Fort Macon State Park, home to the Civil War fortress located near Atlantic Beach, installed two new replica cannons this week, bringing to three the number of guns built for the park in a partnership between the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation and Wayne County Community College.
"The cannons will be star attractions later this month when the fort holds several events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Macon, when Union forces took the fort," the Carteret County News-Times said Wednesday.
The cannons, known as "32-pounders" because of the size of the shell they fire, are 20-foot-long, 4,200-pound replica weapons made with aluminum carriages instead of wooden bases, which quickly rot in the salted sea air. The first of three made was acquired in December 2010, and the park demonstrated its first working cannon the following month.
Commemorative events on April 21 and 22 will include a night cannonade at 8 p.m. Saturday re-enacting the continuous artillery fire that dispersed Federal soldiers who had been spotted on the beach, the News-Times said.
The cannons will be fired again at 10 a.m. on April 23 and 24, then at 4 p.m. on April 25, which is the actual anniversary of the Battle of Fort Macon.
Weekend events will also include flag talks, Civil War music, Civil War uniform talks, musket firing demonstrations, drills and children's activities put on by reenactors portraying soldiers of the North and South, according to the parks Web page (search with "April 2012" here for an event schedule).
The National Forest Service said today it is closing 12 campsites at its Mortimer Campground near Colletsville in Pisgah National Forest because of repeated flooding. Eleven other sites at the campground will remain open.
The campground is on Thorpe Creek near the Wilson Creek National Wild & Scenic River recreation area. The campground has showers and bathrooms, a picnic pavilion, hiking trails, and access to fishing. About 800 people stay at the campground annually, according to a news release.
Sites 1 to 11 on the lower loop and one of the walk-in sites will be closed. Three walk-in campsites near the picnic pavilion, and sites 12 to 19 will be open on a first come, first-served basis this season.
"It is well known that the Mortimer area has a long history of flooding," John Crockett, Grandfather District ranger, said in the news release. "In fact, the flood of 1940 leveled the town of Mortimer.
"I cannot, in good conscience, continue to allow visitors to stay in the lower portion of Mortimer Campground knowing that it's just a matter of time before another major flood hits the area."
The Wilson Creek corridor, a major access to Mortimer Campground, has had a history of recent flooding with several swift-water rescues for campers and residents along the Brown Mountain Beach Road, the news release says.
Trees are to be cut from 34 of the most popular roadside vistas along the Park's main roads between April 1 and August 1, a news release says.
As the park has concentrated on forest renewal over the last 75 years, what were once scenic views have gradually become obscured. Meanwhile, "viewing scenery - scenic views" always tops surveys when park visitors are asked what they have planned for their stay.
The park plans to develop a seven-year cycle for thinning trees and leave lower-growing or shrubby species, like rhododendron and mountain laurel, uncut so they will eventually discourage the growth of taller trees.
No roads will be closed for the work, but affected overlooks will be closed as trees are cut down and trimmed.
Overlooks along these roads are slated for work:
* Newfound Gap Road.
* Clingmans Dome Road.
* East and West Foothills Parkway.
* Gatlinburg Bypass.
* Rich Mountain Road.
* Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
* Lakeview Drive.
* Cataloochee Road.
Off-highway vehicle trails in Uwharrie National Forest will open Friday, a couple of days earlier than scheduled, to accommodate riders for the full weekend of a local OHV expo, the National Forest Service said today.
The Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex comprises four trail systems covering 17 miles of the national forest near Badin Lake. Their normal season runs April 1 to December 15.
The Uwharrie OHV Jamboree will take place March 30 to April 1 at Scott Fields' Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center on N.C. 109 north of Troy in Eldorado. The free-admission event features vehicle dealers, parts stores, OHV clubs, a swap meet and much more, a Forest Service news release says.
The Forest Service expects the event to attract a large crowd to the area and the forest's OHV trails, the release says.
Uwharrie National Forest campgrounds are filling up as of Tuesday, but camping will be offered at the jamboree site.
"The six appeals we received on this decision have raised a number of complex issues," Ken Arney, Deputy Regional Forester for the Southern Region and the appeal reviewing officer for this decision, says in a news release published today. "Granting Greenfire Law's stay request will allow a meaningful administrative appeal process to continue based on the merits of each appellant's issues."
"While the appeal process continues, status quo will be maintained on the river, which will delay a move the agency made less than two weeks ago to open the upper river to boaters," the news release says.
Greenfire Law requested on behalf of Georgia Forest Watch, the Sierra Club and Wilderness Watch that the decision to allow boating be put on hold.
The environmental groups say the decision violates environmental laws and would cause damage to water quality, soils, riverbank and solitude experienced by visitors to the Upper Chattooga River. Boaters argue they should have the same access to the river that everyone else has.
The northern reaches of the river are in the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson and Macon counties, North Carolina.
