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Summer is officially here and with all of this sunshine plenty of people are hitting the rivers and lakes to cool off! I want to say thank you to everyone who has volunteered to help out TVA public lands over the past few months. June is Trails Month and this past June TVA celebrated National Trails Day by offering up volunteer days on the Forest City Trail, with Watts Bar Lake Association and on the Tellico East Lakeshore Trails for Wild Cat Trim Day with The Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir. Volunteers performed trail maintenance and gathered for a day of fun. A huge thank you for our Adopt a Spot and Adopt a Trail volunteers for completing your forms this spring as well. Our staff really appreciates your input! Make sure to read about our upcoming events and our first volunteer spotlight!

As we move into the dog days of summer, please remember to stay well hydrated and have fun as you volunteer and recreate on TVA lands!

Thank you and have a great summer!

Suzanne

Opportunities 

Saturday, July 14, 2018
Bioblitz at Worthington Cemetery

Discover Life in America and TVA will host “Bioblitz”, a fun day of plant and insect identification on the trails throughout the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area on Melton Hill Reservoir.

Location: TVA Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area, Oak Ridge, TN.
Coordinates: 36.04781 -84.207069

TVA contact: Melinda Watson mawatson@tva.gov
 

TVA and the Appalachian Trail

June is Trails Month, and there’s one storied trail that touches TVA property in two spots: the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Learn more about the great A.T., and how its history is intertwined with that of TVA. 

Eighty-five years ago, TVA came into existence with the stroke of a pen from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who embraced the vision of a federal agency that would use its resources to make life better for the people of the Tennessee Valley. All along the way, that vision has included not just power generation and its benefits, but also oversight and protection of natural lands and waters for all people to enjoy.

Fifty years ago this year, the National Trails System Act of 1968 supported and reinforced that vision, using federal power to protect and preserve long-distance hiking trails. One of the first chosen for this designation was the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, often referred to simply as the A.T. It is the only National Scenic Trail that intersects TVA land, crossing in two spots: Fontana Dam in Graham and Swain Counties, North Carolina, and Watauga Dam in Carter County, Tennessee.

A Grand Idea… from a Future TVA Employee

The idea of the trail was first conceived in 1921 by Benton MacKaye, shortly after the death of his wife. He was a Connecticut forester who came up with a plan for a grand hiking trail that would connect a series of farms and wilderness work/study camps across many states. MacKaye was an early pioneer of the idea of public land preserved for public recreation and enjoyment.

“The A.T. has a historical connection to TVA as well, through him,” says Aurora Pulliam, recreation representative with TVA’s Natural Resources organization. “He was one of the first to come up with the entire concept of regional planning, and in 1934, MacKaye worked at TVA as a regional planner.”

The trail was first completed in 1937. After the National Trails System Act helped provide new protection for it, a permanent route for the trail was mapped out, and by 1971 it had been marked (although minor changes continue to this day).

The A.T. is the longest hiking-only trail in the world, stretching about 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. More than two million people hike at least parts of it each year, with about 2,700 attempting to walk the entire length in a single season. (Only about 10-15 percent of those hikers actually make it.)

The trail corridor crosses many layers of history, from ancient tribal camps to Civil War battle sites. Hundreds of archaeological sites have been documented and there may be hundreds, perhaps thousands, more yet to be explored.

There are thousands of plant and animal species along the trail, including some endangered ones. In the South, the lowland forests around the trail consist entirely of second-growth trees, since the entire southern part of the trail has been logged at one point or another, but there are a few patches of original growth in the Northeast.

The “Fontana Hilton”

Originally, only simple open shelters were constructed for hikers to rest in, but over the years more elaborate shelters were put up. One that’s considered the best, the Fontana Dam Shelter, is on TVA land—it’s nicknamed “the Fontana Hilton” for its amenities, such as flush toilets, and its proximity to restaurants and a post office. The site is also special on the A.T. because Fontana Dam marks the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“We’re proud of the ‘Fontana Hilton,’” says TVA recreation engineering specialist Jimmy Lemmond. “We take good care of the shelter itself, the shower house and the primitive tent area at Fontana. It’s a nice place to take a break, and there’s a steady stream of hikers coming and going.”

