July 21, 2019

Chattanoogan.com – Chattanooga's source for breaking local news

Homemade Salve-making Class

Join Robert Wilson from

Seven Pines Survival

for a basic class about salve-making with native plants. This class is centered towards using Plantain, a common ‘weed’ that has many benefits, and useful for making ointments for bug bites, sunburn, psoriasis, & poison ivy rashes.

Robert will teach about the properties of this wonderful ‘weed’, and show how to make a simple salve that you can take home.

Date: Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Where: DeSoto State Park-Fort Payne, Alabama. Country Store & Information Center

Fee: Free, & open to everyone.

For details, 256.997.5025 or email Brittney.Hughes@dcnr.alabama.gov


Bunny-Palooza: Spring Fest for Children

Celebrate the season by visiting the Bunny Factory, where children are magically transformed into bunnies and learn all the basics:

How to hop, decorate eggs, and more enchanting fun)! Children’s Spring Art Show, storytelling, music, baby animals, bunny games, egg hunt with prizes…a day your little bunny will NEVER forget!

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015 (Easter is April 4, 2015)

Where: Little River Canyon Center in Fort Payne, AL (15 minutes from DeSoto State Park)

Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Fee: No fee; some programs may have limited space so pre-registration is encouraged

Call 256-782-5697 or email fieldschool@jsu.edu for more details.


Blacksmith Forging Demonstration

with Walter Howell

Locally & nationally-known craftsman Walter Howell will demonstrate this interesting artform of usefulness & beauty. See raw materials become works of art using this age-old method of heating & shaping metal known as forging.

Some of Walter’s finished pieces of art will be available for purchase.

Info on Walter’s Forge

(Please note: demo may be postponed due to wet conditions)

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015

Time: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Where: DeSoto State Park-Fort Payne, Alabama-Country Store & information Center

Fee: Free & open to everyone. Stop by anytime!

Call 256.997.5025 or email Brittney.Hughes@dcnr.alabama.gov for more details.


Backpacking 101

An early spring backpacking class. A great class for beginners. Topics on the backpacking essentials, camping items to choose and use, fire building, cooking, and more!

Date: Saturday, March 28th-Sunday, March 29th

Time: check in 10 AM Saturday check out 12 Sunday.

Where: DeSoto State Park, Fort Payne, Alabama. Nature Center

Cost: $110 per person – includes all equipment and food. Ages 12 and up

Pre-registration is required, as class size is limited. Register by calling 256-634-8370


Sculpt your Own Flower Class

Orbix Hot Glass is a glass blowing studio and gallery on Lookout Mountain that offers fine decorative and functional glass, as well as very popular glass blowing classes. Have you ever wanted to actually sit at the gaffer bench and feel what it is like to shape hot glass? In this class, it’s all about a hands-on experience in a safe and fun atmosphere with a final product we know you will love. After watching us shape glass into a flower, it’s your turn to sit at the bench to a sculpt your own from an array of colors. Our artists are the to step in and lend a hand or guide you as you shape the glass.

Check out even more classes and info at


. Classes have a minimum of 3 people and a maximum of 5. Class is about an hour in length.

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where: Orbix Hot Glass in Fort Payne, Alabama (within 30 minutes of DeSoto State Park)

Fee: $75.00 per person. Minimum age is 13 & up. Pre-registration is required. Custom reservations

can be made for groups anytime. Call 256.523.3188 or email info@orbixhotglass.com for details.


Paddle Trip on Little River

-Little River Canyon National Preserve

National Park Ranger Larry Beane will lead a paddle trip in the backcountry part of the preserve on Little River. This section of Little River is known for easy paddling with class one and two rapids. This trip is scheduled to last all day (paddling from 9 am to 4 pm). Larry will include stops along the way to learn about safety and special resources in the park.

Paddlers will need to bring their own kayak/canoe, paddle, life preservers, food, water, hat and sunscreen. The water will probably be cold, and the weather may be cool too, so plan your clothing accordingly. A dry suit, wetsuit, splash jacket, and warm change of clothes may be needed, depending on weather, especially on the early trips. The park is planning to provide free shuttle service for these events.

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015


Little River Canyon National Preserve

in Fort Payne (15 minutes from DeSoto State Park)

Time: 10:00 am-4:00 p.m.

Fee: Free; Space is limited for each trip so please call the National Park Service office at (256) 845-9605 or email Ranger Beane at Larry_Beane@nps.gov for more information or to RSVP. . Time and meeting place will be given at that time.


