Thursday, August 25, 2016

Colorado Parks Partners with DMNS to offer IMAX Tickets in Backpack Program

Beginning this week, families enjoying the Check Out Colorado State Parks Library Backpack program will find an extra perk in their packs. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has partnered with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to offer two complimentary museum/movie vouchers to use at the museum and/or IMAX movie National Parks Adventure 3D.

82 library locations in the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson) are receiving 24 museum/movie vouchers for distribution over the next 5 weeks. Any family that checks out the state park pass and backpack may use the vouchers at the museum and/or IMAX National Parks Adventure 3D, ending Sept. 22, or any of the other IMAX films.

“We thought adding to the CPW and State Library partnership would be a great way to celebrate the national parks centennial movie at the IMAX,” said Allison Lippiatt, Denver Museum of Nature & Science Marketing Specialist. “It also gives people an opportunity to continue to learn about the natural world around them by visiting the Museum after they’ve visited one of Colorado’s beautiful state parks.”

The Check Out Colorado State Parks Program is an initiative offering residents the ability to check out a hang-tag park pass and adventure backpack from their local library for entrance into any of Colorado’s 42 state parks. There are over 570 library locations in the program.

Based on user feedback to CPW, both the usage and patron experience of the Check Out Colorado State Parks program has been very positive this summer.

For more information go to:


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Katahdin Woods & Waters - Our Newest National Monument

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today applauded the designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the first national monument to preserve the landscape and honor the history and culture of Maine’s North Woods. The Antiquities Act, which was used to make this designation, permanently protects 87,500 acres of lands donated to the National Park Service earlier this week by the Elliottsville Plantation, Inc., (EPI). This land donation includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River and its tributaries, one of the most pristine watersheds in the Northeast.

This weekend, Secretary Jewell will visit the national monument lands in Penobscot County, Maine, to celebrate the designation with state and local officials and members of the public. National Park Service staff will be on site to assist with the first steps to open the park.

EPI is the nonprofit foundation established by Roxanne Quimby and run by her son Lucas St. Clair. Their gift of land is accompanied by an endowment of $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support.

The new national monument – which will be managed by the National Park Service and is now the 413th park unit in the National Park System – is located directly east of the 209,644-acre Baxter State Park, the location of Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin (5,267 feet), the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The boundaries of the new national monument also include 4,426 acres of private land owned by the Baskahegan Company, which requested inclusion should the company in the future decide to convey its lands to the United States or a conservation buyer, on a willing seller basis, for incorporation into the monument.

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument designation is the result of a years-long effort by Quimby and her son. Quimby purchased the lands with a portion of the wealth she created as a co-founder of Burt’s Bees in 1984, and developed the idea of gifting the lands to the American people as part of the National Park System. St. Clair, raised in Maine and dedicated to preserving the landscape and access for recreational activities, and a small EPI staff, have been operating the lands as a recreation area for several years.

The new national monument includes the stunning East Branch of the Penobscot River and a portion of Maine’s North Woods that is rich in biodiversity and known for its outstanding opportunities to hike, canoe, hunt, fish, snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. These and other traditional activities will continue to be available in the new national monument.

The new monument is also a storied landscape. Since the end of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, the waterways, wildlife, flora and fauna, night skies, and other resources have attracted people to the area. For example, the Penobscot Indian Nation considers the Penobscot River watershed a cultural and spiritual centerpiece and since the early 19th century, logging has been a way of life. Artists, authors, scientists, conservationists and others – including Teddy Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau and John James Audubon – have also drawn knowledge and inspiration from the area’s resources.

National Park Service staff will hold a series of public listening sessions throughout the Katahdin region starting the week of September 12 to begin work on the management plan that will be developed during the first three years. Details of the listening sessions, including dates and locations, will be shared with local newspapers and posted to the monument’s website ( NPS’s planning will be done with full public involvement, with special emphasis on understanding the ideas and concerns of the local communities.

The approximately $100 million total gift to the American people from the EPI, was facilitated by the National Park Foundation as part of its Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.

