West Virginia Mining Industry Pushes for Tax Relief

first_imgWest Virginia Mining Industry Pushes for Tax Relief FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Taylor Kuykendall for SNL:The West Virginia Coal Association, or WVCA, announced a new study aiming to bolster their argument for a steep reduction in its tax burden, an effort it said could help turn the tide on the state’s flailing coal sector.The trade association hopes the West Virginia legislature will cut the coal severance tax rate from 5% to 2% to increase the state’s competitiveness with neighboring coal-producing states that have little to no severance tax. Sean O’Leary, an analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, was critical of the study. He said the paper overemphasizes the actual market impact of the severance tax and misidentifies West Virginia coal’s competitors.“We’re not competing with Maryland and Ohio, we’re competing with Wyoming and Montana and Illinois,” O’Leary said. “That argument doesn’t really hold a whole lot of weight, particularly when you look that where we’re losing our market share, we’re losing it to states that have higher taxes.”He added that at a time when there is a budget shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars, largely due to decreased severance tax collections, the study lacks a critical examination of the resulting revenue shortfall. O’Leary said lawmakers would be unlikely to support much in the way of a tax cut as “we have no revenue to give away.” The WVCBP analysis of 2015 numbers showed a cost of $220 million to the state budget if the severance tax was reduced by the amount proposed by the WVCA.“That’s going to result in spending cuts at the state level, or they’re going to have to get that revenue from elsewhere,” O’Leary said.O’Leary said it is also bizarre the study assumes that a 3% tax reduction would result in a 3% coal production increase. He says the figure is not only not explained in the report, but also inconsistent with studies done on the impact of severance taxes on production, which he said is usually present, but minimal.“It models an increase in coal production would increase jobs and that’s kind of self-evident, but their assumption for that is that a 3% cut in the severance tax rate would be a 3% increase in production,” O’Leary said. “There’s just nothing to support that. I just don’t know where that came from.”Full article ($): W.Va. coal group trumpets study in call for steep severance tax relieflast_img read more

New Mexico regulators approve utility plan to shut San Juan coal plant, sell Four Corners stake

first_imgNew Mexico regulators approve utility plan to shut San Juan coal plant, sell Four Corners stake FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Santa Fe New Mexican:The state Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday unanimously accepted a Public Service Company of New Mexico three-year plan that calls for shuttering two coal-fired power plants in the northwestern part of the state and more reliance on renewable energy, along with natural gas and nuclear energy.Every three years, PNM files an Integrated Resource Plan as a general road map of how the company plans to provide cost-effective, reliable energy.Patrick O’Connell, the utility’s director of planning and resources, said after the meeting that commission acceptance of the plan is just a first step. Next year, he said, the utility will submit specifics on the closing of the San Juan Generating Station — the first power plant it wants to shutter — by 2022. PNM plans to close the nearby Four Corners Power Plant by 2031.It took the commission more than a year to accept the PNM plan. Civic leaders in San Juan County and the city of Farmington wanted to see more specific plans for easing the economic pain expected when the power plants and adjacent coal mines are closed.Some environmentalists also objected. Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy had argued that the plan should include more solar and wind energy than what PNM proposes.More: PRC accepts PNM integrated resource planlast_img read more

India seeks to expand use of decentralized solar generation

first_imgIndia seeks to expand use of decentralized solar generation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Times of India:Stepping up efforts to gradually increase solar footprints across the country, the Centre on Tuesday approved two schemes – one to promote use of solar power among farmers and the second to give impetus to its ongoing grid-connected rooftop solar programme. Both the schemes together will get the central financial support of over Rs 46,000 crore by 2022.The move on grid-connected rooftop will help India achieve its cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW of solar power from rooftop projects by 2022. It accounts for 40% of the country’s 2022 target of 100 GW of power from solar.The rooftop programme will be implemented with total financial support of Rs 11,814 crore. Under the scheme, group housing societies or resident welfare associations will be eligible to get financial support to install rooftop solar projects.The one for farmers – called KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahaabhiyan) – has three components which together aim to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022. The total central financial support provided under the scheme would be Rs 34,422 crore.Its components include 10,000 MW of ‘decentralized ground mounted’ grid-connected renewable power plants; installation of 17.50 lakh standalone solar powered agriculture pumps and solarisation of 10 lakh grid-connected solar powered agriculture pumps.Under KUSUM, an individual farmer or group of farmers (cooperatives or panchayats or farmer producer organisations) can set up solar power plants of 500 KW to 2 MW capacity on their barren or cultivable lands.More: India seeks to increase solar footprints in rural areas through KUSUMlast_img read more

