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Petition · Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge: Wildlife should not be terrorized by hunting hounds on Vermont’s National Wildlife Refuge! · Change.org

Protect Our Wildlife, Vermont started this petition to Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

The Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on its recreational hunting and fishing plan found here. This plan impacts the Nulhegan Basin Division in Bloomfield, Brunswick, Ferdinand and Lewis, and the Putney Mountain Unit in Putney. Please sign this petition and let the Refuge know that you oppose hounding on the Refuge—this activity is not compatible due to its indiscriminate and disruptive nature. We are also asking that the Refuge ban all lead ammunition due to the secondary effects it has on wildlife, including bald eagles that scavenge on animal remnants left in the field by the hunters.

Hounders unleash packs of powerful, radio-collared hounds on a lone bobcat, bear, coyote and other wildlife. This occurs not only during the legal hunting seasons, but throughout the year during hound “training” season. The hounds often chase the animals for miles until the exhausted wild animal either collapses, climbs a tree (where they’re often shot), or decides to stand its ground and fight back. This places both wildlife and the hounds in danger since the hunters are often miles away with only their handheld GPS tracking device. We consider this activity akin to animal fighting, which is illegal in Vermont. 

Hounding is not a compatible use on wildlife refuges, since the activity places non-targeted animals and visitors at risk. A retired couple and their leashed puppy were attacked by bear hounds in Ripton, VT in Oct 2019 on public land. You can read about it here. Between hound training season and hunting season, the activity may take place all year, placing nursing mothers like bobcats and their kits in danger. The Refuge Plan lists Canada lynx as a threatened species, but lynx may be mistaken for bobcat, which would be an illegal method of “take.” A Refuge manager shared her concern about lynx being disturbed by hunting hounds in a Feb 2014 email to VT Fish & Wildlife, but they disregarded her concern. You can read our letter to Fish & Wildlife on that here. Other non-target animals include ground nesting birds, deer fawn, moose calves, and other wildlife.

The unsupervised hounds also place Refuge visitors at risk. The general public should be able to birdwatch, hike, and partake in other activities without the fear of running into a pack of frenzied hounds.

https://www.change.org/p/silvio-o-conte-national-fish-and-wildlife-refuge-wildlife-should-not-be-terrorized-by-hunting-hounds-on-vermont-s-national-wildlife-refuge?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=29409338&grid_position=6&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAES%2FugEAAAAAYM%2BFLfgL%2BU9lYjRkM2RmNA%3D%3D

Attorneys argue Flathead forest plan doesn’t project grizzlies, lynx, bull trout ~ Missoula Current

missoulacurrent.com

Canada lynx are one of the endangered species of concern in the Flathead National Forest plan.

A Missoula federal district judge will decide if the new Flathead National Forest plan must be changed to better protect endangered species, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout.

On Thursday afternoon, Judge Donald Molloy heard limited arguments on whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service properly considered the effect of the new Flathead National Forest plan on the three threatened species and, if not, whether the Flathead National Forest needed to put its forest plan on hold while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service returned to the drawing board.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, representing the Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan, argued that the new Flathead forest plan, published in 2018, changed how the forest would manage its roads and road culverts.

The result could make things worse for threatened species. And yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to flag anything as wrong in its Biological Opinion of the plan. Wildlife advocates sued in 2019.

“If all you have to do to make a road not count against limits is pile debris over the first 50 feet, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to build roads than it is if you have to rehabilitate an entire roadway under Amendment 19,” Preso told Molloy. “(The Flathead National Forest has) about 70 miles of road construction and reconstruction planned for the first two years of this plan. Under the past 15 years of Amendment 19, they accomplished a little over 2 miles of road construction. So they’re at a pace of 20 times the amount of road building under Amendment 19.”

Under the previous forest plan with a 1995 amendment – Amendment 19 – a policy of 19% -19% -68% required the agency to ensure that 68% of each grizzly bear management unit was secure habitat, that is free of roads.

Research has shown that adding more roads increases the chance of human-bear conflict, which often results in dead bears. Plus bears avoid roads so they can’t use roaded habitat.

The roads in the remainder of each grizzly management unit can’t exist above certain densities, even if they were closed, because bears, especially females, avoid roads. To meet those standards, the agency had not just closed but reclaimed 730 miles of roads.

However, the new Flathead policy allows the agency to build more miles of roads while doing less with closed roads, because it’s done away with Amendment 19 restrictions so the agency doesn’t have to reclaim roads. A grizzly bear with a cub.

Preso said the Flathead Forest plan allows the agency to block off just the first 50 to 100 feet of a road to count it as “closed” and then remove it from the road-density statistics. However, surveys carried out by nonprofit groups have documented that vehicles still illegally use a percentage of the closed roads. Roads that aren’t fully reclaimed still have an effect on wildlife, so the agency should have to count them.

Finally, under Amendment 19, the agency was supposed to remove all culverts from beneath closed roads, because blocked or damaged culverts increase road erosion. The resulting sediment spilling into forest streams can damage bull trout spawning grounds and habitat.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Frederick Turner argued that the new plan provides “as much if not more protection” for endangered species, even though the 19-19-68 standard is gone. The Flathead Forest would use a standard of “no net increase” in roads past what existed in 2011.

The Flathead National Forest chose the year 2011 because the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem had grown at that point, so the agency argued that the roads that existed at that time must have been okay.

Preso argued that the bears had done okay because Amendment 19 was in effect so the agency was meeting higher standards to help the bear.

Turner also argued that the Amendment 19 requirement for culverts wasn’t needed because the new forest plan has a culvert-monitoring plan, which requires Forest Service employees to ensure all culverts on all roads are operating during a six-year cycle.

Turner said the US Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion was sufficient because the Endangered Species Act doesn’t require the service to do side-by-side comparisons of the protections in each plan. It just requires a determination of whether species are in jeopardy and the Service decided the new plan didn’t put species in jeopardy.

However, WildEarth Guardians attorney Marla Fox said the Biological Opinion failed to consider three issues.

Similar to the attempted delisting of the Yellowstone subpopulation, the agency failed to consider what the ramifications would be for bear populations outside the NCDE. Other populations have very low numbers and won’t survive without NCDE bears having the ability to migrate to other populations. The road building planned for some logging projects could limit or stop dispersal into the Cabinet-Yaak and down into the Bitterroot.

Second, Fox said, the 2011 road conditions are based on an assumption that the population was growing and didn’t consider the best science, even though they’re included in the NCDE grizzly bear conservation strategy.

Finally, the US Fish and Wildlife Service approved a certain level of grizzly bear deaths under the new plan but didn’t set a point where the decision needed to be reconsidered if the number of dead bears started increasing.

Molloy kept the attorneys on a tight schedule, limiting each side to 30 minutes, and often interrupted to ask questions. Notably, he asked both sides what they thought the remedy should be, but with the federal attorneys, he prefaced his question with “If the plaintiffs are right…” Bull Trout

The federal attorneys want Molloy to decide that the Flathead National Forest can keep its plan the way it is. But “if the plaintiffs are right,” Turner asked that Molloy send the Biological Opinion and Forest Plan back to the agencies for reconsideration but keep the new Forest Plan in effect.

The Flathead National Forest has six projects already approved with four under analysis so they want those to go ahead. Federal attorney John Tustin said some projects might not even include road building so they wouldn’t be affected either way.

Preso argued that two projects – the Mid-Swan and Frozen Moose projects – together plan to build 70 miles of road. So the wildlife groups want Molloy keep most of the new forest plan in place but put the road and culvert parts of the new forest plan on hold while the agencies reconsider the biological opinion.

Outside the courthouse, Preso said the Flathead National Forest has been moving forward as rapidly as possible with road building since the plan was published.

“They’ve never wrestled with the impact of that,” Preso said. “They pretended it wasn’t going to happen and told everyone that the conditions that existed during the last 20 years are going to continue. Well, we can see already they’re not going to continue.”

