulation areas that are accessible, including the Red Run fly-fishing-only stream and the Blackwater Canyon catch and release area.Red Run contains a good population of Native Brook Trout while the Canyon sports trophy Brown and some Rainbow. Clear running streams such as the Dry Fork, Shavers Fork, and the Glady Fork offer some fantastic fly-fishing opportunities during most of the year. These streams also hold good populations of Small Mouth Bass that are active in the summer and fall.A great outing consists of floating the Cheat River, where the Small Mouths are making a comeback. Blackwater Outdoors Adventures can get you on the fish. Speaking of bass, most of the beaver ponds in the north end of Canaan Valley contain some nice Large Mouths. It makes for great fun on surface lures on a quiet summer • 800.782.2775RIVER AND TRAIL OUTFITTERSAt the three corners of MD, WV and VARiver and TrailEnjoy affordable adventure outings close to DC! River & Trail Outfitters offers fun for all ages. Mellow tubing for ages 5 and up, rafting for ages 7 and up, scenic paddling tours to award-winning wine, beer, and spirits for ages 21 and up, and much more. Multi-generation activities are a specialty for our 3-generation family-run, company!Convenient. Affordable. Easy. Doesn’t that sound perfect?• Convenient and accessible to the Washington DC/Baltimore metro area• Located near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and Historic Harpers Ferry, WV• 40th Anniversary season as the oldest adventure company in the Harpers Ferry region means exciting specials for guests, all season long!Water and land-based adventure outings. Adventure packages mean maximum fun for you, while we take care of planning, logistics, gear, and guides.• Whitewater rafting trips with family and friends on the Shenandoah, Potomac and Savage Rivers, and Antietam Creek• Paddle & Pour kayaking/canoeing guided tours to award-winning local Tarara Winery, Barley & Hops Brewery, and new for 2012, Cello Distillery.• Bicycle rentals for scenic (flat!) biking on the historic C&O Canal Towpath• Climbing wall and team building for groups• Complete Paddle Sports Store with top brands like Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Wenonah, gear, clothing and more.Get out of the city and enjoy your Metro DC / Baltimore Adventure Backyard with • 301.695.5177 • 888.IGOPLAYHEADWATERS OUTFITTERSRosman, NCHeadwatersHeadwaters Outfitters is your source for river style outdoor family fun. We offer canoeing and kayaking river trips, fly fishing, destination paddling adventures, and water safety courses.Our paddling trips can last from three hours up to a two-day river/camping trip, or you can cool off with a lazy float down the beautiful French Broad River on our popular tubing trip. Most of our trips are self-guided, but all of our seasonal special trips include knowledgeable guides and special arrangements can be made for individualized guided trips.The stellar fly fishing programs we offer are with licensed guides on the rivers of western North Carolina. Our guides will lead you to trout or smallmouth, teach you to cast, and help you choose flies that will increase your success on the water.Headwaters Outfitters stocks the best selection of canoes, kayaks and fly fishing gear to outfit you for your next big adventure. We provide personalized service and product knowledge, and a great location on the French Broad.We are conveniently located just outside Brevard, between Asheville and Highlands. We are an easy one-day trip from Charlotte, Greenville, or Raleigh, and a great weekend getaway from Atlanta, D.C., or Knoxville. So when planning your next vacation (or stay-cation) to the mountains, call us at 828-877-3106, pack a picnic lunch, bring your fishing rod, and gather your friends and family to join us for an unforgettable adventure! • 828.877.3106GO WILD! WASHINGTON COUNTYWashington County, NCGo WildIf you want to leave the hustle and bustle of daily life behind and instead seek close encounters with nature, then Washington County is the place for you. Discover a place still wild more than 300 years after the English arrived—where eagles soar above the ancient Roanoke River while black bear, deer, and small game roam the woodlands and fields, and wild geese and tundra swan cover sparkling Lake Phelps. Whether your interest is in photography, bird watching, paddling, camping, fishing, or hunting, Washington County surrounds you with forest, field, swamp, game, and fish.For those interested in paddling, cruising, and fishing in undeveloped waterways, the Roanoke River Basin and the Albemarle Sound, Lake Phelps in Pettigrew State Park, the Scuppernong River in Creswell, and over a dozen other streams are sure to provide you enough to explore again and again. Freshwater fish are abundant, including largemouth bass, striped bass, bream, speckled perch, and white perch.The wildlife and natural surroundings here will amaze you, as ancient cypress trees along the shoreline serve as home for nesting osprey. Relax by the water or camp in the wild forests. What the county lacks in population, it makes up for in outdoor adventure. Instead of the dull roar of traffic and congestion, you will only hear the wind in the trees and the calls of birds.  