New Jersey’s B.L. England coal plant to finally close in May

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Press of Atlantic City:Will the 368-acre site of the B.L. England electric plant, due to close in May, become a hub for offshore wind developers — a place for them to feed their power into the grid? Or could its waterfront on the southern rim of the Great Egg Harbor Bay be used for recreation, after almost 60 years as a power plant?Russell Arlotta, of owner Rockland Capital’s R.C. Cape May Holdings, said he cannot speak to specific uses of the site in the future.  “We have no firm plans, and are not prepared to comment on that,” Arlotta said. But he said a cleanup will be completed by the end of 2019.R.C. Cape May announced Feb. 28 it was abandoning plans to repower the plant. It will close in May under an agreement with the state, which required it to either repower or close because its outdated technology released too much pollution into the air.The Danish offshore wind company Orsted, which holds a lease to develop a wind farm off Atlantic City, has said it is looking at the site as a potential place to bring its electricity to market if it wins ratepayer subsidy. But it is also considering hooking into the grid at the former Oyster Creek nuclear plant site in Ocean County.Sierra Club New Jersey Director Jeff Tittel said his organization has been fighting to close the B.L. England plant — which was the oldest coal-fired plant in New Jersey when it was in operation — for more than 20 years.“We started fighting B.L. England in 1998, when they put in a new boiler,” said Tittel. The modification meant the plant was no longer grandfathered under the Clean Air Act, he said.  “It was a 21-year battle. At the end of the day, we won,” said Tittel. “It would be great to see it as a facility for offshore wind. For me, it’s a major victory when you think of where we were in 1998.”More: What’s next for B.L. England plant site? First, a cleanup. New Jersey’s B.L. England coal plant to finally close in Maylast_img read more

New Mexico utility submits plan to close San Juan coal plant in 2022

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:New Mexico’s largest electric utility on Monday submitted to state regulators its plan for shutting down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, replacing the lost power and pricing the cost to customers.The filing with the Public Regulation Commission comes as a new state law dictates more aggressive renewable energy requirements while allowing Public Service Co. of New Mexico to recoup from customers some of the expenses.The application for abandonment of the plant and the building of replacement power includes the utility’s preferred option, which it describes as the most cost-effective plan, as well as three alternatives. The costs range from nearly $4.7 billion to more than $5.4 billion, but utility executives say residential customers would end up saving about $7 a month in the first year after the plant closes under its preferred proposal. They couldn’t say what, if any, savings customers would see after that given fluctuations in the costs related to producing electricity.The preferred option includes a mix of natural gas-fired power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities.Under the state’s new landmark energy law, investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives are required to get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That would jump to 80% by 2040. A 100% carbon-free mandate would kick in five years later for utilities. Electric co-ops would have until 2050 to meet that goal.As part of the energy transition law, Public Service Co. of New Mexico and other owners of San Juan can recover investments in the coal-fired plant by selling bonds that are later paid off by utility customers. The law also calls for setting aside millions of dollars in job training funds to ease the economic effects of shuttering the plant and the adjacent coal mine.More: New Mexico utility charts closure for coal-fired power plant New Mexico utility submits plan to close San Juan coal plant in 2022last_img read more

U.S. coal companies, analysts expect strong financial headwinds to continue through 2020

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):“Flat is the new up,” one analyst said as coal companies reported another brutal quarter for investors in the space while domestic markets continued on a path of secular decline and export markets took a turn for the worse.For the last five years, the S&P 500 has consistently outperformed the SNL Coal Index, and the gap continues to widen through 2019. While coal equities struggled to win the favor of investors even when robust export markets offered coal companies an outlet to sell their fuel, share prices are plummeting as those opportunities diminish.“Export markets are challenging right now, and there is a widespread fear amongst investors that all U.S. coal producers will have to retreat significantly from the export markets, resulting in significant EBITDA declines,” Consol Energy Inc. President and CEO Jimmy Brock said on a Nov. 5 earnings call. Brock added that Consol was bracing for continued weak pricing through 2020, but remained optimistic about a potential recovery.Mark Levin, an analyst with Seaport Global Securities LLC, praised Consol’s assets and the product it sells in a Nov. 5 note. Levin said that, unlike many of its peers, the company managed to avoid revising its guidance. Since “flat is the new up,” Levin chalked up the company’s performance, in line with expectations, to the “victory column.”Share prices declined at major U.S. coal companies despite aggressive share buyback programs rolled out by most major U.S. coal producers in recent years. Staring down a diminishing domestic market, weaker export markets and the political uncertainty of a 2020 election, Levin recently encouraged the coal industry to “hoard cash.”Levin said management teams talking on third-quarter earnings calls sound like they are bracing for recent trends — near-record-low domestic consumption, met coal prices flirting with three-year lows, and overall weak coal export volumes — to continue into 2020. If a company has an unsustainable quarterly distribution or a non-essential project, it is time to cut it, he added.More ($): Already flailing through 2019, coal equities dove even lower in third quarter U.S. coal companies, analysts expect strong financial headwinds to continue through 2020last_img read more

Vestas announces 2030 carbon-neutral goal

first_imgVestas announces 2030 carbon-neutral goal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:Wind group Vestas unveiled a target to become carbon-neutral by 2030 at the start of a sustainability push that it said will also set ambitious goals for its supply chain.Vestas – the world’s largest supplier of wind turbines – is targeting a 55% cut in CO2 from its footprint by 2025, hitting 100% by 2030 in a move it said will be a key plank of its wider drive to become a global leader in sustainable energy.The Danish OEM said the cuts will be achieved by its own corporate actions rather than via carbon offsets, starting with a move to electric vehicles for its company car fleet this year. While its commercial premises have been renewable-powered for five years, it will “explore further steps” for decarbonising heating and transport.Vestas made clear the decarbonisation push will encompass its supply chain as it moves “to take full responsibility for the company’s environmental footprint.” It will seek “sustainability partnerships” with suppliers as it seeks to cut emissions from its supply chain by 45% per MWh generated by 2030. The OEM said that metric had been chosen “because it incentivises sustainability partnerships with suppliers that both reduce CO2 emissions and allow for the continued growth of the global renewable energy sector.”The Danish group will pursue the carbon-neutral goal under the umbrella of the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTI), which is backed by the Carbon Disclosure Project, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the WWF.[Andrew Lee]More: Wind power giant Vestas sets 2030 carbon-neutral goallast_img read more