The federal attorneys argued it has to be all or nothing – rewrite the entire plan or keep the entire plan. Preso said previous court rulings have allowed for the invalidation of parts of policies and procedures. Molloy asked Preso why his ruling should limit only the parts of the Forest Plan the wildlife groups don’t like.

“I would say the part that’s lawful and poses no threat should stay and the part that’s unlawful and poses a clear threat should go,” Preso said.

Molloy said he would rule as quickly as he could.

Contact reporter Laura Lundquist at lundquist@missoulacurrent.com.

https://missoulacurrent.com/outdoors/2021/05/flathead-grizzlies-bull-trout/

Emergency federal protections sought for imperiled Joshua tree | WildEarth Guardians

Joshua Trees at Sunset. By Brad Sutton, National Park Service.

Joshua trees at sunset. By Brad Sutton, National Park Service.

wildearthguardians.org

WildEarth Guardians files Endangered Species Act petitions for climate-threatened desert plant 5 – 6 minutes


Washington, DC –WildEarth Guardians has submitted emergency petitions (here and here) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to immediately provide federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for both the eastern and western species of Joshua tree, icons of California’s Mojave Desert.

Guardians submitted these petitions to list the Joshua tree on an emergency basis under the ESA, while simultaneously challenging the Service’s 2019 decision under the Trump administration to deny Joshua trees protected status as a “threatened” species in federal court—a listing decision that was prompted by a previous petition submitted by Guardians in 2015.

Guardians’ emergency petitions were submitted in advance of what is expected to be yet another severe fire season in Southern California. Last summer, the Mojave Desert reached a record-breaking 130 degrees while enormous wildfires like the Dome Fire also decimated thousands of acres of Joshua tree habitat, destroying an estimated 1.3 million Joshua trees.

Joshua trees have existed for over 2.5 million years, but multiple published, peer-reviewed climate models show that climate change will eliminate this beloved plant from the vast majority of its current range, including its namesake National Park, by century’s end without robust efforts to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and address threats from invasive grass-fueled wildfires.

“Over the past six years, more and more climate studies have come out validating the position raised by Guardians in its 2015 petition—that a significant amount of the Joshua tree’s current habitat will be rendered ‘climatically unsuitable’ within the next 30 to 70 years without human intervention and a government-driven change of course,” said Jennifer Schwartz, staff attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “Under the Trump administration, the Service irrationally dismissed the best available science. But we’re hopeful that either a court victory or these emergency petitions will force the agency under new leadership to do the right thing and grant Joshua trees the federal ESA protections they deserve.”

In addition to an abundance of new climate studies, the petitions point to a major change since the filing of the 2015 petition. In September 2020, the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) unanimous vote to grant western Joshua trees (the species found almost exclusively in California) candidate status under California’s version of the ESA, the California Endangered Species Act or (CESA). This decision was based, in part, on the best-available science confirming that increasingly frequent, higher intensity fires have resulted in significant, widespread mortality of Joshua trees and this trend is projected to continue into the future.

“The California Fish & Game Commission took a pivotal step in protecting western Joshua trees by granting them candidate status under the California Endangered Species Act, and now we need bold action by the Service to ensure permanent, federal protections for both species,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “Guardians is optimistic that the Biden administration’s historic recognition of climate science and affirmative policy actions to fight against catastrophic climate change will carry over into protections for climate-vulnerable species like the Joshua tree.”

While the Endangered Species Act is America’s most effective law for protecting imperiled plants and wildlife in danger of extinction, the Trump administration promulgated a series of regulatory changes that seek to weaken protections for critically imperiled species, for instance by precluding their listing based on threats from climate change and limiting the designation of critical habitat. Guardians, and a coalition of conservation groups, are seeking to reverse these changes through multiple lawsuits and consistent pressure on the Biden administration.

“Guardians is committed to the steadfast defense of the ESA and the species that rely upon it for their very survival,” said Larris. “After the end of the worst administration for biodiversity conservation in history, we believe that, under the leadership of Secretary Deb Haaland, there is opportunity for the Service to create a viable future for the Joshua tree and countless other dwindling species.”

Since the ESA’s enactment, 99 percent of listed species have avoided extinction, and hundreds more have been set on a path to recovery. According to a recent United Nations report, over a million species are currently at risk of extinction. Researchers estimate that, if not for ESA protections, 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/emergency-federal-protections-sought-for-imperiled-joshua-tree/

Tell Chevron: No oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

environmental-action.webaction.org

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a safe haven for polar bears, caribou, wolves and millions of migratory birds — to name just a few of the species that depend on it. It’s one of the last places we should be drilling for oil and gas.

Drilling would exact a tremendous cost on this beautiful wilderness and the wildlife that call it home. It would also be a risky and expensive proposition for your company.

I’m calling on Chevron to pledge not to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a safe haven for polar bears, caribou, wolves and millions of migratory birds — to name just a few of the species that depend on it. It’s one of the last places we should be drilling for oil and gas.

Drilling would exact a tremendous cost on this beautiful wilderness and the wildlife that call it home. It would also be a risky and expensive proposition for your company.

I’m calling on Chevron to pledge not to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

https://environmental-action.webaction.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=41303&supporter_KEY=1220798&uid=0d0236e6916ce0fdcb06085fe49b10fc&utm_source=salsa&utm_medium=email&tag=email_blast:88174&utm_campaign=EAC4-FCNS:SPECPLCCNS:ARCTICSPEC-0121&utm_content=EM9:00C:0HH-DCP

Thinking of going camping this summer? Here’s what you need to know

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From safety tips to packing advice, here’s everything you need to know about sleeping under the stars.

By Aryana Azari PUBLISHED July 31, 2020

Campers set up their tent at the base of the Cascade Mountains, in Oregon.Photograph by Chase Jarvis, Getty Images

Suddenly, camping is all the rage.

Just ask Ryan Fliss of The Dyrt, a popular camping trip planning website, who says that traffic to the site is up 400 percent from the summer of 2019. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) reportsthat 20 percent of its users are first-time campers. With many countries keeping their borders closed to Americans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, and social distancing remaining a priority, Americans yearning to get out of their homes for safe summer travels are discovering—or rediscovering—the joys of playing, eating, and sleeping in the outdoors.

If you’re new to camping—or usually prefer resort beds to sleeping bags—these tips will help ease you into close encounters with nature that will bring discovery, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. You might even see a shooting star.

(Related: It’s the summer of road trips. Here’s how to do it right.) https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

Where to camp

Why it matters: Location—whether in a national park or recreation area—can make or break a camping trip. “As you add requirements, location gets more important. What I mean by that is if I have a family and a dog coming on the trip, they all need to be comfortable and safe,” says Fliss. Some campgrounds require reservations in advance, but plenty allow for walk-ins.

Think less popular: Most reservations for campsites in the National Park Service (NPS) are made through Recreation.gov. But with some national parks experiencing record-breaking tourism, think about giving a little love to lesser-visited spots. Lake Clark, North Cascades, and Great Basin all have low visitation numbers when compared to their popular neighbors—Denali, Mount Rainier, and Zion, respectively, though it is worth noting that even the most popular of national parks are experiencing a drop in numbers right now. Other NPS lands with campsites include national monuments, preserves, and recreation areas, among others. National forests, which are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, also offer spots to stay. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

10. Virgin Islands National Park
9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Tap images for captions

Use maps: When looking at a map of a big-name park online, zoom out and look around to find other places nearby. For example, near Great Smoky Mountains—which has consistently been the most visited national park, with a total of 12.5 million visitors in 2019—is Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Its views and spaces are almost identical, if a little less mountainous, but with only a fraction of the visitors. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

Explore alternatives: To find state parks, turn to each state’s Department of Parks and Recreation website. ReserveAmerica is another great resource to find potential spots, while KOA can assist with private campsites.

Stay local: Consider exploring your own backyard. Hipcamp, an Airbnb-like website that helps people book camping stays, found that people using its site are traveling significantly closer to home than this time last year; it’s seeing around a 40 percent reduction in the distance people are traveling.

