Adani Project in Australia ‘Hits a Solar Wall’

first_imgAdani Project in Australia ‘Hits a Solar Wall’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sophie Vorrath for Renew Economy:If the Queensland Labor government’s final all-clear of plans to develop the world’s largest new thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin signifies anything, it is that Australia’s major political parties are not yet ready, or willing, to let go of the fossil fuel dream.But while the Palaszczuk government seems determined to keep the coal fires burning, even Adani – the Indian energy giant behind the much-derided Carmichael development – appears to have moved on. Largely, to solar.As we write, Adani Group is reportedly hovering over the Indian solar assets of America’s SunEdison, as the former PV giant lurches towards bankruptcy.coal importAnd in Australia, the company is showing more active interest in the potential development of a large-scale solar plant in the heart of another Queensland coal region, the Bowen Basin.RenewEconomy reported last October that Adani executives had been meeting with landowners in the Isaac Regional Council to gauge their interest in hosting a large solar farm.Since then, the company has confirmed it is chasing investment opportunities in Australia’s solar generation sector, with a focus on potential opportunities in Queensland and South Australia.Meanwhile, Adani responded to the news of the state government approval of the Galilee Basin coal project by pushing it out yet another year.That is because, as Fairfax media’s Michael West has rightly pointed out, a green light from the Queensland Labor – dispiriting though it may be – means very little in the big scheme of this project.As Adani well knows, the true hurdle for this project – and it’s a big one – is finding the $10 billion-odd of financial backing required to progress the mine and connected port and rail expansion, in a market where coal prices and demand are falling off a cliff.As IEEFA analyst Tim Buckley wrote here in February, the Indian government’s draft Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) policy guidelines, released in December 2015, formally acknowledged that the capital construction cost of coal-fired power generation rose by 35-40 per cent over the last five years or so, mainly on the requirement for modern ultra-super critical (USC) power plant technologies with full emissions controls built in.“By comparison, the cost of renewable energy is forecast to continue to decline at a rate of 5-10 per cent per annum over the next decade. This follows a staggering 25 per cent year-on-year decline in unsubsidised installed solar costs in India in the year to January 2016 to a new record low of Rs4.34/kWh (US$64/MWh).”The world over, Buckley writes, “financing for old coal-fired power plants is progressively disappearing, just as debt and equity financing for new coal mines across Australia, America and Indonesia has evaporated over the last year and bankruptcies progressively claim most of the US industry. As capital flight from the global coal sector continues, the stranded assets risks increase.”Certainly, Australia’s big four banks – not to mention a number of international financial groups – have signalled they want little to do with the project, which is about as environmentally toxic as it is financially risky.Full article: Adani’s great big coal mine gets green light, but hits solar walllast_img read more

No Traction for Trump in War on U.S. Wind-Energy Expansion

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:President Donald Trump’s threats against wind energy have so far proven empty, according to an industry giant that expects to grow in the U.S.Thomas Thune Andersen, the chairman of Dong Energy A/S, says the world’s biggest offshore wind developer hasn’t seen any actions that have followed Trump’s verbal attacks. In fact, he says there are signs that American commitment to the industry might even be growing.“One thing is Trump getting up and commenting on this,” Thune Andersen said in an interview in Copenhagen on Monday. “But he hasn’t acted on it. And many of the decisions are made at a state level. They’re still pushing this agenda and they may even have accelerated it as part of the political game.”Trump, who has blamed wind turbines for killing bald eagles, has as a businessman unsuccessfully tried to stop offshore parks that spoil the view from his golf course in Scotland. As president, he has dragged the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, and promoted coal in favor of wind energy, promising to bring back jobs in the process.But before Trump took office in January, the U.S. congress extended a production tax credit, or PTC, that will give tax breaks to wind producers until 2020. Shares in Dong have risen 36 percent this year, more than four times the gain in the Stoxx Europe 600 index over the same period.Dong, which is based in Denmark, this year sold its oil and gas business in order to focus entirely on renewable energy. The company is changing its name — an acronym of Danish Oil and Natural Gas — to Orsted to mark the shift. (H.C. Orsted was a 19th century Danish physicist who discovered electromagnetism.)Dong is focused on the east coast of the U.S., where it’s using existing contacts to achieve growth, according to the chairman.“It’s very important we don’t spread our focus too much,” Thune Andersen said. “But although the U.S. east coast is a vast area, it’s still very much the same people we’re talking to.”The company sits on about one-quarter of the global market, “but the market is growing tremendously fast,” he said. “We still have an ambition to remain the biggest player, but because the market’s been successful, competition is growing.”Trump’s Threats Against Wind Energy Are Empty So Far, Industry Giant Says No Traction for Trump in War on U.S. Wind-Energy Expansionlast_img read more

