Three men accused of going on a vandalism spree across several western United States National Parks have pleaded guilty and will be banned from all public lands for the next five years.
Before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs the three Canadian men affiliated with the group “High On Life” admitted to breaking the law in Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park.
This past summer the men, Charles Ryker Gamble, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh, and Justis Cooper Price Brown went on a road trip through several different national parks and were accused of leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
The most egregious violation which sparked national outrage was when the High on Life crew were recorded on video walking across Grand Prismatic Springs in Yellowstone National Park, despite signs clearly showing that leaving the boardwalk is strictly forbidden.
Environmental experts will present information about the long-term effects of the Party Rock Fire on the natural environment in Hickory Nut Gorge on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 6 p.m. in the Community Hall at the Lake Lure Municipal Building. Experts include Clint Calhoun with the Town of Lake Lure, Marshall Ellis with NC State Parks, and Michael Cheek with the NC Forest Service.
The Party Rock Fire burned more than 7,000 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge in November of 2016. While there were no fatalities and no structures were lost during the fire, there are other ways that the fire will affect the local community. The local economy relies heavily on tourism; the Hickory Nut Gorge’s natural beauty and unique plant and animal species are a major draw for visitors. The disturbance caused by the Party Rock Fire could create the ideal conditions for non-native invasive plants to thrive, which can lower biodiversity and affect the beauty of the gorge. In contrast, some of the rare and endangered plant species of the gorge are dependent on disturbances to create suitable habitats for them. There are many potential benefits and detriments from the fire.
The panel will present and discuss information about what the possible effects of the fire will be, when we can expect to start seeing them, and what the community can do to ensure the natural environment of the Hickory Nut Gorge stays healthy. The panel will be hosted and moderated by the Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. It is free and open to the public.
Arborists from the National Park Service Incident Response Team resumed clearing overgrown vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Roanoke area December 4th through December 15, restoring 25 vistas so far with this stretch of the project.
The project is a continuation of the vista restoration work launched in the fall of 2014 with the support of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. At that time, the team worked 10 days, according to arborist team member Chris Ulrey, an NPS plant ecologist. Work continued in the spring of 2015 around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
Managing the scenic beauty along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a complex task. The Parkway was designed to maximize scenic views and give visitors the impression that they are in a park with boundaries to the horizon. Restoring the views in some areas requires highly skilled arborists to carefully balance natural resource issues such as wildlife habitat protection along with the necessary work that allows park visitors to enjoy the scenic view.
A rock slide has closed about two miles of a scenic drive inside Zion National Park in southern Utah. Nobody was injured, but officials say Zion Scenic Drive is impassable just north of Zion Lodge and will remain closed until further notice.
Park officials say the slide occurred late January 13, 2017, covering both lanes of the road with about 200 tons of massive boulders and debris that stretch about four car lengths. It’s not immediately known when the closed stretch of road will reopen.
Park officials say workers and geologists must wait for the area to dry out and assess the damage before removing debris and reopening the road.
Officials say visitors should expect crowded road conditions and parking through the weekend. Other landslides have closed two trails in the park.
The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees on Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Monday, January 16, 2017.
As part of the park service’s centennial, national sites will be free to the public 10 days in 2017.
The waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Reservation, camping, and tour fees will still be collected.
If you’re interested in making your visit to a national park reflective of Dr. Martin Luther King’s contribution to our country and the civil rights movement, here are three National Parks Service locations that are all about him, his history and his legacy.
1. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia to see where Dr. King was born, lived, worked, worshipped and is buried.
2. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Trace Dr. King’s march toward freedom on the 54-mile trail through Alabama. You can connect with the stories of those who were there via the interpretive centers.
3. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. King is the first African-American honored with a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Other free-entrance dates in 2017:
– February 20: President’s Day
– April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
– August 25: National Park Service Birthday
– September 30: National Public Lands Day
– November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
A 70-year-old Grand Rapids, Michigan man has admitted to stealing thousands of black spruce tree tops from the Chippewa National Forest.
Black spruce is a North American pine species. It is widespread across Canada and the northern United States, including the Great Lakes region.
