SEAA Girl’s Softball Fast Pitch World Series Hits Pigeon Forge

Young ladies from across the US will be hitting the red dirt to play softball in the SEAA World Series tournament in Pigeon Forge from July 17-26, 2015. Over 80 teams ranging from 8U-18U will be playing their hearts out on the beautiful fields at Wear Farm City Park and vying for that 1st place title and trophy. The complex offers 5 fields, which are surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. There is a park for entertaining the younger siblings as well as picnic tables for snacks in between games.

The tournament offers lots of activities throughout the week for the girls, like a “Welcome to Pigeon Forge” party at the Island as well as SEAA night at Dixie Stampede and Hatfield and McCoy. There is
time to get work done and still have some fun too.

Both of our divas have a passion for softball and we experienced this tournament firsthand last year with our oldest. Her team along with 3 others from Texas traveled to Pigeon Forge to give it their all. The girls and their families had an amazing time at both the tournament as well as in Pigeon Forge. Lots of great memories were made and an eagerness to return again.

Thank you SEAA and Pigeon Forge for this great softball opportunity!!

BLM Seeks Comment on Proposed Rule to Modernize Oil and Gas Regulations

Updated Standards Will Help Ensure States, Tribes, Taxpayers Get Fair Return
 
WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released proposed, updated regulations to ensure accurate measurement, accountability, and royalty payments for oil and gas production from Federal and Indian leases. Aimed at preventing theft and loss of these valuable resources, the proposed rule does not impose an unreasonable financial or regulatory burden on industry or the BLM. Public comment on the rule is being sought for 60 days, through September 11, 2015.  
 
“The proposed rule represents an important step in the BLM’s modernization of its oil and gas regulations,” said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice M. Schneider. “These updates will help ensure that oil and gas produced from leases overseen by the BLM is properly measured, that American taxpayers receive fair value for public resources, and that Indian tribes and allottees, States and local governments receive the full royalties they are due.
 
The proposed rule will replace Onshore Oil and Gas Order Number 3 (Order 3), which has not been updated since 1989 and does not reflect modern industry operations or technology. Order 3 sets minimum standards for ensuring that oil and gas produced from leases overseen by the BLM are properly and securely handled. The BLM determined that updates to these standards were necessary based on its experience with oil and gas measurement in the field and the changes in technology and industry operations that have occurred since Order 3 was issued. 
 
“The BLM’s rules concerning oil and gas measurement are over 25 years old and are long overdue for an update,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “The reasonable and commonsense updates we are proposing today represent an important step forward toward modernizing our program and will help us ensure that oil and gas sites are properly and responsibly managed.”
 
Informed by tribal consultations and public listen sessions, the proposed rule also responds directly to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Interior’s Office of the Inspector General, and the Interior Department’s Subcommittee on Royalty Management, all of which expressed concerns about the adequacy of the BLM’s existing requirements with respect to production accountability.  In recent years these concerns have contributed to the Department’s inclusion on the GAO’s High Risk List.   This rule will address many of the changes recommended by the GAO.  
 
Specifically, the proposed rule would:
 
·         Establish uniform procedures for designating official points for oil and gas measurement for royalty accounting purposes, known as facility measurement points, that are applicable to new and existing leases;
·         Codify existing guidance related to approving commingling, i.e., the -combining of production from multiple leases, unit Participating Areas (PA), Communitized Areas (CA), or fee or State properties before the point of royalty measurement. 
·         Establish conditions for the approval of off-lease oil and gas measurement;
·         Update requirements related to the use of valve and drain seals, prohibitions on the use of meter by-passes, and reporting requirements;
·         Require operators of new and existing oil and gas facilities to provide new site facility diagrams designed to help BLM meet its oversight responsibilities; and
·         Require purchasers and transporters to comply with the same standards as operators with respect to records.
 
The proposed rule is the next step in a process that the BLM began in 2011 with tribal consultation meetings and continued in 2013 with public listening sessions on potential changes to several of its existing Onshore Orders. The public listening sessions included representatives from Indian lands, environmental groups, other Federal agencies, and the oil and gas industry.  Input from the listening sessions, stakeholder outreach, as well as tribal consultation meetings that have occurred since that time, helped inform the development of the proposed rule.
 
