On the Blogs: The Economy of the ‘Lucky Country’ Is at Risk From Its Lack of Diversification

first_imgOn the Blogs: The Economy of the ‘Lucky Country’ Is at Risk From Its Lack of Diversification FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Satyajit Das for Bloomberg View:If Australia is an economic miracle—the so-called Lucky Country, beneficiary of more than a quarter century of uninterrupted growth—then its banks are its most visible sign of strength. In fact, though, this ruddy good health masks some deeply worrying trends. The balance sheets of Australia’s biggest banks are far more vulnerable than they may seem on the surface—and that means Australia is, too.Australian financial institutions have made the same fundamental mistake the rest of the country has, assuming that growth based on “houses and holes”—rising property prices and resources buried underground—can continue indefinitely. In fact, despite a recent rebound in Chinese demand, commodities prices look set to remain weak for the foreseeable future. Banks’ exposure to the slowing natural resources sector has reached nearly $50 billion in loans outstanding—worryingly large relative to their capital resources.Pundits have been saying for years that Australia needs to diversify its economy, boosting services exports—primarily tourism, education and health—rather than continuing to depend on resources and debt-fueled property growth. Banks need to do the same, reducing their exposure to the housing market and the mining industry. At the same time, they should move swiftly to shore up their balance sheets, aggressively increasing bad-debt reserves, raising capital and gradually trimming dividends. Even their otherwise enviable luck can’t last forever.In Australia, All That Glitters Isn’t Goldlast_img read more

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The Dubious Case for Appalachian Coal Subsidies

first_imgThe Dubious Case for Appalachian Coal Subsidies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times:As technologies for renewable energy and grid management advance, the special position that coal has held since Thomas Edison’s first power plants in the 1880s has become much harder to defend.The call to subsidize coal is a sign of how the economics of power generation have been transformed. Just five years ago, it was renewable sources that needed subsidies to compete, but their costs have been plummeting. Now the US is phasing out its federal tax breaks for renewable energy, and it is coal producers that are pleading for help.The plight of Appalachian coal owes a lot to a factor specific to the US: the flood of cheap gas unleashed by the shale revolution. Elsewhere, though, there are signs that demand for coal is crumbling.World coal production fell by 6 per cent last year, according to the International Energy Agency, as demand from power plants dropped in the US, Britain and other countries. Even China, long seen as the consumer of last resort, cut its coal use by 1.8 per cent. In Germany, which plunged early into renewable energy when costs were much higher, and sent its electricity prices soaring as a result, coal made a comeback during 2009-13, but here too it is in decline.With the cost argument slipping away, defenders of coal have been shifting to the issue of reliability. (West Virginia Gov. Jim) Justice talks about his hoped-for subsidy as a “national security” incentive, guaranteeing coal to keep grids working.The argument is that as “baseload” coal-fired plants, available to run 24/7, have had to close because of unfavorable economics, grids have become more reliant on variable wind and solar power, raising the risk of blackouts.So far, though, there is little evidence that the rise of renewables has had any impact on reliability. In the US, the share of generation coming from wind and large-scale solar plants has risen from 0.7 per cent in 2005-07 to about 6 per cent in 2014-16, but the number of people affected by an “electric emergency [or] disturbance” has dropped from about 13m a year to about 11m.Other countries with higher use of renewable energy report similar results. Over 2006-16, the proportion of wind and solar power in Britain’s electricity supply grew from 1.3 per cent to 14.2 per cent, but the total number of minutes when customers lost power — excluding “exceptional” events — dropped by 41 per cent.The IEA has argued that countries can source up to 45 per cent of their electricity from wind and solar “without significantly increasing power system costs in the long run”.To go beyond that “calls for a system-wide transformation,” but the technologies to make that possible already exist. In a recent article in the Electricity Journal, Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute lists options for balancing the grid that could cost less than coal-fired plants. These include greater efficiency and “demand response” — cutting use to avoid strain on the grid.The barriers to adopting those resources are mostly commercial and political. There is a strong incentive to overcome those obstacles. “Keeping the lights on” has been a rousing rallying cry in the defense of King Coal, but it increasingly looks like a rearguard action.More: ($) The lights are dimming on King Coal’s hold over energy marketslast_img read more

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‘Sea-change’ driving demand for renewable energy in U.S.

