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Outdoors

Macon’s best kept secret will soon be serving region’s youth again

For nearly a decade, an adventure camp stowed away in Tessentee in the southern part of Macon County went untouched. Bunk houses were beginning to crumble, the camp's fire ring was swallowed by poison ivy, and a high ropes course built in the ’70s blended in with native pines. What was once a destination for Boy and Girl Scout troops from across the region, had quickly tumbled into an overgrown wasteland with just a few years of neglect.

But all that has changed, and Macon County is well on its way to once again being home to one of western North Carolina's best kept secrets, a prime adventure camp abundant in natural resources.

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A new invasive plant species that appears to be poised to be a terrible invasive in moist, nutrient-rich situations across eastern North America has been documented in six counties in North Carolina, three in Tennessee, two in South Carolina and two in Georgia: fig buttercup, also called lesser celandine (Ficaria verna, formerly Ranunculus ficaria).

Fig Buttercup is an early-blooming perennial with origins in Europe and northern Africa. It is sometimes confused with marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). Because of its showy yellow flowers, it has apparently been enjoyed in gardens for many years, mostly in the Northeast. More recently, its behavior is transitioning to that of an aggressive invasive species that threatens bottomlands throughout its adopted range.

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Base Camp Cullowhee, Western Carolina University’s outdoor programming organization, will launch a speaker series focused on outdoor adventure with a Tuesday, March 3, presentation featuring Mark Singleton, executive director of American Whitewater.

The program will begin at 7 p.m. in the theater of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. It is free and open to everyone.

The new speaker series is designed to complement and enhance WCU’s reputation as an epicenter of outdoor adventure, said Josh Whitmore, WCU’s associate director for outdoor programs who oversees the operations of Base Camp Cullowhee. Plans are to bring at least one outdoor adventurer to WCU’s campus each semester to talk about his or her experiences in a variety of recreational activities and to discuss the need for outdoor recreation enthusiasts to advocate for the wild places they love, Whitmore said.

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Trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation have awarded a grant to the N.C. Wildlife Federation (NCWF) to support the organization’s mission and work.

The NCWF is dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlife and wildlife habitats. With 70 years of experience, NCWF works to represent the concerns of every North Carolinian who loves wildlife and the places where wildlife live.

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation supports organizations that work with diverse constituencies to broaden the number and the range of citizens acting on behalf of the environment,” said Leslie Winner, Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “The NC Wildlife Federation is a great example of an organization that is empowering people in urban, suburban and rural communities across the state to promote environmental education, sustainability and stewardship. We are proud to partner together to achieve this shared vision.”

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