 The BLM oil and gas management program is one of the most important mineral leasing programs in the Federal government. The total value of production is over $33 billion, which  generates more than $3 billion in royalty revenue annually from oil and gas leasing activities on public lands (most of which is shared with state and local governments) and nearly $1 billion in royalty revenue from activities on tribal lands (all of which goes to tribes or individual allotees). 
 
Domestic oil and gas production has grown each year since 2009.  Combined with recent declines in oil consumption, foreign oil imports now account for less than 40 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1988. Given the magnitude of federal and tribal production and the BLM’s statutory and management obligations, it is critically important that the BLM ensure that operators accurately measure, properly report, and account for oil and gas production on federal and Indian lands. 
 
The proposed rule may be viewed online at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.
 
The BLM encourages the public to participate in the process by submitting comments on the proposed rule by September 11, 2015. Submit comments through one of the following methods:
 
·         Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at this Web site.
 
·         Mail: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134 LM, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240 Attention: Regulatory Affairs.
 
·         Personal/messenger delivery: Bureau of Land Management, 20 M. Street SE, Room 2134 LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20003.

Interior Department Announces Number of Public Listening Periods on Federal Coal Program

Bureau of Land Management seeking information to assist ensure fair go back to American citizens and enhanced stewardship of coal assets
&nbsp
WASHINGTON &ndash U.S. Secretary from the Interior Sally Jewell introduced today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will host a number of listening periods around the federal coal program.&nbspThe discussions will research before you buy in the public about how exactly the BLM can best execute its responsibility to make sure that American citizens get a fair return around the coal assets handled by the us government on their own account.
&nbsp
Jewell first known as for any dialogue around the problem in remarks in the center for Proper and Worldwide Studies captured.
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&ldquoAs I&rsquove stated, it&rsquos important with an honest and open conversation about modernizing the us government&rsquos coal program,&rdquo stated Jewell. &ldquoI often hear many concerns about how exactly the us government rents coal, the quantity of royalty billed and whether citizens are becoming a good return from public assets. These listening periods are an chance to higher know how citizens, stakeholders and native towns see the us government&rsquos coal program today and just how we are able to improve and strengthen it for future decades.&rdquo&nbsp
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The BLM will host listening periods in Washington, D.C., Colorado, Boise State Broncos, Montana and Wyoming made to further robust discussions about reforms towards the federal coal program, including potentially raising the royalty rate applied. The BLM presently handles 310 active coal rents covering about 475,000 acres in 10 states. Roughly 40 % from the coal created within the U . s . States originates from federal coal assets.
&nbsp
More information around the listening periods follows:
&nbsp
&middot&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp This summer 29, 2015, 1:00-4:00 pm EST. Washington, D.C.: South Interior Building Auditorium, 1951 Metabolic rate Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. 20245
  • August 11, 2015, 1:00-4:00 pm MST. Billings, MT: Hampton Motel, Lewis and Clark Conference Center, 5110 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101
  • August 13, 2015, 1:00-4:00 pm MST. Gillette, WY: Campbell County Library, 2101 4-J Road, Gillette, WY 82718
  • August 18, 2015, 1:00 -4:00 pm MST. Colorado, Colorado: Marriott&nbspDenver West, 1717 Colorado West Blvd, Golden, CO 80401
&middot&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp August 20, 2015, 1:00-4:00 pm MST. Farmington, NM: Courtyard Marriott, 560 Scott Avenue, Farmington, NM 87401
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The conferences in Washington, D.C. and Colorado have a livestream choice for individuals to participate remotely. The conferences could be utilized at world wide web.blm.gov/live.

Favorite Picnic Spots in Pigeon Forge

Summer is a great time to throw a blanket down and enjoy a picnic with your family. There are no better memories for us than the ones where we are just hanging out and laughing together. Picnics are a great time for just that. I love the conversations that spark up and best of all I just love our time together as a family. Here are a few of our favorite picnic spots when we visit Pigeon Forge.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has so many options. Here you really do not need to have a spot picked out. Just pack a backpack with your necessities and take off for a hike along the many trails. When you find the perfect spot, you can just stop and set up your picnic. However, for those planners that need definite locations, there are places throughout the park with picnic tables. You can find these on the park maps in the Sugarlands Visitor Center or download one from their park website.

Wear Farm City Park – You can make it a day at this park! This is a great place if you have little kids or large families. There are covered pavilions with picnic tables that offer a nice shade and even a charcoal BBQ grill if you prefer to cook up burgers and hot dogs when you get there. The kids will be entertained with the 2 big playgrounds and basketball courts and there is even a walking trail for a nice family walk after your meal.