Oregon utility PGE, NextEra complete wind component of hybrid Wheatridge renewable complex

first_imgOregon utility PGE, NextEra complete wind component of hybrid Wheatridge renewable complex FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Portland General Electric Company, or PGE, and NextEra Energy Resources LLC have brought online a 300-MW wind farm that will be part of a larger hybrid power complex in Oregon.Dubbed the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, the complex is being built near Lexington, Morrow County, and will incorporate wind, solar and energy storage technologies. After switching on the wind component, the partners will put on stream a 50-MW photovoltaic (PV) park and a 30-MW battery storage system by the end of next year, PGE said on Tuesday.The Wheatridge wind farm is equipped with 120 General Electric turbines with capacities of 2.3 MW and 2.5 MW. Early development works for the project were carried out by Swaggart Wind Power LLC, an affiliate of MAP Energy.NextEra purchased the development rights for the wind project in 2017 and later expanded it to include solar and battery storage after PGE joined. The partners have agreed for PGE to own 100 MW of the wind farm, while a unit of NextEra Energy Resources will own the rest and sell the output to PGE under 30-year power purchase agreements (PPAs).The NextEra Energy Resources’ subsidiary will take care of building and operating the combined facility. The duo is yet to make its final choice on equipment for the PV and battery storage installations. PGE estimates that its ownership in the scheme will cost it some USD 155 million (EUR 127.8m).[Veselina Petrova]More: PGE, NextEra power up 300-MW wind farm in Oregonlast_img read more

The Bear Truth

first_imgUrsa Major: Life-long bear biologist Lynn Rogers is known as the “Jane Goodall of Black Bears.”Most people think Lynn Rogers is crazy. The 71-year-old wildlife biologist walks with bears. He follows black bears for miles as they search for food through the Northwoods of Minnesota, trudging through marshes, straddling fallen trees, and kayaking across lakes to keep up with them. He studies their behavior and development from extremely close distances over 24-hour periods, sometimes even resting right beside them. Because of the trust these bears have for him, he’s become known as the “Jane Goodall of black bears.”Rogers, head of Minnesota’s Wildlife Research Institute, has authored dozens of peer-reviewed papers on black bears. Several of his discoveries are owed to his close contact with bears. In over 40 years of research, though, he believes his most important finding is that black bears are not the vicious animals we once thought they were. Bear Basics In the Southeastern U.S., the black bear population is growing steadily. That’s why bears are classified as game animals in states like Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.“A lot of people don’t realize how adaptable this animal is,” says research ecologist Frank van Manen of the U.S. Geological Survey. “This species is a very opportunistic one.”Over the past 80 years, the situation for black bears has improved, van Manen says. The Southern Appalachians are no longer heavily exploited for timber as they were in the 1930s. In addition, forests in the Southeast are dominated by oak trees, which have been highly productive, he says. That means more acorns for bears.In Louisiana and Florida, however, the situation is different. Louisiana’s subspecies of black bears is classified as “threatened” by the Endangered Species Act. Although Florida’s subspecies is not listed by the federal government, the state classifies it as “threatened.”Across the country, the biggest threat facing the planet’s largest mammal is the shrinking and fragmentation of its habitat. As development encroaches on wild spaces, black bears are losing their homes and their natural sources of food. This is causing an increase in bear-human interactions, something that bear management experts work to avoid. Bear Management The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to about 1,600 black bears, the largest concentration of bears in the Southeast. The park also has an incredibly high concentration of humans: it’s the most visited national park in the country, receiving between 9 million and 10 million visitors each year. These colliding populations make bear management particularly challenging. 1 2 3 4 5 6last_img read more

