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New River Gorge National River gets grant for activities

The Free Press WV

The New River Gorge National River in West Virginia will receive a grant to bolster a partnership aimed at getting local residents involved in recreational activities.

The National Park Foundation on Wednesday announced 20 grants to enhance the country’s national trails and wild and scenic rivers.

The grants totaling more than $500,000 are in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails and National Wild and Scenic Rivers systems.

In southern West Virginia, the Get Active in the Park program provides free, beginner-level instruction in outdoor activities such as yoga, rock climbing, paddle boarding, hiking and fly fishing.

The program is a partnership between the nonprofit group Active Southern West Virginia and the region’s national parks.

Plane’s Scary Descent Linked to Pilot’s Decision to Vape

The Free Press WV

“When I close my eyes, I see the oxygen masks dangling in front of me.“ That’s the lingering anxiety of a passenger on a recent Air China flight that plummeted thousands of feet after oxygen levels dropped. A senior official from the Civil Aviation Administration of China tells CNN the reason for the descent stems from a co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette. The official says the pilot tried to shut off air-recycling fans so the vapor wouldn’t reach the cabin, but “toggled the wrong switches,“ causing air pressure to drop. After the plane fell Tuesday during a three-hour flight from Hong Kong to the Chinese city of Dalian, pilots were able to bring the plane back to around 25,000 feet, and it landed safely. Various sources are listing different numbers for how far the plane actually dropped, but flight data cited by Newsweek shows an approximately 21,000-foot decrease over 18 minutes.

Per the South China Morning Post, a couple of the passengers posted pics and video on social media showing people donning the oxygen masks that came down, though the mood was relatively calm. “The announcement from the cockpit said the ability to increase oxygen in the cabin malfunctioned so the plane lost pressure,“ one wrote on Weibo. Reuters notes that even though China’s airlines have a pretty decent safety record, pilots are sometimes accused by passengers of smoking during flights. China bars flight crews from “smoking on all phases of operation,“ and passengers there haven’t been able to use e-cigarettes on planes since 2006. Air China says it will “adopt a zero-tolerance attitude and seriously punish those found responsible,“ depending on the results of the CAAC’s probe.

8 Endangered Rhinos Die After Relocation ‘Disaster’

The Free Press WV

Eight endangered rhinos have died after a move to a new park in Kenya. Per the AP, the black rhinos died in what Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu calls “a complete disaster” after they were relocated from two locations to Tsavo East National Park last month. Officials suspect salt poisoning as the cause, pointing to higher salinity in water sources in their new home. When the saltier water made the rhinos thirsty, they likely drank even more, possibly leading to their deaths, the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said in a statement. The rhinos were among 11 moved to the park, and officials said the surviving animals are being closely monitored. The planned relocation of other rhinos to the park has been suspended.

As the Guardian notes, the Save the Rhino organization estimates the total world population of black rhinos at around 5,500. The species is targeted by poachers who aim to collect their horns for the black market in Asia. Moving endangered animals from one sanctuary to another is called translocation and is done in hopes of establishing healthy populations in new areas. While deaths can and do occur with such moves, officials say a death rate of this magnitude is uncommon. Kenyan wildlife officials said the results of an investigation into the deaths would be made public as soon as it concludes.

Greenland Villagers Flee as Giant Iceberg Approaches

The Free Press WV

A huge iceberg heading for a tiny Greenland town has sent villagers fleeing. Per Newsweek, the berg is so big it found itself lodged on the sea floor just beside the town of Innaarsuit, where the around 170 residents fear flooding could occur as chunks fall into the sea. The villagers were evacuated early Friday to a building on higher ground and told to watch for falling ice, which has the potential to displace seawater that, in turn, could inundate the town some 600 miles north of the capital of Nuuk. While residents hope winds help dislodge the iceberg and move it away from their community, the CBC reports that a Danish Royal Navy Ship is standing by to provide assistance.

Last month, another Greenland iceberg made waves both physical and literal. Video of a 4-mile long piece broke off of one of the country’s glaciers, in a process known as “calving.“ While this happens normally on a much smaller scale, New York University professor David Holland told the AP it was “the largest event we’ve seen in over a decade in Greenland.“ In fact, Holland went on to say that video he and his wife took of the June 22 incident shows a full three percent of the island’s annual ice loss occur in mere minutes.

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