Patriot Park – This park is big and open, so you will not have any trouble finding a spot to lay out a picnic blanket. There is also lots of room for playing Frisbee, throwing a ball around, or even flying a kite. Patriot Park is located near Old Mill Square where you can do a little shopping afterwards and even grab an ice cream cone for dessert!!

Riverwalk Trail – This is one of my favorite spots. The scenery is beautiful and so peaceful. I love walking along the Little Pigeon River after we eat and watching the girls feed the ducks. Fun times and memories!!

Make sure to make “having a picnic” part of your agenda on your next visit to Pigeon Forge so your family can enjoy these great picnic spots too!!

Here is a fun trail mix that we like to have in our picnic basket:

Bear Lake Trail Mix

  • · 1 (18.75 oz.) bag Chex Mix Traditional Snack Mix
  • · 2½ cups Bugles
  • · 2½ cups Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams
  • · 1½ cups Pretzel M&Ms
  • · 1 cup licorice bits
  • · 1½ cups Swedish Fish
  • · 1½ cups Gold Fish Crackers

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!!

 

BLM Announces New Research to Curb Population Growth and Improve Health of Wild Horse and Burro Herds

As part of its ongoing commitment to improving the health and management of wild horses and burros on federal lands in the West, the Bureau of Land Management today said it will initiate 21 research projects aimed at developing new tools for managing healthy horses and burros on healthy rangelands, including safe and effective ways to slow the population growth rate of the animals and reduce the need to remove animals from the public lands.
 
With virtually no natural predators, wild horse herds can double in size about every four years.  Overpopulation on the range, in addition to prolonged drought conditions, can lead to the deterioration of the land and of the animals’ health.
 
Over the past 40 years, the BLM has adopted out more than 230,000 horses and burros that were removed from the range to protect animal and land health. Today adoption rates are at record low levels. In the early 2000s the BLM was able to adopt out nearly 8,000 horses each year. Over the last few years annual adoption totals have been closer to 2,500 animals per year. As the BLM works with its partners to place more wild horses into private care, the BLM must care for unadopted animals in its off-range pastures and corrals.  The total lifetime cost for caring for an unadopted animal is nearly $50,000.
 
"Given the cost of caring for horses off the range and the difficulty of finding qualified adopters, it is clear that this challenge must be solved by addressing population growth on the range," said Mike Tupper, BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning.  "The BLM is committed to developing new tools that allow us to manage this program sustainably and for the benefit of the animals and the land."
 
The BLM will work with leading university and U.S. Geological Survey scientists to develop tools that will better enable it to manage wild horses and burros on the range and reduce the need for off-range pastures and corrals. Scientists working on these projects will pursue the development of safe and humane on-range management techniques, including BLM’s priority to develop longer lasting fertility-control vaccines, as well as methods for spaying and neutering wild horses.  The BLM anticipates the total cost of the university and USGS projects to be $11 million over 5 years.
 
At the time the BLM became responsible for managing these animals under the Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, about 25,000 wild horses and burros were on the range.  Since then, the number of animals on the public lands has more than doubled to 58,150 as of March 1, 2015, which has led to overpopulation in many wild horse herds. In the last year alone, the population has risen about 18 percent – 9,000 animals. In addition to the nearly 60,000 horses and burros on range, an additional 47,000 horses and burros that were previously removed from the public lands are being cared for in off-range pastures and corrals.
 
“Wild horses and burros are an important part of our nation’s heritage,” Tupper said. “That’s why we are seeking innovative solutions to help us achieve a humane and cost-effective way to sustainably manage these animals on healthy rangelands for the enjoyment of generations to come.”
 
Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that wild horses on federal public lands are not a distinct population segment of horses, and therefore not eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  The determination came in response to a petition submitted by two wild horse advocacy groups, which had claimed the wild horse is threatened with extinction.
 
Additional details about the research projects can be found here.

Where Do We Stay?

Where do we stay? When planning our family vacations, this question always pops up after we decide where we are going and how we are getting there. Luckily, Pigeon Forge has many great options to choose from and we have never been disappointed in our choices!!