Morocco taps EDF Renewables-led group to build 800MW solar plant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:A consortium led by French EDF Renewables won a tender launched by the Moroccan agency for sustainable energy (Masen) to build an 800 megawatt solar plant in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, Masen said on Tuesday.The consortium to build the 7.57 billion dirham ($781.5 million) plant also includes UAE’s Masdar and Morocco’s Green Energy of Africa, Masen said in a statement.The project, dubbed Noor Midelt 1, is the first phase of a larger project in the Atlas Mountains region of Morocco as the country plans to exceed 52 percent of renewable energy in the national energy mix by 2030.Masen has chosen a hybrid system for Noor Midelt 1 that uses concentrated solar plant (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies.The project is funded by European Investment Bank, the French Development Agency, the European Commission, the World Bank, the African Development Fund and the Clean Technology Fund, Masen said.By the end of 2018, Morocco installed 1,215 MW of wind energy, 1,770 MW in hydropower and 700 MW in solar, according to official figures.More: French EDF Renewables wins tender to build 800 MW solar plant in Morocco Morocco taps EDF Renewables-led group to build 800MW solar plantlast_img read more

Smallmouth Fly Fishing Heating Up on the James

first_imgDoes it get any better than September smallmouth fly fishing on the James River?No.I scooted down to one of my favorite spots below Scottsville, Va. for an afternoon of popper slinging. Mid to late September is the absolute perfect time to go after smallies in most of Virginia’s big rivers like the James and Shenandoah. The fish become more active as the water temperature drops from bathwater to neighbor’s above ground pool, which is still warm enough for wet wading. The best part is you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat, you can fish mid-day through the afternoon and still get on fish.Around Scottsville the James is wide and shallow, providing easy access to both banks and the deep holes and structure in the middle river. While the fish do not get as large as they do in the upper New River, the action can be fast and furious, with the occasional pig lurking. I didn’t get into anything too huge on this day, but there is never a bad day on the James.Check out the video and let me know where you’ve been fishing lately.last_img read more

Float Fever: New River Canoe Trip

first_imgYou know it’s going to be an epic camping canoe trip when before packing the truck you find yourself in the emergency room begging for antibiotics to bypass a bout of strep throat.There was no way I was telling my 5- and 10-year-old that we would miss this highly-anticipated New River canoe trip. There was also no way to bypass strep symptoms. Although my gullet felt stuffed with razorblades, and my head relentlessly pounded, it was far better to be sprawled belly-up across a canoe than tortured by disappointed children at home.The mornings were beginning to feel like summer, a slow heat baking into the banks, keeping the kids in the water longer on this Memorial Day weekend trip. We were heading out for three nights of river bliss, slinging lines out to trout while lazily floating the slow waters between campgrounds.There were 14 of us, with three sets of parents sharing five angelic kids and three dogs. Although this situation could lend itself to a lot of whining, we easily kept the kids entertained with paddling, bubble wands, snacks, fishing rods, and water guns.As for the adults, I announced my contagious status to the crowd as we waited at the put-in at the Wagoner Access. Mommies smiled sweetly while pulling their children from my diseased reach. The guys ran shuttle up to the Route 93 bridge in Virginia while the kids took turns tangling lures for me to wrestle out of the rhododendron.Temperatures dropped as we slipped away from the afternoon sun. We skimmed all six boats into the river, whooping our way into the calm water, fizzing our first beers open.Within five minutes of our bliss we had our first adult emergency, causing said adult to spend the rest of the trip drowning her pain with copious amounts of brown liquor in her first aid kit. I secretly cursed her when she wouldn’t let me near her flask to relieve the headache slowly squeezing my skull. Her karma caused her to get strep after her return home. I apologized via email for licking her paddle.As we settled into the fine art of peace and flow with the river, the first tiny rapid appeared. The boat containing two adult women headed straight for an extremely sturdy, low-hanging tree. The girl in front ducked in time to avoid the thick tree branch, however, her boat mate did not, marking her third eye with a large Bindi. I thought it was pretty and told her so. We pulled over to evaluate and comment on the size and nature of her injury as she located her “first aid kit”, and we quickly moved on to our second beers to better deal with the situation before gliding back into the current.It was at this point that my youngest son learned that in order to be a fisherman, you must bait your own hook. I was not the one to establish this rule, but I was more than happy to enforce it, tired of being yelled at every time we lost a worm due to my ignorance of basic fishing. “OHHHHH MY GOSH!“ he yelled. “THIS IS SOOOOO GROSS!”By now the vice around my head had squeezed another two inches. It’s hard to see when one’s eyes are this close together, so I was having trouble navigating the Class I rapids. The hole in my throat closed, preventing any food from logistically passing into my hungry body, leaving room only for beer.Our leisurely five-hour float to the first campground was nearly over when I began to panic, thinking I was too sick to move. My body erupted into fever and my little guy was tired and complaining. I concluded that sugar really gets a bad rap. A brief sugar coma following a rabid, but quiet five minutes of elated snarfing is quite useful.Once I made it clear that I was slipping into a physical and mental bonk the crowd rallied and got us to our campground. Through my haze I was able to construct a special version of our tent, stumbling around yelling at my children while my boyfriend fed them peanut butter sandwiches.For breakfast, my lovely girlfriends provided me caffeine, ibuprofen and a shot of whiskey to get me back on the beautiful river dappled with morning light and fresh spring leaves. One offered me the spot in her boat with her husband so that I wouldn’t have to paddle. Instead, my genius boyfriend tied our canoes together so that I could lie there as pathetic as the trout he and the boys caught. I could not see the birds from the vantage point, but their songs were lovely.By evening I was especially grateful not to have ridden in the other boat, now capsized, the 3-and 7-year-old girls, mom, and all of their gear huddled along the bank while dad chased the cooler downriver. It made for excellent story-telling over lunch by a waterfall at which time the dogs conveniently ate all of the kids’ food.Portage across a bridge required us to empty and drag our boats while chasing and screaming after dogs who were officially sick of being river dogs. Forcing Skittles back into the boat resulted in him jumping back out, swimming to shore and running like hell.Our last campsite was an open field in the middle of a star-filled sky, and I was grateful to participate, rather than listen from a fevered distance. We cooked and gathered around our fire before a crisp night of luscious sleep and drew the morning out as long as possible, lingering in the bliss of good friends before loading the boats for our final hour to takeout.Got a story to tell? Send submissions to [email protected]last_img read more