Find out more by visiting our website or call us.  Your adventure awaits in Washington County! Go Wild! • 252.793.3248RIVER AND EARTH ADVENTURESBoone, NCRiver and EarthRiver and Earth Adventures is a guide owned and operated adventure outfitter with headquarters in Boone, N.C. and outpost locations in Asheville, N.C. and Elizabethton, Tenn.Our mission is to provide you with the highest quality outdoor adventure in the world. We guarantee you a safe, thrilling, and memorable experience by offering expert guides, pristine wilderness, top-of-the-line equipment, and the best lunches on the river. From exploring hidden caves or relaxing on languid river cruises, to high adventure rafting, we allow you to explore the best natural secrets of the Appalachian Mountains.At River and Earth Adventures, we are dedicated to world-class adventure, eco-education, and healthy, sustainable living. Your adventure is your time to connect with friends and family, while challenging yourself in the most breathtaking natural areas of the Southern Appalachians.Among the many adventures we offer, you can choose from rafting, cave exploration, guided hikes, kayak instruction, kayak, canoe, and tube rentals, steep creek tours, gem mining, rock climbing, and even accredited merit badge programs. We also specialize in custom trips featuring local and organic foods.It’s easy to sign up for a trip or even design your own adventure. Give us a call and we’ll chat about your budget, comfort level, and experience, and we’ll help you find the adventure that is perfect for you and your family.With River and Earth Adventures, you have friends in the High Country! • 1.966.411.raftMATTHEWS COUNTY, VIRGINIAThe place to experience the natural worldMatthews CountyAlthough categorized as Virginia’s second smallest county, Mathews claims over 200 miles of Chesapeake Bay shoreline—more than any other county in the state. Rich in Maritime tradition, and with over 20 public water access points, this Pearl of the Chesapeake offers a charming and friendly atmosphere abundant in history, wildlife, scenery and art.Visitors are encouraged to explore, whether that be by way of Paddling and Bicycling, Birding and Wildlife Trails, Historic Walkabouts, or Fishing and Water Sports. Spend the night in one of Mathews’ many Historic B&B’s or rent a picture-perfect Cottage after dining at one of our fine local restaurants.Mathews’ true spirit is most evident at their annual community events: Longest Yard Sale, Market Days, Gwynn’s Island Festival, Tour de Chesapeake, and Open Studio Tour. In the mood for entertainment? Experience Donk’s Theatre, Courthouse Players, Concerts by the Bay, and live music at local eateries. For those of you who just want to drop on by, there’s always the Farmer’s Market, The Poddery, Art Galleries, Artists’ Studios and Gift Shops.Home to the third oldest lighthouse on the Bay, a cultural arts center, two museums, nature preserves, and an active artisan community, Mathews County offers something for everyone.We’ve been waiting for • 804.725.4229BLUE RIDGE HIGHLANDS FISHING TRAILBlue Ridge HighlandsAnglers can’t beat the experience of escaping to the mountains and exploring the seemingly endless offerings of the Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail. Follow the trail and experience casting among some of the most scenic and secluded terrain in southwest Virginia. The trail highlights premiere fishing destinations in four counties—Smyth, Wythe, Washington, and Grayson—including big rivers, secluded streams, and quiet lakes.Grab your rod and visit one of the trail’s many natural gems, including the New River, second only to the Nile as the oldest river in the world and ranked as one of the top 5 best smallmouth bass fisheries in the country. Trout lovers should seek out the high country flow of Whitetop Laurel Creek, set in the vast wilderness of the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area. Starting in in Smyth County near Sugar Grove, the South Fork of the Holston River is one of the premier trout fisheries in the Commonwealth, ready for you to pull plenty of wild rainbows and brown trout.If you prefer lake fishing, the Virginia portion of the South Holston Reservoir offers anglers more than 1,600 surface acres of water for finding bass, walleye, catfish, and crappie. Located at the top of 3,600-acre Clinch Mountain, Laurel Bed Lake, a