Thursday, February 21, 2019

Senate Moves to Protect More than 2 Million Acres of National Parks and Public Lands

More than two million acres of public lands are poised to receive new or enhanced protection with last week's Senate passage of the Natural Resources Management Act (S.47). National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) led outreach efforts for years in support of many of the bill’s provisions and commends the bipartisan Congressional leadership who worked to strengthen protections for national parks, wilderness areas, waterways and wildlife across the country.

The legislative package authorizes designation of two new national park sites and six National Heritage Areas to tell new American stories; permanent protection against new mining claims on lands including the doorstep of Yellowstone and North Cascades national parks; permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); and directives for the Department of Interior to study sites that could further enhance and diversify the national park system.

“The Senate’s action today, including protecting two million acres of national park and other public lands, is further proof that these issues can, and should, be bipartisan,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association. “NPCA has worked alongside communities, businesses and elected officials for years to protect Yellowstone’s doorstep from industrial mining, connect parks and wild lands in the California desert and increase preservation of centuries-old Native American structures in Georgia. We commend the many members of Congress who were champions for their constituents and the places and issues that they, and all Americans, care so deeply about.”

The Natural Resources Management Act includes permanent mineral withdrawals to approximately 30,000 acres of National Forest System lands, adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. This landscape has been targeted by two proposed industrial-scale gold mines. NPCA worked more than three years alongside the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition to defend their communities and garnered support for the withdrawal from tens of thousands of members and supporters.

In the California desert, lawmakers approved the long-awaited expansion of Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks, new wilderness designations that promote landscape connectivity, protections for fragile waterways and increased habitat for wildlife including desert tortoise, mountain lion, and bighorn sheep. NPCA worked in partnership with local communities, elected officials, and stakeholders on California desert legislation since 2009 and will continue efforts to connect, protect and enhance this vital landscape and tourism economy.

Ocmulgee National Monument will also be re-designated as Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, quadrupling the national park site from 700 to nearly 3,000 acres. The Department of Interior will also be authorized to explore options for preserving additional historic, cultural and recreation sites of the Ocmulgee River corridor between Macon and Hawkinsville. NPCA worked for years in support of the opportunity, including the development of a 2017 study on the significant increase in economic activity that the expanded park would bring to middle Georgia communities.

“This area is recognized as one of the most important archaeological landscapes in the country,” said Chris Watson, NPCA’s Senior Southeast Program Manager. “This expanded national park designation recognizes Ocmulgee’s exceptional characteristics, such as its documented human presence that dates back nearly 17,000 years and preserves the regions treasured wildlife, history and culture. Already one of the most visited attractions in Central Georgia, the enlarged park will serve as a significant economic engine, bringing increased visibility to the region. The park also holds strong ancestral connection for the Muskogee Nation of Oklahoma, and we are honored to be working with them to help preserve these lands.”



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Indiana Dunes becomes the 61st National Park

The spending bill signed by President Trump on February 15, 2019 included a provision that changed the name of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Indiana Dunes National Park. This change takes place immediately. The bill also changes the name of the Miller Woods Trail to the Paul H. Douglas Trail in honor of the late Illinois Senator who helped lead the fight along with Save the Dunes and other citizen groups to create the national lakeshore in 1966.

Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz commented, "103 years in the making, what a terrific tribute to the neighbors, partners, visitors and National PARK staff. We are so appreciative to the entire Indiana delegation for their recognition and support of this national treasure."

The park staff looks forward to celebrating this name change in the near future and to working with local communities and partners on spreading the word about the nation’s 61st national park. The work will continue to protect this very special place in Northwest Indiana and to provide outstanding service to the visiting public.

My new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, includes a passage on how the Prairie Club, a hiking club based out of Chicago, fought to protect the dunes which were being industrially mined for sand, which was used to make concrete. Among an array of actions and tactics, the club even hosted the “Pageant of the Dunes” in 1917, a massive outdoor play that helped to raise awareness of the issue.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

HikingintheSmokys.com Adds Four New Hikes to Website

A couple of weeks ago Kathy and I paid a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains to take advantage of some nice spring-like weather, and to do a little hiking. As a result, we were able to do a couple of new hikes, which have just been added to our website. Here's a quick rundown of the new hikes:

Spruce Flats Falls - This hike has been on my radar for several years now, and I finally got a chance to check it out. It didn't disappoint - in fact, I would say it has to be one of the most scenic waterfalls in the park. Though it isn't marked on the official park map, the trail is well defined and very easy to follow.

Avent Cabin - This is another destination that isn't marked on the official park map. This hike visits the former art studio of Mayna Treanor Avent, who was a nationally renowned artist. Her works have been exhibited across America, including the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery.

Ogle Place - This short loop hike along Cherokee Orchard Road visits the Ogle Farmstead. Along the route you'll visit the cabin that was built by Noah “Bud” Ogle in the 1880s, his barn, as well as his "tub" mill.

Gatlinburg Trail - If you're looking for an easy hike just outside of Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Trail is a great choice. The trail follows along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River for a large portion of the hike. It also visits the remnants of an old homestead.

