Thanks to their efforts, North Carolina has more trails posted than any other state, with the exception of California -- and there are 13 Sierra Club chapters in California!
Patricia has a naturalist's eye for fauna, noting the rarity of white pines at low altitude in her entry for the White Pines Trail, and pointing out a great place to view Atamasco lilies along New Hope Creek -- Githens Loop.
Kudos to Patricia and Heather for their efforts to share some of North Carolina's special places!
And remember, you can tout your home state's natural beauty, on Trails, too!
Greg Haegele, the Sierra Club's deputy executive director, sent out this email message this morning:
We heard the governor of South Carolina had some trouble finding the Appalachian Trail last week.
We don't want that to happen to anyone else, so now's a perfect time to let you know about our new online community: Sierra Club Trails. Members of the community are adding trails from around the country, sharing spectacular photos, and discussing topics such as whether guns should be allowed in our national parks.
But so far only two sections of the Appalachian Trail have been added by our members. No wonder the governor got lost!
If you've hiked the Appalachian Trail, join the Sierra Club Trails community and add a stretch or two. Share your photos of the trail, too!
If you haven't hiked that trail but have other favorites, we'd love you to share them on Trails as well.
Thanks for all that you do to protect the environment.
P.S. -- Don't forget your (moral) compass.
Even with spring migration winding down and the slower summer season upon us, breeding and nesting season is still in full swing in most parts of the country, with active nests and fledging birds much in evidence.
My wife works at the library at Stanford University, and the pair of Common Ravens that (poetically enough) nests each year on the façade of the main Green Library has raised their chicks, and the young have already fledged. Here at Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco, there has been a pair of Rock Pigeons thinking about setting up shop in the light well of the building, right outside my office. Last year, it was Mourning Doves who were flying around out there with nesting material.
In a similar vein, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is holding a contest, as part of its urban birding initiatives, to find what they’re calling “Funky Nests in Funky Places” so be sure to check it out. You might be inspired to look for or find a “funky” nest of your own.
Outside of the cities, now is a great time in California to come across California Quail chicks in their family broods (with one unlucky parent assigned the task of standing on a fencepost, looking out for hawks). It can also be a good time to keep an eye out for nesting birds like Piping Plovers (those are Piping Plover chicks in this photo) and Least Terns (both of which are endangered species) if your summer vacation takes you to an Atlantic coast beach. And you never know when you might spot a fledgling owl, like this juvenile Great Horned Owl recently seen on a morning bird walk in Cape May, NJ.
Have you come across any interesting nests or young birds in
your backyard or on a recent hike? Be sure to tell us about them, and post
photos in our new Birdwatching group on Sierra Club trails.
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In bird conservation news, Chuck Hagner in his Birder’s World blog reminds us that the new 2009-2010 federal Duck Stamp goes on sale this Friday, June 26, this year featuring a pair of Long-tailed Ducks. Purchasing Duck Stamps is a great way to show your support for our National Wildlife Refuge system. As Chuck notes, they’re “an effective tool for wetland conservation, perhaps the best one you can find anywhere.” In fact, the recent report “The State of the Birds” (which had an otherwise bleak outlook for our birds) reported positive news for wetland birds, attributing that progress in part to the more than $700 million for wetlands conservation provided by sales of Duck Stamps.
Plus, the Duck Stamp is good for admission at all National
Wildlife Refuges for the year. At only $15.00, it’s a great bargain for you,
and a good deal for the birds who make their homes in the Refuges or use them
on their migration routes.
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Later this week, our panel of judges (Sierra Club website designers and Sierra magazine art department staffers) will narrow the field to the 20 top photos. Beginning next Tuesday we'll let the community vote for the best one.
The winning photo will be announced on the Sierra Club's home page, the Sierra Club Trails home page, in our Insider and Daily Ray of Hope e-newsletters, and in the September/October issue of Sierra. We'll also add it to the slide show on our National Parks website.
Even if you don't take photos yourself, you'll want to head over to the National Parks group and check out the entries in the Group Gallery.
Stay tuned for details about voting next week!
You can join the uproar in a number of ways:
-- Join the Save California's State Parks group in our sister community, Climate Crossroads, and take action by signing Sierra Club California's petition!
-- Visit a state park today or tomorrow (the Summer Solstice!) and wear green. Or download a green ribbon here
-- Attend an organized event in a state park near you. You'll find a list of events here
This reflects an apparent trend in this country, where there's more general acceptance for the right to bear arms, to wit: "For the first time in a Pew Research survey, nearly as many people believe it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns (45%) than to control gun ownership (49%). As recently as a year ago, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership while 37% percent said it was more important to protect the right to own guns."
There's more: Gun sales in California are up 32 percent from the same six-month period a year ago.
But back to national parks...How do you feel about hiking a remote trail knowing that the guy in the tent 25 feet away has a weapon? Does it feel threatening? Or does it give you comfort knowing it's there in the event of a bear incident? Or will you sleep better knowing that your fellow hiker is merely exercising his Constitutional rights?
Express yourself! Head over to our Protect and Preserve forum and take the poll on whether guns should be allowed in national parks.
The view of the Giants game over Luke's shoulder. Photo by Phil Eager.
I had fully intended to wait until the doldrums of summer to write about the joys of birding while at baseball games, but the sudden and tragic passing of Luke Cole on June 6 in a car accident in Uganda while on sabbatical reminded me of a small anecdote about birding at a Giants game with Luke a few years ago.