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters: The wind and solar industries hope demand for carbon-free power from U.S. cities, states and corporations can offset headwinds from President Donald Trump’s tax policy and tariffs, developers said this week.The Trump tax overhaul trimmed production and investment tax credits, and the administration also slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. The moves, aimed at boosting manufacturing and economic growth, also dimmed prospects for renewables. But Trump’s withdrawal of federal support for Obama-era climate goals indirectly helped the industry by inspiring a backlash among U.S. cities, states and corporations, which have grown more ambitious about installing cleaner forms of energy.Also, investors with years of deals under their belts are less wary about financing solar and wind than they were years ago, and socially responsible funds are actively seeking projects to invest in, according to executives and investors at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street in New York. “There is a sea change in grass-roots demand for renewable energy,” Susan Nickey, managing director at Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital Inc., which invests about $1 billion a year in the sector, said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference on Tuesday. “More and more corporations and consumers are saying ‘We want 100 percent renewable energy,’” she said, adding city and state governments are adopting renewable-friendly policies to reflect that growing demand.She cited a survey of financial institutions that showed two-thirds of respondents planned to boost renewable investments this year. Some 89 percent said they would sharply increase planned investments from now to 2030 unless government policies slow demand for renewable energy.More: Renewable energy seeks demand, investment to survive Trump squeeze ‘Sea-change’ driving demand for renewable energy in U.S.last_img read more

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Things People Say

first_imgWhen people find out that I’m an ultramarathoner, they typically do one of two things. They either turn away, convinced that I must be out of my mind, or they pepper me with a thousand questions. It’s as if they turn into amateur anthropologists who have just discovered a new tribe of humans, and their mission is to figure out how we work. The questions normally fall into one of several categories:Eating and Other Bodily Functions:  What do you eat? Do you stop for meals? Naps? Bathroom breaks? Where do you go to the bathroom, anyway?The Mental:  What do you think about while you’re out there running for so long? Do you ever get bored? Why do you do it?The Physical:  How do you train? Do you ever get tired? Do you ever get injured? What’s the farthest you’ve ever run? What’s your average pace?  How fast can you run a mile? Do you ever walk? How do your knees take it?Then there are the general comments: Wow, I can’t even drive a car that far. You must be dedicated, insane, or superhuman.The funny thing is, these questions are frequently asked by fellow runners. People who run 10k’s and marathons, who are used to logging lots of miles. Somehow, when the prefix “ultra” is added to a word, the term becomes mysterious and unfathomable. Dictionary.com defines ultra as “going beyond what is usual or ordinary; excessive; extreme.” It derives from the Latin ulter, meaning “on the far side of, beyond.” Seen in this light, I guess my pastime is not exactly typical. That must be why people frequently comment that I’m crazy, and why my mom gets worried every time I tell her about a new adventure I have planned.From my perspective, however, running ultras is not extreme or outrageous. It’s just a natural extension of what began back in the third grade, when my classmates and I were forced to run the 600 as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Back then, that distance might as well have been a marathon. The 50-yard dash – okay, that was reasonable. The dreaded 600 was another story. Side stitches, leg cramps, and asthma attacks were inevitable. Same with the half-mile we had to run as a warm-up at soccer practice. What were those coaches thinking?With time, however, an interesting thing happened. I began to like those distances. I recently reconnected with a teammate from my seventh grade soccer team and she reminisced about how much I seemed to enjoy those “long runs.” Looking back, I guess that those practices foreshadowed the distance runner I was to become. I recognize there is a lot of distance between 600 yards and a hundred miles, but all of that ground is covered in the same manner – one step at a time.So when I’m asked those questions – by runners and nonrunners alike – my answers are pretty simple. I do it because I love it, because I can, and by putting one foot in front of the other, step after step, mile after mile, hour after hour. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take superhuman strength or endurance. It simply requires desire, commitment and perseverance. I’d be willing to bet that most of you could do it too if you set your mind to it – and are willing to put up with with all of those silly questions.last_img read more