Trail Mix: The Far West

first_imgA number of years ago, during a discussion regarding our favored songwriters, a friend and I launched into a comparison of Bob Dylan and John Prine.The conversation was going along fine – passionate, yet civil – until this good friend, one whose taste and opinions regarding music I much admire and respect, referred to Prine, my favorite songwriter, as “a poor man’s Dylan.”At the time, I thought we might come to blows.  Okay, not really . . . but I do revere John Prine, and such disparagement came within a hair of fightin’ words.  I own most every note The Singing Mailman has ever recorded, and few songwriters have shoved their hands so deeply into my belly and wound my innards into as many tight little knots so often as he.Said friend and I are still good buddies, despite his shameful remarks regarding Mr. Prine, which were on my mind recently after I gave Any Day Now, the new disc from The Far West, its first spin.  My ears did a double take just a few tunes in, as singer Lee Briante nails a young John Prine.It should be noted that my reverence for Prine makes this is a comparison not made lightly and, as you can imagine, Briante’s voice had me rightly hooked.The Far West hails from Los Angeles, though Briante and his bandmates came west from such far flung locales as Texas, New York, Chicago, and Massachusetts.  The band began playing together in 2010 and Any Day Now is the group’s second record, following an early self-titled release that came soon after the band’s inception.There is much to Any Day Now that the Americana music fan will find appealing – Briante’s raspy, drawling lyrical delivery, the ramblin’, cracklin’ guitar work, the vintage car and dusty highway references, the echoes of high lonesome plains and vast open spaces.Any Day Now is a record for fans of Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson, Todd Snider and Jerry Jeff Walker, Emmlou Harris and Lucinda Williams, and even Bobby and Johnny.Heck  . . . I’d bet good money that Dylan and Prine fans could drop their dukes and share a listen, no doubt agreeing that this a fantastic neo-country record from a band fast on the rise.Make sure to check out “On The Road,” the opening track from Any Day Now, on this month’s Trail Mix.  To find out more about The Far West, when they will take to a stage near you, or how to get your hands on a copy of the new record, point your browser to www.thefarwestband.com.last_img read more