Go wild: With wild camping, also known as dispersed camping, you can just hunker down at some sweet spot, usually without a permit, fee, or reservation. While some national parks and forests do have a few spaces that allow for wild camping, areas overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are the best bet. People can camp for up to 14 days within a 28 consecutive-day period on BLM’s public lands. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

(Related: Here are tips for visiting national parks safely.)

What to bring

The basics: The right tent for you should take in two main considerations: sizing and season rating. Sizing is usually based on how many people a tent can sleep, and if comfort is the goal, bigger is always better. Season ratings indicate in what seasons the tent works best, and most are generally three-season tents, which means you can use them in the spring, summer, and fall. A four-season tent will cover the winter, with extra weather protection and heat retention. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

A sleeping bag has the same considerations as a tent. Three-season bags are suitable for hot and cold temperatures and are identifiable by their temperature rating, which will display a range of 15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleeping pads, which are just cushioned pads, can be used in conjunction with a sleeping bag to provide extra comfort and insulation, but can also be used on their own as a bed.

top: 

Friends put together a campsite in the countryside in Germany.

bottom: 

Mother and daughter make camp along a stream in Ibaraki, Japan.Photograph by Oliver Rossi, Getty Images (top) and Photograph by Ippei Naoi, Getty Images (bottom)

Small but essential: Don’t forget a flashlight or headlight, batteries, a lighter (for a campfire), a first-aid kit, bug repellent, sunscreen, and extra clothing.

Leave no trace: We want to leave places better than we found them, so it’s crucial to avoid littering and to take any trash out. You never know what the trash-bin situation is at the campsite, especially if you go the wild route, so bring your own trash bags.

The same principle applies to restroom needs. If there are no physical restroom locations, never go in small bodies of water and always make sure to deposit any human waste in a cathole 6 to 8 inches deep, about 200 feet away from water, campgrounds, and trails (cover the cathole when finished). Some retailers, ranging from your local discount store to REI offer travel-sized waste bags that you can use to go anywhere.

COVID-19 protection: “Follow the same rules about the distancing, the wearing of face coverings, etcetera, so that you are [safe],” says Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University and the founder and director of ICAP, a global health program. Even if you’re with people from your same household, bring masks, hand sanitizer, and antimicrobial wipes. Masks are imperative if you’re planning on going hiking on trails where you might come into contact with other people.

Budget: A camping trip can run the gamut from cheap to expensive, depending on the gear and where you’re planning on camping. Campsites that require reservations or fees can run as low as $5 a night but can also go well over $60. Gear in itself is an investment, but it doesn’t have to be. Companies like Outdoors Geek and Arrive Outdoorsoffer rentals on almost every kind of camping item, from tents to sleeping bags to cookware. “It makes it so much easier to know what gear you need, don’t need, like and don’t like when you’ve tried it first,” says Fliss. “And if you don’t enjoy yourself, you don’t have to buy gear.”

(Related: Is it safe—or ethical—to go hiking this summer?)

What to eat

The basics: If you’re planning on making food on-site that requires a heat source, then you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to use a campfire or a campstove, and there are several things to keep in mind if going with the latter. Some areas have campfire restrictions or ban them entirely, while others have grills for public use, though you’ll have to bring your own fuel. As for cookware, pots, pans, plates, and utensils are other things that you might have to bring along depending on what you plan on eating. Bring what cookware you can from home and purchase recyclable versions of what you can’t.

No-fuss cooking: You don’t have to cook while camping if you don’t want to, and can just as easily bring sandwiches from home. Another option is to avoid grocery shopping altogether and purchase meal kits that are geared toward campers, like the ones from REI and Patagonia Provisions, with dishes such as red bean chili and green lentil soup.

Who to bring

Why it matters: With the current state of the pandemic, campers need to choose their companions wisely. “If it’s a unit that’s been together, like a family unit or a small unit of people [in the same household], I think that’s advisable,” says El-Sadr. “Using the same [health] principles we’ve used all along would still apply, but I think it would be easier to implement if you are outdoors in a camping context.”

Family time: As schools in the U.S. had to rapidly pivot to online learning, it meant that kids who normally had a large portion of their day free from screens now spent the majority of their day on them—for both school and leisure. Camping promotes electronics-free time in nature, and planning out some activities with them in advance will keep kids invested and interested in the experience.

Camping with friends: Camping with people who don’t live in the same household can still be done, but campers need to take more precautions. “I would wear a mask and try to stay six feet apart while you’re around a campfire and not be in a tent with somebody that you aren’t quarantining with,” says Colleen Hanrahan, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University and an editor at the university’s Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium, which curates and reviews all scientific evidence about the virus. “It’s not as bad as going to a yoga class with 20 people in the room and breathing heavily or running on the treadmill at the gym […] but I think that people should not lose sight of [camping] being risky or having some level of risk, even if it’s small.” https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

(Related: Recreate camp experiences with Nat Geo Family Camp.)

https://assets.nationalgeographic.com/modules-video/stable/assets/ngsEmbeddedVideo.html?guid=00000156-9e75-dbd5-add6-9ff7b8440000&account=2423130747#amp=1 Related: How to minimize your camping pack See what gear professional ski mountaineer Hilaree O’Neill takes with her when she needs to shave ounces for ultralight camping.

How to keep safe

Why it matters: “The highest level of risk [for the virus] is indoors, and being outdoors automatically eliminates that one piece of it,” says Hanrahan, but precautions still need to be taken. Campers should assess how popular a particular place is going to be, as well as the amount and type of exposure to other people they’ll have. Using the data available on the virus to see where cases are rising is crucial to making decisions on where toavoid and where to go.

Stay in touch: Whether or not you’re camping with other people, always let someone know where you’ll be and if you plan on doing any other outdoor activities while camping, such as hiking or swimming. Share your phone’s location with other people, which is a great way for loved ones to check in to see if you’re safe and sound. Always bring a portable battery, which will come in handy if anyone’s cell phone runs out of juice. However, cell phone signals are notoriously weaker the further into nature you go, which can be tricky if you’re using it to navigate. The Google Maps app has a feature that allows users to download maps to consult offline.

Keep your distance: Embrace the outdoors but give wildlife their space. Research a place ahead of time to see whether there are issues with dangerous insects or animal sightings.

(Related: Bear safety rules are easy to learn. Here’s how to prevent incidents.)

Watch the flames: Fire hazards abound when it comes to using open flames in the outdoors. If you’re going somewhere that allows campfires, make sure to read up on fire safety beforehand. Never leave campfires unattended, always keep water nearby to put it out, and make sure it’s completely extinguished before going to sleep.

Aryana Azari is a journalist and photographer based in New York City. Find her on Instagram.

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/travel/2020/08/how-to-go-camping-during-covid?__twitter_impression=true

Traveling by RV this summer? Here’s what you need to know

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Stephen Starr

Due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, vacationers this summer are mapping out road trips in RVs, campervans, and trailers.Photograph by Alexandra Keeling

Travelers are gearing up for summer getaways, but with more than 20 states reporting spikes in COVID-19 cases in June, vacations involving air travel and large gatherings are likely to remain on hold. If you’re driven to distraction by wanderlust, here’s a tip: Take a spin in an RV.

The pandemic has fueled interest in recreational vehicles—RVs, campervans, and travel trailers. As a result, motor home sales and rentals have dramatically ramped up. While industry-wide data has yet to be fully compiled, RV dealers that reopened in early May report monthly sales are up 170 percent year over year; bookings through rental site RVshare for the Fourth of July weekend are up 81 percent over 2019.

What’s more, the duration of rentals has increased. “We have seen an uptick in the amount people are spending because the average rental period has increased,” says Jon Gray, of peer-to-peer booking site RVshare. “Instead of a long weekend, renters are booking for an average of seven to 10 days.”

The dip in gas prices—expected to remain low throughout the summer months—is helping to make 2020 the Year of the Camper. “People know it’s the only safe way to travel,” says Gigi Stetler of RV Sales of Broward in Florida, and founder of RV Advisor, a member-driven advice site.

