Will invasive pythons wipe out the Everglades’ mammals?

A Burmese python caught in the Florida Everglades. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

A Burmese python caught in the Florida Everglades. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

Non-native snakes have potentially huge impact to native ecosystems in Everglades National Park

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists working in the Florida Everglades are finding that invasive Burmese pythons are rapidly becoming the biggest predator of small mammals in the wetlands ecosystem.

The researchers found that nearly 80 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits that died in the park were eaten by pythons. A year later, there was no sign of a rabbit population in the study area.  Continue reading

Environment: NOAA doubles size of marine sanctuaries along northern California coast

Just 50 miles northwest of San Francisco, Cordell Bank teems with life above and below the surface. This thriving 'underwater island' is the centerpiece of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which NOAA has now expanded to protect additional areas like Bodega Canyon along the continental shelf.

Just 50 miles northwest of San Francisco, Cordell Bank teems with life above and below the surface. This thriving ‘underwater island’ is the centerpiece of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which NOAA has now expanded to protect additional areas like Bodega Canyon along the continental shelf. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones home to 25 threatened and endangered species

Staff Report

FRISCO — A pair of marine sanctuaries off the coast of northern California are doubling in size, offering more protection for globally significant and productive marine ecosystems. The sanctuaries encompass estuarine wetlands, rocky intertidal habitat, open ocean, and shallow marine banks.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, will expand from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary will expand from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles of ocean and coastal waters. Continue reading

Huge comeback for threatened Channel Island foxes

‘It appears that this is the fastest population rebound … for any land mammal in the United States’

Two Santa Cruz Island foxes groom in a field on Santa Cruz Island. Photo courtesy of Dan Richards/National Park Service.

Two Santa Cruz Island foxes groom in a field on Santa Cruz Island. Photo courtesy of Dan Richards/National Park Service.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Releasing their final recovery plan for four subspecies of island fox, federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act has already helped the rare mammals stage a comeback.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also launching a status review for the foxes, which live on the Channel Islands, off the coast of California, to determine if any of the subspecies warrant consideration for reclassification or removal from the endangered species list.

“Due to the remarkable success of the Endangered Species Act, recovery actions by land managers and conservation partners have led to dramatic population increases on all four islands since listing, effectively bringing the species back from the brink of extinction,” said Steve Henry, field supervisor of the USFWS  Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. To date, it appears that this is the fastest population rebound due to recovery actions and ESA protections for any land mammal in the United States.” Continue reading

Cherished Colorado areas at risk as House GOP seeks to strip funding for National Conservation Lands

Budget cutting would threaten robust recreation economy

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An arch in Colorado’s Rattlesnake Canyon, part of the system of National Conservation Lands. Photo courtesy BLM.

Staff ReportFRISCO — House Republicans are continuing their nearly relentless attack on public lands with a threatened move to take away funding for more than 30 million acres of National Conservation Lands, including popular Colorado areas like the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and McInnis Canyons NCA.Gutting the budget for the National Conservation Lands threatens access to public lands that drive the nation’s outdoor economy and provide a livelihood for many Westerners.

The push by the House Resources Committee is at odds with President Obama’s budget, which recognizes these lands are underfunded and proposes an increase in funding. Dozens of national monuments and national conservation areas across the West—places like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas — would have to shut their doors. Continue reading

Rocky Mountain National Park hosts science summit

Two-day Estes Park event highlights Rocky Mountain NP park research

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Rocky Mountain National Park. bberwyn photo

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Elk tussling along Trail Ridge Road, bberwyn photo

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FRISCO — Along with drawing more than 3 million visitors per year, Rocky Mountain National Park is a hotbed of scientific discovery, Each year the park issues more than 100 research permits, with scientists coming from all over the world to study plants, animals, geology and water. Last year, citizen scientists volunteered thousands of hours to research projects. In addition, hundreds of students participate in field data collections and lab analysis.

Many of the researchers will be in Estes Park next week to share the findings from their studies during the two-day (March 4, 5) biennial research conference, which is free and open to all interested members of the community. No registration is required. The conference begins on Wednesday, March 4, at 8:00 a.m. See the full schedule at: http://www.nps.gov/rlc/continentaldivide/research-conference.htm. Continue reading

National parks visitation sets all-time record in 2014

Park visitors spent more than $15 billion last year

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Visitors enjoy the scenery at Colorado National Monument. bberwyn photo

Elk Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.  bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — As the National Park Service nears its 100th anniversary, the parks it manages are more popular than ever. Visitation to national parks broke a long-standing record last year, with more than 292 million visits. The previous record was set in 1987.

“As the National Park Service strives to share a more inclusive and well-rounded version of the American story through the places we care for, it is gratifying to see more people than ever coming to their national parks to enjoy nature, learn about history, and spend time with their families,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. Continue reading

Public lands: Obama’s budget includes boost for national parks

Infrastructure repair, education and outreach targeted

Camping in the backcountry wilderness of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Click on the image to visit the park website.

Camping in the backcountry wilderness of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Click on the image to visit the park website.

Staff Report

FRISCO – The National Park Service could see funding for essential programs and operational needs climb $432.9 million this year under President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016.

“This is an investment in ‘America’s best idea’ that pays dividends in gateway communities across the nation,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.”For every dollar appropriated to the National Park Service in the President’s 2016 Centennial budget, $10 is returned to the American economy in the form of visitor spending, travel and tourism and construction jobs,” Jarvis said. The funds will help parks upgrade aging infrastructure and respond to climate change, he added. Continue reading

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