The Fly Fishing Guide to Southern Trout

first_imgWhen compared to other regions in the country, fly fishing for trout in the Southeast can seem like an exercise in reduction: the season is shorter, the rods are lighter, the casts are tighter, the flies are tinier. The opportunities to catch trout, however, are big. The fish can be too, but knowing where to find them can be more challenging than a quiet pick-up in heavy brush. So, we went straight to the source, asking regional fly fishing guides to share their favorite home waters from around the Blue Ridge.NORTH CAROLINARIVER: SOUTH TOEFLY FISHING GUIDE: JEFF CURTIS, Curtis Wright OutfittersWestern North Carolina does not want for trout streams, so it is easy for a river to flow under the radar in the Tar Heel State. Over 4,000 miles of cold, clear, public trout water gush from the mountains, creating a pristine habitat for wild and stocked trout. Located in the shadow of Mount Mitchell, the South Toe River does not usually pop to the top of the list when discussing trophy trout streams, but maybe it should. Jeff Curtis, co-founder of Curtis Wright Outfitters, began guiding in the region 15 years ago, and prefers the South Toe due to its wild trout and technical fishing.“For me on the South Toe, it’s more about approach and not spooking fish—keeping a low profile and stalking fish—as it is to exactly matching a hatch,” he said.The tributaries that form the South Toe headwaters near the Blue Ridge Parkway run cold and clean off Mount Mitchell; a lack of residential or commercial runoff makes this freestone stream very healthy. The river is split into three sections with wild brown, rainbow,  and native brook trout haunting the plunge pools, riffles, and boulder fields in the upper, wild trout section from the headwaters to Black Mountain Campground. There is a one-mile catch and release, fly-fishing-only section around the campground and the lower section as it runs through Yancey County Recreation Park is hatchery supported. While the different sections offer something for everyone, Curtis opts for the wild trout sections above the campground for the beauty of the stream and the consistent dry fly action.“It kind of has a personality,” he said. “Since some stretches of it are catch and release, it almost feels like certain fish live behind certain rocks. You know that if you can get a good cast to it, fish will be sitting there because you caught him last week.”FLIES // Caddis, Thunderhead, Yellow Palmer, Yellow Stimulator, Parachute Adams, Parachute Blue Winged Olive, Charlie Whomper, Hare’s Ear NymphACCESS // Take Route 80 south from Route 19 East for 11 miles then turn right onto S. Toe River Road which will lead you to the Black Mountain Campsite. You can also access S. Toe River Road/Forest Road 472 from the Blue Ridge Parkway.RIVER: NORTH MILLSGUIDE REBA BRINKMAN, Hunter Banks CompanyIn a former life, Reba Brinkman was an advertising consultant for small businesses, but found herself constantly ditching work to get on the water. A chance encounter at Hunter Banks Fly Shop in Asheville, N.C. prompted her to quit her day job and join the team. Along with being a guide, she is now the shop’s programs director and also manages the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Expo on the side. The “ad exec turned fly fishing guide” story is as old as time, but Brinkman has never looked back.“It’s been great,” she says. “I feel like it’s my calling.”Whether she is guiding a client or fishing on a day off, she loves to head for the North Mills River between Asheville and Hendersonville. Though not as famous as its neighbor, the Davidson, the North Mills holds a special place in Brinkman’s heart. Erosion problems once compromised the river’s health, but Trout Unlimited stepped in and built low fences to keep anglers off the banks and reintroduced indigenous plants to build up the riparian border and provide habitat and shade. The results have been dramatic and transformed the North Mills back into the fishery it once was.“The reason I love taking clients there is because as I’m teaching them how to fish, I’m also able to point out our conservation efforts and to show them how important it is to keep a conservation mind, and show them how important it is to keep our natural resources,” said Brinkman. “The North Mills in particular is a perfect example of how that river kind of went to despair for a little bit but through passionate anglers and conservationists, we repaired it.”The North Mills is now stocked with brook, rainbow, and brown trout from October to June, and the 3-mile delayed harvest section is split into two segments. The lower section at the North Mills Campground provides instant access and easy wading opportunities, while the upper section from the Trace Ridge trailhead requires a short hike and slightly more solid footing. Brinkman says the river “reads like a textbook” with runs, riffles, and pools in abundance and recommends nymphing, although Blue Wing Olive and Caddis hatches are abundant as well.FLIES // Squirmy Worm, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Blue Wing Olive, Caddis, March Brown, Attractor Patterns, Wolly BuggersACCESS // Take U.S. Route 26 East out of Asheville to the Airport Road exit. Turn right on to North Mills River Road and follow the signs to the North Mills River Recreation Area where there is a fee parking lot.BEST OF THE RESTDavidson, East Fork French Broad, Tuckaseegee tailwater, Nantahala, Slickrock CreekVIRGINIARIVER: BIG STONY CREEKFLY FISHING GUIDE: HARRY MURRAY, Murray’s Fly Shop To say that Harry Murray is a legend in the fly fishing community would be an understatement. Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, Murray has been in the fly fishing game for a long time.