Navigating the nation with a trailer in tow takes some planning, but the learning curve should not scare travelers from wheeling away. Here’s what you need to know to get comfortable with a campervan.

Getting in gear

Start by looking into booking companies. Go RVing and Cruise America will connect you with rental centers in the U.S. and Canada that offer a range of vehicle sizes. RVshare and Outdoorsy are peer-to-peer booking sites offering everything from popup trailers to motor homes.

Most rental companies charge a daily rate, which averages $165 for an RV or camper, according to a study by Go RV Rentals. Some also charge a fee per mile traveled. If you’re looking for eco-friendly models, TRA Certification has a list of brands that are certified green, from parts to practices.

In addition to the daily rate, first-time renters should think about additional costs—gas, food, and campground fees, to name a few—to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. Vehicle options abound, and many renters advise to pick an RV with a bathroom. Especially during the pandemic, renters should insist that their RV has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. RVshare, for example, has partnered with TaskRabbit to offer professional cleaning services to camper owners.

In 2016 Jessy Muller bought a 1978 Dodge Commander, she named “Mander.” Since rehabbing it, she’s been driving it across the United States.Photograph by Jessy Muller

Most rentals do not require a special driver’s license. Ahead of booking make sure to ask about rental insurance and roadside assistance plans. Take advantage of a quick RV training session before revving up. If you plan on bringing along a furry friend, check the pet policies specific to your rental. Perhaps most important is to book early. As for incidentals in peer-to-peer rentals, “you should speak to the RV owner about what they keep on board for their renters, such as linens and cookware,” suggests Gray.

Owning the road

For Aaron Levine, owning a home on wheels has been a longtime dream. “I fish, hike, love being in nature,” he says. For him, the attraction of owning a camper is the freedom and mobility that goes with it. During the pandemic, the Phoenix, Arizona, resident finally locked down a deal on a new 28-foot-long Gulf Stream travel trailer. “It’s a way to stay active—and to stay away from people,” he says. The outdoor enthusiast has already taken his trailer on the road twice and plans a summer of trips.

If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of a home on wheels, you might want to go in for the long haul. Levine suggests road-trippers take their time and do their research, especially since prices can range from a few thousand dollars for a previously owned folding or “pop-up” camping trailer to well over $500,000 for a top-of-the-range, Class A motor home.

“Buy something that you know is going to work for you and your family,” says Levine. “Think about the activities you’re going to do.” If your plans involve regularly traversing hairpin mountain passes or embarking on day-long hikes, a campervan or truck camper would best fit the bill. Conversely, 45-foot motor homes equipped with cooking appliances and large wastewater holding tanks work well for large family get-togethers.

Newbies should try to support local dealers, as it will help mitigate maintenance complications down the road. “Do business with your local dealer, because you’re going to need them for service work,” says Stetler.

Where to go

The RV boom is taking off just as the country’s 18,000 campgrounds are re-opening, albeit with restrictions. Because states are at different stages in their response to the pandemic, those restrictions vary from campground to campground. As sites re-open, they’re likely to book up quickly.

Those headed to national parks will find limited capacity among the National Park Service’s 8,585 motor home pads, though NPS officials say they’re “continuing to increase access on a daily basis.” At Yosemite National Park, which recently reopened, only two of 10 campsites with RV facilities are open, as of June 15: Upper Pines (RVs up to 35 feet long, trailers up to 24 feet) and Wawona Horse (93 RV and trailer pads). These open sites don’t have hookups, which means no water, electricity, or access to dumping. Campsites with hookups tend to be more convenient, but cost more.

In Yellowstone National Park, the Tower Fall campground and Fishing Bridge RV Park are closed for the year. But Madison, Bay Bridge, and Grant Village campgrounds are open, with the remaining seven sites scheduled to follow suit on June 19 and July 1.

Alexandra Keeling and her dog Rocko enjoy California’s sun-soaked Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Park from the comfort of her teardrop travel trailer. Since planning her solo trip across the country in 2018, Keeling has been on and off the road for more than a year.Photograph by Winston Shull

Be sure to follow all park guidelines, especially during these pandemic times. “We encourage all visitors to recreate responsibly by following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow “Leave No Trace” principles when you visit,” says Cynthia Hernandez, National Parks Service spokesperson. For a full list of open campgrounds, check individual park websites.

Operators of privately owned campsites are welcoming campers with discounts and assurances of strict physical distancing rules, but that means doing away with services that, for many, make them attractive alternatives to national parks: dining facilities, playgrounds, dog boarding, and communal fire pits, as well as fewer staff on site.

Whit’s End Campground in West Ossipee, New Hampshire, is currently open only to New Hampshire residents and out-of-staters who have self-quarantined for 14 days. The site’s swimming pool and common areas re-opened on June 15, and though holiday weekends are busy, there’s good availability throughout the summer, according to management.

The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona, has 124 RV spaces and reports availability throughout the summer months. Some facilities, such as kenneling and communal fireplaces, are closed, so campers should call or email for the latest updates.

A short drive west of Zion National Park in Utah, Zion River Resort reports high occupancy at its 122-space campground for the coming weeks, but from mid-July availability increases. Management says a typical year would see many camping enthusiasts from Europe starting in July, but that’s not likely this year, opening up more options for U.S. travelers.

No matter where you go, be adaptable when plans change and mishaps happen, says Alexandra Keeling, who’s been traveling the country with her “tiny tin can” trailer for more than a year. “Road life will always throw you a curveball. It makes traveling so much more fun when you can go with the flow,” she says. “I’ve made some of my favorite memories in places I never planned to be and some of the toughest blows put me in the position for some of the greatest experiences.”

Stephen Starr is an Irish journalist and author who reported from the Middle East for a decade before moving to Ohio. Find Stephen on Twitter and Instagram.

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Assam floods: 96 animals die at Kaziranga National Park


Rhinos

1 of 20 One-Horned Rhinos take shelter at the higher places at the flood-hit Kaziranga National Park in Nagaonon. A total of 96 animals have died in the Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district of Assam due to floods, the state government informed. Image Credit: ANI

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2 of 20 A a wild elephant and a calf cross a National Highway at the flood affected Kaziranga National Park. “So far, 96 animals have died in the park including eight rhinos, seven wild boars, two swamp deers, 74 hog deer and two porcupines,” park officials said. Image Credit: AFP

Rhino

3 of 20 A Rhino sits along the roadside as he strayed out of the Kaziranga National Park. A report from the government of Assam stated that a total of 132 animals had been rescued from the Kaziranga National Park. The park is currently 85 per cent submerged under floodwaters. Image Credit: ANI

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4 of 20 “Water level at Pasighar and Dibrugarh are below the prescribed danger level. The floodwater in Numaligarh, Dhansirimukh and Tezpur are still above danger level,” the report stated. Above: A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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5 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on highland inside the flooded Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park. At least 79 people have died and nearly 3.6 million people have been affected in 30 districts of Assam due to floods caused by the monsoon rains and the rise in water levels of the Brahmaputra river, informed the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). Image Credit: PTI

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6 of 20 Water buffaloes stand in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP

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7 of 20 Tiger in search of safer place at the flood-affected area at Bagmari village near Kaziranga in Nagaon district. Image Credit: ANI

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8 of 20 Deers wade through floodwaters in a submerged area of the Kaziranga National Park, in Kanchanjuri. Image Credit: ANI

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9 of 20 A one-horned rhinoceros along with her baby stands in floodwater inside Kaziranga National Park, in Golaghat district. Image Credit: PTI

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10 of 20 A female rhino calf about 1-year-old, who got separated from mother was rescued from Difaloo pathar, Sukani village by the Staffs of Eastern Range, Agoratoli, Kaziranga National Park. Image Credit: ANI

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11 of 20 A wild water buffalo eats tree branches standing in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP

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12 of 20 A wild elephant moves towards the higher ground after the flood hits Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI

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13 of 20 Wild deer cross the National Highway-37 in search for safer places at the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon District. Image Credit: ANI

elephants

14 of 20 A group of wild elephants cross the road to move towards the higher land, following the flooding in the low-lying areas of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI

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15 of 20 A forest employee cuts branches of a tree for rhinoceros as a forest guard keeps vigil near one horned rhinoceros taking shelter from floods on a highland at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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16 of 20 A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP

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17 of 20 A one horned rhinoceros and a calf wades through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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18 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on a higher place at flooded Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI

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19 of 20 Forest guards patrol as one horned rhinoceros take shelter on a highland as flood water rises at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP

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20 of 20 WTI official tries to feed a rhino who is taking shelter near NH 37 in the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National park at Kanchanjuri in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI Remaining Time -50:21

https://gulfnews.com/photos/news/assam-floods-96-animals-die-at-kaziranga-national-park-1.1595135583306?slide=1

Into the Forest

defenders.org

We are living in difficult times. The global COVID-19 pandemic has alienated us from family, from friends and colleagues, and from the routines, experiences and adventures that make up our lives. For many of us, the pandemic has also limited our connections to nature, wildlife and the outdoors. As we learn to adapt, we can start to plan our reunion with the wild places that we miss and that are so essential to our health, especially now.  As David Attenborough said, “In times of crisis the natural world is a source of joy and solace.” 