Luke and his impressive professional accomplishments have been written up – in the The New York Times and elsewhere -- and so eloquently summed up by his friend Tom Valtin in the Sierra Club’s Scrapbook blog. But, when we lose someone close to us, I think it’s always the small memories and events to which we cling.
In August 2007, a group of ten of us (including Luke), many of whom had not met each other before then, went to a San Francisco Giants game on a cold mid-week summer night. One of the selling points -- unknown at the time I bought the tickets -- was that Barry Bonds was just one home run short of breaking the all-time record. Bonds didn’t hit a home run that night, and our seats were truly awful, in the far reaches of the upper level in left field, but we nonetheless had a great time, with Luke of course becoming fast friends with our other friends, discussing baseball, work, or wherever the conversation took us.
The baseball game had settled into its predictable rhythm when, seemingly out of nowhere, a Belted Kingfisher flew past us (below us actually) and toward San Francisco Bay. Luke, my wife Mimi, and I all loudly shouted “Kingfisher!” and pointed frantically at the bird, almost in unison and to the amusement of pretty much everyone in earshot.
Luke then had to call another birding friend who had much better seats than ours, to taunt him with our sighting. The reason for the excitement over an otherwise fairly common bird? Luke, who had been birding for many years and had been to tons of baseball games, had never before seen a kingfisher at a baseball game.
Although it was such a small snippet in time, I can still remember the infectious excitement that Luke (who had traveled all over the world to watch and enjoy birds, nature, and wildlife) showed over a single bird, which itself wasn’t a rare bird at all -- you just don’t happen to see them at baseball stadiums very often. Our non-birding friends were just amazed at the passion shown over a single bird flying by.
To me, this is a great (albeit small) window into the passion, energy, and excitement that Luke Cole brought to everything he did in life. Although he accomplished many amazing things in his short time with us, and left the world a much better place for his having been here, he also never missed the opportunity to enjoy the small beauties and pleasures of life, whether they were his legendary root-beer tasting birthday parties or the joy of seeing a Belted Kingfisher at a baseball game that August night that now seems so long ago.
And, yes, Luke did see the record-breaking home run, the next night, from much better seats. No word on whether the Belted Kingfisher made a re-appearance that night.+ + + + + + + + + + +
Sierra Club Trails is a collection of trails -- for boots, bikes, and boats -- and a cache of wisdom gained from experience, trial-and-error, and good clean (okay, maybe not so clean sometimes) fun. It's a community that lets you do your own exploring with the knowledge and help of others who love the outdoors.
To join the community, click here and follow the simple instructions.
What can you do on Trails? Add a new trail, for one. We'd like a broad range of them from all around the country before we invite the general public in. If you're familiar with a trail and have a photo or two to show, we hope you'll share that with us.
You can also start a group about a favorite place or activity, sound off in our forums, post photos to the Gallery, and let the community know about trips and events you've got planned. Don't forget to listen to our Nature Notes audio clips. You can access everything from the navigation below the green Trails header at the top of the page.
Click here to register if you haven't already. Once you're logged in, you'll see a link in the green header for My Dashboard, where you can fill out your profile, invite friends, update trails you've created and groups you've started. Think of it as base camp--it's where you can get to all your stuff, but you don't want to hang out there too long.
Questions or feedback? Post a comment on this blog. Problems? Email us at: email@example.com
Thanks for checking out Sierra Club Trails! Now show us your trails!
-- Tioga Jenny
A team climbed with him, and Phil ascended the rope with his arms only -- in 4,254 pull-ups. That's an 1,800-climb, and it took three days to cover the distance. He said on Twitter, "I think I have cured my phobia of heights." I'll say.
Read Phil's story, watch videos of his ascent, and find links to media coverage of this extraordinary man's feat at PhilPacker.com.
If you haven't visited the Boot Camp group in Trails yet, strap on your
hikers and head on over there now. I promise you'll be entertained by
the collection of beloved boots now displayed in the group's photo gallery.
We started the group as a tribute to the American Hiking Society's National Trails Day (today, June 6!). I think my favorite photos are those posted by Bob Cates of Chatsworth, California. Bob posted an historic photo that shows Sam Fink wearing the lace-up boots folks in the '20s and '30s wore. Then he posted the closest thing he's found to those boots in today's world -- a pair of Doc Martens. Finally, there's a photo of Bob himself, all decked out in a 1920s hiking outfit.
Thanks for sharing the great shots and a piece of history, Bob! It's great to have you in the Trails community.
Phil has called together a stellar team and has a highly informative website where you can learn more about his cause. Do yourself a favor and check it out. We wish him all the best.
Unless you have an annual pass that'll save you as much as $20.
The three weekends are June 20-21, July 18-19, and August 15-16. What I like is that those aren't peak visitor weekends -- like Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. -- so it provides some decent incentive to get out there when it'll be a bit less crowded.
And in case you haven't heard yet, the next Ken Burns documentary is called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," and it will air on PBS starting September 27. You'll find more information and a lovely slide show of national park images here.
Then speak up! Public comments will be taken until June 30. email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail 'em to: Trails 2010 Draft Plan, Arizona State Parks, 1300 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007. Call (602) 542-4174 for more information.