Early Spring Walk in DeSoto State Park

One of the most beautiful times of the year at DeSoto State Park! Join DSP staff on an easy meandering walk along the ADA-Accessible Azalea Cascade Boardwalk Trail to see early blooming-species of plants along Laurel Creek & Azalea Cascade.

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where: DeSoto State Park-Fort Payne, Alabama-Meet at Country Store & Information Center

Time: 10:00-12:00

Fee: Free to the public; pre-registration not required. (we ask that groups larger than 5 RSVP)

Great for all ages! Pets welcome on leash. Call 256.997.5025 for details.

Things to bring: Water and/or sports drink, snacks, please be sure to dress appropriately according to seasonal temperatures/weather.

WEATHER: As with all outdoor events, if it’s raining/stormy or very poor trail conditions, we may have to cancel. If the weather is questionable, please check with the park (256.845.0051) before leaving home. Please make every effort to arrive early or on time so that you do not hold up the group.

Directions to Desoto State Park:

Using a GPS or Phone to navigate to Desoto State Park can be unreliable.

Driving Directions


Appalachian Broom-Making Demonstration

with Lenton Williams

Locally & nationally-known craftsman Lenton Williams will demonstrate the interesting art form of making hand-tied brooms & brushes in the Appalachian style. Lenton uses raw materials such as natural broom corn and handles to fashion useful & beautiful pieces of art.

Some of Lenton’s finished pieces will be available for purchase.

(Please note: demo may be postponed due to wet conditions)

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015

Time: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Where: DeSoto State Park-Fort Payne, Alabama-Country Store

Fee: Free & open to everyone.

Call 256.997.5025 or email Brittney.Hughes@dcnr.alabama.gov for more details.


Chattanoogan.com – Chattanooga's source for breaking local news

Travel article slams Congaree National Park as one of worst in nation

Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)
Cottonmouth snake found at Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)Cottonmouth snake found at Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)


Ouch. An article posted on Yahoo! Travel ranks Congaree National Park among the top five worst national parks in America.

“A small park with a boardwalk through a swamp (they prefer the polite term “floodplain”) so you can stare at the trees,” reads the description in the photograph for the article titled Our Tax Dollars Pay for What? The Nation’s Worst National Parks. Although the other five parks listed in the article are represented by photos of the parks themselves, the photo for Congaree National Park is a stock photo from Flickr of a snake.

“Step off the boardwalk and into the realm of the four varieties of venomous snake that inhabit the park, including the ‘ubiquitous’ cottonmouth,” the description continued. “Run from the snakes and find yourself in glades of poison ivy or stumbling into wasps’ nests or webs of biting spiders that are ‘highly painful but not lethal.'”

Although interpretations vary, park officials suspect author Bill Fink wrote the article with a sense of humor.

“We appreciate Mr. Fink’s tongue-in-cheek review of Congaree National Park and the four other parks on his Worst National Parks list,” Park Superintendent Tracy Stakely said via e-mail. “We agree, each of these sites can provide some extreme environments that may not appeal to all visitors, but they also provide exceptional opportunities to experience the diverse natural resources and cultural history of our nation.”

“It’s much more fun to hate things,” Fink wrote. “So based on a minimum of research and a heap of biased analysis, here’s an authoritative list of America’s Worst National Parks.”

Based on what he wrote, Fink doesn’t like venomous snakes or mosquitoes, both common vexes that South Carolinians have learned to live with over the years.

“…as you run screaming in circles waving your hands to fend off mosquitoes, you’re likely as not to impale yourself on a jagged Cyprus stump,” the article continued.

“It is true if you come to Congaree mid-summer you may encounter high humidity and heat, an abundance of mosquitoes, and even run into the occasional snake,” Stakely said. “But as the thousands of Congaree’s annual visitors know, there are many more wonders to be seen and stories to be discovered in this extraordinary environment. We invite Mr. Fink and his readers to spend some time at Congaree, perhaps in Spring or Fall when the climate is a bit more agreeable.”

The park was preserved as the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. It also is home to the tallest Loblolly Pine in the United States, as tall as a 16-story building.

“As a bonus, the trails are poorly marked (when they’re not completely washed out),” the article continued.

This summer park officials made an effort to install better markings on trails after a family got lost in the park for more than two days, causing a massive search.

