9 simple ways to be a better national parks visitor

America’s best idea, the national parks, continue to rise in popularity each year. 2016 saw the third year in a row where attendance to the national parks broke the previous all-time attendance record. Over 330 million visitors enjoyed the 417 national park sites last year, and that number is almost certainly going to increase yet again this year. With these kinds of...

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National Parks are Fee Free the Next Two Weekends

The National Park Service has long encouraged visitors to avoid peak crowds by planning their trips in the spring. And to give you even more impetus, here’s another good reason to visit this month: free admission. For four days in April, 2017 — April 15, 16, 22 and 23 — the National Park Service will waive entrance fees at the 118 national parks that normally charge...

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Reintroduction and recovery of the California condor is a success story that spans many parks

Today, the California condor is regarded as one of the rarest birds in the world. In Pleistocene times, condors ranged from Canada to Mexico, across the southern United States to Florida, and north on the east coast to New York. During that period, condors were a common resident of the Grand Canyon judging by bones, feathers and eggshells found in caves where they once...

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National Parks Commemorate African American History Month

From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the quiet wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the National Park Service preserves many pivotal, but lesser known, sites related to the African American experience. These places are among the dozens of national parks that convey stories of soldiers, educators, musicians, entrepreneurs, and freed slaves who blazed trails for...

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Federal hiring freeze to impact WNC

The federal hiring freeze of all civilian employees, ordered by President Trump on Jan. 23, 2017, could negatively impact employment in Western North Carolina and the public services those agencies provide. According to the executive order, no vacant positions existing at noon Jan. 22 may be filled and no new positions may be created. The order does not include or apply...

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How the Parks of Tomorrow Will Be Different

When Congress passed the act creating the National Park Service in the summer of 1916, it instructed the agency to leave park scenery and wildlife “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The law did not define “unimpaired.” To Stephen Mather, the charismatic borax magnate who served as the first director of the Park Service, it meant simply “undeveloped.”...

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Trump taps well of protest with calls for more drilling in national parks

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...

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Ticks that carry Lyme disease found in Eastern US national parks

Lyme disease has been spreading across the United States over the past several decades, and a new study has confirmed that ticks carrying the disease are present in eastern national parks. According to the study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Park Service (NPS)...

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China tries to build a coherent system of national parks

Roughly 18% of China is given over to national parks or protected areas of some sort. But there is no overarching system for managing or even designating such places; instead, they are subject to a complicated, overlapping and haphazard mix of local, provincial and national administration. Laoshan is a case in point. Since its establishment in 1991, its official status...

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A Guide to the National Parks of Florida

Bill Reynolds has been with the national parks service for a decade, and has visited a ton of them—particularly in Florida. It’s fair to say the spokesman is a super-fan. Of the famed Everglades, he crows, “If the National Parks are America’s crown jewels, the Everglades are some of the shiniest!” But it’s not the only gem in the Sunshine State. Florida’s...

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Reducing Noise in National Parks

The Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division at the U.S. National Park Service provides scientific support to all the national park units. Its researchers help park administrators understand the current state of their resource conditions and what the effects of pollution are on visitor experience and wildlife, and give them suggestions for how they might reduce pollution...

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Climate Change Is Causing Earlier Springs in National Parks

The National Park Service was created to protect and preserve the United States’ natural wonders. But what happens when climate change starts to alter these sites? U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a new report revealing that three-quarters of 276 national parks are experiencing an earlier onset of spring. Half of the parks studied are experiencing “extreme”...

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How the National Park Service Is Planning for Climate Change

Five years ago, just after archaeologist Marcy Rockman joined the National Park Service’s new climate change response program, the GOP-controlled Congress slashed its budget by 70 percent. Republicans were determined to squash President Barack Obama’s climate agenda, and many federal officials were deeply discouraged. So Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis convened his...

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Climate change will mean the end of national parks as we know them

After a century of shooing away hunters, tending to trails and helping visitors enjoy the wonder of the natural world, the guardians of America’s most treasured places have been handed an almost unimaginable new job – slowing the all-out assault climate change is waging against national parks across the nation. As the National Park Service (NPS) has charted the loss of...

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The Antiquities Act and America’s National Parks

As Americans anticipate family vacations, many are planning trips to our nation’s iconic national parks, such as the Grand Canyon, Zion, Acadia and Olympic. But they may not realize that these and other parks exist because presidents used their power under the Antiquities Act, enacted on June 8, 1906, to protect those places from exploitation and development. The...

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Americans are proud of their national parks and are willing to pay more to preserve them

Researchers from Harvard and Colorado State have found that Americans would be willing to pay 30 times more than the current annual appropriation in order to preserve and maintain the US National Park system. According to the study, the US public would pay more than $90 billion a year to sustain and protect America’s iconic places. Yet the US National Park system...

