Thursday, April 22, 2021

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s first educational session on wolf reintroduction efforts set for April 28

Members of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission as well as the public are invited to attend CPW’s first online educational session related to wolf reintroduction efforts on Wed., April 28 from 6 - 8 p.m.

The purpose of the educational sessions is to provide the Commission and members of the public with a common understanding of what it means to have wolves on the landscape and how experts from other states have approached wolf management. Invited wolf experts from Montana and Idaho will share real-world experiences to help the Colorado public better understand what it means to have wolves as one of the many wildlife species CPW manages.

Session 1: Wolf Management and Wolf-Prey Interactions

Speakers will include:

* Diane Boyd (retired from Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks) will describe state management of wolves

* Jon Horne (Idaho Fish and Game) will present on wolf-prey interactions

Pre-registration is required for those who wish to see the presentation live and ask questions by clicking this link. Upon registering, participants will receive an email with a link to access the session. Participants will have the opportunity to submit questions for the presenters through the chat during the question-and-answer portion of the session. All sessions will be recorded and available for members of the public who wish to view the sessions later.

There will be two more educational sessions – one in May and one in June – with the dates still to be determined. These presentations will cover reintroduction and conflict management.

Stay informed on CPW’s wolf management efforts by visiting the CPW website and signing up for the Gray Wolf Reintroduction eNews.


Jeff
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Monday, April 19, 2021

Mesa Verde National Park Certified as 100th International Dark Sky Park

The National Park Service and the International Dark-Sky Association are pleased to announce Mesa Verde National Park as the 100th International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the park’s night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy-based interpretive programming.

Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, the park protects over 52,000 acres and nearly 5,000 known archeological sites. Mesa Verde’s rugged and wild environment of pinyon-juniper woodlands and deep canyons is home to over 1,000 species, including several that live nowhere else on earth. Mesa Verde’s exceptionally dark skies are an important part of the cultural landscape of the park that holds special significance to Mesa Verde’s 26 affiliated tribes.

Mesa Verde now joins a growing set of 169 International Dark Sky Places in 21 countries around the world, including 37 other sites administered by the National Park Service. These diverse Dark Sky Places have all followed a rigorous application process that demonstrates robust community support for dark sky certification.

The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education. International Dark Sky Park certification promotes public education and astronomy-based recreation in parks while improving energy efficiency and reducing operational costs through outdoor lighting upgrades, which in turn creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomy-based tourism. Mesa Verde’s application garnered widespread community support, including from the city of Cortez, towns of Dolores and Mancos, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and the Mesa Verde Country tourism bureau.

The International Dark-Sky Association advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies by educating the public about night sky conservation and by promoting environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. More information about the International Dark-Sky Association and the benefits of dark skies may be found at DarkSky.org

The certification does not carry any legal or regulatory authority. The certification demonstrates a commitment by parks to improve night skies through the use of more energy efficient, sustainable lighting. Certification also reaffirms the park’s commitment to educate the public and gateway communities about the importance of dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting and opportunities to work together toward common goals.

Mesa Verde National Park offers public night sky programs throughout the year and is an excellent place to learn about and enjoy the wonders of the night sky. Mesa Verde will celebrate the certification achievement with programs at the park when we are able to safely gather again.


Jeff
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Friday, April 16, 2021

Bears are emerging in Colorado; do your part to be Bear Aware

Someone once said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. But every spring Colorado Parks and Wildlife adds another item to that list: bears emerging from hibernation.

As the weather continues to warm up throughout Colorado, reports of bear sightings are starting to trickle into wildlife offices throughout the state. So now is the time for everyone in Colorado to shift back into bear-aware mode, said Steve McClung, assistant area wildlife manager for CPW in Durango.

“Please remember, we’re getting back into the season when bears are active,” McClung said. “So please, secure your trash and take down the bird feeders.”

Bird feeders are a major source of bear conflicts. You can instead attract birds naturally with flowering plants and bird baths. Wait until late November to hang feeders again.

Research shows that bears prefer natural sources of food. But they will find sources of human-provided food if it’s available. If bears become habituated to human sources of food they can become dangerous to humans.