Run Wild

first_imgWe are wild beings, with wild instincts. So it seems fitting that while practicing one of our most primitive and beloved instincts—running—we might crave a wild place in which to run. Here are five of Appalachia’s elite ultra champions and race directors sharing their most cherished places to run.Find the best Wilderness Run in your area here!Annette BednoskyLINVILLE GORGE WILDERNESS, N.C.“It was wintertime, and we were trying to cross the Linville River at the Spence Ridge. The rocks were covered with ice and the consequence of falling in the water there—we would have probably died,” says Annette Bednosky, recalling a particularly memorable moment in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.She and her friend lived to tell the story, but those feelings of desperation are often part of running in the wild. Bednoksy especially loves the danger and beauty of running in the jagged, gaping, solid-rock Linville Gorge that gouges deep through Pisgah National Forest. It is the third largest wilderness area in the state. Trails are steep and rugged, and the land is accessible only on foot. This is where Bednosky comes to find peace.Bednosky directs the New River Trail 50K, which runs in the New River State Park along an old railroad bed. But unlike her New River Trail 50K, her personal wild runs in the Linville Gorge Wilderness are anything but fast and flat.The gorge is expansive and jarring as you first climb the trails on the ridgelines and peer over into the sheer drops from the rim. Just as when one peers over the edge and into the Grand Canyon for the first time, there is no question that you are looking at something unmistakably wild as you gape at the abyss of the gorge below. Its rocky landscape includes thousands of acres of old-growth forests.“This is where I really started these multi-hour running adventures and going places by myself,” says Bednosky. “I was figuring out that this ultra running thing—as much as it is a great experience of running and being fit—it’s this total adventure.”Clearly the sport stuck. Bednosky was the second American in the Team USA World Challenge 24-Hour in Italy in 2009, 9th overall in the National Team USA World Championships 100K in the Netherlands in 2011, and the 4th woman in the World Masters Marathon in California in 2011.But when Bednosky is not running around the world, she comes back to Linville Gorge to find solitude in her home wilderness.“Sometimes running in this area you’ve got to look at your feet, because it’s pretty technical in areas. But also on a clear day you can look up and see Grandfather Mountain. You can see Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi. You can look down from parts of the route and see the foamy whitewater of the Linville River.”Here, wild running means dodging rocks, climbing crags, sliding through crevices, running along steep drops, or scrambling across rocky terrain. Wild running means technicality. Wild running means perseverance.The danger element is real, and Bednosky knows it. But that is part of the appeal, and part of the challenge that Linville Gorge Wilderness has to offer.Watch a video of Bednosky explain her passion for running, in her own words.Director’s Cut – Bednosky’s 22-Mile Wilderness RunPark at Spence Ridge Trailhead. Run the FS Road to the Table Rock parking lot. Cross through paved parking lot and continue east through the campground and along Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) to Shortoff and beyond. Continue on the MST and prepare for a wet crossing of Linville River. Then run on to Pinnacle Trail and ascend. Head west on Kistler Memorial Highway, a sometimes rutted and steep road with great views. At Connely Cove Trail leave KMH and descend to Linville River Trail (LRT), and follow it west for a short period of time. There are no signs (carry a map), but a short spur trail leaves LRT and goes to the Spence Ridge Trail river crossing access. Once crossing river, follow Spence Ridge Trail back to your vehicle.Dan LehmannROARING PLAINS WEST WILDERNESS, W.Va.“Dan, you’re going to get somebody killed running up here,” a friend told 61-year-old Dan Lehmann when he brought the first group of people to run the Roaring Plains West Wilderness with him nearly 10 years back. While urging caution, he laughingly admits that not a single person has yet to die while running with him up there.Lehmann didn’t even begin ultra running until his mid 40s. But a lot has changed for Lehmann since then, having completed many ultra runs from 50Ks to 100Ks without yet receiving a single DNF (Did Not Finish). He’s completed nine of David Horton’s vigorous Hellgate 100K races, and even coordinated and ran his own 120-mile trek across the West Virginia Appalachians.On top of being an aggressive runner, Lehmann is an individual full of character.“I love to dance,” Lehmann says “I think that dancing gives you a certain amount of agility and ability to move around fluidly and lends itself very well to trail running. Plus it’s a lot more fun because you’re with a gal.”As president of the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners club, which has cultivated a trail-running community in West Virginia, Lehmann directs his own races, including the 40-mile Highlands Sky Trail Run which crosses through parts of Roaring Plains West Wilderness, the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, and Canaan Valley. He is no stranger to running in areas that can potentially render a man helpless when running alone.One of Lehmann’s favorite wild runs is in the Roaring Plains Wilderness, a world of strong winds, high elevation, giant boulders, red spruce, and open-brush terrain, perched on the high-elevation plateau in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia.“The trails are not highly developed,” Lehmann says. “You often get off course a little bit, but you’re finding your way as much as you are trail running.”The Roaring Plains is a place of grandeur and harsh, wild landscapes. The rocks that have been strewn across the plains and trails of the 4,000-foot plateau beckon injury. Many of these rocks are enormous, still sitting exactly where they were deposited by the colossal strength of the glaciers that left them there eons before. The trees are often flagged and stunted from high-velocity winds—winds that can be as brutal and cold as the stones themselves and deliver powerful and dangerous snowstorms in the winter. The vistas are unbeatable and spread across a plateau where you can run quite far without losing the view.“Wilderness running has a little bit of intrigue, a little bit of danger to it. You’re far enough away from civilization that you’re maybe slightly at risk, particularly if you’re by yourself.”BRO TV: Watch a video interview with Lehmann Director’s Cut – Lehmann’s 21-Mile Wilderness RunPark at the Red Creek trailhead lot behind the Laneville Wildlife Cabin just past the metal bridge crossing Red Creek at the end on Laneville Road. From the Wildlife Cabin run downstream on Laneville Road and take a hard left on Bonner Mountain Road. Pass the Flatrock Trail parking and continue to the Flatrock Trail on right. The first mile of Flatrock Trail passes through private property and is marked with blue diamonds. After crossing into USFS property and into The Roaring Plains Wilderness most of the blazes are gone. Flatrock climbs for 2,700 feet over five miles and to Roaring Plains and then becoming the Roaring Plains Trail. Here the trail is open, windswept and rocky, with magnificent views. Continue to the gas line and the trail’s end. Turn right, then immediately left on FR 70. Continue on the gravel road and turn left on the Boars Nest Trail. Climb slightly, then descend steeply down 1,000 feet to old railroad grade and turn right. Proceed on the grade to intersect the South Prong trail and bear right. Climb two-and-a-half miles crossing FR 70 and continue up to Red Creek Plains. The trail passes through boulder sections, then the “ten bridges section” through wetlands to emerge at South Prong Trail lot near top of FR 19. Turn left on FR 19 and descend the three miles back to Wildlife Cabin.Francesca ConteSUGAR HOLLOW, Va.Francesca Conte co-owns and operates Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports with Russell Gill. She directs a handful of top races, including the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100K. She has finished the Badwater ultramarathon. Known as the ‘world’s toughest foot race,’ Badwater is a 135-mile monster, running from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, Ca. She has won a handful of 100-milers. She has won the USA Track and Field 50-mile Championship. An Italian national, Conte has run in wild places all over the world, yet her favorite runs are in Sugar Hollow, a wild river corridor near Shenandoah National Park. Sugar Hollow is bisected by the North and South Forks of the Moormans River.