tranquil waterway shrouded by second growth hemlock and mixed hardwoods with opportunities to catch smallmouth bass, sunfish, and trout.Come experience the best fishing in the Blue Ridge. On your trip, stop by the H.L. Bonham Tourism Center in Smyth for more • 877.755.9925EXPLORING THE BLUE RIDGEIn Botetourt, VirginiaExploring Blue RidgeSee the Blue Ridge Mountains as you’ve never seen them before as you paddle the Upper James River though Botetourt County, Virginia. At river level you won’t just see the mountains; you’ll interact with them as you meander through valleys and past rolling farmland keeping a watchful eye out for native wildlife. Some Class I and Class II rapids make it a fun day for all members of the family by canoe, kayak or tube.The unspoiled beauty of the river is more accessible than ever through the Upper James River Water Trail. The trail was created to encourage residents and visitors to experience one of the county’s greatest natural treasures and protect the beauty and character of the river for generations to come.Paddler, anglers and families can get back to nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of 45 miles of the Upper James, including 14 pristine miles designated as a Virginia Scenic River.If you’re bringing a canoe or kayak, there are numerous public access points with free parking. For those needing gear, private outfitters are ready to help make your trip a memorable experience with expert advice, equipment rental and shuttle service.Plan your entire trip, including ideas for lodging, dining and activities in Botetourt County at and discover a new way to experience the Blue • 540.473.1167CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIAchesapeakeIt doesn’t get much better than exploring the scenic landscape of Coastal Virginia on the water. The historic city of Chesapeake has plenty of surrounding natural treasures for paddlers and boaters, including 22 miles of fresh and salt waterways.A major highlight is the Dismal Swamp Canal, which connects southeastern Virginia to northeastern North Carolina and is recognized as the oldest, continuously operating waterway in the United States. The canal flows through the heart of the Great Dismal Swamp, offering outdoor enthusiasts magnificent views of the coastal wild and glimpses of its diverse wildlife. Atlantic white cypress trees line the canal banks as deer, river otters and the occasional black bear romp in the surrounding idyllic refuge. Explorers navigating the canal during spring and fall migration can also spot neo-tropical birds passing through the region during their bi-annual pilgrimage.Other staples include Lake Drummond, the state’s second-largest natural lake, which sits as a tranquil, wooded escape for both paddling and sport fishing. Water lovers should also visit Northwest River Park and Campground, which features the flowing Northwest River, as well as a 300-acre lake and plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife.On June 9-10, Chesapeake will host KayaXpedition, a two-day paddling event with a range of activities for kayak enthusiasts, including fun paddle races, skill demonstrations for both beginners and experts, safety tips and guided kayak tours covering the city’s secluded • 888.889.5551LAUREL HIGHLANDSIn Southwest PennsylvaniaLaurel HighlandsEvery year, hundreds of thousands of whitewater boaters flock to Ohiopyle State Park to run the rumbling rapids of the Youghiogheny River. Situated at the southern end of Pennsylvania’s majestic Laurel Highlands, the park holds the most exciting stretches of the Yough, offering a range of whitewater experiences for all levels from beginner to expert. With exhilarating class III-IV rapids, the seven-mile stretch of the Lower Yough is a popular choice for those seeking an adrenaline rush, holding the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi. The Middle Yough is a tamer class I-II option that’s just right for a beginning kayak trip or a whitewater rafting outing for families with young children.Last year, another whitewater paddling option was opened in the Laurel Highlands at Stonycreek Canyon. A new valve in the Quemahoning Dam now enables scheduled whitewater releases through the canyon, offering adventurous boaters an amazing 15 rapids in four miles—the highest concentration in the eastern United States. More mellow paddling options can be found on Quemahoning, and kayakers can hone their skills at Whitewater Park, which holds Pennsylvania’s first set of constructed rapids in the Stonycreek River, about three miles south of Johnstown.On August 18, you can join fellow paddlers at the 14th Annual Ohiopyle Over the Falls Festival. Boaters travel from across the country to experience the one day each year they are allowed to run the tumultuous 18-foot Ohiopyle • 800.333.5661last_img read more