“I just got interested in fly fishing in high school and after I graduated from college I opened the fly shop in ’62,” he recalled. “We are the oldest fly shop in Virginia and probably the biggest.”Opening Murray’s Fly Shop in Edinburg, Va., between Winchester and Harrisonburg was just the beginning of his prolific career teaching, and inventing, fly fishing techniques and equipment. Along with writing articles for national angling publications, Murray has authored 14 books on the subject, with names like Virginia Blue Ribbon Fly Fishing Guide, Trout Fishing in Shenandoah National Park, and the not so subtle Angling Tips From the Master. He has also invented countless fly patterns for both trout and smallmouth bass. Fly fishing for smallies on the Shenandoah River is Murray’s first love, but small stream trout fishing is a close second. Murray’s shop holds the only permit to guide on the small streams of Shenandoah National Park, but his favorite river to wet a line for trout is Big Stony Creek. It’s not hard to see why: Big Stony flows right past the back door of his shop in downtown Edinburg.“It’s a freestone stream that has good water for about six or eight miles,” said Murray. “It has many nice springs in it that keep the water level up. You can fish nymphs, streamers, or dries— whichever you prefer.”The term “Stony Creek” is one of those names that seem to pop up everywhere, especially in Virginia. The Shenandoah County version of Stony Creek flows into Edinburg from the mountains of George Washington National Forest, and is stocked with brook, rainbow, and brown trout. Murray claims Big Stony is some of the best stocked-trout fishing the state, and the best spot is up-creek at Columbia Furnace. The water gets skinny as you move up river from here, but the scenery gets even better. Be sure to check Murray’s twice weekly online fishing report before heading out. You can even move up and fish for wild brook trout in the tributary known as Little Stony Creek.FLIES // Mr. Rapidan, Stonefly Nymphs, Blue Wing Olive, Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Wulff, Olive Stimulator, Shenk’s CricketACCESS // From Edinburg take Stony Creek Road as it follows the creek to Columbia Furnace. A right on Route 42 and a quick left on Wolf Gap Road will put you in the vicinity of Little Stony Creek. Be sure to stop into Murray’s; he will be able to supply you with maps and all the local knowledge.BEST OF THE RESTBig Run, Passage Creek, Whitetop Laurel, Rapidan, Ramsay’s DraftTENNESSEERIVER: LITTLE RIVERFLY FISHING GUIDE: IAN & CHARITY RUTTER, R&R Fly Fishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s relationship with its trout population has been somewhat up and down. Once threatened by logging, the trout population as a whole is now thriving in the park. Ian Rutter has been fishing the Smokies since the early 1990s, and guiding almost as long. He came to fly fishing somewhat organically, spotting fish during hikes and teaching himself how to fly fish to catch them. In 2006, Rutter and his wife Charity founded R&R Fly Fishing in Townsend, Tenn. and guide in GSMNP as well as the east Tennessee tailwaters. They have also collaborated on several books together including Great Smoky Mountains National Park Angler’s Companion, the seminal guide to fishing GSMNP. Townsend lies just outside the park’s borders, but the road in traces the couple’s favorite trout fishery: the Little River, a typical mountain trout stream full of boulders, plunge pools, and water so clear you can see every pebble.Between guiding clients and fishing in his free time, Ian says he spends about 100 days a year fishing the Little River for one main reason: variety. There are about 15 miles of roadside entry points along the lower portion of the river and another 12 miles of trailside water above Elkmont Camp inside the park. The lower sections offer bigger water with immediate access, while the upper hike-in sections are a little more remote and higher in elevation. This also translates into a diverse population of fish.“You can get up there and fish with just an hour and have a good section of water that is easy to reach in a short amount of time,” explains Ian. “Or you can literally spend three or four days hiking and camping in the backcountry, and not see anyone else. There is something for everyone.”Whether you are fishing the upper tributaries or the lower sections, you will find that all the fish are wild, meaning they are more astute than your average stocked trout. Despite being a wild trout river, there is a robust population on the Little with fish populations in the 2,000-3,000 per mile range, and can grow quite large by any standard.“Probably once or twice a year we’ll have somebody hook a pretty good fish in that ‘wet your pants’ category,” says Ian. “More often than not they’ll lose it because they’re not anticipating something that big.”Adding to the experience of fishing inside GSMNP is the beauty of the river and the wildlife. Ian says it never gets old seeing black bears several times a month—or the occasional turkey and river otter. The natural aspect of fishing in such a pristine environment plays into the Rutters’ guiding philosophy as a whole, says Charity.“It’s really important to us to share what we know about the water and the fish and the national park so that other people will want to love it and protect it as much as we do,” she said.FLIES // Parachute Adams, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Tellico Nymph, Mayfly Patterns, Quill Gordon, Hendrickson, Stoneflies.ACCESS // From Townsend, enter the park heading east on Route 73. After the bridge, bear right to stay on Little River Rd. Pull off at a convenient location or continue until you reach the Elkmont Campground. Here you can access the upper portions of the river and its tributaries via the Little River Trail.BEST OF THE RESTHazel Creek, Clinch tailwater, South Fork Holston tailwater, Little Pigeon, Abrams CreekGEORGIARIVER: TOCCOA RIVERFLY FISHING GUIDE: KENT KLEWEIN, Reel Job FishingTrout need cold water to survive, so it is no wonder that those states deep in Dixie do not immediately jump to mind when discussing fly fishing for brooks, bows, and browns. Georgia is easily overlooked because of its reputation for sweltering summer heat and vast areas of low, coastal country. Head up to the mountains of north Georgia, however, and you find a different story.