#National Parks
Visitors Surging To National Parks, Forcing More To Close Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Visitors Surging To National Parks, Forcing More To Close Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Smoky Mountains National Parks closed on Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns, joining Yosemite National Park, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island because of concerns of crowding in public spaces leading to spread of the disease. 

Why This Matters:  As is true with so much of the Trump Administration’s attitude toward containing the spread of the virus, they have left each Park to decide on its own, causing confusion and sending mixed signals to the public and leaving local officials struggling to respond.

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One Cute Thing:  International Puppy Day

One Cute Thing: International Puppy Day

Yesterday was National Puppy Day and there were plenty of cute pics on social media (check out our Instagram for Monica’s dogs).  These two photos come from the National Park Service’s tribute to dogs of the Parks on this day in 2018.  Cooper of Lake Mead National Park, above, was the single most clicked-on photo […]

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Staying Safely Connected To Nature During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Staying Safely Connected To Nature During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Florida is (finally) closing its beaches. The National Park Service has waived all park entrance fees but closed some parks and most of the facilities in the parks that remain open (check each park’s web site for more details) — they are taking “extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.” 

Why This Matters:  It is spring break for many people across the country and the warming weather may make outdoor activities tempting, but unless we maintain our distances we won’t flatten the curve of exposure.

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After Slashing Its Budget, President Trump Now Wants Congress To Permanently Fund Parks

After Slashing Its Budget, President Trump Now Wants Congress To Permanently Fund Parks

Although he has repeatedly called for cutting its funding by as much as 97 percent year after year including in his most recent budget proposal, on Tuesday President Trump called on Congress to pass a law to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

Why This Matters:  President Trump is no friend of land conservation — it is tragic that he has vastly increased oil and gas drilling on public lands and even in formerly protected areas, but based on this one tweet will now argue that he supports parks.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

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New Report Urges Congress to Permanently Fund “America’s Best Conservation Program”

New Report Urges Congress to Permanently Fund “America’s Best Conservation Program”

A new report published yesterday by the Surfrider Foundation documents the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to America’s conservation legacy by showing how the special places supported by the Fund over its 55-year history have become the “heart and soul” of numerous communities — “protecting unique ecosystems and cultural resources, providing solace and recreation, and contributing extensively to our nation’s economy.” 
Why This Matters:  Without permanent funding, the LWCF is likely to continue to be a “political hostage” — used as a bargaining chip in whatever battle is brewing in Congress.
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Green Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Green Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Hey #FriendsOfThePlanet, if you’ve been reading the email all week then you will have seen our picks for meaningful green gifts for you and your loved ones. We’ve compiled all of our recs into this handy guide and hope that if you’re looking for gifts, that you love all of these items and experiences as […]

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Invasive Species Invading National Parks According to New Study

Invasive Species Invading National Parks According to New Study

CNN reported last week that a new study warns that the unaddressed problem of invasive (non-native) animal species in National Parks is threatening many parks — that are now being overwhelmed with rats, domesticated cats, feral hogs and many other non-native animals that also thrive there.  Scientists from within the Department of Interior and several universities found that of the 1,409 reported populations of invasive species in National Parks, only 11% are under control.

Why This Matters:  There is a backlog of maintenance projects at National Parks across the U.S. totaling nearly $12B – and those are just for maintenance of roads and facilities, not eradicating invasive species.

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New E-Bike Policy In National Parks Causing Major Confusion

New E-Bike Policy In National Parks Causing Major Confusion

The Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration is having difficulty implementing a policy change it made back in August to allow e-bikes on federal lands — there is confusion regarding whether e-bikes should be allowed on non-motorized trails.

Why This Matters:  The Trump Administration argues that it is just following the lead of many states and wanted to allow e-bikes as a way to increase access to parks and recreational lands.  But there is a downside — if e-bikes are allowed in the backcountry, it will fundamentally change the experience of these wild and natural places.  And for now, the Administration has lifted the restrictions on e-bikes immediately without putting a new policy regarding their use in place, leaving everyone in limbo.

 

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Trump Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee Recommends Privatizing Campgrounds

Trump Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee Recommends Privatizing Campgrounds

The Hill reports that an advisory committee recommended to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that he should privatize campgrounds within national parks, cut benefits for senior visitors, and allow food trucks into Parks as a way to bring increase money coming into the Parks system, according to the panel’s memo.

Why This Matters:  This recommendation is likely to be extremely divisive — with environmental groups and advocates for seniors arguing that this is likely to hurt low and middle-income Americans and benefit the President’s rich benefactors. 

 

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Governor Bullock Rolls Out A Plan for Public Lands

Governor Bullock Rolls Out A Plan for Public Lands

Last Friday, in the midst of a snowstorm that dumped up to four feet of snow in some areas of Montana, Governor Steve Bullock announced the second major policy proposal of his Presidential campaign, a policy on public lands management and ownership.  Bullock’s plan has three main principles:  (1) tackling climate change; (2) honoring our heritage of public land ownership by restoring and increasing public lands; and (3) making sure that all Americans get a fair shot at enjoying the opportunities that public lands provide.

Why This Matters:  As a western governor whose state consists of some of the nation’s most beloved and beautiful national parks, Bullock is in a good position to speak to the issue of whether the federal government should own and should conserve (rather than develop) more land.

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Interview of the Week: Dr. Enric Sala, Explorer In Residence, National Geographic Society

Interview of the Week: Dr. Enric Sala, Explorer In Residence, National Geographic Society

Dr. Sala leads the Society’s efforts to save the last wild places on the planet for future generations to enjoy. ODP: You have said that it is now more important than ever for people to live in balance with nature. Why? ES: The loss of ecosystems that we have seen in certain regions is happening […]

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Honor Their Service: Visit a National Battlefield or War Memorial

Honor Their Service: Visit a National Battlefield or War Memorial

The National Park Service preserves more than one hundred battlefields, military parks, and historic sites across the country that honor the service of American veterans from nearly every war. 

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