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First Turns in Tucker County Giveaway

first_imgWIN $100 Gift Card to Ski Barn and a Ski Package to Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Tucker County:Two Night Stay for TwoTwo Day Lift Tickets for TwoEquipment Rental for Two[contact-form-7 404 “Not Found”]Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on December 1, 2015. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before December 1, 6:00 PM EST 2015. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

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Trail Mix | April 2017

first_img 1:44 Audio PlayerJenny ScheinmanA Kid Named LilyUse Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.00:000:00 / 1:44 Over the Hill and Through the Woods Lillie Mae 3:52 3:40 3:41 Fayinkounko Orchestra Baobab Ancient Family Dangermuffin 4:32 3:05 4:45 3:38 A Kid Named Lily Jenny Scheinman 4:30 Here’s a band that gets it.I remember that being the first thing I thought when I saw this video of The Whiskey Gentry some five years ago. They get it. All of it. The sound, the energy, the performance. It’s all there.Since then, I have been lucky enough to get to know Lauren and Jason Morrow and the various and sundry gentry that surround them. Tremendous folks all, and it is with much excitement that I have been follow their musical journey and have awaited their latest record, Dead Ringer, which released at the end of March.Featured this month on Trail Mix is “Looking For Trouble,” a powerful blend of old country tradition and garage rock swagger.On the mix this month are brand new tracks from two bright new female voices, Lillie Mae and Sarah Shook. Lillie Mae, who cut her teeth on mandolin and fiddle with Jack White’s band, blends old time Appalachia with crunchy rock and roll on her debut record, which was produced by none other than White himself. And Sarah Shook, releasing her first record with her new band, the Disarmers, continues to be all grit and badassery.And who knew that the guitarist from one of the biggest rock bands in the world had an alt-country streak? Chris Shiflett, long time member of Foo Fighters, joined forces with Dave Cobb, the Grammy winning producer behind the work of Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton, on West Coast Town, his third solo record. Trail Mix is happy to be featuring “Sticks & Stones” this month.April’s mix features the return of some long time friends and favorites. Back on the mix are Craig Finn, Malcolm Holcombe, Front Country, Ruthie Foster, Dangermuffin, Andrew Combs, and The Whistles & The Bells.There’s also an international flair this month.We are featuring  a new tune from Orchestra Baobab, a band returning from a longtime recording hiatus. This month, the world music masters, who have been performing in some form or fashion since the 1960s, release their first album in a decade.Be sure to take a listen to new tracks from Trail Mix newcomers like Cory Branan,  Tow’rs, Jessie Smith, Christina Cavazos, Blackfoot Gypsies, and That One Eyed Kid.Keep yourself tuned in to the Trail Mix blog this month, too. Chats with Jenny Scheinman, The Weeks, and author Peter Cooper are in store, as a visit to the Ralph Stanley Museum in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.And, of course, get out and buy some of this music. Hit your local record store. Find it online directly from the artist. Get a few of these discs any which way you can, but make sure you do it. These fantastic musicians would appreciate it.Download April’s Trail Mix here. 3:44 Secrets In The Hollow Jessie Smith 3:14 Looking For Trouble The Whiskey Gentry 3:17 Ike The Weeks Over Me Christina Cavazos Burn Out Right That One Eyed Kid 3:54 Harry Potter The Whistles & The Bells 3:20 God in Chicago Craig Finn 3:31 Blood Hunters Andrew Combs Keep the Home Fires Burnin’ Sarah Shook & The Disarmers 5:06 Copy and paste this code to your site to embed. 3:18 Embed Imogene Cory Branan 3:04 Liminal Tow’rs Potatoes and Whiskey Blackfoot Gypsies If Something Breaks Front Country Pretty Little Troubles Malcolm Holcombe Sticks & Stones Chris Shiflett 4:10 Joy Comes Back Ruthie Foster 4:56last_img read more