CPW also urges residents to report bear problems to local wildlife offices as soon as they see them. If problems are reported early, CPW wildlife officers can use a range of options to deal with the bear. They can tour the neighborhood to look for food sources that are attracting bears, work with residents to correct the situation and set strategies to harass the bear to push it back into wild areas or to trap and move it if necessary. If CPW does not get reports until a bear is breaking into houses or vehicles, officers’ choices are limited.

“The last thing we want to do is put down a bear, every wildlife officer absolutely hates doing that,” McClung said. “So don’t hesitate to call us as soon as you see any bad behavior, even if it appears minor. That gives us a much better opportunity to correct the situation early.”

For more information go to the Living with Wildlife section on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife web site: cpw.state.co.us/bears. Should you have questions or need to report bear problems, call your nearest CPW office.


Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

COVID-19 Pandemic Causes Impacts and Opportunities for U.S. National Parks

National Park Service staff studying effects of the Coronavirus pandemic found wide variations in park visitation, fewer park programs, gaps in long-term monitoring of natural and cultural resources, and lost park-related employment across the U.S. in 2020.

“One of the greatest impacts of the pandemic for national parks is all of the lost opportunities for education and employment that national parks and partner organizations provide for people starting their careers,” said Abe Miller-Rushing, science coordinator at Acadia National Park and the lead author of a study recently published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Findings in the paper show that in the early stages of the pandemic in April 2020, visitation to U.S. national parks declined by about 87 percent. In some parks visitation rebounded quickly as the summer progressed, while in others it remained low. For example, Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska got less than 10 percent of its normal visitation in 2020.

Other parks, particularly those near urban areas, experienced increased numbers of visitors as people sought safe areas for recreation and exercise. At Indiana Dunes National Park, an additional 150,000 people visited in 2020 compared to the previous year. Park officials attributed at least part of the increase to beach closures in other public spaces.

Miller-Rushing said researchers are still evaluating how these changes in visitation and traffic affected wildlife, cultural resources, and environmental conditions like air quality and noise pollution. Many long-term research projects and management actions at national parks were delayed or cancelled due to COVID 19, which complicates the challenge of collecting adequate data for analysis. Limited staffing forced some parks to prioritize resource protection activities, such as at Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, where only six of 33 active studies continued. Because they were unable to carry out fieldwork, many NPS scientific staff shifted to analyzing past data or relied on gathering data by automated monitoring equipment.

Parks and partner organizations hired fewer seasonal employees and cancelled many internship programs, creating hardships for those who rely on these opportunities to gain experience and skills. The authors estimated that these changes affected the careers of 47,946 youth volunteers, interns, and conservation corps members. “These lost opportunities will have cascading impacts on students and early career researchers, managers, and educators during the coming years,” Miller-Rushing said.

At the same time, other opportunities for education increased. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana, and many other parks and partners, offered more online programs and content. Visits to these online education resources spiked when schools shifted to remote learning in the spring of 2020.

For more information, the pre-print of the paper can be found at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320721000902#s0150


Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Monday, April 12, 2021

Spring Operations at Black Canyon and Curecanti

The mountain bluebirds are back, the ice is melting, and it’s time for the National Park Service to prepare for the summer. Ever wonder what it takes to get a park or recreation area ready for the summer rush of visitors? Along with hiring and training our seasonal staff, we turn on water systems, test them and make sure they are fully functioning. We clean up after the long winter of snow drifts and broken tree limbs, getting campsites ready and fixing what broke. Roads and trails are checked and work is scheduled for repairs. Boat ramps are readied, inspection stations prepped, and courtesy docks poised to slide into the water. Toilet paper stocked and cleaning supplies ready. There is a lot more to it than many folks think. Keeping all that in mind, here’s what to expect this spring.

At Black Canyon:

The South Rim Drive is planned to open April 16 pending any weather disruptions. North Rim will open as soon as roads are dry and spring preparations are complete. South Rim Campground Reservations begin May 23 and can be made at recreation.gov.

Beginning May 1 Black Canyon entrance passes will be available on recreation.gov. Purchase of passes online will enable faster processing through the entrance station and give you more time to enjoy the park. Campground reservations are also strongly suggested as they are filling up fast.