The popularity of black spruce tops and other forest products that are used in the seasonal holiday decorative market has surged over the last 20 years. The spruce tops are sold at landscape retailers and some grocery and home improvement stores nationwide.
The cutting or otherwise damaging any timber, tree or other forest product, to include black spruce is prohibited on National Forest land except as authorized by a special use authorization, timber sale, contract or other federal law or regulation.
The Grand Rapids man sold the tops for $1.50 to $2.50 each to various wholesale vendors, who in turn would sell each top for up to $6 each to various retail outlets in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. He stole at least $24,199.50 worth of spruce tops from federal land.
This week, as John Murray drove north from his home on the Badger-Two Medicine River to his job as the historic preservation officer for the Blackfeet Tribe, the mountains glowed red. His wife, who drove with him, commented on their beauty. Murray, 69, noted with deep satisfaction, that for the first time in more than 30 years, there are no more oil and gas leases up there.
For thousands of years, the area was home to the Blackfeet and Murray has spent decades fighting a collection of oil and gas leases sold for $1 an acre by the Reagan administration without consulting the tribe. This week Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cancelled the last two leases in the area known as Badger-Two Medicine, which now is part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
The landscape just outside of Glacier National Park where the prairies meet the mountains is sacred to the Blackfeet. “This area is like a church to our people,” Harry Barnes, chairman of the Blackfeet Nation Tribal Business Council, said in a statement. “We’ve lived for 30 years under the threat that it might be industrialized, and we’re extremely grateful that this cloud is finally lifted.”
Anthropological studies have found hundreds of artifacts in the area but it’s the landscape itself that is most treasured by the Blackfeet, Murray says. That landscape also is extremely important to conservation groups because it provides crucial habitat for grizzlies, mountain lions, big horn sheep, mountain goat and the other fauna that roam between Glacier, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Blackfeet Reservation. Hunting and fishing groups laud the area as unmatched for elk hunting and wild trout fishing. But conservationists who worked to preserve it say it was the Blackfeet that swayed the Interior Department to cancel the leases.
ExxonMobil has lost a key battle in an investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public about the dangers of climate change. A Massachusetts judge ordered Exxon to hand over more than four decades of the company’s climate change research.
The court rejected Exxon’s emergency motion to kill the demand from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is investigating allegations the company ignored internal scientific research going back to the 1970s.
The ruling came while longtime Exxon boss Rex Tillerson was being grilled by Congress about the company’s climate change tactics at his secretary of state hearing. Tillerson, who stepped down last month as CEO after a decade in charge, repeatedly ducked questions about the issue from U.S. Senators.
Asked if he lacks the knowledge to respond or is simply refusing to answer, Tillerson said, “A little of both.”
Last April, Massachusetts demanded Exxon turn over documents going back to 1976 related to the company’s study of carbon emissions and the effects of those emissions on the climate. This week Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger upheld the attorney general’s demand.
“Exxon must now end its obstructive tactics and come clean about whether it misled Massachusetts consumers and investors about what it knew about climate change, its causes and effects,” the Massachusetts attorney general’s office said in a statement.
Despite a late fall wildfire that shut down the park for nearly two weeks and scorched 11,000 acres, Great Smoky Mountains national park drew a record number of visitors last year.
Park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders said more than 11.3 million people visited the Smokies in 2016, helping increase a healthy connection to the outdoors while boosting the economy.
The visitation was a 5.6 percent increase over 2015 when there were 10.7 million visitors.
The Smokies is a rugged swath of a half-million acres of wilderness, front- and backcountry campsites, picnic areas, historic structures and some 900 miles of trails straddling the North Carolina-Tennessee border. It is the most visited park in the National Park Service.
Visitors used the park’s Gatlinburg, Tennessee, entrance most, with 3,715,480 visitors last year. Some 2.2 million entered through Oconaluftee in Cherokee, nearly 1.6 million through the Townsend, Tennessee entrance, and another nearly 3.2 million entered through the park’s outlying areas, such as Cataloochee and Deep Creek on the North Carolina side.
President-elect Donald Trump aims to open up federal lands to more energy development, tapping into a long-running and contentious debate over how best to manage America’s remaining wilderness.