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LARGELY UNDISCOVERED…CLARKSVILLE

first_imgNeed a great place to get away from the hustle & bustle? Well we have plenty of room for you to relax plus you’ll find plenty to enchant you here in Clarksville, Virginia. We’re known for our fishing tournaments and beautiful lakeside views, but that’s just the surface appeal of this area. Dive a little deeper, and you’ll find things to do and see that will delight every member of the family, no matter their age or interests. Looking for romantic getaway, a family vacation, great events, historic sites, you will find all that here, what you won’t see is bumper to bumper traffic.Need a great place to get away from the hustle & bustle? Well we have plenty of room for you to relax plus you’ll find plenty to enchant you here in Clarksville, Virginia. We’re known for our fishing tournaments and beautiful lakeside views, but that’s just the surface appeal of this area. Dive a little deeper, and you’ll find things to do and see that will delight every member of the family, no matter their age or interests. Looking for romantic getaway, a family vacation, great events, historic sites, you will find all that here, what you won’t see is bumper to bumper traffic.  Nestled on Bugg’s Island Lake (KERR LAKE) our lake holds the Virginia state and world record for the largest blue catfish catch, weighing in at 143 pounds. Clarksville also has been the premier location for nighttime fishing from a bridge and currently Clarksville is the nation’s only bridge location for hydro glow lights.Many visitors here have decided to stay, making the area’s main city of Clarksville a growing center for business and technology. We think that once you’ve seen what we have to offer, you will stay too! Your next adventure-At the Heart of It All: Clarksville  last_img read more

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Trail Mix: Rain Perry

first_imgIncome streams are dwindling. Record sales aren’t what they used to be. The devaluation of music and what it’s now deemed to be worth is laughable to me. My single costs 99 cents. That’s what one cost in 1960. On my phone, I can get an app for 99 cents that makes fart noises – the same price as the thing I create and speak to the world with. Some would say the fart app is more important. It’s an awkward time. Creative brains are being sorely mistreated. Those words were spoken by Vince Gill in 2012 during an interview with The Boot, during which Gill offered opinions on a variety of concerns regarding the modern country music scene.Gill’s words immediately came to mind when I got word of Rain Perry’s documentary, The Shopkeeper, which chronicles the story of a record studio and cadre of independent musicians in Austin, Texas. First and foremost, first time movie make Perry is a musician, so the subject matter of the film – the often conflicting goals and needs of musicians versus those of the technology industry – hits particularly close to home for her. She has seen first hand the effects – both positive and negative – that the always evolving technological innovation can have on her life and livelihood.What began as a small idea evolved into a poignant and relevant documentary on the struggles of everyday musicians around the country.I recently caught up with Rain Perry about balancing technology with musical tradition, making the movie, and where she goes from here.BRO – What drew you to the story of Mark Hallman?RP – Mark is my own record producer. We’ve done three albums together. He and I were talkign about his plans to celebrate 30-plus years of his studio, Congress House, which evolved into the idea of filming the party. Somehow, that morphed into me making a documentary about him and his studio.BRO – Your biggest challenge as a first time movie maker?RP – Not being a movie maker! When the idea was brewing, I reached out to a talented filmmaker friend, Micah Van Hove, who had directed a music video for me and with whom I had a good working relationship. He became my director of photography and also my own personal film school. We made the movie as a crew of two, which worked very well for a film about a small recording studio. No lighting, no big crew. Just Michael and his shoulder-mounted camera and me asking questions. Also, I just watched a ton of documentaries and studied the best ones for structure and interviewing technique. It was definitely a “learn while you go” situation.BRO – How do you think we should balance the ever changing technological landscape with the real time effects it has on the working musician?RP – First of all, artists should educate themselves. Spotify and the rest of these online platforms have done a masterful job with two things that work against artists. First, they’ve taught a generation of music fans that they have a right to expect access to every song they want to hear and that paying for music is silly. Second, they’ve convinced musicians that they’ve got to be on Spotify to have a career these days. Musicians need to evaluate the pros and cons of allowing Spotify to profit from their work and make strategic decisions for their own careers. It doesn’t need to be a given that they have to make all their own work available for free (or nearly free) streaming.BRO – When you finished this project, would you describe yourself as more hopeful or more worried for the independent musician?RP – I would say I was more hopeful. Every time I would get to a dark place on the topic, Mark would force me to be more optimistic. He sees a lot of good in the current model, that because they don’t expect to profit, artists are freer to make the art they really want to make, instead of chasing a label deal.BRO – Now that you’ve completed your first film, what’s next?RP – It’s time to get busy writing songs for a new record. That and promoting the film and using it to spur conversations like the one we’re having right now.For more information on how to see The Shopkeeper, surf here. You can check it out at home or attend a community screening near you, and feel free to offer up a financial donation for the cause.last_img read more