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3 national parks in Oregon that never happened

Oregon is no stranger to National Parks. Since 1902, the state has been home to Crater Lake National Park, and over the last century four other spots have won lesser designations from the National Park Service. But in the mid-20th century, Oregon’s scenic beauty was prized by the park service, which proposed several sprawling national parks around the state. Three...

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Overlooked Wildlife Experiences in Our National Parks

Think of wildlife in U.S. national parks, and certain images pop to mind: Bears. Bison. Elk. Wolves. All spectacular critters, to be sure. But the National Park Service protects a wide range of wildlife, large and small. Some of these species are cryptic or elusive. But other smaller denizens offer fascinating viewing opportunities. For example, Great Smoky Mountains...

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How Photography Shaped America’s National Parks

Have you ever gotten a postcard from a national park? Chances are the picture that comes to mind—maybe the powerful eruption of Old Faithful spouting up in Yellowstone or the rocky depths of the Grand Canyon—is the same shot that people across the world have seen. There’s a reason for that. The idea of America’s national parks that’s ingrained in the collective...

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Woman sentenced for vandalism in several National Park Service sites

The woman who defaced sites within several national parks in 2014 pleaded guilty June 13, 2016 to seven misdemeanor counts of damaging government property. Casey Nocket, age 23, was ordered by a federal judge to serve two years of probation and 200 hours of community service. She is also banned from all lands administered by the National Park Service (NPS), US Forest...

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National Park Visitor Spending Contributes $32 Billion to Economy

Spending by a record number of national park visitors in 2015 provided a $32 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 295,000 jobs, according to a report released by NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” Jarvis said of the $16.9 billion visitors spent in communities within 60 miles...

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National Park Service Certifies 2015 Visitation at 307 Million

President Theodore Roosevelt was reelected in 1904, the same year rangers started counting national park visitors. There were more than 120,000 visits to America’s 11 national parks in the first year of counting. This week, the National Park Service (NPS) certified 2015 national park visitation at more than 307 million. It also released its popular Top 10 list of the...

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Congress needs to stop ignoring the repairs backlog at national parks

When household budgets are tight, people tend to put off expensive maintenance projects. So a leaky roof gets patched instead of replaced, or paint is left to peel for a season or two or three longer than a homeowner (not to mention the neighbors) would like. Government agencies do the same thing. And now, after years of putting off less-crucial repairs because of...

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The latest buzz on flying drones in state and national parks: Rules can still be vague

Travelers — especially drone enthusiasts — should know that public park policies vary widely when it comes to unmanned aircraft. Before you send anything aloft — or holler in protest about somebody else’s aircraft — it’s wise to do some homework. Besides the Federal Aviation Administration’s restrictions on small unmanned aircraft, many parks have their...

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All National Parks Are Free On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Admission to all national parks will be free on Jan. 18, 2016 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The discount gives visitors a chance to skirt the $25 fee for entering sites likes the Grand Canyon in Arizona or Yellowstone in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The MLK Day promotion is part of events commemorating the National Park Service’s centennial. There will be...

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Centennial could aid national parks’ infrastructure backlog

Under President Dwight D. Eisehower, the nation prepared for the 50th birthday of the National Park Service with a spending splurge that refurbished Independence Hall in Philadelphia and helped complete the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. This year, the world-famous system turns 100 and the celebration will be far more modest. The Obama...

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National parks set 16 free-entry days in 2016

ll national parks will offer free admission on 16 days next year to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday. “We added extra fee-free days so that everyone has a chance to join the party,” park service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a news release. The 16 free-entry days for 2016 will be: Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day April 16-24, National Park...

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National Parks Go Toe-to-Toe with “Big Water” Over Plastic Bottle Waste

Snowed under by an avalanche of empty plastic bottles, in 2011 National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis told the system’s 408 parks, national monuments and historic sites that they could stop selling bottled water at their concession stands and offer public water bottle filling stations instead. According to Jarvis, the environmental impact of single-use plastic...

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House Committee Poised To Rewrite National Park Fee Authority

A much anticipated hearing before the House Natural Resource Committee arrives October 28, 2015, and the outcome could be higher fees for national park visitors. Among the potential outcomes outlined in the draft legislation written by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, (R-UT): motorcyclists and snowmobilers in national parks would face the same entrance fees charged motorists;...

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British Government Extends Boundaries Of Lake District And Yorkshire Dales National Parks

Two of the most popular national parks in England, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, are set to expand their territory to create the largest area of protected and continuous land for a national park in the country. In 2012, Natural England, the government’s legal adviser on the protection of England’s nature, released variation orders to extend the...

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