I’m crazy about the National Forest System, all 193 million acres, including each of the 155 national forests, 19 national grasslands, and even the single national prairie. Having to choose my favorite national forest place for National Forest Week is nearly impossible because they are all so amazing! National forests are carbon and biodiversity strongholds, supporting over 450 species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including in my home state of Montana, like grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout. Like millions of Americans, my family’s water originates in a national forest: In our case, it’s Gallatin National Forest outside of Bozeman. And like generations of Americans I have been recreating in national forests for almost my entire life. I have fond and drizzly memories of camping with my family among the giant trees of Olympic National (rain) Forest in Washington state.

Vine maple in old growth forest Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Image Credit

David Patte/USFWS

Applegate Reservoir in the Siskiyou Mountains within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Image Credit

Rick Swart/ODFW

The fall color of a subalpine larch (Larix lyallii) set against Mt. Stewart on the Cle Elum Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Image Credit

Dawn Fouts/USDA

So rather than having to choose among the ancient forests nestled between three volcanoes in the Gifford Pinchot, or the thrilling whitewater in Oregon’s Rogue River-Siskiyou, or the rugged Pasayten Wilderness and “ghost bears” of the Okanogan, I’ll offer this: When it is safe to do so, and with the utmost respect to others and the places and wildlife we all love, get out to your closest national forest, aim for the highest ridge, the oldest forest, the most riotous meadow of wildflowers or that sublime steam, and enjoy your public lands. The visit will do wonders for your soul during these hard times. 

Fall color September 25, 2016 in the upper end of Bear Jaw Canyon, Bear Jaw Trail Coconino National Forest

Deborah Lee Soltesz/USFS

To commemorate National Forest Week, a celebration of our national forests and grasslands, and to remind us of all the places we have missed and will now carefully take solace in, we pulled together the following stories from within Defenders after asking: What national forest have you missed most during the pandemic? 

Mexican_gray_wolf

Jim Clark/FWS

My favorite National Forest in the Southwest is Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. The national forest is 4,235 square miles and includes Gila Wilderness! Established in 1924 as the first designated wilderness by the federal government, Gila Wilderness covers 872 square miles. I love Gila National Forest because the skies are still dark at night, Mexican gray wolves roam freely and it is mostly silent in these wild lands.

Bighorn Sheep on the Bridger-Teton National Forest

Image Credit

B. Barthelenghi/USFS

Sheep Pass paintbrush in Bridger-Teton NF
Mountains of Bridger-Teton National Forest
Upper Green River Lake, the gateway to the Bridger Wilderness in western Wyoming
Grizzly Bear on the Bridger-Teton National Forest

Image Credit

B. Barthelenghi/USFS

The Teton Range, partially obscured by smoke from the Berry Fire, rises beyond the Jackson Hole valley.

Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming offers heart-stopping views of the Wind River Range (affectionately known as “the Winds”). This is my favorite national forest. I love backpacking through the lower-elevation forests and up into the alpine to feel surrounded by the granite peaks of the famous Cirque of the Towers in the Bridger Wilderness Area. When there is little chance of rain, I don’t unpack the tent but sleep under the planets and stars. During a 4th of July trip one year, my party got caught in a blizzard—a reminder to be prepared for anything in the high mountains. Bridger-Teton is home to bears, bighorn sheep, Bonneville cutthroat trout and a diversity of other wildlife. It is important to acknowledge that Indigenous Peoples lived and passed through this place and many still call surrounding areas home including the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapahoe Tribe.

Wheeler Peak with fall colors in the Carson NF

Carson National Forest is the gem of northern New Mexico. It includes one of the country’s newest Wilderness Areas –Columbine-Hondo – as well as Cruces Basin, Wheeler Peak, Latir Peak and part of Pecos Wilderness. It’s home imperiled species like the Mexican spotted owl and New Mexico’s state fish – the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also makes up a significant portion of one of Defenders’ focal landscapes – the Upper Rio Grande region. Ecologically, this area remains largely intact and provides important connectivity for a variety of species and holds significant potential to restore black-footed ferrets, bison, Mexican gray wolves, lynx and other iconic species.

County Road 41G Rio Grande National Forest
Aspens are reflected in Shallow Creek west of Creede, CO

Rio Grande National Forest holds a special place in my heart. Situated in south-central Colorado just north of the New Mexico-Colorado line, Rio Grande is the connective tissue that allows wildlife to move north-south along the spine of the continent. The high jagged peaks of La Garitas and Sangre de Cristos mountain ranges surround and protect the lowlands of San Luis Valley where wetlands annually host sandhill cranes and other migratory waterfowl. Streams flow down from the high snowfields providing refuge to remaining Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a species facing an uncertain future with climate change and dwindling intact habitat. The entire region is magical to me with crazy rock formations, a rich Native American and Mexican heritage, and broad expanses of roadless forests. 

The setting sun highlights the fall foliage at Lefferts Pond on the Green Mountain National Forest

Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont encompasses over 400,000 acres in central and southwestern Vermont and is the only national forest in Vermont. Even though it’s called Green Mountain National Forest, my favorite season there is fall, when the mountains and hills and valleys turn gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows. The Appalachian Trail, Long Trail and Robert Frost National Recreation Trail weave their ways through the mountains, passing diverse forests, streams, ponds and wetlands, and some stunning views. Moose, coyote, lynx, fox, bald eagle, wood turtle, black bear, Jefferson salamander, wild turkey, Indiana bat, beaver and many more species rely on this remarkable forest in Vermont.

San Joaquin River in Sierra NF

Image Credit

Pamela Flick/Defenders of Wildlife

shooting stars wildflowers

Image Credit

Pamela Flick/Defenders of Wildlife

Lake George in Sierra National Forest

Image Credit

Pamela Flick/Defenders of Wildlife

During these times of stay-at-home orders, I find myself daydreaming of warm summer days spent swimming in the emerald green depths of my beloved Merced River and being awash in starry night skies of Sierra National Forest backcountry. Each year, I lead an all-women backpacking trip and Sierra National Forest is one of our favorite destinations. We often spend a night at Huntington Lake and take a scenic drive to soak in Mono Hot Springs, perched on the banks of the upper South Fork of the San Joaquin River. Then we head into the Kaiser or Dinkey Lakes wilderness to enjoy splendid wildflower studded meadows, massive old- growth red fir forests and sparkling (and frigid!) high elevation lakes. The Sierra National Forest is home to endangered Pacific fishers as well as other rare species like California spotted owls, Yosemite toads, northern goshawks, American martens and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs.

