A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices

Across Appalachia

Maison Reciprocity Takes on Europe

By Kelsey Boyajian

Appalachian State University’s Solar Decathlon team is hammering away in preparation for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 to be held in Versailles, France this summer. ASU will be pairing with Universite d’Angers for the project, dubbed Maison Reciprocity. The task is almost 60 percent complete as of mid-January.

ASU first championed this 12 year-old energy efficiency competition in 2011 with their Solar Homestead project, based on a rural setting in Asheville. In contrast to the United States’ contest, the European Decathlon will focus on an urban development solution. ASU’s design will feature a four-story space with two floors of businesses, two floors of residential space and an open-air green space on the roof. A slightly smaller 1300-square-foot mock version of the building will be transported in six separate shipping containers and reassembled in France.

“The European Decathlon starts to think not only regionally, but globally as well by designing a home that can reflect both this region and France,” explains Mark Bridges, the communications manager for the project.

Find out more here.

Report Finds Budget Cuts Harm National Parks

By Kelsey Boyajian

A recent report entitled “Death by a Thousand Cuts” portrays the mounting financial difficulties faced by national parks due to budget cuts directly affecting their maintenance and operations.

These cuts have totaled $350 million since last year, a 13 percent reduction in funding for all national parks. In Shenandoah National Park, a $625,000 reduction lead to a shorter campground season and the cancellation of 200 programs. The Blue Ridge Parkway was hit the hardest with a loss of $784,000, leading to a shutdown of parks and picnic areas. The report, authored by Environment America, notes that national parks are an important home to threatened and endangered species, as well as a significant source of revenue for the national and local economy.

NC Trail Wins Environmental Education Award

By Kelsey Boyajian

A trail at Lake James State Park has received an environmental education award from the National Association for Interpretation for championing fun and informational ways to take a hike.

Two maintenance employees of the park volunteered to construct the interactive trail, completing it in a matter of months. According to Park Ranger Jamie Cameron, they received what he believes to be the first environmental education award to be given to a trail.

The trail features hand-built displays ranging from a rotten log station to a fairy house around the ¾ mile walk.

Great Attendance at Virginia Parks

Virginia State Parks had record-breaking attendance this past year with nearly nine million visitors, a six percent increase from 2012. Revenue from Virginia’s 36 parks totaled $206 million, representing a four percent increase from the previous year’s earnings.