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The Highlands Plateau Audubon Society board of directors recently met at The Mountain Retreat for an all day planning meeting for next year's happenings.

Members shown are Russ Regnery, president, Avary Doubleday, vice president, Heather Starck, executive director of Audubon N.C., Michelle Ruigrok, secretary, Kyle Pursel, Ann Campbell, George Kaye, Don Shure, and Mike Kaiser, treasurer. Not pictured are Brock Hutchins, Romney Bathurst, Pat Strickland, Michelle Styring, and Glenda Zahner.

The Franklin Bird Club will participate in its second Audubon Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 4, and welcomes participation from the public. The group will be joining 60,000 other volunteers in the count that began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon magazine) suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most small game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people count birds instead.

The Christmas Bird Count has become an important Citizen Science project. “This is not just about counting birds,” says Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist. “Data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count are at the heart of hundreds of peerreviewed scientific studies and informed decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.”


For two years Jim Pader has been training for his hike up Mount Whitney near Death Valley, Calif. by hiking hundreds of miles on the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail, often at night, and by himself. Many hikers take three days for this trip to the summit of Mount Whitney, camping out for two nights.

Pader did the 22 miles with his daughter Olga Suzanna, son Jimmy, and Macon County coach Sarah Lowell in one day. At 83 years old, he is the oldest man to accomplish this task.


On a drizzling Sept. 12, Bill and Sharon Van Horn completed their eight-year section hike journey of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Their last section of about 220 miles started in Rangeley, Me., and ended at the northern terminus at Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. It included 100 miles in the Maine wilderness (no towns, no place to resupply). Some hikers elect to complete the 2,189.5 mile AT in one calendar year and are known as thru-hikers. Others hike the trail in sections over any number of years, as long as it takes.


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