During our visit we also took the opportunity to hike the Bullhead Trail, which was heavily damaged during the November 2016 wildfire. As a result of many downed trees the park was forced to close the trail for almost two years. After removing enough of the deadfall to make the route safe, the park finally reopened the trail to the public in late-October of 2018. Although there are several burn scars along the route, the wildfire has created huge panoramic vistas in several places. As a result of all the changes, we have updated the two hikes on our website that utilize the Bullhead Trail. The shorter hike ends at a large cairn built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930's, now known as "The Pulpit". The longer hike goes all the way to the top of Mt. LeConte. As you can see from the new photos on these pages, I have to think that this trail might become the most popular route to the summit in the coming years.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hiker Trapped in Quicksand Requires 2-Day Rescue During Winter Storms at Zion National Park

On the afternoon of 2/16/2019 Zion Dispatch received a report of a 34 year old male visitor from Arizona whose leg was stuck in quicksand. He was located approximately 3 hours up the Left Fork of the North Creek, also known as The Subway route from bottom-up. His leg was buried up to his knee and he was unable to free himself. He had hiked the Left Fork Trail with a companion, also from Arizona, when he became stuck. He and his companion tried to free his leg and were unsuccessful. His companion left him with warm gear and clothing and hiked to call for help. It was approximately 3 hours until she got cell phone service and was able to call 911.

Zion Search and Rescue team immediately assembled and began hiking to locate the male. Rangers located the companion close to the trailhead and tended to her as she was exhibiting signs of hypothermia, from hiking the three hours to call for help.

After several hours, rangers located the male who was stable but suffering from exposure, hypothermia, and extremity injuries Rangers tried for 2 hours to free the male’s leg from the quicksand in the middle of the creek.

Late into the night, Rangers were able to free the male from the quicksand and began efforts to rewarm him and treat his leg. Rangers spent the night with the patient in frigid conditions with four additional inches of snow overnight.

The next morning, the Utah DPS helicopter responded from Salt Lake City. The ongoing winter storms in the area decreased visibility for aircraft all morning. Only after a small break in the weather occurred in the afternoon, the DPS helicopter was able safely extricated the patient with a hoist rescue operation. The patient was transported to an awaiting ambulance and transported to the hospital.

Winter conditions at Zion National Park can be extreme, especially in the higher elevations. Colder temperatures, shorter days, snow, ice, and cold run-off can make easy hikes difficult and strenuous ones treacherous. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution during poor weather events at Zion. “Presidents Day Weekend is often dry, warm, and sunny,” says Aly Baltrus, Zion’s Public Information Officer. “This year was as predicted- cold and wet.”



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Today is the Final Day to Take Advantage of a 70% Discount On "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Today is the final day of the limited time sale on the eBook version of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. As mentioned on Friday, the eBook version of my book can be purchased for only $2.99 on Amazon, a 70% discount off the regular price of $9.95. This limited time offer ends tonight. For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Additionally, if you like the book, I would really appreciate if you could provide a review on my Amazon page.

Thank you very much!



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Record Visitation At Rocky Mountain National Park In 2018

Rocky Mountain National Park received its highest annual visitation ever in 2018. The park received a total of 4,590,492 visitors last year, which was a 3.5 percent increase over visitation in 2017. This number represents a slight increase from previous record visitation in 2016, of 4,517,584. Visitation for 2018 represents a 42 percent increase since 2012.

Determining visitation numbers is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics are reliably accurate estimates and help park managers see overall trends. Fall visitation, particularly on weekends, continues to increase at Rocky Mountain National Park. Winter weekend visitation also continues to increase. The top ten busiest days in 2018 in order from first to tenth were: September 22, September 10, September 2, July 22, September 15, September 3, September 23, September 16, July 1, and August 11.

Park managers continue to address the effect this level of visitation is having on visitor and staff safety, resource protection, visitor experiences and operational capacity. Beginning in 2016, during the summer and early fall, park staff restricted vehicle access in three specific areas, the Bear Lake Road corridor, the Wild Basin area, and Alpine Visitor Center when parking areas fill and heavy congestion warrants. These restrictions occurred most days in July and August, in addition to weekends in June and September. Other areas of the park are experiencing high visitation as well, particularly when restrictions are in place. Addressing day use for the long term requires a holistic park wide approach. Therefore, park staff are developing draft concepts to address the multitude of day use challenges. These concepts will be shared with the public later this year and will involve a stakeholder-engaged planning process.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, February 15, 2019

Annoucement: 70% Discount On "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

A few weeks ago I announced that my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, would be published in eBook format. Today I wanted to announce that for a very limited time the eBook version of the book will be on sale. Beginning right now you can purchase the eBook version for only $2.99 on Amazon, a 70% discount off the regular price of $9.95. You can take advantage of this limited time offer through the weekend. For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Additionally, if you like the book, I would really appreciate if you could provide a review on my Amazon page.

Thank you very much!



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking