Federal Agencies Offer Vision to Ensure Future Generations Can Enjoy Wilderness

Washington, D.C. – The Federal land management agencies that make up the National Wilderness Preservation System signed an agreement that will guide interagency collaboration and vision to ensure the continued preservation of nearly 110 million acres of the most primitive of public lands.
The 2020 Vision: Interagency stewardship priorities for America’s National Wilderness Preservation System will guide the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Geological Survey, all under the U.S. Department of Interior; and the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The document outlines interagency work and partnerships with non-government organizations for the management of wilderness. The plan emphasizes three broad themes:
·         Protect wilderness resources,
·         Connect people to their wilderness heritage, and
·         Foster excellence in wilderness leadership and coordination.
It also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which was passed by Congress and led to creation of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The 758 wilderness areas in 44 states and Puerto Rico showcase some of America’s most pristine landscapes—forested mountains, alpine meadows, rock peaks above timberline, tundra, lava beds, deserts, swamps, coastal lands, and islands. These areas provide a wide array of benefits, including cultural and historic connection to lands once inhabited by Native Americans; clean water and air; habitat for animals; healthy landscapes for rare and endangered species; and recreation activities that are in concert with wilderness values.
“Our responsibility for administering wilderness came late, compared to other Federal agencies," said BLM Director Neil Kornze, "but BLM lands are now, and will remain, absolutely central to the nation’s conservation vision."  Kornze pointed out that nearly two-thirds of the wilderness that has been designated since 2000 has been on BLM-managed lands and that the BLM has more than 500 wilderness study areas under its management.
"Many of us have experienced the majesty of being out on Western landscapes that have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years," Kornze said.  "With that same sense of wonder, the BLM looks forward to continuing its protection of wilderness in cooperation with all who care about the effective stewardship of these lands." 
“The character of wilderness is unique because of its combination of biophysical, experiential, and symbolic ideals that distinguish it from other protected places,” said Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. “Wilderness can be a life-changing experience, and it’s part of our mission to preserve wilderness for future generations. Our challenge is to offer this experience to an ever-diversifying public while remaining true to our stewardship mission.”
In 1964, about 9 million acres of Forest Service primitive and wild areas in 13 states immediately received permanent wilderness protection. Subsequent bills added more lands as wilderness. Today nearly 5 percent of the United States is designated wilderness with more than half of that land in Alaska.
“We stand on the shoulders of conservation giants like Arthur Carhart, Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall and Howard Zahniser who played significant roles in establishing what we now know as wilderness,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Today, we renew our commitment to interagency leadership so that our managers, partners, and volunteers have the tools, skills, and science they need to address a host of challenges as we work to ensure an enduring legacy.” 
By working together, the agencies and non-government partners have built a model of effectiveness and efficiency that will continue as they meet the goals of wilderness stewardship in the 21st century.
“America’s National Wilderness Preservation System protects large expanses of habitat that are home to hundreds of native species.  At a time when the world faces resource challenges of staggering scale and complexity, we need to ensure that those protections endure,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The 2020 Vision will help federal land management agencies protect and expand the benefits of our wilderness areas for people and wildlife at a landscape scale.”
During the next five years, the agencies will focus on four priorities:
·         Completing wilderness character inventories across the National Wilderness Preservation System using standardized interagency protocols and institutionalizing ongoing monitoring.
·         Fostering relevancy of wilderness to contemporary society by inspiring and nurturing life-long connections between people of diverse cultures and wilderness.
·         Strengthening commitment to and support of the interagency Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute to foster excellence in interagency leadership and coordination.
·         Conducting climate vulnerability and adaptation assessments across the National Wilderness Preservation System to improved ecological resiliency across broad landscapes.
These interagency priorities will guide stewardship activities, projects, and events for all agency wilderness programs, the interagency Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, and the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center. The 2020 Vision updates a previous version and incorporates interagency research and management priorities.
 To learn more visit www.wilderness.net.

It’s a Fun Fall in Pigeon Forge

The sights and smells of fall are popping out. Pumpkins and scarecrows are everywhere and the beauty of the season is beginning to make its presence. The leaves of the area are starting to turn their beautiful, rich colors and the air is beginning to feel cool and crisp. It is the perfect time for a visit to Pigeon Forge.