The U.S. government holds title to about 500 million acres of land across the country, including national parks and forests, wildlife refuges and tribal territories stretching from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico. They overlay billions of barrels of oil and vast quantities of natural gas, coal, and uranium.
With Trump poised to take office on Jan. 20, energy companies and their lobbyists are eyeing a new gusher of federal drilling and mining leases after a period of stagnation under the administration of Barack Obama.
Oil output on federal land made up about a fifth of the national total in 2015 – down from more than a third in 2010 – while the number of onshore drilling leases fell about 15 percent, according to federal data.
The hoped-for land run by energy companies, however, could get bogged down by lawsuits and lobbying from environmental groups and some local residents.
“It would only take one serious mistake – one well to go bad – for our town’s water supply to be damaged,” said Josh Ewing, the leader of a southern Utah conservation group.
Wolves are vicious animals. They have snarled through history as some of the planet’s greatest predators, pouncing on helpless prey all over the world — Russia, Europe, North America — with no mercy. In northern Norway, they’ve been known to savagely attack — with kisses.
Narvik is a small town just an hour-and-half flight from Oslo, Norway’s capital. A historic train — the northernmost in the world — romantically snakes through the mesmerizing, snow-capped fjord landscape like in a fairy tale; a gondola takes skiers to some of the country’s best slopes and panoramic city views; and Norwegian boats cruise the sea in search for eagles and elk.
One hour away is the wildlife sanctuary Polar Park. Quite literally in the middle of nowhere, Polar Park is where wild animals like wolves are born and bred in sprawling enclosures, socialized with their keepers and living longer, healthier lives as a result of their upbringing.
Unlike at a zoo, you can get close to Scandinavian brown bears and lynxes in unfurled, natural habitats. And starting in 2008, visitors were given the ability to “kiss the wolves” after the keepers — Stig, Heinz and Cattis — realized the wild animals were no threat.
Op-ed by Peter Metcalf, CEO and Founder, Black Diamond Inc.
Over the past several months Utah’s political leadership has unleashed an all-out assault against Utah’s protected public lands and Utah’s newest national monument, Bear’s Ears. It’s time for Outdoor Retailer to leave the state in disgust.
Over 20 years ago, I successfully led the effort to relocate the Outdoor Retailer Trade show to Utah. The state has some of the country’s most beautiful, varied, wild and iconic public lands that personified our industry’s values. Utah’s public lands also formed the underpinnings of the state’s great competitive advantage — an unmatched quality of life unique to much of America that has attracted some of the best and brightest companies and their employees to the state.
This is precisely why I relocated the business I founded, Black Diamond (BD), to Utah in 1991. Thanks in part to both Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade shows and BD’s arrival in Utah, the outdoor, ski, sportsmen and recreation industries have had mercurial growth here and have become one of Utah’s, and the country’s, largest economic sectors. In addition, the twice-annual OR show brings nearly $50 million in direct spending to Utah.
Our trade show, Utah’s outdoor recreation industry and the relocating of many high-tech businesses to the state are predicated in great part on the thoughtful public policy that includes unparalleled access to well-protected, stewarded and wild public lands. Tragically, Utah’s governor, congressional delegation and state Legislature leadership fail to understand this critical relationship between our healthy public lands and the vitality of Utah’s growing economy.
Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah’s D.C. delegation are leading a national all-out assault on the sanctity of Utah and the country’s public lands. Together, Utah’s political leadership has birthed an anti-public lands political agenda that is the driving force of an existential threat to the vibrancy of Utah and America’s outdoor industry, as well as Utah’s high quality of life.
Add Patagonia to the growing list of outdoor retailers who are not satisfied with the current Utah political climate as it relates to public lands. His passioned plea to Utah’s governor can be found here.
Ten miles from the Dutch coast, near the top of a concrete high-rise in downtown Delft, is a palatial glass-walled office better suited to Silicon Valley than a 13th-century city. The building is home to the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation created in 2013 that is hoping to deploy a giant 62-mile-wide filtration device in the Pacific Ocean, the initial step in an effort to rid the seas of plastic.