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Tiny Home, Van, or RV?

first_imgWanderlust is shared by young dreamers and wise souls alike longing for simplicity and freedom. Whether you blame social media, millennials, HGTV, or the growing financial burdens of owning a home, mobile living is a growing movement. Here are the details to decide whether a tiny home, RV, or van is the right fit for you.AestheticsA tiny house offers more traditional features like roof shingles, kitchen counters, sink, and a bathroom—and perhaps most important, wall insulation. “Campers and vans just aren’t designed to handle cold temperatures well,” says tiny home dweller and kayaking guide Fletcher Reed. Vans typically give more of a dirtbag vibe. Regardless of the custom interior work (which can be really nice), it’s still hard to escape that ‘living in a van down by the river’ mentality.Travel ReadinessThis is where van life truly shines. Kate Tierney, who has been living in her van for over a year in classic climbing destinations like the New River Gorge, describes van life as “the freedom to go where I want, when I want.” With a van, you will have the most options when deciding where to park your home for the night, whether it be a campground, parking lot, or stealth camping on a neighborhood street. They are also the most capable when it comes to handling gravel, accessing trailheads, or maneuvering tight, curvy mountain roads. With a camper, or tiny home, there are tanks that need to be emptied, leveling stabilizers that need to be raised, and hitch connections established.CostGenerally speaking, a van will be the most affordable option, with many people converting cheap, high-mileage classics for less than $10,000. Tierney was able to purchase her van for only $5,500, adding less than $1,000 in additional upgrades (with the help of a carpenter friend) to create a home she would live in for more than a year. Campers and RVs will be next in affordability, with tiny homes requiring the largest investment.ComfortWhile van life gets you easily from place to place, it also forces you to sacrifice the most in regards to comfort. That sacrifice might be worth it, though, especially if your passion is your main focus. Corey Lilly, who lived in a van for over two years while chasing clean lines down snow and whitewater, felt that van life is “totally worth it if you have a passion for something. Otherwise it’s just kind of sad.”RegulationsTiny home regulations and ordinances are often a gray area. Many localities still have strict zoning and construction laws in place, like minimum square footage requirements, and accessory dwelling unit classifications, that may prohibit you from simply parking your tiny home on a nice piece of land. Whether typical building code standards affecting loft heights, stairs, and electrical outlets should also apply to tiny homes is a frequently contested topic. As tiny living becomes more popular, it is likely that many of these codes will be adjusted. Until then, however, it would be smart to research the codes in the area you plan to put your home.last_img read more