“North Georgia is a legitimate trout fishing destination. It’s very similar to western North Carolina or east Tennessee fishing,” said guide Kent Klewein. “All our mountain streams are very similar. You can fish for one hundred percent wild trout and be challenged, even if you are an advanced fly fisherman who has been fishing for life.”Klewein should know: he has been fishing and guiding in north Georgia for the better part of his life. Hooked on fly fishing since he was 10 years old, Klewein is the owner and head guide at Reel Job Fishing, based out of Blue Ridge, Ga. and publishes the fly fishing blog Gink & Gasoline with fishing buddy and photographer Louis Cahill. Klewein says one of the best places to hook a trophy Georgia trout is on the Toccoa River, just outside of Blue Ridge.The Toccoa River is a tailwater that flows out of Lake Blue Ridge just east of the town, and it is stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Wade fishing at four public access points is an option, but Klewein recommends a drift boat, canoe, or kayak for covering as much water as possible. The two main floats, from the dam to Curtis Switch or from Curtis Switch to Horse Shoe Bend Park, will give you the best opportunity to cast for the Toccoa’s surprisingly large trout.“There’s 16 miles of river so there’s a huge amount of water and the fact of the matter is, it’s stocked with thousands of trout every year so at least you know you’re going to a place that has fish in it,” said Klewein. “On top of that, there are some reproducing fish in it, and lots of holdovers, so it has something for everybody.”Above the lake, the upper Toccoa is still relatively large and also holds decent trout, although the water temperature rises during the peak summer months. Klewein says the upper part of the river is a gorgeous stretch of water and there is a two-mile delayed harvest section near the top of the lake. Several small tributaries, like Noontootla Creek and Rock Creek, also flow into the upper Toccoa and hold wild trout. If you are after the big boys, however, there is only one place to go. A tailwater equals big water, and big water equals big fish…if you can catch them. Even though the fish are stocked, Klewein insists to land that lunker, you still have to be on top of your game.“They’re in there,” he says. “There are people who have caught 12-pound trout out of [the Toccoa]. It’s just one of those things. One, you can’t make it happen; you just have to put the time in. Two, you just have to fish smart and be skilled enough to make the cast you need to fool those bigger fish.”FLIES // Tiny Black Stoneflies, Blue Wing Olive, Griffiths Gnat, WD-40, Beatis Nymph, March Brown, Hendrickson, Olive Caddis, Sulphur.ACCESS // To float the river, take Route 76/515 west out of Blue Ridge and put in at the dam via North River Road. To wade, enter the river at one of three other access points – Tammen Park just below the dam, Curtis Switch Road, or Horse Shoe Bend Park in McCaysville – just be sure to enter and exit the river at these points as the river is flanked by private land.BEST OF THE RESTChattooga, Cohutta, Jacks Creek, Conosauga, Cooper CreekWEST VIRGINIARIVER: SENECA CREEKFLY FISHING GUIDE: SAM KNOTTS, Appalachian Fly Fishing Guide ServiceFlowing through the mountains of West Virginia is Seneca Creek, one of Trout Unlimited’s 100 Best Trout Streams in America. The creek itself is a medium to small freestone stream marked with several small waterfalls, nice runs, and deep pools. Several small tributaries feed into Seneca, giving the creek water quality that is unsurpassed in the state and allowing it to support a healthy population of reproducing, wild rainbow and brook trout.“You have to walk in to fish [Seneca] and not everybody fishes it,” he said. “You’ve got some of the prettiest trout there that West Virginia has to offer with the native brook trout and the wild rainbows. It’s about the most pristine stream we have in the state.”The walk in refers to accessing the best stretches of Seneca Creek, which unlike most streams on this list does not have roadside access. The Seneca Creek Trail traces the river and a two-mile moderate hike will get you to the river’s sweet spot, a five-mile section of water between a low waterfall and Judy Springs Campground upriver. There is a total of 10 miles of fishable water in a steep gorge, the perfect opportunity to pack in a tent and fish for a few days, especially given the liberal camping rules of the area. Knotts has been fishing the trout streams of his home state for nearly 40 years and still does not tire of this creek, mainly because of the solitude and beauty of this mountain stream. On Seneca you are virtually guaranteed to have the water to yourself on any given day.“Matching the hatches is what I enjoy the most and fishing a stream were you don’t have a lot of pressure or a lot of people,” he said. “I like the smaller streams. You get away from people and it’s just prettier.”FLIES // Hare’s Ear Nymph, Prince Nymph, Woolly Bugger, Trude, Hendrickson, Blue Wing Olive, Quill Gordon, Light Cahill, TerrestrialsACCESS // Take Route 33/55 west out of Seneca Rocks and after five miles take a left onto Whites Run Road. Look for a small parking area at the Allegheny Mountains trailhead and follow the path along the creek.BEST OF THE RESTNorth Fork of South Branch Potomac, Back Fork of Elk, Shavers Fork, Blackwater Canyon, Cranberry •last_img read more