The National Forest Service has announced several seasonal openings April 1 for campgrounds and day use areas in the Nantahala and Pisgah forests:
* Cheoah Point
* Rattler Ford Group Camp
* Appletree Group Camp
* Standing Indian
* Hurricane Campground
* Van Hook Glade
Nantahala National Forest day use areas:
* Finger Lake
* Cliffside Lake
* Cherokee Lake
* Nantahala Gorge facilities
* Standing Indian
* Wayah Bald
* Cheoah Point Beach
* Curtis Creek
* Lake Powhatan
* North Mills River
* Lake Powhatan
* North Mills River
* Old Fort
* Table Rock
Off-highway Vehicle trails:
Mid-April openings in the Pisgah:
* Black Mountain campground
* Briar Bottom Group Camp
* Carolina Hemlocks campground and day use area
* Mortimer campground
* Cradle of Forestry (Opening April 14)
The Army Corps of Engineers says in an update of the hydro-electric power project at Jordan Lake that the first generator began commercial operation in January and the second unit should be online by early to mid-summer.
Jordan Hydro Limited, Inc., a private company, began constructing two generators at the Jordan Lake dam near Moncure in November 2010. The Corps of Engineers administers the B. Everett Jordan Dam and Reservoir, including a recreation area at the dam.
The combined Kaplan-style modular turbine generators are expected to produce about 16,900 megawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to supply approximately 1,700 homes, the Corps' news release says. The power is sold to Progress Energy and distributed to homes and businesses in the area.
About 76 percent of water passing through the Jordan Lake dam will be used to create power that is non-polluting and emits no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the Corps says.
The amount of water released from Jordan Lake will not change for the hydroelectricity project, and will remain based on factors such as inflow, downstream flood conditions, municipal water requirements and water quality.
"That was one of the big concerns of stakeholders," Jordan Dam Operations Manager Craig Shoe said. "We're not going to change anything operationally. Jordan Hydro only uses the water that we regularly release."
Jordan Hydro, a subsidiary of North Fork Electric, Inc., has more information and photos of the Jordan Lake construction project here.
The state Wildlife Resources Commission announced today that it will open approximately 1,100 miles of hatchery-supported trout waters in 25 western counties at 7 a.m. on April 7. The season will run until next March, a news release says.
Hatchery-supported trout waters, marked by green-and-white signs, are stocked from March until August every year, depending on the individual stream.
Commission personnel will stock nearly 877,000 trout, with 96 percent of the stocked fish averaging 10 inches in length and the other fish exceeding 14 inches.
The Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries operates six fish hatcheries that raise a variety of fish for North Carolina's public waters. Trout in state-stocked mountain streams primarily come from the Armstrong State Fish Hatchery in Marion and the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery, below, in Pisgah Forest.
The state's six hatcheries are open to the public for tours, and some have picnic areas. The Setzer hatchery has a nature trail and trailheads that lead into the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard.
The Edenton National Fish Hatchery in Edenton is open for tours and has a public aquarium and boardwalk nature trail through wetlands.
"The Hunger Games," set to open Friday and expected be a huge hit worldwide, was filmed entirely in North Carolina, including in DuPont State Recreational Forest and on the Blue Ridge Parkway, The News & Observer explains in a front-page report today.
Scenes for the post-apocalyptic young adult drama were filmed at Triple Falls, below, and Bridal Veil Falls in the forest's High Falls Access area, and elsewhere among DuPont's more than 10,000 acres.
DuPont, which is on the Transylvania/Henderson county border between Hendersonville and Brevard, has more than 80 miles of roads and trails open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Forest officials expect visitation to grow significantly beyond the usual 188,000 visitors each year when "Hunger Games" tourists begin to join them, The N&O says.
A lake in the film is the North Fork Reservoir, which is not open to visitors but can be seen from a trail at Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville.
Fans should note that, while hiking trails remain available if the Parkway is not closed for inclement weather, the Craggy Gardens visitor center and other Parkway facilities are closed for the winter until next month. The Craggy Gardens visitor center opens on weekends in April and then on weekdays for the season beginning April 23. It will close for next winter on November 4.
DuPont State Forest is open year-round.
'The Hunger Games' uses Triple Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest, below, as a backdrop for fight scenes, and additional parts of the forest as the wilderness that pivitol characters spend much of the film in. Click on the photo for more about DuPont State Forest.
Environmentalists and boaters are squabbling after the U.S. Forest Service announced rules for boating on a stretch of the Chatooga River through the end of April, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
Three environmental groups — Georgia Forest Watch, the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club and Wilderness Watch — filed motions demanding the Forest Service stop letting boaters on the Upper Chattooga, a national wild and scenic river. (The northern reaches of the river are in the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson and Macon counties, North Carolina.)
The Forest Service released a notice Tuesday saying that beginning March 16 (Friday) boaters with permits may float the upper segment of the Chattooga River when flows are high enough.
Boating is allowed on the main stem of the upper segment of the Chattooga between the confluence of Green Creek in North Carolina and one-quarter mile downstream of the Lick Log Creek confluence in South Carolina from December 1 to April 30 when water levels are high enough.
Tuesday's news release restates policy that has existed since before the Forest Service announced in February that it had decided to continue a year-round ban on boating between Lick Log Creek and Georgia Highway 28.
"The basis of the environment group appeal is that the Forest Service decision violates environmental laws and would cause damage to water quality, soils, riverbank and solitude experienced by visitors to the Upper Chattooga River, which runs through the Ellicot Rock Wilderness," the Citizen-Times says.
Meanwhile, American Whitewater, a boater access and river conservation group based in Cullowhee, demanded immediate and total access to the 21 miles of the Upper Chattooga, “to the same extent that existing uses are allowed.”