At Watauga, TVA maintains about a mile and a half of the A.T. across Watauga Dam and TVA-managed property. “This portion of the trail is maintained in partnership with various local nonprofit organizations and volunteers,” explains Randy Short, TVA watershed rep. “TVA has also recently constructed a new .4-mile connector trail from the A.T. to the Watauga Visitor Center for hikers’ convenience.”

You Can Help the Trail

Although the Appalachian Trail is federally designated, federal funds cover less than half the cost of maintaining it. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service oversee the trail, but they partner with other public agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and TVA. It’s estimated that volunteers provide some $3 million worth of trail upkeep each year.

“The sections of the A.T. that cross TVA land are maintained by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club and the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoe Club,” explains Pulliam. “These clubs log hundreds of volunteer hours each year clearing brush and debris from the trail, cleaning out water bars, stabilizing trail tread and water crossings, and keeping shelters and campsites in safe, clean condition.

“TVA Natural Resources employees are invited to annual partnership meetings to collaborate on projects and events, like the upcoming ‘Kill the Dam Invasives’ event. We’re also consulted when projects arise that involve rerouting the A.T. around high lake levels, or shelter closures due to bear activity.”

The Appalachian Trail has a certain mystique about it, having been the subject of numerous books, movies and stories. But it is just one piece of the large trail system that TVA helps protect, working in conjunction with its partners.

“TVA’s mission is to serve the people of the valley and make our region the best place to live, work and play,” says Bucky Edmondson, Natural Resources director. “Through partnerships such as these, we can increase recreational opportunities and protect public lands throughout the region.”

How to stay safe in the great outdoors

The Tennessee Valley is filled with beautiful spots for camping, hiking and canoeing. However, outdoor enthusiasts can suddenly encounter wildlife, either in the Valley or while traveling elsewhere.

“It’s very unlikely that a hiker in the TVA region would come across a grizzly bear, since they are usually found in the western United States. However, black bears inhabit the Valley, along with snakes, bobcats and other wild cats,” said Evan Crews, senior manager, TVA Natural Resources. “No matter what you’re doing—hiking, birdwatching or just enjoying the view—you should always know what to do if you are bitten by a snake, encounter a wild animal or find a tick on your skin.”

Would you know what to do? Take this multiple-choice quiz and find out.

If you encounter a bear at a distance while hiking:
Make as much noise as possible by yelling very loudly.
Slowly back away.
Run away as fast as you can.
Play dead.

(Answer: Slowly back away. Running may trigger a chase response from the animal.)

If a bear charges toward you:
Directly confront the bear in a physical manner.
Stand your ground and use bear spray when the animal is 30-60 feet away.
Slowly back away.
Run away as fast as you can.
Play dead.

(Answer: Stand your ground and begin spraying bear spray when the animal is 30-60 feet away. Always hike with bear spray. Should you ever “play dead” in a bear attack? The National Park Service cautions that this advice is different depending on the species of bear. Only if a brown bear or grizzly bear actually makes contact with you, play dead to show you are not a threat.

If you are attacked by a black bear, however, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. If escape is not possible, try to fight back using any object available. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear’s face and muzzle.

If any bear attacks you in your tent, or stalks you and then attacks, do NOT play dead—fight back! This kind of attack is very rare, but can be serious because it often means the bear is looking for food and sees you as prey.)

The following will help keep bears away from your campsite:
Properly storing all food and garbage.
Scattering garlic around the site.
Nothing will keep a hungry bear away.

(Answer: Secure all food and garbage in sealed bags or airtight containers.)

If you encounter a mountain lion or other large feral cat:
Run away as fast as you can.
Wave your arms and make loud noises.
Remain still and silent.

(Answer: Do not run, but stand tall and open your coat or raise your arms to look big. Maintain eye contact, slowly wave your arms, speak firmly and if necessary, throw objects at the cat. Normally, it will move on.)

The best way to remove a tick is to:
Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible, then pull straight up and away from the skin.
Apply Vaseline and then slide tweezers under the tick, grab and pull from skin.
Use a match to burn the tick, then use tweezers to grab and pull from skin.

(Answer: Grab it with tweezers close to your skin, then pull straight up and away. Don’t use Vaseline or matches.)

After removing the tick, you should go to the doctor:
Only if you develop a target- or bulls-eye shaped rash.
If you develop a rash of any shape.
If you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms.
Answers 1 and 3
Answers 2 and 3

(Answer: 2 and 3. If you develop a rash of any kind or have flu-like symptoms, seek medical help immediately.)