Lodging options in Pigeon Forge:

  1. Hotels and Motels- This is a great option if you want to be close to all of the action on the Parkway. Most offer a free breakfast and of course, there is maid service. After all, who really wants to clean up after themselves when they are on vacation? The kids can enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools that many hotels/motels have on-site, or take a trip down the lazy river. For those looking to relax, check out the hotels that have spas on-property. With so many hotels and motels located along the Little Pigeon River, beautiful scenery and a river view is as close as a step onto your balcony. Whether you are looking for budget-friendly, or a family-sized suite like at Dollywood’s new DreamMore Resort, you are sure to find something in your comfort zone and price range!
  2. Condos- This is a great option if you want all the luxuries of home while you are away. They offer many different floor plans which are great for larger families. Condos have fully equipped kitchens which make meal times a little cheaper. Some even have in room Jacuzzi’s for some relaxing time at the end of the day and gas fireplaces for those chilly nights. They offer activities like community pools, game rooms, and exercise facilities. Some condos even have a spa on site!!
  3. Camping and RV Parks- This is a great option for those true outdoorsy families. You can experience the mountains while sitting by a campfire, enjoying the stars, and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Campsites in Pigeon Forge can house anything from a small tent to a 35 foot RV with hook-ups. Reserve a site on the river for the best seat in the house! The kids will stay entertained going from playground to pool all right there in the campground/RV park. If you’re not up for the task of towing your camper with you, check out camping cabins in town. This option offers adventures galore and one of the biggest perks is cheaper cost!
  4. Cabins and Chalets- This option is a great way to experience the true “mountain” feel. Most of them are tucked away in the quieter parts of town and offer a spectacular view of the area scenery. Cabins/chalets are spacious, and like condos, you also get fully equipped kitchens for less meal time stress. Also, many of them are split levels. This makes it a great option if you are traveling with multiple families and wish to stay together. For us, an added perk is the kids can get outdoors and explore.

Which option will your family choose on your next visit to the Land of More?

Dollywood Hosts 6th Annual Water Safety Day!

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 10, 2015) – With summer vacations underway, families throughout East Tennessee are spending much more time in the water. Dollywood’s Splash Country, which celebrates its 15th anniversary season in 2015, hosts Water Safety Day on Thursday, June 18 from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Event partners LeConte Medical Center, The Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, WATE-TV and Star 102.1 join Dollywood’s Splash Country to present this exciting event where guests cannot only learn about water and sun safety from multiple informational and interactive vendor booths, but they also can help set a new world record during the sixth annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (WLSL) beginning at 10 a.m.

This worldwide swim lesson happens at water parks around the world at 10 a.m. local time. Dollywood’s Splash Country invites swimmers of any age or ability level to take part in the lesson to become part of the Guinness World Record™ attempt. In 2014, water parks from around the world again broke the record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson, standing at 36,564 participants from 22 different countries.

“Last year’s Water Safety Day proved to be a very effective way for LeConte Medical Center and the Dr. Thomas Foundation to provide important health education to the families in our community,” said LeConte Medical Center President/CAO Jenny Hanson.  “We are continuing to partner with Dollywood’s Splash County in an effort to keep the children of Sevier County healthy and safe this summer and beyond.”

Dollywood’s Splash Country will open its gates at 9:30 a.m. to allow Water Safety Day participants to begin visiting the information booths. Each participant will receive a Splash Pass upon check-in, allowing them to receive a prize at each booth throughout the water park. Once the participants have completed their Splash Pass it can be turned in for the chance to win two season passes to Dollywood’s Splash Country.

“Dollywood’s Splash Country is so proud to be a host location for the WLSL again this year during Water Safety Day,” said Dollywood’s Splash Country General Manager Mike Brown. “Safety, in and out of the water, is our number one concern, and our goal with this event is to educate children and parents alike on how to have a safe but also fun summer!”

Water Safety Day and all of its partners join forces worldwide with participating aquatic facilities and water parks to take part in the sixth annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson at 10 a.m. in 2014 Team WLSL again broke the record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson, standing at 36,564 participants from 22 different countries. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death of children ages one to 14. Research shows that if a child doesn’t learn to swim before the third grade, he or she likely never will. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages one to four. The WLSL partners with Dollywood’s Splash Country and other water parks and aquatic facilities around the world to bring this issue to light and to spread the message that swimming lessons save lives.

Water Safety Day and WLSL registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, June 18 at Dollywood’s Splash Country, front gate opens to guests at 9:30 a.m. Guests should arrive early to register before the WLSL begins at 10 a.m. Dollywood’s Splash Country admission is required to participate in Water Safety Day and may be purchased on-site or online at Dollywood.com.