“For me wilderness is, first and foremost, a place where I can be alone,” she explains.“I’ve seen Sugar Hollow when it was scary. In the winter, once you start through the mountains, you could be 50-60 miles in without seeing anybody. You put the elements on top of that: if the water gets really high, you might not be able to cross it, so how do you get back? Or the weather might change. All of those factors that are part of being in a wilderness totally change the equation.”Yet while danger is always present, the trees, the trails, and the river that calmly meanders through Sugar Hollow offers a tranquility that any trail runner can savor.BRO TV: Watch Conte on the trailDirector’s Cut – Conte’s 19-Mile Wilderness RunThe run begins at Sugar Hollow on the North Fork of the Moormans River Road. Run up the double-track trail that climbs for five miles to the Appalachian Trail. Continue left to head south on the A.T. for nine miles. These nine miles have three major climbs and the terrain is hilly even up on the ridgeline. The A.T. intersects the river at Jarmans Gap and makes a left onto the South Fork of the Moormans River road. The South Fork of the Moormans river road is a double-track trail that follows the South Fork of the Moormans river. It descends for five miles back to Sugar Hollow and the intersection of the North Fork and South Fork of the Moormans river.Clark ZealandRAMSEY’S DRAFT WILDERNESS, Va.Clark Zealand is a tough, talented, and thoughtful individual. But you don’t have to know that he’s had 17 career wins and 12 career course records, finished in the top three in nearly all of his races, and set the 5th fastest time in Canadian history for running 100 miles to see that. Or that he directs some of the toughest races in the country through his Eco-X Sports, including the grueling 50-mile Mountain Masochist race.He exudes a tranquility as peaceful as the forest around him. Not suprisingly, he loves to run in one of the most peaceful and remote areas in Virginia: the Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness of George Washington National Forest.“For me, wilderness and wild places are also cultural places,” Zealand said, sitting on the foundation of an old home that once existed in the middle of the Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness.“Long before Europeans came to live here, indigenous people lived here. So we create these places—and they’re really important to protect, super important to protect—but being able to see the obvious cultural artifacts is an important reminder about how these are cultural creations.”One of his favorite trails passes through an old-growth forest of Canadian hemlocks. Zealand loves ridge-running along the gorgeous pine-lined, snow-coated ridgelines of Ramsey’s Draft.  The draft—a regional term for a creek—sings through the valley. He often sees tracks of bears and bobcats along the trails.While he loves to return here, drawn to the incredible beauty of Ramsey’s Draft that ease the tensions of his own life, he does it to ease somebody else’s life too.Zealand’s 10-year-old son, Coleman, is autistic. And while the hustle and movement of many human-oriented environments can often turn into a sensory overload for the mind of an autistic child, the still beauty and serenity of places like Ramsey’s Draft contain the ability to put Coleman at ease, even “bringing him to life.”“A lot of little boys like bugs and insects and things like that. But Coleman will avoid them because it might be too much stimulation for him,” he said as he described one of the most memorable times taking his son into the wild. “He actually picked up one of those really furry caterpillars and he was fascinated by it. We were just in awe of how not only did he tend and give focus to this little creature, but he could actually touch it and he was feeling it and exploring it with his fingers—something he had never done before.”So at the heart of it all, Zealand often visits wild places to find peace within and bring solace to the fragile mind of a child.BRO TV: Zealand on his favorite part of running in the wildernessDirector’s Cut – Zealand’s 17-Mile Wilderness RunStart at the Mountain House parking area of Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness. Run northbound on Ramsey’s Draft Trail to the intersection of Hardscrabble Trail and turn left. Continue onward to the 4,282-foot summit of Hardscrabble Knob with great views from the high-elevation trail along the way. Return to the intersection. Hang a left on Ramsey’s Draft Trail and continue onward to intersection of Shenandoah Mountain Trail where you’ll turn left to head south on Shenandoah Mountain Trail to continue onward to Jerry’s Run Trail. Make another left to head northeast on Jerry’s Run Trail and continue to intersect with Ramsey’s Draft Trail. Take a right on Ramsey’s Draft Trail and follow it back to the parking area to finish this 17-mile circuit.David HortonCOLD MOUNTAIN, Va.“Listen! What do you hear? You hear the wind. Do you hear any cars? Do you hear any people? Do you hear any traffic? Do you see stop signs? Do you hear any cell phones ringing? Do you hear anybody doing anything? The answer is, no. That’s what I like. I like being out in the mountains, in God’s creation,” David Horton says, gleaming, perched atop highland balds with the wind blowing in his face and the ominous gray clouds sweeping by in his favorite spot at Cold Mountain, Va., in the George Washington National Forest.David Horton is the godfather of ultra running in the South. In 1979 he ran his first ultra marathon. Since then, he’s run 160-plus marathons. He’s set the speed record on the A.T. He’s set the speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail. He’s set the speed record on the Long Trail. He’s directed over 65 ultras and continues to direct the Hellgate 100 each December. Running has defined David’s life—his life up until now, that is.“I turned 60 on February 28, 2010. Six days later, I was running along and my knee started hurting,” Horton recalled. “I stopped. I felt it. It was right in my joint and I thought, I think that’s a torn meniscus.”It was. After numerous MRIs, surgeries, and rehabilitations, he found that nothing could be done and that, to his dismay, running was out—for good.But here sat the driven running legend at Cold Mountain in the tawny, bald-mountain grass fields of the fall, talking about his favorite Virginia wilderness where he still comes to let go.Horton “shed about two tears” before making a quick transition to a sport that didn’t cause him so much pain in his knee: mountain biking. Horton biked 110 days in a row without missing a beat to develop the habit so that he could now replace his previous title as a ‘runner,’ with a ‘cyclist.’Now he finds himself still drawn to his favorite wild spots, pedaling to them instead of running, unable to turn his head away from the great outdoors. What is it that reels him back in every time?The wilderness means two things for Horton. It means sheer beauty and it means self-challenge. The emotion of dramatic landscapes combined with the self-sufficiency that you develop when you have to survive them—that’s what it is about for him.“I like being outside in all seasons—all weather. I think it makes you tougher. This is home,” he told me. “I love being in places where, if you mess up, it may take a while to get out. That’s ok.”Cold Mountain offers 360-degree views of Mount Pleasant and Mount Pompey in the distance, along with gusty winds and rolling, lullaby-fields.“When I run through here, I think I’m running in The Sound of Music,” Horton said, recalling the iconic scene of Julie Andrews running and spinning through a field in the Alps. But he wasn’t in the Alps. He was atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.BRO TV: Watch and learn more about Horton’s story Director’s Cut – Horton’s 17-Mile Wilderness RunStart at the Long Mountain Wayside on highway 60 where the Appalachian Trail crosses, about 15 miles west of Amherst, Va. Head north on FS 520 to FS 48 and turn right on 48 taking it to the Henry Lanum Loop Trail. Do the five-mile loop counterclockwise, following FS 48 around the mountain to Salt Log Gap. Follow FS 1176 north for about a mile and turn right on the A.T. Follow the AT back south to Long Mountain Wayside going through Salt Log Gap. Go up and over Tar Jacket Ridge with great views. Descend to Hog Camp Gap at 3,500 feet and then ascend to the open fields of Cold Mountain. Descend to Cow Camp Gap and then ascend to the top of Bald Knob at over 4,000 feet.  Then descend 2,000 feet in three miles back to the start and Long Mt. Wayside.Find the best Wilderness Run in your area here!last_img read more