“The National Park Service is honored to preserve and protect such a unique part of natural and cultural environment of the South Carolina Midlands,” Stakely said. “Congaree National Park is one of over 400 sites protected by the National Park Service. As we approach the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, we encourage individuals to make a new or renewed connection with one of our sites to personally experience the diversity of America as represented by these special places.”

For more information and to make up your own mind, click here.

Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.

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    Travel article slams Congaree National Park as one of worst in nation

    Injured Black Mountain rock climber thankful for rescue

    ASHEVILLE — A Black Mountain man who suffered serious injuries in a rock climbing accident earlier this week faces months of recovery, but his overriding emotion Wednesday was gratitude.

    I want to put a thank you out to everyone who was involved in the rescue, Jackson DePew, 23, said in an interview from his room at Mission Hospital. Id like to send them my sincerest gratitude.

    In the dramatic rescue Monday afternoon at Linville Gorge, rescuers used a Black Hawk helicopter to pluck DePew from a ledge about 200 feet above the ground on Shortoff Mountain.

    Ive gotten lots of Facebook messages and phone calls from people who I havent heard from in years, said DePew, an experienced climber. I want to say thank you to everybody whos reached out to me and sent me their best wishes.

    DePew suffered a concussion and broken leg and fractured his pelvis in five spots after falling and slamming into the side of the mountain, winding up on a narrow ledge high above the ground. He also broke his tailbone and suffered three broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

    The accident happened about 1 p.m. as DePew was climbing the steep rock face from the bottom, using climbing cams metal anchors that fit into crevices and rope as safety equipment, along with a helmet. When he put his left hand on a part of the cliff, it broke loose. He fell about 35 feet before his cams and rope stopped him, keeping him from tumbling all the way to the ground. But he still hit the rock face hard.

    His climbing partner, who was still on the ground, saw what happened and called 911.

    DePew said he was unconscious for several minutes, then was able to answer a phone call from his partner. He remained conscious throughout the rest of the ordeal. It took about four hours before he was lifted off the ledge in a basket by the helicopter.

    I was in an absurd amount of pain, said DePew, a 2013 graduate of Warren Wilson College who started rock climbing six years ago and has been a climbing instructor for three years. It was the most pain Ive ever been in in my life. But I also remember thinking, This is freaking awesome. This is the coolest thing. Theres a Black Hawk helicopter right there. Im just about to get the VIP escort out of here.

    Burke County Emergency Management Director Mike Long said one rescuer rappelled down the mountainside while another came down from the helicopter to reach DePew, who was lifted into the helicopter.

    The helicopter was dispatched through the N.C. Division of Emergency Management from an Army National Guard unit in Rowan County.

    DePew said the accident wont deter him from returning to climbing once his injuries heal. He plans to make a career as a climbing instructor and wilderness expedition leader.

    Climbing makes me happier than a lot of things, almost more than anything, he said. Im definitely lucky I didnt get hurt worse. I feel very fortunate. I think Im meant to do something with my life.

    Excerpt from:  

    Injured Black Mountain rock climber thankful for rescue

    Poison Ivy-munching Goats Removed From NJ Recreation Area Due To Government Shutdown

    (credit: GREG WOOD/Getty Images)

    (credit: GREG WOOD/Getty Images)

    SANDY HOOK, N.J. (AP) — More than two dozen poison ivy-eating Nubian goats were moved from a national recreation area in New Jersey in advance of the partial government shutdown.

    Since July, the herd has been devouring a poison ivy infestation that has overtaken Fort Hancock. The Sandy Hook mortar battery defended New York Harbor during World War II.

    Owner Larry Cihanek tells the Asbury Park Press he removed the animals from Sandy Hook and from Fort Wadsworth in Staten island, N.Y., for their own protection because the parks are closed due to the shutdown.

    The Sandy Hook Foundation is paying about $12,000 to use the goats to clear the site to make it more accessible to the public.

    The animals live on a farm in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

    (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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    Poison Ivy-munching Goats Removed From NJ Recreation Area Due To Government Shutdown

    Goats to defend NJ historic site from poison ivy – NBC40.net

    SANDY HOOK, N.J. (AP) – Eleven Nubian goats from upstate New York are the first line of defense to save New Jersey’s historic Fort Hancock from a poison ivy invasion.

    The plants have overtaken the Sandy Hook mortar battery that defended New York Harbor during World War II.

    Park Ranger Tom Hoffman tells the Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/1bMpHvr ) the six-acre site should have been named “Poison Ivy National Monument.”

    The Sandy Hook Foundation is paying Larry Cihanek of Rhinebeck, N.Y., about $12,000 to use about two dozen goats to clear the site to make it more accessible to the public.

    Cihanek says it’s the densest concentration of poison ivy that he’s ever seen.

    Information from: Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, http://www.app.com

    Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    Goats to defend NJ historic site from poison ivy – NBC40.net

    Goats sink their teeth into poison ivy problem

    SANDY HOOK, N.J. — From the Spanish-American War through World War II, Fort Hancock’s massive mortar battery defended New York Harbor from foreign invasion.

    Now the battery itself needs defending – from a proliferation of poison ivy that’s slowly destroying the overgrown historic site.

    On Tuesday, the cavalry arrived, in the form of 11 Nubian goats from Upstate New York that happen to regard poison ivy and other pernicious plants as lip-smacking delicacies.

    “It’s a smorgasbord,” said their owner, Larry Cihanek, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., as he watched his charges contentedly munching their way up a densely wooded trail marked “Keep Out, Hazardous Area.” In less than an hour, the path looked noticeably wider.

    “They’re doing all the dirty work,” said Betsy Barrett, president of the nonprofit Sandy Hook Foundation, which is funding the goats-in-residence project through the end of the year, at a cost of about $12,000.

    Barrett said the clearing work is a necessary first step toward making the site, located across from the lighthouse at the northern end of Sandy Hook, more accessible to the public, with an eye toward someday restoring the battery and the adjacent cave-like ammunition “pits,” which were converted into a secret coastal defense command center during World War II.

    Over the years, the 6-acre site has evolved into a kind of Jurassic Park for poison ivy, or Toxicodendron radicans, which has run wild with destructive consequences. Indeed, the plants are so large and pervasive, no landscaper will touch the job with a 10-foot telescoping pole saw.

    “This should have been named Poison Ivy National Monument,” said Tom Hoffman, park ranger historian at the Gateway National Recreation Area. “It loves it here. It just spreads itself through this loose, sandy soil.”

    Cihanek, a 68-year-old retired advertising executive-turned-goat farmer, has forged a successful second career renting out his 60 or so goats to clear brush at city and federal parks and other public areas.

    While part of his herd is settling in at Sandy Hook, he has other goats working at two sites on Staten Island, at Freshkills Park, a converted landfill owned by New York City, and Fort Wadsworth, which is maintained by the National Park Service. Cihanek’s goats also have been used at the Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park, N.Y. and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

    “I’ll be at 11 different locations this year,” said Cihanek, who runs the farm with his wife, Ann.

    In 2008, several of the goats at Fort Wadsworth escaped through an 8-inch opening in the fence and wandered into a high-security area under the Verrazano Bridge. Somehow, they accomplished the feat without triggering an alarm that was supposed to thwart a terrorist attack. The New York Daily News dubbed the goats “weapons of grass destruction.”

    Cihanek has since upgraded the type of fencing he uses. At the mortar battery site, he has installed an electrified fence that he hopes will keep the goats inside and the public out. People shouldn’t try to pet the goats, he says, because the goats will be covered with the toxic oil from the poison ivy plants, which spreads on contact.

    Fortunately, Cihanek himself is among the estimated 15 percent of the population that isn’t allergic to poison ivy.

    Can the goats really do the job?

    Monmouth County Agricultural Agent Bill Sciarappa said herbicides such as Roundup are an inexpensive and effective way to permanently kill poison ivy, but many people today are leery about using them in backyards and public places.

    While goats will quickly gobble up poison ivy, he said, they don’t eat the roots, which allows the plants to grow back. Using goats over an extended period, however, will eventually starve the plant of the energy it needs to survive, he said.

    “So a persistent program of goats should work,” Sciarappa said.

    The 11 goats that arrived Tuesday are the vanguard of a herd that will total about two dozen goats by the end of the week, Cihanek said.

    To see them tear into a stand of poison ivy, one would think the plant’s waxy leaves were as delectable as a fresh mescalin salad, tossed with feta cheese and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

    Cihanek said the goats are just as enthusiastic about maple leaves, knotweed, and virtually anything with thorns.

    The mortar battery job, however, may be the goats’ biggest challenge yet.

    “This hill has the densest concentration of poison ivy of any place I’ve ever been,” Cihanek marveled.

    Copyright 2013

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    Goats sink their teeth into poison ivy problem

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