Trail Mix | New Albums from Larry Keel and Malcolm Holcombe

first_imgLarry Keel and Malcolm Holcombe are often called musician’s musicians. They’re both masters of their respective crafts—Holcombe a deeply insightful lyricist and Keel best known as a fast-as-lightning flatpicking guitarist—and they’ve both shared the stage with many more-recognizable roots music icons.They’re also both Blue Ridge natives—Holcombe born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina, while Keel hails from up the chain in Virginia. And both have raspy, powerful voices: each sings like a variation of Tom Waits born in an Appalachian holler. They’re also prone to giving their respective acoustic guitars bruising, soulful workouts. By coincidence they’re also both releasing guest-filled new albums this month.Holcombe’s Another Black Hole (out February 12) is his fourteenth studio album to date. His career has been prolific and independently scrappy with one notable go at the mainstream two decades ago. Back in 1996, he inked a major-label deal with Geffen Records, but his dreams were dashed when the label decided to shelve his debut A Hundred Lies. Before heading back home to North Carolina, though, he did manage to make some notable friends. Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris added vocals to Holcombe’s 2012 album Down the River, and his new one has some impressive guest contributions as well.To make his latest album, Holcombe teamed up with former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, and some percussion help from Futureman of Bela Fleck’s Flecktones was assembled to give Holcombe’s songs a sturdy country-rock backbone and the hearty support of extra acoustic strings. There is also some electric muscle added by bayou blues guitarist Tony Joe White.The sounds are used to accentuate Holcombe’s vivid blue-collar tales. In songs like “To Get By” and “Don’t Play Around” he describes hard-luck characters trying to survive their (sometimes self-imposed) desperate circumstances. In “Papermill Man,” a song set to a rollicking honky-tonk groove, the main character suspiciously watches “dirty smoke blowin’ up in the air” and endures sawdust in his lungs while working for a dollar a day on the Pigeon River.Holcombe looks like he could be one of these characters, and he’s openly discussed battling personal demons. He has the deeply embedded facial lines of someone who’s lived hard, and when you see him perform it’s immediately obvious there is nothing contrived about his look or his notebook. As he sings on the new album’s contemplative closer, “I wallowed in my bad moves and hollered in the dark.”Keel’s songs also come from a very real place. Growing up in western Virginia near Lexington, he recalls that family members, particularly his brother Gary, taught him old mountain songs from a young age. His skill level was exceptional, and in 1993 he went west to the venerable Telluride Bluegrass Festival and placed first in the guitar competition at the progressive picker’s mecca. Two years later he went back and won the contest again, and this time Keel’s first notable band, McGraw Gap, was also recognized, taking top honors at the festival’s band competition. Keel’s old bandmate in McGraw Gap, banjo player Will Lee, is now his sideman in his current touring band the Larry Keel Experience, which also features his wife Jenny Keel on bass.Through the years, while often staying under the radar, Keel has collaborated with some of the best in bluegrass. With a style of guitar playing that’s fiery and expansive, he tends to attract those in the genre who are open to experimentation. He penned a song on the Del McCoury Band’s Grammy-winning album The Company We Keep, and he’s played shows with Tony Rice and Sam Bush.Some of these high-lonesome heroes agreed to lend a hand on Keel’s new (and 15th overall) studio album Experienced, which is being independently released on February 26. The album starts with Keel, Lee, and Bush (doing double duty on fiddle and mandolin) trading blistering solos on the six-minute newgrass workout “Ripchord,” but fleet-fingered fun is only part of the equation on this seven-track effort. “Lil’ Miss” is a bluesy shuffle that works well with Keel’s gruff vocals, while “Miles and Miles” is a patient, open-hearted highway song that features a vocal assist from jam troubadour Keller Williams. McCoury, an elder statesman in the bluegrass world who once sang with Bill Monroe, shows up too, harmonizing with Keel and fiddler Jason Carter on the fast-paced foot-stomper “Fill ‘em Up Again,” which also features mandolin help from the Steep Canyon Rangers’ Mike Guggino.The album serves as an impactful cross-generational testament to Keel’s influence in his genre. As McCoury puts it, “I think what makes Larry so powerful is that he has lived his songs, he’s not sitting in a room trying to write the hit of the week, he’s writing what’s in his heart and on his mind.”[divider]related content[/divider]last_img read more

Hillbilly Environmentalist: The Age of Loneliness

first_imgWho is The Hillbilly Environmentalist? I’m Michael Hill, an Appalachian Hillbilly, having grown up in the coal fields of Southern West Virginia, and having lived all my years up and down these ancient hills, from Coal City, W.Va., to Charlottesville, Va., to western NC. To me, few things compare to gently pulling a southern brook trout out of a cold, clear, relatively unpolluted headwater stream, or walking through the spruce-fir forests on our highest peaks. All this grandeur continues to be threatened by industry, greed, thoughtlessness, and climate change. I teach mathematics and environmental science at Asheville School. My wife and I cofounded 4X4 for Wild, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to create habitat for native pollinators in urban and suburban areas.I am fortunate that I live and work in the same place, on the campus of Asheville School. One wonderful advantage is that I walk to work each day, usually with my oldest daughter, who attends school where I teach. However, one thing I miss is the commute time listening to podcasts.On a recent drive to visit family in West Virginia, I listened to a podcast considering the various aspects of the Anthropocene, The Age of Man. Geologists are considering officially calling our present epoch “Anthropocene,” signaling a transition from the Holocene, but the new name has come with some reservations.The convincing argument posed by the pro-Anthropocene camp is that humans have so significantly altered the earth’s natural biogeochemical cycles, that the geological record thousands or millions of years from now will show a definite “golden spike” beginning at around 1950 or so. That is, when geologists dig through the rock and rubble and ice to strata representing the current age, they will see strong evidence of our significant changes to the earth’s cycling of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur. For example, our burning of fossil fuels has increased atmospheric CO2 to over 400 parts per million, a level not reached in at least 800,000 years.Exploring the effects of man on nature during the Anthropocene has already taken up many pages of other writers (e.g., Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, by Roy Scranton). I want to discuss a concept that I find even more frightening—the idea that we are rapidly approaching another epoch—the Ermocene, or The Age of Loneliness, an idea expressed by the eminent biologist and author E.O. Wilson in his most recent book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. Dr. Wilson defines the Ermocene as a period when it’s just humans, our domesticated animals, and our croplands “all around the world as far as the eye can see.” No forests, no wild black bears, no elephants, no swampland, no wilderness.Perhaps this sounds far-fetched now, especially given the hundreds of thousands of “protected” public lands we enjoy in the East. But taking a broader view, we know that approximately 25% of the world’s mammals are at risk of extinction (according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature), that nearly two-thirds of the world’s vertebrates have disappeared since 1970 (not extinctions, but sheer number of animals), that globally we cut down 15 billion trees every year, or 41 million trees every day! Even in the United States, forests move farther and farther away from us—the average distance from any point to a forest in America has increased by 14% since 1990. Consider: How many developments have you passed by in the past few weeks? New houses, strip malls, grocery stores? What happened to the trees that were there? Now, did you see that group of volunteers replacing those trees with new seedlings? (I thought not.) The point is that we continue to shrink and fragment habitat at an alarming rate, and this phenomenon is prominently responsible for our accelerating rate of biodiversity loss worldwide, especially in such crucial areas such as the rainforests of the Amazon and in Indonesia.In the Southern Appalachians, we are blessed to live in an area of relatively high biodiversity; for example, it’s been said that Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts the most biodiversity in all North America. However, even though our public lands are not seeing a rapid loss of forest cover and habitat, they still face significant threats—invasive species, climate change, and pollution form a cocktail of devastation for biodiversity.And here we arrive at the crux of Wilson’s argument: Just how lonely will we feel when we are the only ones remaining, with no spring peepers to peep (amphibians are especially susceptible to forces of extinction), no Carolina wrens to serenade us at dawn, no towering oaks to shade us, purify our water, or exhale oxygen for us to breathe? Come to think of it, how lonely are we at times even now, when we are stuck in front of a screen or in traffic, or sitting in front of the television watching another press conference?What can we do? First, we can do what readers of this magazine always do—go outside and cherish what we do have. We can take an active stance against the considerations in Washington, D.C. to pull out of global climate agreements, to provide big polluters and mountain top removers a free pass, to gut our Environmental Protection Agency, and to disavow proven science. We can plant trees, save our personal forests, and contribute to the many excellent conservation organizations in our region, such as Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Finally, we can fight like hell to protect and restore our treasured forests, swamps, beaches, and rivers. Let us not enter The Age of Loneliness, but The Age of Regeneration.last_img read more