Weekend Pick: Mountain Song Festival

first_imgIf you like good music, a beautiful venue, and a worthwhile cause, the place you need to be this weekend (September 13 – 14) is the 8th Annual Mountain Song Festival hosted at The Brevard Music Center.  This family-fun event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Transylvania County, and ticket sales help support educational opportunities for both children and adults. The festivities get started this coming Friday evening at the Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium – a stunning open-air space nestled under the Pisgah National Forest that’s equipped for rain or sun. Let’s count on sun, though.The lineup is chock-full of talent and twang. Brevard’s own Grammy winning Steep Canyon Rangers will kick things off on Friday evening starting at 5:30 p.m. Tim O’Brien will be joined by his sister, Mollie, for a set followed by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, another Grammy winning band, picking until the wee hours of the night. Gates open at noon on Saturday where a number local acts, such as Balsam Range and Shannon Whitworth, are featured throughout the afternoon.  Bluegrass power couple, yes they’re married, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn go on at 6:15 p.m. with The Steep Canyon Rangers wrapping up the weekend at 8 p.m.  You can’t go wrong here, people.Food, beer, and art vendors will be out in full force, so there’s no need to bring anything into the venue. While camping is not allowed on festival grounds, there are a number of great spots around Transylvania County as well as in the Pisgah National Forest to pitch a tent. You can order your tickets online or by phone. Prices range from $30 to $40. Can’t commit to both days? No worries. You can purchase tickets individually. And for you moms and dads out there, children under 10 get in free.All in all, it’s a great way to spend the last weekend of summer and prepare for the coming of fall.View Larger Maplast_img read more

Getting Funky With the New Belgium Long Table Farmhouse Ale

first_imgBelgian saisons can be a bit decisive; For the most part, people either love their funky notes or can’t make it through an entire bottle. They’re kind of like Jazz, or Keanu Reeves movies. For those Belgian haters out there, I present to you Long Table Farmhouse Ale, a new seasonal from New Belgium that has just enough funky notes to keep it interesting. For the Keanu Reeves haters out there, you will be judged harshly in the afterlife.This new beer is New Belgium’s modern take on a very old style of beer—basically Belgium’s answer to the table beer—the easy-drinking, low ABV beer you’d have with lunch when you came in from the fields. It sounds like a simple thing, but this particular beer is actually pretty damn complex. It’s a little bit creamy on the tongue, but there’s also a pilsner-like crispness once you get into the bottle. It’s bready, without being malty. There’s a little bit of fruitiness in there (maybe some peach?), but nothing over the top. It is very easy drinking, but there’s also nothing sessionable about this beer, which comes in at 6.2% ABV, well over the 5.0% “session bar.” It’s funky, even a little spicy, which comes from the Belgian yeast strain that New Belgium uses, but it’s not bitter in the least.It’s a new summer seasonal, but I could lay out an argument for the brewery to turn this into a year-round beer. Mainly because it’s the kind of beer that goes well with everything, chicken or fish, steak or burgers. It’s awesome with spicy crawfish, and chili. I drank mine while watching Point Break for the 36th time, because I appreciate the finer things in life.last_img read more