Fall activities are in full swing with The National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration going on at Dollywood. Dolly and her crew spare no expense in bringing in top notch talent for this event and you will love all of the fall/harvest decorations throughout the park. The daily shows along with all of the usual fun and excitement at Dollywood make it a great choice for a fall activity.

The Island also has many activities going on. From live music on the weekends to the 2nd annual Halloween at the Island later this month, there is never a dull moment. New shops are continuing to make their way onto the Island and the doors to Margaritaville Island Hotel have finally opened! You can get a great view of all the fall beauty from the top of the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and the kids will have a blast riding the Flying Horse Carousel or the Happy Swing. There is so much fun to be had at the Island and much more to come.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect place to take a drive to get the full effect of the leaves changing. This will definitely put you in the mood for fall. Have your cameras ready and be ready to make lots of stops for photo ops.

Old Mill Square is decorated for the season and a great place for a stroll. Look for pumpkin fudge in the Candy Kitchen and Pumpkin Spice pancake mix and Pumpkin Butter in the Old Mill General Store. You will definitely want to grab a bite to eat at the Old Mill Restaurant where you will probably be able to find a piece of pumpkin pie.

The 29th annual Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair is going on through October 25 under the red and white tent at Patriot Park. It is a great showcase of talent and the perfect place to stock up on some holiday crafts for the season.

Fall is all around and there is no better time to have a little fun in Pigeon Forge!

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to Close for Construction

One of the most popular places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, is closing starting October 31, 2014 and is expected to be reopened April 30, 2015.

The motor nature trail closes each winter, but due to the scheduled replacement of eight bridges along the road the closure is coming earlier and will last longer this time. No access to the road will be permitted during the closure. Hikers wanting access to the Trillium Gap (Grotto Falls) or Baskins Creek trailheads will have to park at the Rainbow Falls trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Road and hike the connector trail to get there.

If you’ve never been on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail before, we encourage you to go and check it out either before the closure or after the reopening. The 5.5-mile trip is regarded as one of the best places to see wildlife native to the Smokies in addition to many historic cabins, cemeteries and old home sites.

Photo is courtesy of the GSMNP Public Affairs Office

BLM Announces November NPR-A Oil & Gas Lease Purchase

Washington — Included in Leader Obama&rsquos effort to improve safe and responsible domestic oil production, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) introduced today that it’ll hold an gas and oil lease purchase for that National Oil Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) on&nbspWednesday, November 19, in Anchorage.&nbsp

The lease purchase, the 4th because the Leader directed the Secretary from the Interior this year to conduct annual gas and oil lease sales within the NPR-A, includes 270 areas which cover about 3 million acres.&nbsp The Notice of Purchase is going to be released in&nbsptomorrow&rsquos&nbspFederal Register.

&ldquoThe November purchase is using the Administration&rsquos dedication to expand domestic wind turbine,&rdquo stated BLM Director Neil Kornze, who attended and opened up this past year&rsquos NPR-A purchase. &nbsp&ldquoThe BLM has had a well-balanced method of rise in the NPR-A to make sure that future production is performed securely and sensibly while safeguarding the subsistence assets of Alaska Natives and also the habitat of world-class wildlife populations.&rdquo

Since 1999, nine previous lease sales have produced greater than $263 million.&nbsp Presently, 207 approved rents cover greater than 1.75 million acres.&nbsp Areas readily available for lease are in conjuction with the NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan completed in Feb 2013.

The BLM, which searched for public input on tract nominations for lands within the NPR-A planning areas that aren’t presently leased or deferred from leasing, made its choices according to an assessment from the comments received natural resource information resource potential industry interest and subsistence values. The comment period went from June 3, 2014, through This summer 18, 2014.

Up to now, only exploratory drilling has happened inside the NPR-A.&nbsp ConocoPhillips Alaska, Corporation., presently is going after the right-of-way grant and related authorizations to aid growth and development of oil assets in the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit.&nbsp This project would facilitate the very first manufacture of oil from federal lands inside the NPR-A.

The BLM will open sealed bids at&nbsp1 p.m.&nbspin the Anchorage Federal Business Building, fourth floor, Denali Room, 222 W. seventh Ave.&nbsp More information about this lease purchase are available at world wide web.blm.gov/ak.