A River Runs Through It

first_imgThe Geology of WhitewaterAs I steered my heavily-patched and atrociously purple canoe towards the infamous “Notch” rapid in the Green River Gorge, I was fairly certain I knew what was coming. I had seen the drop in person before, and had just wasted a week in the office conducting extensive “video-scouting” through the wonder of YouTube. Having driven the same 12 foot monster of a boat through Go Left and Die the previous weekend, I was riding high and felt ready to step up. After all, a 12 foot canoe sporting two sixty-inch airbags can dwarf a lot of river features, and I fully expected to glide right through The Notch without taking on a drop of water. This expectation quickly faded as I dropped off the tongue of green water and into the churning hole below. It felt as if all 12 feet of my boat would be sucked under as water flooded into the boat. I held on to a desperate hanging draw stroke to keep moving towards the salvation of the eddy ahead, maintaining my line as the green tongue crashed onto my stern, tossing the bow into the air and giving me a final push out of main current.  As I dragged my boat ashore to dump water before running Gorilla, I was acutely aware that I had underestimated the power of the southeast’s most famous steep creek.The Greenriver NotchThe Notch itself is fairly understated in appearance compared to the crashing, 20 foot high flume of Gorilla just downstream. The challenge it presents to boaters, however, has led more than a few to opt for a “chimp” run, in which a paddler carries around The Notch to run only Gorilla with a guaranteed clean entry. While this respect for The Notch seems inconsistent with its modest height, the energy which the Green River possesses as it funnels into the drop is almost unbelievable and sufficient to require the full attention of the world’s most talented paddlers. The story behind this dynamic feature, and the rest of the Green’s intense rapids, lies in the changes the river experiences as it veers off of the Blue Ridge Plateau and into the Narrows gorge. Most river systems become widen and flatten downstream as they collect more water from feeder streams. A sudden narrowing and steepening of a river channel forces the water to accelerate, focusing its energy to cut into bedrock and ultimately produce a steep-sided gorge. Collectively, the Notch and Gorilla represent the Green at its most powerful, where the channel is simultaneously at its narrowest and steepest. The result of funneling the entire river into such a concentrated jet is violently turbulent water, capable of carving into solid bedrock and tossing boats and their drivers around like features on much larger, high-volume rivers.If streams typically lose gradient downstream as they carry a larger amount of water, why does the Green suddenly become so steep while other area rivers, such as the French Broad, lack comparable gorges? The answer can be found at the I-26 exit for Upward Road (and the Green Narrows put-in), where construction work occasionally uncovers rounded river rocks with no river in sight. This is the former course of the Green River, a reminder that it in the distant past it meandered uneventfully across the Blue Ridge Plateau to join the French Broad River. Through a process known as stream capture, a tributary of the Broad River, which flows to the Atlantic Ocean, eroded into the margin of the Blue Ridge Plateau and diverted the Green River off of the Plateau and into a steep course to the Piedmont 1,000 feet below. This sudden change in course profoundly steepened the Green, giving its waters great energy to carve the impressive gorge through which it flows today. The gorge is still growing and advancing towards the Green River headwaters, which still follow their flat, pre-capture course before dropping into the gorge. The whitewater zone of the Green River Gorge will continue to slowly creep upstream through the Green and its tributaries until the entire Green River basin has been eroded down to an elevation that matches the rest of the nearby North and South Carolina Piedmont.The Green River is certainly not the only southern Blue Ridge stream whose whitewater is the direct result of stream capture by Atlantic River systems. The Linville River was almost certainly the former headwaters of the Nolichucky River prior to being captured into the Catawba River system. The nearby Rocky Broad River, which has excavated the impressive Hickory Nut Gorge, was captured from the French Broad system like the Green. The steep streams of the Jocassee Gorges are also the “victims” of stream capture; the Whitewater, Thompson, Horsepasture, and Toxaway Rivers are all former headwater streams of the ever-shrinking French Broad River system. Even the Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers owe their whitewater to capture events; they are the former headwaters of the Chattahoochee system which were diverted into the Savannah River system. The unusual history of all of these rivers is still reflected in their courses upstream of the steep stretches of whitewater. All of these streams travel relatively quietly through broad valleys before dropping into their rugged gorges; these flat upstream reaches offer a glimpse of what the entire river would have looked like before being captured and steepened. In addition to indicating river history, these long headwater reaches on the Blue Ridge Plateau are essential to producing the boat-compatible whitewater found in the gorges. Most streams of similar gradient to the Green Narrows and other capture gorges occur near ridge crests and are extremely small, lacking enough drainage area to permit descent after even the largest rain events. The captured streams of the southern Blue Ridge, on the other hand, drain large areas before steepening to produce the geologically unusual combination of volume and gradient sought after by whitewater paddlers.Captured DiagramThe Blue Ridge Plateau headwaters of the Green and similar streams also raise unique questions about land use and conservation. While the gorges surrounding the whitewater zones appear remote and pristine, much of the upstream land is agricultural and, in some cases, moderately populated. Runoff from farm fields and feed lots, sediment from collapsing stream banks, and roadside litter enter these rivers upstream (and out of sight) of your favorite rapid, potentially harming water quality for stream life and recreational users alike. While most Escarpment whitewater streams have avoided considerable impairment, unchecked development and irresponsible land use make the future of these outdoor playgrounds uncertain. While the flat headwaters of the Green and other captured streams may not receive much attention, we must remain aware of the incredible beauty that lies downstream in order to protect the geologically unique whitewater resources here in the southern Blue Ridge. Rapids like The Notch and Gorilla offer are already stressful enough without added worry over water quality.*Read about how one Paddler ran the Linville River, which also experiences Stream Capture, three times in one day!last_img read more

Weekend Pick: Brew Stash Bash Craft Beer Festival

first_imgThe stats on Charlotte, N.C.’s U.S. National Whitewater Center are impressive, to say the least. Built for $38 million in 2006, the center boasts the world’s largest and most complex re-circulating artificial whitewater river, pushing 12 million gallons of well water and is the official Olympic Training Site for whitewater slalom racing. The nearly 4,000 feet of whitewater is divided into two channels and ranges from Class I to Class IV, dropping 21 feet in the process. Not only that, the 400 acres the center sits on also contains 14 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and one of the largest outdoor climbing centers in the world with 40 roped climbs. Throw in a zip-line, canopy tour, and aerial obstacle course, and you have a virtual outdoor recreation amusement park right in our backyard. And if you can believe it, there is even more going on at the USNWC this Saturday: The Second Annual Brew Stash Bash craft beer festival.The Brew Stash Bash is a great opportunity to sample craft brews from around North Carolina and the U.S. As with most beer festivals, brew reps will be on hand with new releases and to answer questions – and possibly top you off with a freebie sample – about your favorite beers. Beer sample tickets will run $5 and get you four samples starting at 1 pm and running until 6pm. Over 25 breweries will be at the festival including N.C. stalwarts like Highland, Triple C, and Catawba, but also national brands like Bell’s, Anchor, and Stone. A full rundown of participating breweries, as well as a lot of questions answered in the comments section, can be found here.The event is free for non-samplers who just want to come, hang out with the kids, and see the live music. Oh, I didn’t mention the music? Well, as much as we love a beer festival, the music may be the best part of this one. New-grass super-group Railroad Earth will be headlining the line-up of bands performing that also includes Town Mountain and the Black Cadillacs. To round out the event, there will be a 6k trail race on the center’s trail system, aptly called the Brew Dash.An opportunity to see a band of Railroad Earth quality for free – if you’re not sampling, but even if you are, you don’t have to pay to see the band – is as rare as a southern brewery without an IPA on tap. So grab a fake mustache, or grow one really fast, and don’t squander the chance.View Larger Maplast_img read more