Festival Recap: CKS Paddlefest

first_imgIt’s official. Our first festival in Colorado, and our first festival for Elevation Outdoors, is in the books. Memorial Day weekend wouldn’t be complete without CKS Paddlefest. The annual paddle festival is located in Buena Vista Whitewater Park in Buena Vista, Colo, and it is the official kickoff to summer fun in this town. This party has everything you would expect from a Coloradan paddle fest—live music, a kayak rodeo, and SUP Yoga, to name a few.The Centennial state welcomed us in true Colorado fashion with some wild weather and a big whitewater bash. A welcome party of friends made the trek from Denver to enjoy the festival with us and celebrate. Buena Vista is a favorite of ours. Between the Arkansas River and the Collegiate Peaks, it’s hard to find a mountain town that has so much outdoor focused fun in such a small area. With our friends in tow, we decided to take advantage of the towns location right outside of San Isabelle National Forest. We snagged a stellar campsite right along Cottonwood Creek away from the Memorial Day crowds.Colorado weather can be fickle this time of year. Throughout the weekend we experienced hot sunshine, cold nights, 40MPH winds, a little rain, and several periods of snow. Of course, nobody batted an eye at the dramatic temperature shifts and the party kept on going. The thing that made CKS Paddlefest stand out for us was the community feel. It was as if the whole town was there to celebrate whitewater and the beginning of summer. There were so many smiling faces hanging out and talking all things Elevation Outdoors Magazine.Following the weekend’s festivities, we teamed up with CKS Paddlefest and Eddyline Brewery to help make sure we left the park, river bank, and water, better than we found it.  We led a river clean up along the banks to make sure there wasn’t any trash left behind. The cleanup was a success and we had a great turnout of new friends that we met throughout the weekend. If there’s one thing thats certain in #vanlife—it’s that things will go wrong, and you will have to rely on the humans around you to help you out of a jam. On our way to the trash cleanup we blew a tire on our trailer. We had a spare but we didn’t realize that the only tire iron we had was for the van sized tires, too large for our little trailer. Once again, we had to cash in our road karma and a neighbor in the area came to the rescue. He even gave us a tire iron that fit our trailer to keep for next time.Next up we’ve got Lyons Outdoor Games in beautiful Lyons, Colorado on Saturday June 3rd. Hope to see you there!If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.last_img read more

Trail Mix – Deep Roots Mountain Revival

first_imgIf you are looking for a musical road trip this weekend, look no farther than the wilds of West Virginia.Just outside of Masontown, on the former site of the vaunted All Good Music Festival, the Deep Roots Mountain Revival will be kicking off its second festival today and running through an impressive collection of artists, big and small, through Saturday.On the bill for this year’s festival are Brandi Carlisle, Dr. Dog, Lettuce, Sam Bush, Moon Taxi, Larry Keel, Town Mountain, and many, many more.The line up is deep and eclectic, but the fun doesn’t stop with the music. Included in the daily schedule are diversions like yoga, hoop building and dancing, meditation, and stuff for the kids to do, too.A longtime friend of mine, Micah Davidson, became part of the Deep Roots team this year. Davidson, who founded Midwood Entertainment in Charlotte in 2015, has been involved with booking bands and promoting festivals throughout the Southeast for years.I chatted with Micah this week about this year’s festival, exciting bands on the bill, and unusual green room requests.BRO – How did you get involved with this festival?MD – I had actually ever been to the site where we hold the festival, on Marvin’s Mountaintop outside of Masontown. Last year was the first festival, and I had friends involved, so they invited me up to have a small working role in the inaugural event. After seeing the site and spending time with the producer, Claude Ryan, I just knew it was something I had to do. We have a great relationship and work really well together. I really have to thank him for the opportunity, as it’s the biggest event I’ve been part of so far.BRO – I noticed there are some great bands from West Virginia on the bill. Was it important to give the home state some love as you went about booking?MD – I always feel that it’s important to support local bands. It helps the community get more involved in the event and gives you a great regional fanbase. Plus, you never know when one of those bands is going to become the next Sturgill Simpson or Dave Matthews. Those big bands had to start somewhere, and I think that, sometimes, the general public forgets that. And it’s fun to be able to say you had “that band” on your festival way back when.BRO – Band that you are particularly excited to have on the bill?MD – White Denim. I’ve told everyone on the team where they can find me when their set starts. I’ve been a big fan for years and they never disappoint. I’ve got them playing a couple of my festivals this year.BRO – Best part of your job this week?MD – As corny as it might sound, just getting to work with my friends. In this industry, I spend a lot of time traveling and meeting people who become like family to me. Getting to see them, hang with them, and share an experience like this is about as great a thing as you can get. If you aren’t enjoying the company of the people you work with, you should get a new job!BRO – You don’t have to name the band, but what’s the most unusual request you have ever gotten for the green room?MD – Well, it wasn’t for this festival, but the strangest green room request I have ever gotten was for ammunition. Yes. Ammunition. I read a band rider once and they requested ammunition. I laughed at first, and then I found out that they were serious. Needless to say, I didn’t provide it, but they did get a fantastic selection of beer, healthy snacks, and the like.If you find yourself free this weekend and have a festival itch that needs scratching, head to Marvin’s Mountaintop. Deep Roots Mountain Revival kicks off tomorrow in wild, wonderful West Virginia, and runs through Saturday.For more information on the festival, line up, and schedule, please check out the website.last_img read more