BLM Announces Fee-Free Days for 2015

The Bureau of Land Management, along with other agencies inside the Department from the Interior, will waive entertainment-related costs for site visitors towards the National System of Public Arrives at four occasions in 2015 — Martin Luther King, Junior. Day (Jan. 19), Presidents&rsquo Day weekend (February. 14-16), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 26), and Veterans Day (November. 11).&nbspOne fee-free remains for 2014: Veteran&rsquos Day,&nbspNov. 11.
&ldquoWe want everybody to savor the incredible entertainment possibilities on BLM-handled public lands,&rdquo stated BLM Director Neil Kornze.&nbsp &ldquoWaiving costs is another method of reaching to individuals individuals who may not realize that we provide more leisure possibilities than every other land management agency — from hunting and fishing to biking and hiking — and that we anticipate welcoming you!&rdquo
The BLM handles greater than 245 million acres of public lands, which offer numerous possibilities for an array of leisure possibilities from hiking, fishing and camping to riding off-highway automobiles and rock-climbing.&nbsp About 61 million visits were created to BLM-handled lands and waters in 2013, supporting greater than 42,000 jobs countrywide and adding almost $5.5 billion towards the nation&rsquos economy.
Site-specific standard amenity and individual day-use costs at BLM entertainment sites and areas is going to be waived for that specified dates.&nbsp Other costs, for example overnight camping, cabin rental fees, and group day use, will stay essentially.&nbsp More particulars about fee-free days and activities on BLM-handled public lands can be found at: http://world wide web.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/Entertainment/BLM_Fee_Free_Days.html.

Fall Color Report

Vibrantly colored foliage is synonymous with fall in the Smoky Mountains. Each year thousands come to our area to see the amazing display as the leaves change from their usual green into innumerable shades of orange, red and yellow.

Typically, at the first part of October the leaf colors are further progressed than they are this year. The late progress means that peak coloration should last through the end of October and into November. A variety of factors comes into play in determining the rate at which the leaves change their color.

As of now, less than half of deciduous trees have substantial coloration at the highest elevations of the Smokies. Peak coloration for these elevations is expected within one to two weeks.

Further down, you’ll notice that most trees have just begun to start their color change and some haven’t changed at all yet. Trees like walnuts, buckeyes and sycamores are usually the first to brighten up, but even some of those still have green leaves.

If you’re visiting Pigeon Forge and the surrounding area sometime in the next couple of weeks we suggest driving to the high elevations of the mountains (Clingmans Dome Road for example) if you want to see the brightest display of foliage.

It is Time for a Nice, Relaxing Getaway!

As I look back on our active, jam packed summer and the hectic weeks during the beginning of school, I think it is time for mom and dad to get away for a little relaxation. The all too often fast paced work and parenting schedules can at often times leave you feeling pretty worn out. A change of pace and scenery does everyone good! As we are beginning to transition into the fall season, it is the perfect time for a little getaway. Pigeon Forge is just the place for some peaceful and relaxing down time.

The temperatures are starting to drop and cozying up in the comforts of a cabin or chalet sounds like a great place to begin a getaway. Most of the area cabins are located away from the hustle and bustle of the city which makes for a quiet, peaceful stay. Whether you are enjoying time on the porch drinking coffee together and taking in the scenery, snuggling up near the fireplace enjoying a movie, or hanging out in the hot tub, you are sure to find some quality “R & R” time.

Let the Fun Time Trolley be the chauffeur for your trip. It is inexpensive and truly the way to go!! With routes that span the entire city as well as to and from Dollywood, all you have to do is park your car, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

As far as entertainment, you won’t have to look far. The National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration has begun at Dollywood. There are daily concerts featuring top name Southern Gospel artists and there are crafters galore with their fine work on display. Another great choice is the shows at Smoky Mountain Opry, Country Tonite, or Dixie Stampede. These top rated shows are a perfect choice for an evening out. You might also want to make a stop at the Island where you can relax in the rockers and watch the Island Fountains or take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.

When you are feeling hungry, great restaurants like Alamo Steakhouse, Bullfish Grill, and Old Mill Restaurant are waiting to serve you. They have menus that are sure to please every appetite. The best part is that you will not have clean up or dish duty that night!!

So if you are feeling like it is time to get away, pack your bags and head off to Pigeon Forge!