The South Rim Visitor Center is currently open 9-4 daily with hours expanding to 8-5 daily beginning April 25. Summer hours are scheduled for 8-6 daily beginning May 28. Ranger guided programs, including talks, guided walks, and amphitheater programs will begin Memorial Day weekend. Free reservations are required for ranger programs while we have COVID-19 restrictions. Please make them by calling (970) 249-1914, ext. 423 no more than one week in advance or make them in person at the South Rim Visitor Center.

Visitors are reminded that masks are required in federal facilities like our visitor centers and wherever you cannot maintain six feet of distance between you and others not of your household. Please help us protect our staff from COVID. We talk to hundreds of people every day and appreciate your cooperation with our safety protocols.

Please be aware of road work on US Highway 50 between Curecanti (Gunnison) and Black Canyon (Montrose). For schedules of road closures see us50info.com

At Curecanti:

Boat ramps and inspection stations will open in what looks like a more normal pattern this year. The first Friday after ice off a ramp will open, either Elk Creek or Lake Fork. Others will follow as conditions and staffing permit.

The Elk Creek Visitor Center is under construction, so look for staff at the temporary trailer in the parking lot. Hours are 9-4 Monday through Friday, expanding to 8-6 daily on May 1. Restrooms are available in the campground and marina. There will no longer be overnight parking in the parking lot. Though we will not be offering the Morrow Point Boat Tour this year due to construction of new docks and road delay concerns, watch for evening programs in the Elk Creek Campground beginning around Memorial Day.

Campground reservations will be available through recreation.gov beginning May 21. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended as camping is becoming more popular.


Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Climbing The Keyhole Route on Longs Peak

A couple of weeks ago I published a post on this blog called "A Statistical Analysis on Fatalities While Climbing Longs Peak", which looked at the demographics, how and where people have died while climbing Longs Peak since Rocky Mountain became a national park. Today I wanted to highlight a video published by the park in 2018 which shows why the mountain is so dangerous, what climbers should expect above the Keyhole, and how to prepare for an attempted summt:




Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Rocky Mountain National Park Will Begin Pilot Timed Entry Permit Reservations May 28 Through October 11

Rocky Mountain National Park will be implementing a new pilot temporary timed entry permit reservation system beginning on May 28, 2021. Park staff are managing for significant increases in visitation to public lands in Colorado, including Rocky Mountain National Park, along with continued Covid-19 concerns, ongoing park seasonal staff shared housing challenges, reduced shuttle bus capacity and residual fire impacts in some areas of the park from historic fires in 2020.

There will be two types of reservations available. One permit will be for the Bear Lake Road Corridor, which will include the entire corridor and access to the rest of the park. This reservation period will be from 5 am to 6 pm. The second permit will be for the rest of Rocky Mountain National Park, excluding the Bear Lake Road corridor. This reservation period will be from 9 am to 3 pm. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability. The reservation system will apply to all areas of the park.

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through www.recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Saturday, May 1. Reservations will be available to enter the park from May 28 through June 30. The next release will be on June 1, for the month of July and any remaining days that have not been booked for June. On July 1, reservations will be available for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days in August that have not been booked. On September 1, reservations will be available for October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Initially, 25 percent of permits will be held and available for purchase the day prior at 5 p.m. through recreation.gov. These are expected to sell out quickly and visitors are encouraged to plan ahead when possible.

This year’s pilot reservation system allows for a greater number of reservations per day. Reservations will be based on approximately 75 percent to 85 percent of the park’s total parking capacity. Last year’s system was based on approximately 60 percent of the park’s total parking capacity. This system spreads use throughout the park to better utilize all parking/trailhead areas. This system will be adaptable to changes in visitation trends and public health concerns.

Last year, after being closed for two months amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Rocky Mountain National Park reopened in late May and was the first national park in the country to implement a temporary timed entry permit system to increase park access while providing the public a reasonable opportunity to comply with health guidelines. That timed entry permit system ended on October 12, 2020.

In 2020, Rocky Mountain National Park was the fourth most visited national park in the country with a 28 percent increase in visitation in November and a 38 percent increase in visitation in December over those months in 2019.

If you're planning to visit Rocky Mountain this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your trip planning.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park