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Cherokee’s Outdoor Jackpot

first_imgCherokee, North Carolina, may very well be the next best mountain town, and you can thank Harrah’s Cherokee Casino for that.Harrah’s Cherokee Casino never sleepsThe 150,000-square-foot gaming venue is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When I wander in on an early Tuesday evening, there are already hundreds of people crowded around blackjack tables and posted up at the slots. I can’t decide if I’m overwhelmed or impressed.More than 1,000 machines are spread neatly beneath lighted glass structures that stretch from floor to ceiling. A two-story curtain of water falls from somewhere up above. Carpet cleaner and cigarette smoke hang heavy in the air. Waiters move through the crowds with trays full of drinks.As I weave in and out of the rows of machines beneath shifting shades of purple light, it becomes apparent that, at 27, I’m the youngest guest at the casino this evening. I’ve only been to a casino once before, so with little idea of where, or how, to start, I grab dinner instead.The Noodle Bar is packed. I find a lone seat at the bar between two couples, one of which promptly leaves. I order a glass of wine and an overpriced plate of lo mein drenched in soy sauce, feeling every bit a fish out of water, when an older gentleman takes a seat beside me.“I’ll have what she’s having,” he tells the waitress. “That looks light. I’m trying to watch my sodium.”He tells me his name is John Smith—“now you can say you’ve met a real-life one”—and he’s been driving from Knoxville, Tenn., to Harrah’s nearly every month since the casino opened back in 1995. There’s a youthful charm about him, despite the silver shock of hair that hangs low over his brow. He says his game of choice is blackjack, but the slot machines are fun, too.John doesn’t know much about Cherokee outside the walls of the casino. He never stays the night, even though the casino would comp his room (if that’s any indication of how often he frequents Harrah’s), and he only comes to town for the gaming. When I ask about his winningest trip to the casino, he gives me a blank stare.“Oh, I’ve never won anything. If I walk outta here only having lost $100, $150 bucks, that’s a pretty good night.”I down the rest of my drink to keep my jaw from hitting the floor. If I’ve done my shell-shocked math correctly, Mr. Smith has lost the equivalent of a year’s entry-level salary here.“Come on, I’ll show you around.”He leads me to a row of Game of Thrones-themed slot machines. After watching my $5 bet whittle away to nothing, it’s clear I don’t have the stomach for the gaming life. No matter. The casino is doing just fine without me.Last year, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino brought in over $300 million. The Harrah’s Cherokee location in particular has been the chain’s most profitable casino for over a decade, even before the 2009 referendum that allowed the casino to serve alcohol. That’s largely due to the fact that there are no Vegas-style casinos like Harrah’s Cherokee in the neighboring states of South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.The outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” has brought tourists to the Qualla Boundary since 1950.Initially, some of the 13,000-plus enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee who live on or near the Qualla Boundary were skeptical if not downright opposed to introducing gaming to the community. At the time, unemployment was at an all-time high. Drugs and crime were already rampant in the neighborhood, and tribal members worried that the presence of a casino would bring more organized crime to town.Then there was the issue of how to handle such a large influx of money. Many feared political corruption would sweep through the ranks of tribal leadership. Indeed, a few corruption scandals have plagued previous tribal chiefs.And yet, for all of the political challenges that have come as a direct or indirect result of the casino, it’s hard to ignore the benefits. Per the compact agreement decided by the state of North Carolina and Tribal Council, Harrah’s takes only three percent of its annual earnings. Half of the remaining amount is used for funding tribal programs, providing healthcare for every enrolled member, and covering the cost of college for each of its youth. The other half goes right back to Cherokee members in the form of twice-yearly per capita checks.When the casino first opened, those checks didn’t amount to much. Still, for a seasonal tourist town with a high percentage of families living below the poverty line, it was something. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Joey Owle remembers the first “per cap” check his family received back in 1996.