Mt Hood National Forest, Bull Run Lake
Tamanawas Falls, Mt Hood National Forest

My favorite National Forest in Oregon is Mt. Hood National Forest. Nestled in the Cascades Range and home to the stunning Mt. Hood after which it is named, it is also the closest national forest to the largest urban area in Oregon (Portland metro area). In just an hour’s drive is a magical escape from city life— whether its hiking to see stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge or of Mt. Hood and its meadows, mountain biking, bird watching, swimming or fishing in its many lakes, winter skiing or swimming in its countless waterfalls, Mt. Hood National Forest has something for every nature lover. Locally referred to as Hood, the forest is also critical habitat for species like the northern spotted owl, black bear, cougar, elk, river otter, chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, marten, Sierra Nevada red fox, and as of 2018, Hood has its own resident pack of wolves!

Sunset at Timberline Lodge Panoramic

Protect Yourself and Your Community

Safety is a priority. Before heading outdoors, forest and grassland visitors are encouraged to:

  • Plan ahead and know before you go. Check local conditions before heading to your favorite outdoor destination. Visitors should be aware of state, county and local health restrictions that may prohibit some activities or prohibit visiting some areas on public lands. Visitors are encouraged to check with their local forest and grassland office before heading outdoors.
  • Follow guidance and orders. Take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and county, city and state public health authorities.  
  • Practice social distancing. Avoid crowding at trailheads, scenic overlooks, parking lots and other areas. If a recreation spot is crowded, look for a less crowded spot. Maintain at least a 6-ft. physical distance from others. Enjoy a scenic drive.
  • Be cautious. Avoid high risk or backcountry activities that may increase your chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 response efforts.
  • Prepare for limited services. Restroom facilities and trash collection services are limited. If a restroom is open, it may not be maintained or cleaned. Visitors are encouraged to take their trash with them when they leave. Follow Leave No Trace Principles, particularly when dealing with human waste.
  • Keep pets on a leash.

Author(s)

Peter Nelson

Peter Nelson

Director of Federal Lands

Peter Nelson leads Defenders’ efforts to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity on federal public lands.

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Wildlife & Wild Places

Temperate Rainforest Olympic NP
Vermont Forest in Autumn

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New rules for Yosemite National Park

 

Engineering Coastal Communities as Nature Intended

defenders.org

9-11 minutes


People love to live by the water. For centuries, cities like New York, Miami, Honolulu and San Francisco have attracted residents and tourists from around the world. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population lives in counties on the coast, and that percentage is growing in footprint, density, number and population, reshaping and hardening coastlines in the process. 

Coasts also provide habitat for great numbers of plants and animals and are typically biodiversity hotspots. But all this coastal development is reducing the amazing biodiversity along our shorelines. 

Oregon coast as seen from Ecola State Park

Sristi Kamal

Coastal Defenses

Development has also reduced our coasts’ natural ability to resist and recover from natural disasters and has removed habitat that provides shelter for wildlife and ecosystem services for humans. Traditional coastal defenses like sea walls and levees are widely used to protect communities, but these artificial coastal barriers can lead to significant erosion or unwanted sediment deposition and negatively impact water quality. They are also time-consuming to build and cost billions to construct, maintain and repair.

Increasingly, engineers and planners are starting to pay more attention to the potential of “Nature and Nature-Based Features” (NNBFs) as environmentally friendly solutions—like mangrove forests, beach dunes, coral reefs and wetlands—that fulfill the same roles as an important weapon in the fight against coastal storms and flooding. 

Pea Island NWR dunes Cape Hatteras

D. Rex Miller

NNBFs include natural defenses and human-built features that mimic them. Using NNBFs in coastal development decisions can therefore mean constructing new ones or protecting existing natural ones. NNBFs are often cheaper and require less maintenance and management. They can also make communities more resilient to climate change by adapting to changes in the environment. They are part of the larger concept of “green infrastructure,” or attempting to harness nature’s resilience to solve human problems. And its not all-or-nothing – NNBFs can complement artificial coastal infrastructure. 

NNBFs like wetlands are essential to protect coasts from storm surges because they can store and slow the release of floodwaters, reducing erosion and damage to buildings. One study found that salt marshes can reduce wave height by an average of 72%. Coral reefs can serve as a barrier and reduce wave height by an average of 70%. These reefs protect coastal cities near them such as Honolulu and Miami, saving lives and preventing monetary damage.

Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki from Diamond Head

Megan Joyce/Defenders of Wildlife

 
When Superstorm Sandy slammed the Northeast in 2012, homes on beaches fairly near to sand dunes were protected by these natural buffers, which can blunt the force of waves and wind. In many cases, homes on beach areas where dunes had been removed (often to improve ocean views) were completely destroyed by Sandy. Removing many of the mangroves that lined Biscayne Bay in South Florida may have helped spur economic development. However, it also removed another natural barrier against storm surge. This increased vulnerability of homes and businesses to the hurricanes that frequently hit Miami. Coastal communities in Indonesia hit by the devastating 2004 tsunami that had removed their mangrove forests suffered more damage and more lost lives than areas where mangroves had been allowed to remain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a number of projects that look at features like mangroves and their ability to protect coasts.

Hurricane Sandy damaged Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

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Image Credit

David Bocanegra/USFWS

Breach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE) after Hurricane Sandy

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Image Credit

Lia McLaughlin/USFWS

Aerial photo of damaged homes along New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy

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Image Credit

Greg Thompson/USFWS

Damage from Hurricane Sandy at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, homes on the Jersey Shore

Bringing Wildlife Back 

People are not the only ones who can benefit from NNBF. Restoring or protecting habitat can bring back habitat for wildlife and provide space for wildlife to live alongside coastal human communities. This includes imperiled species.

For example, coastal dunes restoration can improve habitat for threatened species like the piping plover, red knot and seabeach amaranth. Restoring mangroves can help protect species like the wood stork and American alligator, and the endangered hawksbill turtle. Protecting coral reefs can help threatened elkhorn and boulder star corals, and ensure habitat remains for the hawksbill sea turtle. People and wildlife can both have space.

Red knots and horseshoe crabs

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Alligator Okefenokee NWR

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Image Credit

Steve Brooks

Hawksbill sea turtle

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Image Credit

Michele Hoffman

NNBFs can also improve water quality. Much of the rainwater and flood water that goes on vegetation or sand will sink into the ground where it is cleaned. Healthy coral reefs and healthy mangroves help improve marine waters. And by avoiding artificial coastal defenses, polluted runoff can be avoided. Improving water quality can help marine imperiled species. For example, manatees in Florida have been devastated by red tide in recent years. Similarly, water quality issues can stress or kill threatened corals that need clear water for photosynthesis. Even species far offshore, like orca, can be hurt by contaminated runoff from development. Creating habitat for wildlife can even have additional economic benefits beyond coastal protection. It can offer opportunities for economic activity like kayaking, fishing and birding.

Corals at Barren Island, Palmyra Atoll

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Image Credit

Andrew S. Wright/USFWS

Scenic Mangroves on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail Everglades National Park

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The Future of NNBF

In recent years, the U.S. Congress has become interested in the potential of NNBFs, instructing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to incorporate NNBFs into coastal defense projects where appropriate. The Corps’ research and development center has taken a leading role in researching NNBFs. Through its engineering with nature initiative, it has developed numerous projects exploring NNBFs’ potential. However, the regional offices have made less progress in taking advantage of NNBFs in their coastal defense projects. NNBFs should be a priority for the Corps and coastal communities around the country – and the world. 

Advocating for NNBFs is part of Defenders of Wildlife’s mission to protect habitat and we believe they are a strong tool for addressing the overall biodiversity crisis faced by the planet. 


More information:

To learn more about NNBFs generally, check out the Army Corps’ Engineering with Nature website. If you’re interested in learning more, Defenders of Wildlife’s Center for Conservation Innovation will be hosting a talk on NNBFs given by an Army Corp’ expert. Click here to sign up to watch it. To learn more about green infrastructure generally, check out ESRI’s Green Infrastructure story map. There are a lot of green infrastructure projects that you can help with at home, such as Defender’s Orcas Love Raingardens project in the Pacific Northwest. 