22 year old CEO Boyan Slat is a new breed of environmentalist: young, crowdfunded, and tired of waiting around for government solutions. Still, he’s less a traditional ocean conservationist than a natural engineer. When he was 12, he set a Guinness World Record for the most water rockets launched simultaneously: 213.
Slat’s inner environmentalist didn’t come alive until he was 16, when he began scuba diving on a trip to Greece. Expecting to see an array of sea creatures, he instead saw a slew of plastic trash. The experience was life changing. The news was grim. About nine million tons of plastic waste makes its way into the oceans each year—by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish.
As Slat’s obsession grew, he gravitated to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast area between Hawaii and the North American continent, where it has been estimated that 170,000 tons of plastic rubbish swirl in the currents.
Right now, a big chunk of Antarctic ice is hanging on by a frozen thread. British researchers monitoring the crack in the Larsen C ice shelf say that only about 12 miles now connect the chunk of ice to the rest of the continent.
“After a few months of steady, incremental advance since the last event, the rift grew suddenly by a further 18 km [11 miles] during the second half of December 2016,” wrote Adrian Luckman in a statement by the MIDAS Project, which is monitoring changes in the area.
The crack in question has been growing for years and is now a total of roughly 70 miles long. When the fissure reaches the far side of the shelf, an iceberg the size of Delaware will float off, leaving the Larsen C 10 percent smaller.
Ice shelves are important because they provide a buffer between the sea and the ice that sits on land, in this case on the Antarctic Peninsula. Without a healthy ice shelf, water from melting glaciers can flow straight to the sea, raising the sea level.
On December 12, 2016 the National Park Service purchased 640 acres within Grand Teton National Park from the State of Wyoming. The Antelope Flats purchase was made possible by the successful completion of an eight-month fundraising campaign by Grand Teton National Park Foundation and the National Park Foundation that raised $23 million in private funds.
These funds were matched by $23 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. The newly protected land preserves critical wildlife habitat, migration routes, and viewsheds, prevents private development within the park boundary, and helps to complete the original vision of the park. The proceeds of the $46 million sale will benefit Wyoming public school children.
The Antelope Flats Parcel provides vital habitat for many species of wildlife.This tract of land lies in the path of a primary migration route for pronghorn, bison, and for the largest elk herd in the world. It is also adjacent to the most productive sage grouse lek in the region and provides important breeding, nesting, and brood-rearing habitat for many birds.
A former wolf den is near the parcel, and it contained the pack’s rendezvous site that was utilized by both pups and adults for an entire summer. Pronghorn are also common there, as are badger, coyotes, fox, and dozens of bird species.
The Antelope Flats Parcel has 360-degree, unobstructed views of the Jackson Hole valley.The Tetons’ Cathedral Group is to the west— which includes the Grand, Mount Owen, and Teewinot at the heart of the range, the iconic historic site known as Mormon Row and the prominent Blacktail Butte area are directly south, and the Gros Ventre Mountains are due east.
The National Park Service (NPS) today released its strategy that connects cultural resources and climate change. The Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy (CRCC Strategy) is a landmark statement for the NPS and its historic preservation and climate change partners about how to anticipate, plan for, and respond to the effects of climate change on cultural resources.
Cultural resources are our record of the human experience. Collectively, these archeological sites, cultural landscapes, ethnographic resources, museum collections, and historic buildings and structures connect one generation to the next. The National Park Service is charged with conserving cultural resources so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. Climate change is adding challenges to this role, and will continue to affect cultural resources in diverse ways. At the same time, through the tangible and intangible qualities they hold, cultural resources are also part of the solution to climate change.
From the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde to the steps of Ellis Island, the National Park System protects a suite of cultural resources—archeological sites, historic structures, museum collections—that provide valuable insight into the experiences of past generations. Additionally, parks support the traditions and lifeways of many indigenous cultures. The collective record preserved within parks of the National Park System and in the heritage managed by partners provides important evidence about how past generations fared during earlier instances of global change.
Today, rising sea levels and storm surge threaten some coastal fortifications, historic cemeteries, and prehistoric shell middens like those at Everglades National Park. In the American West, changing precipitation patterns have resulted in flooding in important landscapes and increased stress on historic buildings, including adobe structures at Tumacácori National Historical Park. And in higher latitudes, delicate tools of wood and bone are exposed to air and rapid decay as snow and ice fields melt in places like Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.