“It was $595. I remember it was the first time I ever remember seeing a one hundred dollar bill,” says Owle. “That improved a lot of lives around here.”Now, 20 years later, Cherokee families are making as much as $12,000 a year from those per cap distributions. It’s not enough to rely on solely—16.2% of Swain County residents still live below the poverty line, which is 3.5% higher than the national average—but according to a longitudinal study conducted by Duke University, the added income is having extraordinary effects on the overall mental and physical wellbeing of Cherokee’s youth.Museum of the Cherokee Indian“The boost to the economy has such a ripple effect throughout the entire community,” says Cherokee Indian Hospital CEO Casey Cooper. “The tribe as a municipality not only has so many more resources now but the lives of individuals in my opinion are much improved because people have money, and because people have money, they have the ability to take care of those basic level needs at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy.”The hospital over which Cooper presides is one of the many examples of gaming money being channeled back into the Cherokee community in a big way. Casino funds helped build the $82 million facility, paid for a new $26 million wastewater treatment plant, covered the multimillion dollar cost of building a LEAD-certified k-12 school, and last year, paid for the boundary’s first open-to-the-public trail system at Fire Mountain.Opened in June 2017, the Fire Mountain Trail System was constructed with casino funds.Cherokee’s Outdoor Recreation EconomyThe trailhead to the 10.5-mile Fire Mountain trail system is tucked up on the hillside overlooking the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Opened just last summer in June of 2017, the trails look like they could have been cut in last week—even the trail kiosk still smells of fresh-cut wood and paint.The project, spearheaded by Tonya “Tinker” Jenks with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and Jeremy Hyatt, Secretary of Administration, took six years to bring from idea to fruition. Historically, the Cherokee have always catered to tourists—the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills,” which has been around since 1950, has long brought visitors to the Qualla Boundary—but the idea of focusing on something like mountain biking as an economic driver is altogether new to Cherokee.“When you’re not a gaming tribe, you have to be a resource tribe, but we have the best of both worlds,” says Joey Owle. “We could be doing a better job of managing our forests, and that’s where we’re getting to is looking at that vision of what we have, conserving it, preserving it, and making money off of it as well.”Owle is tall and slender with quarter-size gauges in both of his ears. He’s sharp, a quick talker who sometimes spills out so much information in one sentence that it’s hard to keep up. At 29 years old, Owle is one of the many Cherokee millennials who took that opportunity to receive a free college education, lived off of the boundary for a few years, but then came home to serve his tribe.As a kid, Owle used the footpaths and game trails here to get to his friends’ houses on other parts of the boundary. Cherokee still maintains those six communities—Big Cove, Birdtown, Paintown, Wolftown, Yellowhill, and Snowbird, which is located nearby in Graham County—but things are different now. The trails are largely overgrown, parents are less apt to let their children roam free, and once-large tracts of property have become fractionalized.“When you look at making a trail system now, you may be cutting across 30 or 40 different possessory holders’ lands, and that’s somebody’s private property. That’s trespassing,”That’s also one of the challenges of expanding any trail opportunities for the public, says Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Natural Resources Manager Mike LaVoie. If the tribe doesn’t have a large enough tract of land within the boundary, it would have to arrange for land easements from possessory holders or purchase the property outright. It’s not impossible, he says, but there’s a long way to go.Energy has already been building around the Fire Mountain trails. Later this month, the trail system will play host to the inaugural women’s only Dirty Maiden Enduro Series. It’ll be another few years before the full economic impact of the trail system can be realized, but if the tribe’s fishing tourism is any indication of the potential success, the future is looking good.Enrolled Tribal Member Michael Bradley taking advantage of the Cherokee’s pristine waterways.Launched back in the 1960s by what was then the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries (now U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Cherokee’s trout program brings almost 50,000 anglers annually to the boundary. The program stocks more than 230,000 pounds of fish every year, which anglers can get a taste of for as little as $10 per day.Four years ago, the Natural Resources Department conducted an economic impact study on the fishing program and found that anglers brought in an average of $26 million annually, which makes trout fishing the second largest revenue generator for the Eastern Band of Cherokee after Harrah’s casino. Fishing tourism additionally supported upwards of 300 part-time and full-time jobs.