Man of the Mountains: Hugh Irwin receives Conservation Lifetime Achievement Award

first_imgA soft-spoken scientist who often works behind the scenes, Hugh Irwin doesn’t typically grab headlines or seek the spotlight. Yet for over thirty years, he has been one of the most powerful voices in conservation, responsible for protecting some of the wildest places in the mountains, including Citico Creek Wilderness in Tennessee and Fires Creek in western North Carolina.Irwin recently received the first-ever Southeastern Stewardship Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center for his dedication and determination in protecting Southern forests. He shared his thoughts on three decades of protecting wild places in Appalachia. From a conservation perspective, why is Southern Appalachia important? Southern Appalachia comprises one of the most significant biological hotspots in North America and one of the most important areas for conservation in the world. The area has been continuously vegetated for at least 65 million years and has served as a biological refugia during key phases of evolution. Our large number of endemic species and high diversity of animal species is globally significant. The Southern Appalachians is one of the most important centers of biological diversity for salamanders in the world. The diversity of aquatic species is also remarkable.What are the personal highlights of your conservation work over the past few decades?One major highlight was the Roadless Rule, which protected all inventoried roadless areas at the end of the Clinton Administration. We had been working to get protection for Roadless areas for decades. The designation of Citico Creek Wilderness and other areas in Cherokee National Forest in 1984 and 1986 was also a highlight. So was the publication of “Return the Great Forest,” a conservation vision for the Southern Appalachians that identified the critical conservation lands and connected corridors that could serve as the backbone of a conservation network to protect the biological diversity of the region for the long term.Have we made any progress on that conservaton vision?It is a long-term vision of what the region could be in a hundred years and more if we worked for conservation protection of these vital areas. We never thought it would be easy or would be uninterrupted progress fulfilling this vision. Indeed, there have been ups and downs since it was published. Some wilderness areas have been protected in Virginia. Key conservation tracts identified in the vision, such as the Rocky Fork tract in Tennessee, have been acquired as public lands.However, there is much remaining to do. The Nantahala-Pisgah planning process illustrates both the potential and the challenges of making progress toward building this conservation network. The Nantahala-Pisgah lies at the heart of this Southern Appalachian network. In many ways the success or failure of this vision rests on the fate of Nantahala-Pisgah lands. A large part of the remaining unprotected wildlands are on the Nantahala-Pisgah. Much of the remaining old growth in the region is on this forest. Critical rare species habitat is on the Forest and will be either protected or put into timber production.The planning process also initially failed to inventory important potential wilderness areas – essentially uninventoried roadless areas. It was only when conservation groups insisted that the Forest Service properly follow their own rules that areas that had been improperly left out were added to the inventory. However, these areas are not protected by the Roadless Rule.The stakes are very high, and the fate of these lands is far from assured. If the public does not insist that these and other critical conservation lands are protected, they could go into management that allows timber production.This is a tough time to be in conservation. How are you holding up?  Although most of our conservation problems can be traced to human activity and past management, some people believe that these problems can only be addressed by doubling down and doing more active management. Some of the abuses of past management can be addressed through ecological restoration, but we also need to have humility. Nature and natural processes are the most reliable healer. Our lands that are in the best and most intact condition need to be protected. These are lands that are functioning as they should. They include old growth forest and forest that is returning to old growth.I am able to keep a positive attitude when I keep the long view and remember how special our landscape is. This landscape is tremendously resilient. The complexity of the mountain habitat represents innumerable niches for adaptation. Every change in elevation, every different slope and aspect represents a slightly different habitat in which species can adapt. Different parent rocks and their soils give a different substrate for plants to thrive in. This landscape is waiting to be a refuge in our time of ecological challenges and climate change as well. It also gives me hope that many other people also recognize and appreciate the unique landscape that we live in.What were some of the most memorable moments you’ve experienced in Southern Appalachia?Years ago, when I was first exploring the Citico Creek area, I heard a terrible racket immediately above me. It was a mother bear coming out of a tree as fast as she could, slowing herself as she came down with her claws dragging against the side of the tree. She was down within seconds and two cubs followed her, running down the holler. It was all over within a very short time, but it left a lasting impression.Another recent memorable experience also involved a bear and was very different from the first. I was hiking in the Big Creek area of the Smokies three years ago, and I saw a very large bear a few feet from the trail digging up roots. I expected that the bear would see me and run off. When that didn’t happen, I yelled and waved my arms again expecting it to run. The bear just looked up at me and then returned to digging. At this point I carefully considered my options. I could become more insistent, yelling louder and waving more aggressively. However, that didn’t seem the right thing to do. After all, the bear was more in its home than I was. So I left the trail and bushwhacked in a wide swing to give this bear the respect it deserved. Both experiences taught me respect and awe for this creature that in many ways epitomizes the wonder, mystery, and richness of our forests.last_img read more

Movies

first_imgBy Dialogo January 01, 2010 Paisito Spanish director Ana Diez presents the drama of two young people who learn about love just as politics in Uruguay turn their world upside down. Xavi is separated from his first love Rosana when Marxist rebels begin plotting an overthrow of Uruguay’s dictatorship in 1973. After 30 years, they find each other in Spain. Sins of My Father Juan Pablo Escobar, who now goes by the name of Sebastián Marroquín, is the son of one of the most powerful Colombian drug traffickers in the early 1990s, Pablo Escobar. Through this documentary, directed by renowned Argentine filmmaker Nicolas Entel, Juan Pablo apologizes for the cruelties of his father. It also presents Escobar’s life through the eyes of his son, one of the victims of the drug lord’s violent empire.last_img read more