A Southern copperhead snake, which is venomous.

If you encounter a snake:
Approach it while making loud noises to scare it away.
Use a long stick to push it away.
Stay calm and keep your distance.
Throw liquid at the snake.

(Answer: Stay calm and keep your distance. Don’t stand between the snake and bushes or other cover, as the snake will often try to escape.)

If you are bitten by a snake:
Have somebody suck out the venom, being careful not to swallow it.
Apply ice directly over the bite.
Keep your distance from the snake and obtain medical care as quickly as possible.
All of the above.

(Answer: Any snakebite victim should go to a hospital ER immediately.)

If you are stung by a bee or wasp:
Remove the stinger as soon as possible using tweezers, or scrape with a credit card.
Wash the site with soap and water.
Apply ice to the sting.
All of the above.

(Answer: All of the above. In addition, watch for an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of the face or throat, and difficulty breathing. If any of these occur, take an antihistamine and seek medical help immediately.)

  • “If you know you have a significant allergy—more than pain and redness at the site—to bees or wasps, your physician likely has prescribed an Epi-Pen that you should carry with you at all times,” advised Dr. Brenda Sowter, TVA staff physician. “You should further protect yourself in case of a significant insect sting by ensuring individuals that are frequently around you know how to administer the Epi-Pen should you rapidly become unable to do so yourself.”

If you encounter a skunk:
Wave your arms and make loud noises.
Run away as fast as you can.
Slowly and quietly back away, making as little noise as possible.

(Answer: It’s best to slowly and quietly back away. Restrain dogs. If you or your pet gets sprayed, bathe in a solution of one quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and 1-2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid. Discard the solution afterward. Don’t use tomato juice—it doesn’t work.)

Volunteer Spotlight

Each newsletter we will be spotlighting volunteers that help out on TVA lands! Thank you so much for the hard work that you do to preserve and protect the trails and dispersed recreation sites. If you are a volunteer that would like to be featured, please email volunteer@tva.gov. We would love to share your story!
This summer, we spotlight the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC), a Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association Chapter. The AMBC has been helping volunteer to maintain the Loyston Point Trail on Norris Reservoir during Public Lands Day. Thank you so much for your help!

Wes Soward, president of AMBC tells us why he land his group likes to volunteer at Loyston Point.
  • I volunteer because…  It’s great to have access to public land, and volunteering to help maintain these resources is one of the most important factors in deciding to be a trail volunteer.
  • Public lands are important because…  Public Lands are important because they provide a venue for all of us to enjoy.   It is important physically and psychologically for people to get outside.  Having access to public land and recreation assets within, help to satisfy that need.
  • Loyston trail system is special because…  Not only is Loyston a great example of a true multi use system, but it really is a great resource for trail users during wet weather periods.  The soil type and sustainability of the trail design allows users to enjoy the trails when other area trails are too wet to ride.   They trails are also just plain fun to ride as well.
  • I look forward to trail work days because…  It’s a perfect opportunity to give back a few hours of my time to help support TVA’s work in providing trail access.  The trail work is important, but the camaraderie and community aspect of a trail work days is great to be a part of as well.  

Reminders & Volunteer Spotlight

  • Adopt a Spot Volunteer, remember to fill out your Condition Evaluation Report and submit your volunteer hours to volunteer@tva.gov.
  • You’ll look great relaxing in our new volunteer hammocks! Complete your required 4 site visits and we’ll send you one for to recognize your hard work! Make sure that you submit your monitoring forms, so we’ll know how many site visits you have completed! If you already have your hammock, we’d love to see a photo of where you take it! Just hashtag #tvafun on social media! Keep the photos coming! We love seeing how you recreate on TVA public lands!

Got a question? Pick the PLIC

TVA’s Public Land Information Center (PLIC) is your single source for answers to questions about a variety of public land topics including recreational opportunities and shoreline permits.

Call (800) 882-5263 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET or submit your question using the form found here.

Join the fun!
We would love to see photos of your volunteer activities and stories. Send them to volunteer@tva.gov for a chance to be featured in the next newsletter.

Share your adventure on social media by tagging #tvafun to your posts on Instagram or Facebook

Find out about volunteer events and opportunities on TVA public lands in other parts of seven states in the Tennessee Valley by visiting the www.tva.com/volunteer

Plan your next adventure on TVA lands by visiting www.tva.com/recreation
 
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