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The annual prediction from Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster, should make chamber of commerce officials across the Western North Carolina mountains happy this year.

That’s because Mathews is calling for an excellent fall color show, thanks in large part to weather conditions over the spring and summer.

“2011 should prove to be an excellent year for fall color,” said Mathews, WCU associate professor of biology specializing in plant systematics. “While heavy spring rain is generally not a good sign for fall color, records indicate that rainfall was slightly below normal for March, average for April and May, and slightly below normal for June and July, as gardeners struggled to keep their crops watered,” she said. “These conditions actually are promising for good development of leaf color in September and October.”


ATC says about one in four attempts are successful

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) announces that it has received more than 12,000 reported 2,000 mile hikers applications. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) but only about one in four make it all the way.

To qualify as a 2,000 miler, hikers must walk the entire estimated 2,180 miles of the A.T. This journey travels through fourteen states ranging from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the Trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine.


Aviation Historial Society meets with guest speaker

The Aviation Historical Society met recently at the Macon County Airport with guest speaker, Bob Scott. Scott related some of the more interesting plane crashes in eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern South Carolina and western North Carolina that comprise this region of the Smoky Mountain National Park. “It [plane crashes] is not a morbid curiosity,” Scott said, “but it is interesting.” In fact, Scott has written a number of articles on the subject.

Scott also pointed out that the Civil Air Patrol, for which he is still a card-carrying member, oftentimes played a key supporting role to those search and rescue efforts. “As an auxiliary of the Air Force, the primary duty of the Civil Air Patrol, as assigned by Congress, is search and rescue operations.” Scott explained that, any operation that Civil Air Patrol gets involved in, the Air Force has to approve the mission for the organization to be reimbursed for expenses.


Tourism Development Authority approves funding

Members of Franklin’s Tourism Development Authority (TDA) unanimously voted to provide funding for Franklin’s upcoming Outdoor Athlon event in an emergency vote on Aug. 11.

The TDA grant was approved after Rob Gasbarro and Cory McCall, proprietors of the downtown Franklin outfitter store Outdoor 76, presented their plans for holding the event later this fall at the Aug. 8 TDA meeting.


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