“The fishing program has been a really great boon to tourism,” says LaVoie. “Fish and trout in general have been very important to Cherokee history and culture for centuries, but also economically to the tribe today. There’s a multiplier effect of eight for every dollar spent by folks who come here to fish.”With pristine headwaters protected by the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee may very well have one of the best trout fisheries in the region. Over 30 miles of tribal waters are stocked on the boundary, with over 60 miles of headwater streams available to enrolled members only. The tribe also hosts annual casting tournaments like the Rumble in the Rhododendron, Casting for Hope, and the Talking Trees Children’s Trout Derby.“I grew up fishing here in the Big Cove community,” says Fly Fish Cherokee owner and guide Michael Bradley. “I’ve been fishing forever. It’s great because you can fish all year here. I’ve caught a few fish that are 28 inches.”Bradley is only 27 years old, an enrolled member, and a man of very few words, but he’s making a big name not only for himself but for the entire Cherokee community. Bradley’s held a top 10 spot on Fly Fishing Team USA for the past year and a half and has traveled all over the country to compete in national events. When he’s not competing or organizing local fishing tournaments, he’s commercially guiding clients on Cherokee waters 300 days out of the year.Beer and Bike ShopsIt’s relevant businesses like Bradley’s fly fishing outfitter that Owle hopes to see more of in the years to come. Cherokee is arguably already ahead of the game compared to many parts of rural Appalachia looking to adopt an outdoor economy—the tribe retains its younger population, has a few key employers, offers ample lodging and restaurants (albeit fast food chains) and cultural activities, and sits right at the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. What the tribe really needs, says Owle, is to allow the sale of alcohol on the boundary.“As a young person, I want the opportunity to go to a local brewery or to go to a good restaurant and get a good beer,” he says. “What we have is this older generation which, I understand, believes alcohol has had a tremendously negative impact on native communities. Well, that’s true for a lot of places, not just native communities.”“We don’t charge anything to use our trails, so people all over the Southeast are hearing about our amazing trail system, they’re coming here, they’re riding it, and then they’re going to Bryson City to have a beer,” says Principal Chief Richard Sneed. “We’re going to have to have alcohol sales. We’ve got to keep them here to spend their money.”This year, the tribe will vote on an alcohol referendum. Both Owle and Chief Sneed agree that there seems to be a growing acceptance of alcohol among tribal members, even those who are personally opposed to drinking. Given the community’s proximity to Beer City, U.S.A., aka Asheville, N.C., the tribe’s adoption of alcohol is only a matter of time.Until then, Cherokee has plenty to celebrate. Next month, Motion Makers Bicycle Shop and Outdoor 76 will open the first outdoor outfitter on the boundary. The joint establishment, which will be located in a yellow house at the edge of town, will feature an open design with Motion Makers on the first floor and Outdoor 76 on the second floor.For Motion Makers owner Kent Crandall, the partnership is the perfect fit. Crandall says he had always wanted to open up a location in Cherokee, but hadn’t been actively pursuing it until the daughter of a landlord reached out to him specifically because her father wanted an outdoor business in his retail space.Looking up from the Oconaluftee River Trail. Photo: SmokyMountains.com“We knew this would be a real opportunity,” says Cranford. “Our shop is right at the beginning, literally, of the Oconaluftee River Trail. There’s already a community of people here who we know are getting more active and already utilizing our Sylva store as their access point for bikes. To have the opportunity to come into a community that is clearly opening its arms to the outdoors but doesn’t have all of the resources, it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”The Cherokee location of Motion Makers will be the store’s third site and will offer the company’s largest rental fleet yet, including cruisers, mountain bikes, and even e-bikes, which are allowed on Fire Mountain’s trails. It certainly feels like fortuitous timing, for Cherokee, for Cranford, and for Outdoor 76 co-owners Cory McCall and Rob Gasbarro.“It’s an untapped market,” says McCall. “There are 12 million people a year visiting the Smokies. As a whole, we want to service those people visiting, but also the community of Cherokee. We love our town of Franklin to death, but we’re excited to open another location and gain the trust of this new community. Community involvement is ingrained in our business, and we want to be able to translate that here.”Finally, it seems Cherokee is opening its eyes to the golden egg it’s been sitting on for hundreds of years. While the casino has certainly helped put Cherokee on the map, El Camino Motel owner Lambert Wilson is grateful to see the tribe’s priorities shifting.“Gambling is so lucrative and they make so much money, but the tribe has realized that you can’t put your eggs in one basket. You’ve got to diversify.”last_img read more

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