“This extraordinary gift sets the stage for a strong and vibrant second century for America’s national parks,” said Will Shafroth, President of the National Park Foundation. “Through their vision and generosity, Ms. Quimby and her family are carrying on the philanthropic tradition from which the national parks were born 100 years ago, and which helped create Grand Teton, Acadia and Virgin Islands National Parks.”


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mesa Verde National Park Proposes Entrance Fee Increase

Mesa Verde National Park will hold an Open House on September 13, 2016 to discuss proposed entrance fee increases in 2017. The Open House will be held at First National Bank Conference Room, 2258 E Main Street, Cortez, Colorado at 6 p.m. and will include a public comment session. If you would like to attend the Open House, please contact the park at 970-529-4682 by Monday, September 12, 2016.

Interested parties who are not able to attend the open house may also submit comments to the park at Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Thursday, September 15, 2016.

Before including your address, telephone number, electronic mail address, or other personally identifying information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment (including your personally identifying information) may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

The proposed fee changes would start January 1, 2017. Fees are good for entrance to Mesa Verde National Park for up to 7 days. Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, Senior, Access, Military, or Volunteer Passes or the Annual 4th Grade Pass. These passes may be obtained at the park. There will be no changes to commercial or tour fees at this time.

"We are committed to keeping the park affordable, but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience," said Mesa Verde National Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer. "The money from entrance fees is used to improve visitor facilities and amenities. The revised fees will help us offset increased costs for construction and rehabilitation that keep these facilities in good condition."

Entrance fees have previously allowed for purchasing and installing water bottle filling stations and drinking fountains; providing additional visitor educational opportunities at Wetherill Mesa; construction of new restrooms; and stabilization work at Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace cliff dwellings. Additional revenue raised by a fee increase would help with the upcoming rehabilitation of the Morefield Amphitheater, additional stabilization work at archaeological sites throughout the park, maintaining and updating infrastructure, and continue to provide additional visitor educational opportunities.

Mesa Verde National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2015, more than 547,325 park visitors contributed $55.4 million to the local economy and supported 814 jobs related to tourism.

Following the Open House, feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Highest Point East of Rockies Gets New Name

Last week the U.S. Geological Survey announced that Harney Peak in South Dakota will now officially be called Black Elk Peak on all federal maps. This unanimous decision was made on August 11th by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The mountain is not only the highest point in the state, but is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains.

The summit had been labeled Harney Peak on all federal maps since 1896. The feature is located in the Black Elk Wilderness of Black Hills National Forest in Pennington County in southwestern South Dakota.

The name Black Elk Peak was formally proposed to the BGN in October 2014. The BGN sought opinions from the U.S. Forest Service and the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names (SDBGN), which in turn sought opinions from the county government, numerous local, State, and Tribal organizations, and the general public.

In making the decision, the federal BGN acknowledged the recommendations by the SDBGN and a number of state legislators to retain the name Harney Peak. However, the BGN also recognized the wishes of native peoples and many non-native South Dakotans that a new geographic name should be given to this feature that is regarded as a sacred site by several Tribes.

U.S. General William S. Harney (1800-1889) fought against native peoples in the Black Hills region of South Dakota and in the Seminole Wars in Florida. Black Elk or Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) was a revered Oglala Lakota (Sioux) holy man.

One of the guiding principles for the BGN is to adopt for official federal use the names found in present-day local usage. However, an exception to this principle occurs when a name is shown to be highly offensive or derogatory to a particular racial or ethnic group, gender, or religious group.

"The Board’s understanding was that the name Harney Peak for a traditional sacred site was distressing to Tribal people. For that reason, there was a unanimous decision to change the name of the peak to Black Elk Peak," said Lou Yost, executive secretary of the BGN.

The new name is now considered official for use in federal maps and publications. State and local governments as well as commercial entities generally follow the federal use of geographic names as a matter of efficiency, although there is no law requiring this.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is the geographic names authority for the Nation. It is a coordinating body made up of representatives from federal departments, agencies, and organizations who receive no additional compensation for this specialized work. The BGN standardizes and approves geographic names so that geographic references can be used consistently in federal publications and communications.

President Benjamin Harrison established the BGN by Executive Order in 1890 to resolve conflicts in geographic names. In 1947 Congress re-established the BGN in its current form by public law.