Author(s)

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter

Senior Conservation Policy Analyst

Andrew works on wildlife conservation policy at the Center for Conservation Innovation, where he researches and analyzes conservation governance strategies and emerging policy issues, and works with other CCI members to develop innovative approaches to habitat and species protection.

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Wildlife & Wild Places

Sunset over Rodeo Beach CA

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Tell the U.S. Forest Service to drop the fee plan for Wilderness in the Central Cascades!

Tell the U.S. Forest Service to ‘take a hike’ and drop the fee plan for Wilderness in the Central Cascades!

The U.S. Forest Service (FS) is proposing to charge people for simply walking in the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas in the Oregon Cascades. Specifically, the FS wants to require fees for all overnight access to these Wildernesses – plus for day use at 19 trailheads – claiming hiking is a “specialized recreation use.”

The proposed fees violate the intent and purpose of the Wilderness Act, including protecting Wilderness from commercialization and commodification. It is simply unjust to charge people to visit Wilderness areas, which belong to all Americans. They are our irreplaceable birthright as citizens, open to all, not just those wealthy enough to pay fees.

The proposed fees are illegal under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which prohibits charging fees for parking at, hiking through, horseback riding in, or camping in undeveloped federal sites such as Wildernesses. Despite Forest Service claims, traveling on foot or horseback through a Wilderness is not a “specialized recreation use,” which applies to group activities, recreation events, and motorized recreational vehicle use.

The fees are tied to the Forest Service’s limited-access permit system starting next summer for the Mount Jefferson, Mont Washington, and Three Sisters Wildernesses to prevent overcrowding and resource damage. While Wilderness Watch supports quotas to protect Wilderness areas from being over-run by people, we are adamantly opposed to the federal government charging hikers a fee simply to take a walk in the Wilderness. The fees are another part of the effort to commercialize Wilderness, and would exclude the public from accessing and enjoying their public lands.

This fee proposal is unprecedented, with the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests implementing fees across 450,000-plus acres in three Wildernesses for all overnight users plus day use at 19 trailheads. This fee system would set a horrible national precedent for other Wilderness areas around the country.

Please submit your comments to the U.S. Forest Service by November 25th.

Subject: Recreation Fees
Message:
Dear U.S. Forest Service:

I’m adamantly opposed to your proposal to charge people for simply taking a walk in the in the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas in the Oregon Cascades.

Your proposed fee violates the intent and purpose of the Wilderness Act, including protecting Wildernesses from commercialization and commodification. Wilderness areas belong to all of the American people. They are an irreplaceable birthright to all our citizens, open to all the public and not just those wealthy enough to pay additional fees. All citizens across the nation already own the Wildernesses in the National Wilderness Preservation System and we have paid for them with our taxes. It is simply unjust to charge people to visit the Wilderness they already own.

These fees would also be illegal under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and would exclude the public from accessing and enjoying their public lands.

The Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness Areas already plan to require limited-access permits starting next year to prevent overcrowding and resource damage. While I support quotas to protect Wilderness areas from being over-run by people, I’m adamantly opposed to the federal government charging hikers a fee simply to take a walk in the Wilderness.

This fee proposal is unprecedented as the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests would be the first national forest in the U.S. to implement a fee system across three Wilderness areas that will charge for all overnight use plus day use at 19 trailheads across 450,000-plus acres of Wilderness.

The USFS is incorrectly claiming authority for charging such fees under a clause in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) that allows a fee for “specialized recreation uses” such as group activities, recreation events, and motorized recreational vehicles. Congress never meant that to apply to private individuals who are hiking, walking, horseback riding and camping in a completely undeveloped part of a national forest.

Such fees would set a horrible national precedent for other Wilderness areas around the country and I urge you to abandon your fee scheme for the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas.

Thank you.
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It’s simply unjust to charge people to visit Wilderness areas, which belong to all Americans. They are our irreplaceable birthright as citizens, open to all, not just those wealthy enough to pay fees.

https://wildernesswatch.salsalabs.org/cascadewildernessfees/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=9c71e708-9e5f-445b-a06e-f7371f2c4e74

“The Dark Side of Tourism Clearing Everest’s Trash” National Geographic”

Trouble-Making Oregon Man, Raymond Reinkek, Arrested For Harassing Wild Bison At Yellowstone National Park Last Week! – World Animal News

By Lauren Lewis –
August 6, 2018
Left Photo by Lindsey Jones, Facebook

Sadly, innocent animals continue to be cruelly mistreated and abused by heartless humans who seem to be void of the gene for compassion.
Such was the case last week when 55-year-old Raymond Reinkek from Pendleton, Oregon, was caught on video harassing a wild bison at Yellowstone National Park.
According to the National Park Service, Reinke had been traveling to multiple national parks over the last week. On July 28th, he was first arrested by law enforcement rangers at Grand Teton National Park for a drunk and disorderly conduct incident. He spent the night in the Teton County Jail and was then released on bond.
Following his release, he traveled to Yellowstone National Park. Rangers at Yellowstone stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation on July 31st during which Reinke was reportedly intoxicated again and argumentative. He was cited as a passenger for failure to wear a seat belt. It is believed that after that traffic stop, Reinke encountered the bison.
“The individual’s behavior in this video is reckless, dangerous, and illegal. We need people to be stewards of Yellowstone, and one way to do that is to keep your distance from wildlife,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk stated on a post on the Parks Facebook page. “Park regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards from animals like bison and elk, and 100 yards from bears and wolves. These distances safeguard both visitors and the remarkable experience of sharing a landscape with thousands of freely-roaming animals. People who ignore these rules are risking their lives and threatening the park experience for everyone else.”
“Another way to be a steward: tell a ranger, or call 911, if you see someone whose behavior might hurt them or the park,” the post continued.
Fortunately, on Thursday, August 2nd, Yellowstone rangers connected Reinke’s extensive history, and after viewing the egregious nature of the wildlife violation; the Assistant U.S. Attorney requested his bond be revoked. The request was granted, and that evening, a warrant was issued for Reinke’s arrest.
According to a statement released by the National Park Service, Reinke had told the previous rangers his travel plans, so Glacier National Park rangers began looking for his vehicle there. Simultaneous with that search, rangers responded to the Many Glacier Hotel because two guests were arguing and creating a disturbance in the hotel dining room. Rangers identified one of the individuals involved as Reinke.
Glacier rangers transported Reinke to Helena where they were met by Yellowstone rangers. Yellowstone rangers transported Reinke to Mammoth Hot Springs and booked him into the Yellowstone Jail. He was scheduled for a court appearance the next day.
“We appreciate the collaboration of our fellow rangers in Glacier and Grand Teton national parks on this arrest,” said Wenk. “Harassing wildlife is illegal in any national park.”

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Science-based policy for the national parks? Not on Zinke’s watch.

grist.org
By Elizabeth Shogren on Jul 26, 2018

This story was originally published by Reveal and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

As deputy director of the National Park Service, Michael Reynolds played a key role in developing a sweeping new vision for managing national parks. The new policy, enacted in the final weeks of the Obama administration, elevated the role that science played in decision-making and emphasized that parks should take precautionary steps to protect natural and historic treasures.

But eight months later, as the first acting director of the Park Service under President Donald Trump, Reynolds rescinded this policy, known as Director’s Order 100. Newly released documents suggest that top Interior Department officials intervened, ordering Reynolds to rescind it.

A memo addressed to Reynolds states: “Pursuant to direction from [Interior] Secretary [Ryan] Zinke, I hereby instruct you to rescind Director’s Order #100.”

Reynolds, now the superintendent of Yosemite National Park, did not respond to requests for an interview.

The emails were among 170 pages of documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group.

Some top officials in the National Park Service were dismayed that the policy was canceled in August 2017, according to the emails. Chris Lehnertz, superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, called it “hard news for me to swallow,” according to an email she wrote to Reynolds and others.

Jonathan Jarvis, who was President Barack Obama’s Park Service director, said now that the order has been rescinded, national parks could become more welcoming to drones, jet skis, and private companies that want to build luxurious accommodations.

