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When I was a young boy, my family visited Mt. Mitchell State Park on a family outing. The thing that amazed me was the thick boreal forest that existed on the slopes of the mountain. In the 1980's, things started to change on the top of Mt. Mitchell. The forest started to die. My father, Hovey Porter, has been an environmental science teacher for 42 years. He explained to me that the spruce-fir forest that had started ten thousand years ago during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode was dying because acid rain was lowering the trees' immunity system and an insect was attacking the trees and killing them. By the late 1990s, the U.S. Forest Service had started to cut down the dead trees because they were a fire hazard. The mountain became a baron landscape. What was once a lush forest is now a broken landscape, filled with grass and weeds.

This Canadian forest zone has a wide variety of wildlife, including rare birds which only exist at an elevation of 5200 feet. One of these birds is the Northern Saw-whet Owl, which is only found in this particular forest. In the winter of 2010, a male saw-whet owl showed up at my home in Taylors, SC (elevation approximately 1200 feet). We assumed that he had come down from Pisgah National Forest because the winter had been harsh up there, making hunting conditions poor for the owl. He hunted birds and mice from
the bird feeders in our yard.

In June of 2010, he showed up again with his mate and their newborn, which had just learned to fly. Since that day, my father has been able to call for them in the morning and they have shown up and talked to him. The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds says that these owls are very friendly to people. This northern saw-whet family has taken up
residence in the woods behind our house, and there is plenty food for them to live on around the area.

The question I ask myself and the premise of my website is, why did this alpine bird abandon his habitat for our area? Is it the combination of acid rain and the insect which has caused the forest to decline? Has man encroached into their territory? Or are these owls just tired of struggling




Update on Duke Energy:

Duke Energy wants to raise rates on our power bill in South Carolina to pay for the improvements made by Duke Energy on their coal power plants. These are improvements that has been forced by the EPA to clean the air in other states and not in South Carolina. A 17% hike is not fair for South Carolina because they have not made improvements in South Carolina power plants like Lee Steam coal power plant in Pelzer SC. We in South Carolina should not pay for improvement in other states. Also, these improvements should be paid by Duke Energy profits that could be used to written off on their taxes. Duke is only interested in paying dividends to their shareholders. What is more important; our childrens health or paying the "FAT CATS"? It is time for Duke Energy to do the right thing and follow the rules of ethics.


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