Specifically, the CRCC Strategy connects cultural resources to the four pillars of climate change response identified in the NPS Climate Change Response Strategy released in 2010: science, adaptation, mitigation, and communication. Approaches and methods from other NPS guidance documents, tools and supporting information, and many park- and partner-based case studies are incorporated throughout.
The National Park Service (NPS) proposed revisions to the regulations that address smoking in national parks. The proposed revisions would change the regulation that defines smoking to include the use of electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The proposed revisions would also allow a superintendent to close an area, building, structure, or facility to smoking, which would include the use of ENDS, when necessary to maintain public health and safety.
“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service,” said Michael Reynolds, Acting Director of the National Park Service. “It is clear from a recent rule by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a report by the Surgeon General that electronic cigarettes are a threat to public health, especially to the health of young people.”
In May 2016, the FDA finalized a rule bringing ENDS in line with regulations that have governed tobacco products since 2009. The FDA expressed concerns about ENDS use by youth and stated that in addition to nicotine exposure, there are other chemicals present in ENDS that can cause disease. Also in 2016, the Surgeon General issued a report emphasizing that ENDS use among youth and young adults is a public health concern.
The proposed revisions to 36 CFR 1.4 and 2.21 align with NPS policy on the use of ENDS which prohibits their use within all facilities and vehicles that are Government owned or leased, and within all national park concessions facilities.
When it comes to mitigating the impact of modern civilization on our planet’s environment, many scientists and engineers have been focused on ways to clean up excess carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. India-based company Carbon Clean Solutions is making headway in that area, with its unique method for turning CO2 into harmless baking powder. The method can be employed by coal-burning industries to reduce CO2 emissions and turn the waste into usable byproducts that do no harm.
Carbon Clean is putting its methods through the wringer at a coal-fired thermal power plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin in southern India. There, CO2 is captured from the boiler and used to make soda ash (sodium carbonate) which is the very same stuff housed in any baker’s pantry. Transforming the dangerous atmosphere-heating carbon emissions into harmless baking powder is no simple (or cheap) task, but Carbon Clean is pushing forward even so, and the firm is doing it without government subsidies.
The firm says this process can lock up 66,000 tons of CO2 each year from the Tuticorin plant, which is the equivalent of removing 12,674 cars from the road for the same time period or burning 6,751,435 gallons of gasoline.
While these efforts won’t be enough to turn coal into a sustainable industry, Carbon Clean’s technique could help fossil fuel industries greatly reduce their carbon footprints.
House Republicans have changed the way Congress calculates the cost of transferring federal lands to the states and other entities, a move that will make it easier for members of the new Congress to cede federal control of public lands.
The provision, included as part as a larger rules package the House approved by a vote of 233 to 190 during its first day in session, highlights the extent to which some congressional Republicans hope to change longstanding rules now that the GOP will control the executive and the legislative branches.
Current rules requiring spending offsets would be abolished. The change is part of the House rules package. It would mean that lawmakers would no longer have to find spending offsets for bills that transfer federal land to state or tribal entities.
Democrats argue that these lands should be managed on behalf of all Americans, not just those living nearby, and warn that cash-strapped state and local officials might sell these parcels to developers.
2016 has crushed the record for hottest year, set way back in 2015, which itself smashed the previous record for hottest year that was set in 2014.
Such a three-year run has never been seen in the 136 years of temperature records. It’s but the latest in an avalanche of evidence this year that global warming will either be as bad as climate scientists have been warning for decades — or much worse.
Climatologists have been expecting just this kind of “jump” in global temperatures for a while. There is “a vast and growing body of research,” that “humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.” One 2015 study concluded that we could even see Arctic warming rise an alarming 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade by the 2020s.
Only very aggressive cuts in carbon pollution could plausibly save our major coastal cities and avoid a trillion-dollar housing bubble crash. And only the unanimous Paris pledge of ever deeper CO2 cuts by the nations of the world can save the America’s breadbaskets in California and the Great Plains from Dust-Bowlification that is irreversible on the timescale of centuries.