The standardization of names not only serves to preserve a record of geographic names across the Nation, but it enables the use of uniform geographic names in many digital settings — for example, it makes navigation by GPS possible by facilitating standard location references.

My wife and I hiked to the top of Harney Peak Black Elk Peak a couple of years ago. It's a very nice hike.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rescue Operation Conducted For Injured Man Near Lake Haiyaha

Yesterday afternoon, park staff were notified that a 45 year old man suffered a leg injury roughly 1,000 feet above Lake Haiyaha. He was scrambling on rocks, fell in a deep hole and a boulder pinned his leg. He was hiking with two other people who were able to move the boulder to free his leg. The injuries he sustained prevented him from walking.

Park rangers reached him late afternoon. Two park rangers, including a paramedic, stayed with the man overnight. This morning, members of Rocky Mountain National Park's Search and Rescue team began a low angle scree evacuation. After the teams evacuated the man down through the rocks and boulders he was transported via inflatable raft across Lake Haiyaha. Teams then brought him down the trail with a wheeled litter. He reached the trailhead at 3:30 p.m. and was taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center.

Rocky Mountain National Park's Search and Rescue team members were assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue and Rocky Mountain Rescue members. Thirty personnel were in the field for this rescue operation. The man is a U.S. Citizen currently living in Paris, France.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Special Evening Program: Longs Peak Experience - the Keyhole Route

Do you aspire to reach the summit of Longs Peak? Are you inspired by the lofty rock faces and pinnacles of Rocky Mountain National Park's highest mountain? Join climbing rangers Everett Phillips and Mitch Musci, on a photographic journey to the top, and back down safely. This free program will be held Thursday, August 18th, and Friday, August 26th, at 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Mitch and Everett will present aspiring mountaineers with a realistic picture of the challenges encountered on Longs' most popular adventure; the Keyhole Route. Topics covered will include a detailed description of the route, an understanding of proper preparation, and strategies for a safe ascent.

Everett Phillips has been involved in mountain rescue work for over a decade. He has performed rescues with the park service at Denali, Mount Rainier, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park. As a ranger on Longs Peak his interest in rescue has expanded to include risk management and accident prevention. He is inspired by the challenge of maintaining his sense of adventure while also becoming more responsible in his mountain excursions.

Mitch Musci grew up in Austin, Texas, and quickly gained an appreciation for the mountains through his family's annual summer trips to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. At the age of 12 he signed up for summer camp in Estes Park, and spent the next 6 summers hiking and backpacking throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. These experiences inspired Mitch to study Outdoor Leadership at Western State College, and after graduation he began his career as an outdoor educator and climbing guide. Years of extensive climbing experience helped steer Mitch into his current position as a Longs Peak Climbing Ranger.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please visit or call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.

For more information on the hike to the Keyhole itself, please click here.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Decision Reached on Sprague Lake Dam Repair

The Director of the Intermountain Region, National Park Service (NPS), has signed a decision document that will enable the NPS Dam Safety Program to repair the Sprague Lake Dam in Rocky Mountain National Park. Although the dam is classified as having a Low Hazard Potential by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), repairing the dam would help to protect park natural resources, cultural resources, and infrastructure such as trails, roads, and bridges in the event of a flood.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared to evaluate alternatives and the potential impacts associated with repairing the dam or maintaining the status quo.

The repairs to the Sprague Lake Dam consist of adding a seepage control berm, spillway improvements, slightly increasing the elevation of the dam crest in select locations, stump and tree removal from the dam, and construction of an inlet control structure that will limit flows into Sprague Lake to the capacity of the spillways. Flows greater than a 10-year flood will be diverted over Sprague Lake Road and conveyed via an existing drainage to Glacier Creek. The lake side of the dam will be armored with riprap to prevent erosion. Upon completion of the spillway improvements on the north side of the lake, a new pedestrian bridge will be constructed over the spillway.

A temporary access road will be constructed in the fall of 2016, to provide access to the dam. The dam repairs will be done in the fall of 2017. During the fall of 2017, portions of the accessible trail around Sprague Lake will be closed during the repair work.