Is Outdoor Writing Dead?

first_imgI grew up on the writing of Jack London, Beryl Markham, Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper, J.R.R. Tolkien, Zora Neal Hurston and Louis L’Amour. As a kid growing up outdoors, the worlds of White Fang, Huck Finn, West with the Night, the Sacketts and even Middle Earth were easily imagined, and more easily accessed just by heading up a wooded trail.From a dog named Buck to the vagabond slave-saving son of the town drunk to a hobbit named Frodo, every hero of my bookish youth was forged by nature, and each set out into the unknown on a quest to complete some Herculean task, along the way discovering the deep reservoir of strength he or she possessed.Even more compelling to me is how when you put all these books together, you realize that nature itself is the main character, influencing almost every turn of the plot—our planet’s chief protagonist. One way to read the Lord of the Rings is as an allegory about a young tree hugger trying to stop a demonic developer in a dark tower from turning the world into a parking lot.John Muir’s essays about the timeless trance of being outdoors were part of my wilderness enlightenment, too, his Wilderness Essays sitting atop my father’s desk. As was Edward Abbey’s brazen honesty about the beauty of littering the highway with beer cans—“It’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that’s ugly”—in Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang, and this beautiful statement: “The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone—and no one.” You can even throw in a little Thoreau, although, to a mountain man like me, he’s always seemed too citified and milquetoast.If there’s a problem here, and I think there is, it’s that all these books were written more than 40 years ago—some more than 100 years ago—and all their authors have long since gone to dust. At a time when nature is under withering assault from “greedheads, land-rapers and other human jackals,” as Hunter S. Thompson so aptly put it, outdoor writing seems to be more focused on craft beer, jam band festivals, and camping hammocks.I’ve got nothing against good beer or good music. But we outdoor writers seem to have lost sight of the true reason for being outdoors—and the perspective it gives us about the potential meaning of life. Rather than penning paeans to the transcendent euphoria of standing on a peak, we focus instead on how quickly someone climbed it. We do features on how to train for your fastest ultra-whatever, and fill page after page after page with endless reviews of outdoor equipment.As the co-founder of a website called Gear Institute, I’m more than a little guilty here. The truth is, people like to read reviews—of beer, backpacks, and bikes. It also helps pay the bills, and for magazines like Blue Ridge Outdoors, creates space for more articles about public spaces, wildlands and columns like this.For writers like me, it creates more space to find, celebrate and even write some of the same kind of outdoor literature that brought me down this path—which, I’m happy to report, actually does still exist.There are indeed more than a few shining voices in this journalistic wilderness: Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven, comes to mind, as does Elizabeth Kolbert’s harrowing The Sixth Extinction and William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days, an excellent odyssey of a life spent surfing some of the world’s best breaks, although when it comes to great outdoor literature, surfing and climbing have always been ahead of the pack.When I posed the “what’s happened to outdoor writing?” question to my editorially inclined friends, many blamed the low pay and short shelf life of digital media. Of course, if you write just to get paid, then you follow the work. If you write to explain how it feels to be outside in the world, then just maybe, sometimes you can create an experience as clear and pure as nature itself.last_img read more