Category: national parks

New guidance requires closer look at climate impacts from activities on public lands

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.
New guidance for federal agencies will require closer scrutiny of climate impacts of developments on public land. Photo courtesy BLM.

CEQ updates NEPA rules with an eye toward greenhouse gases

Staff Report

Public land managers and other federal agency decision-makers will no longer be able to shy away from considering climate change as they consider new projects.

Saying that emissions from any given proposal are only a small fraction of global emissions “is not an appropriate basis for deciding whether or to what extent to consider climate change impacts under NEPA,” the White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote in new guidance that directs agencies to quantify greenhouse gas emissions and to choose alternatives for projects that minimize climate impacts. Continue reading “New guidance requires closer look at climate impacts from activities on public lands”

Climate: Death Valley sets heat record in June

Death Valley heat record
Ripples on Mesquite Flat sand dunes, Photo courtesy Death Valley National Park.

Average temperature for the month more than 6 degrees above the historic norm

Staff Report

The deadly heatwave that spread across the southwestern U.S. in June also brought a new record high average temperature to Death Valley, one of the hottest places on Earth. According to the National Park Service, last month was the warmest June on record in the national park, with the average temperature for the whole month registering at 101.9 degrees Fahrenheit — about 6 degrees above the long-term average.

Death Valley’s average daily high temperature this June was 115.5 degrees Fahrenheit and the average overnight low was 88.2 degrees. In spite of a record-setting average temperature, Death Valley only set a new daily record one day last month, with 126 degrees recorded on June 21, 2016. The highest temperature ever recorded in Death Valley in June was just a few years ago: 129 degrees on June 30, 2013. Continue reading “Climate: Death Valley sets heat record in June”

Study eyes climate threat to Crater Lake

Warming temps could affect clarity, quality of famed Oregon lake

crater lake climate change
A new study shows how global warming may affect Crater Lake. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Unique climatic conditions that combine to make Oregon’s Crater Lake one of the clearest bodies of freshwater in the world are expected to become more rare as the Earth gets warmer. The changes could impair the lake’s clarity and health, scientists said in a new study published in early May by the U.S. Geological Survey. Continue reading “Study eyes climate threat to Crater Lake”

Morning photo: Countryside …

Spring landscapes

The Lower Austrian landscape encompasses everything from wild beech forests and deep river canyons to manicured fields — not to mention acres and acres of vineyard, but that’s another story! Austrians are still getting used to the concept of national parks. Thayatal was founded in 2002, so some local visitors still don’t quite understand why the park managers simply leave downed trees on the ground. It’s considered a waste by some, and the park features signs explaining how it’s a deliberate effort to recreate landscapes where natural processes are left to function without much interference. In this small country, nearly every acre of land is spoken for, most of it outside towns and cities dedicated to agriculture, but slowly, resource managers are making some headway in restoring natural ecosystems in a few areas, to the benefit of native species.

Travel: National parks celebrate centennial by offering free admission April 16-24

Special events planned throughout the year

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Rocky Mountain National Park pano. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The National Park Service is celebrating it’s 100th birthday this year, and visitors can join the party by taking advantage of free admission to all national parks from April 16 to April 24.

“We have an amazing variety of special events taking place during the centennial,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a press release. “Some commemorate our first hundred years, but many others look to the future, to the next 100 years, and will help connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates. It is through them that America’s lands and stories will be preserved and passed on to future generations,” Jarvis said. Continue reading “Travel: National parks celebrate centennial by offering free admission April 16-24”

Public lands: Utah congressmen try to strip federal land agencies of their law enforcement authority

Proposed measure is the latest attack on public lands by anti-environmental extremists in Congress

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Western public lands are under assault by right-wing extremists. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

After failing repeatedly in their far-fetched attempts to claim state authority over federally managed public lands, extremist anti-environment lawmakers from the West are trying a new front in their continued attacks on the federal government.

A new measure introduced in the U.S. House would take away law enforcement authorities from agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Instead, local sheriffs would be tasked with policing those lands. Continue reading “Public lands: Utah congressmen try to strip federal land agencies of their law enforcement authority”

Sunday set: Thayatal National Park

Biodiversity along the river …

At about 3,280 acres, Thayatal National Park, in northeastern Austria, is pretty small compared to the vast reaches of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain national parks. But the deep river valley that forms the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia is rich in biodiversity. Because the Thaya River was part of the Cold War frontier, the forests in steep canyon were relatively undisturbed for decades. Biologists have tallied 1,300 species of plants in the park. Rare bird species like the black stork and horned owl make their home in the dense beech forests. And that’s not all — bobcats, once extirpated across most of central Europe, are making a comeback and biologists have tracked a few of them in this area. New efforts to create wildlife movement corridors in Austria include building vegetated highway overpasses to connect larger areas of good forest habitat. That may enable bobcats to gradually recolonize larger parts of their former range. Read more Summit Voice stories about national parks here.