“We’re back into the era when those kinds of things will be proposed,” Jarvis said. “I’m sure we’re going to see some.”

Jarvis, who signed Director’s Order 100, said he thinks the Trump administration objected to the policy because it stressed that parks follow the “precautionary principle,” preventing actions or activities that plausibly threaten park resources and human heath, even when there is uncertainty. It also acknowledged the significant impact that climate change has on parks and directed them to incorporate climate change science in management decisions.

One memo to Reynolds said that Zinke will replace the order with his own strategy for the national parks, “including potential changes to the Department’s priorities and organization over the next 100 years.”

The emails show that Daniel Jorjani, the Interior’s principal deputy solicitor, played a key role in reversing the order. Jorjani is a Trump appointee who was an attorney from 2010 to 2016 for foundations funded by the Koch brothers, fossil fuel billionaires who support the spread of free-market principles throughout government. During the Bush administration, Jorjani was an Interior Department counselor and chief of staff.

In one June 13, 2017, email exchange heavily redacted by the Interior Department, a lawyer in the solicitor’s office said Jorjani “or someone else may want to change the language, but …” The next part of the email is blanked out. The next day, another lawyer asked Jorjani in an email: “Do you want us to hold this pending your review or should we start moving it through to get it signed?”

On June 19, Jorjani emailed another lawyer, asking her to “strengthen the language” on the rescission memo. Later the same day, Jorjani emailed Reynolds and another top Park Service official asking: “Do you have a preferred date for withdrawing DO-100?” Later that day, Jorjani sent the rescission memo to the Park Service.

Jarvis, who worked with Jorjani during the Bush administration, wasn’t surprised that Jorjani directed the withdrawal of the order.

“This fits well with Jorjani’s worldview — the private sector can do anything better than government,” Jarvis said. During the Bush administration, Jorjani pushed to transfer various activities in the national parks to the private sector, Jarvis said.

The rescinded policy was developed in response to the 2012 “Revisiting Leopold” report from the science committee of the Park Service’s advisory board. The scientists urged the Park Service to update the vision of national parks to reflect the many changes underway in parks due to climate change and other factors. (In January, most members of that board quit in protest after Zinke hadn’t met with them even once.)

The Trump administration has repeatedly downplayed climate science and eliminated efforts by previous administrations to address climate change. The National Park Service pressured a scientist to remove every reference to the human role in causing climate change from a scientific report projecting the risk to parks from sea-level rise and storm surge.

Tony Knowles, the last chair of the Park Service’s advisory board, said the Trump administration is veering far from the principles outlined in Director’s Order 100.

For example, in May, the Trump administration proposed canceling rules that ban certain types of hunting in much of Alaska’s large national preserves. These rules, developed in 2015 through an extensive scientific and public process, prohibit using artificial light to kill black bear sows and their cubs at their dens, using bait to lure black bears to their deaths, and shooting swimming caribou from a motorboat.

If the order was still in place, “it would be very difficult to justify doing away with these regulations,” said Knowles, a former governor of Alaska.

The trove of documents also provides insight into the Interior Department’s public relations strategy. Officials drafted news releases to explain the rescission of the policy but the day the withdrawal became effective, Park Service spokesperson Jeremy Barnum told top Park Service officials that Interior’s communications team had decided there would be no press release. Reynolds emailed the press official asking: “If no press I’m curious how we are now to notify folks.” No response to his question was included in the released documents. Barnum declined to comment.

https://grist.org/politics/science-based-policy-for-the-national-parks-not-on-zinkes-watch/

“Five Must-See Attractions in Yellowstone” National Geographic

Petition · United States Department of the Interior: Preserve Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument! · Change.org

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s vast and austere landscape in Southern Utah’s embraces a spectacular array Of scientific and historic resources. Donald Trump’s Administration, along with Utah’s delegation, is currently engaging in efforts to substantially reduce the monument. This effect is an archaic and illogical assault on one of the crown jewels of America’s National Monuments and an economic threat to the gateway communities of the Grand Staircase-Escalante.

https://www.change.org/p/united-states-department-of-the-interior-preserve-utah-s-grand-staircase-escalante-national-monument?source_location=update_footer&algorithm=promoted&grid_position=3&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAGTxnwAAAAAAWih7ZAtW1v4wOGRkODBmMg%3D%3D

Petition: Congress: Ban Trapping In Our National Wildlife Refuges


https://www.thepetitionsite.com/415/591/495/congress-ban-trapping-in-our-national-wildlife-refuges/

Petition · Seattle City Council: Protect Seattle’s Discovery Park! · Change.org


https://www.change.org/p/seattle-city-council-protect-seattle-s-discovery-park?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&grid_position=11&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAPFxvgAAAAAAWeY8mdqiXYFiNjljMWIxMg%3D%3D

#SaveOurParks From Oil and Gas Drilling!

The Trump administration is trying to allow gas and oil drilling near a pristine national park, all for the financial benefit of big oil companies. This drilling will critically threaten wildlife and the environment if permitted. Sign this petition to demand that this national park be protected from oil drilling.

Source: #SaveOurParks From Oil and Gas Drilling!

There was a Full Cloud Inversion at the Grand Canyon and this Guy Got an Unreal Timelapse of It «TwistedSifter


http://twistedsifter.com/2017/05/full-cloud-inversion-grand-canyon-timelapse-by-skyglow/#like-106995

Help Safeguard the Future of Our National Park System

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The Antiquities Act is one of our nation’s most valuable conservation tools but it is being threatened. Our environment and wildlife depend on this Act for their protection. Please sign our petition to oppose any efforts to undermine the Antiquities Act.

Source: Help Safeguard the Future of Our National Park System

Take Action: Pennsylvania Conservation Funding Cuts Harm National Park Landscapes!

Source: Take Action: Pennsylvania Conservation Funding Cuts Harm National Park Landscapes!

Don’t let park rangers become an endangered species!

 

Source: Don’t let park rangers become an endangered species!

Video Shows Wild Buffalo Held Without Food or Water Near Dakota Access Pipeline Construction Site


http://www.ecowatch.com/buffalo-dakota-access-pipeline-2093158888.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=a67a88f63c-MailChimp+Email+Blast&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-a67a88f63c-86074753

Petition · United States Department of the Interior: Stop the Auctioning of Wayne National Forest for Oil · Change.org


https://www.change.org/p/united-states-department-of-the-interior-stop-the-auctioning-of-wayne-national-forest-for-oil/sign?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=671699&alert_id=ZfOUikmKIh_2nMs5S1y67DHkYle7wfcuWREbX5q2I1rAJ%2BHMbJsUtE%3D

Stop US Forest Service Plan To Trapping in Santa Fe National Forest


http://mountainlion.org/ActionAlerts/080516FStraps/080516FStraps.asp?utm_source=NM+Letter+to+USFS+Individual+Invite&utm_campaign=Eastern+Cougar+Letter+Invite+07%2F26%2F2016&utm_medium=email

You Can Protect National Parks in Peril – The Rainforest Site


https://m.therainforestsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/trs/petition/NPCA-ParksInPeril?utm_source=trs-ta-enviro&utm_medium=email&utm_term=07062016&utm_content=takeaction-f&utm_campaign=npca-parksinperil&origin=ETE_070616_NPCA-ParksInPeril_f&oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937

Take action now! Protect Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon

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http://advocacy.pewtrusts.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1793&ea.campaign.id=51334&ea.tracking.id=Alert&Country=&First%20Name=Nancy&Last%20Name=Keiter&City=&State=&Postal%20Code=&Email%20Address=nackpets@gmail.com&Address%201=&utm_campaign=AA+-+PEG+-+CAW+-+Gold+Butte&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Pew

Stop Egregious Attacks on Wildlife

 

An anti-wildlife bill that would allow hunting in national parks, de-regulate lead ammunition, and halt protections for elephants abroad was passed by the House earlier this year. Now members of Congress seek to attach this egregious bill to an important energy act in an effort to force it into law. Demand this bill be stopped in its tracks.

Source: Stop Egregious Attacks on Wildlife