WASO - 07-21-14 - Economic Impact

NPS Photo

Agency and Park Updates
Parks Seriously Affected by Climate Change, Study Finds

Climate change is happening in America’s national parks, in some cases in rapid and concerning ways, confirms a new report from the National Park Service. These changes will have implications for what visitors see and experience in national parks and will require new approaches to the protection of natural and historic resources within parks.

“This report shows that climate change continues to be the most far-reaching and consequential challenge ever faced by our national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Our national parks can serve as places where we can monitor and document ecosystem change without many of the stressors that are found on other public lands.”

In the article Climate Exposure of US National Parks in a New Era of Change, NPS scientists studied climate data of the last 10 to 30 years as compared to the historical range of variability from 1901 to 2012 from 289 national parks. They found that temperatures are now at the high end of the range of temperatures measured since 1901. This is true across several temperature measurements, including annual average temperature, average temperature of the winter months, and average temperature of the summer months. The data also point to changes in precipitation patterns over time.

These findings are consistent with previous research by the National Park Service, as well as other national and international reports including the recently released National Climate Assessment.

Grand Canyon National Park is one example of an area with significant natural resources that has recently experienced extreme high average temperatures compared to its historical patterns. Warmer temperatures and extended drought are a direct threat to endangered species, and impacts the wildlife’s source of drinking water such as seeps and springs in the canyon.

Historic sites are not immune to the impacts of climate change. At Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, increased temperatures and hydrologic changes have the potential to alter the natural and manmade resources of the park. These effects could include landscape changes that will affect access to and the structural integrity of bridges, locks, lock houses, culverts, dams, and monuments. Increased occurrences of severe storms, flooding, and other unpredictable weather, and changes in growing seasons will affect vegetation and the animals that depend on that vegetation.

The international online scientific journal PLoS ONE highlighted this analysis in a new collection titled “Responding to Climate Change,” which relays the recent research focused on solutions to manage resources in a changing climate. A copy of that original article may be found here. ###

WPA'S Art Legacy and America's Public Lands

From 1938 to 1941, the National Park Service employed artists via the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to produce silk screened promotional posters for national park sites. The artists worked out of a facility in Berkeley, California, and the 14 designs they created were well received. With the onset of World War II, however, production ceased and the posters were lost to history until the early 1970s when a seasonal park ranger named Doug Leen happened upon an original at Grand Teton National Park. Fascinated with the artwork and the story behind it, Doug Leen set out to learn more. Just over 40 of these exceedingly rare national park posters have since resurfaced and are in National Park Service archives, the Library of Congress and with private collectors.

Over the course of two decades and through extensive research, Doug Leen and his company, Ranger Doug’s Enterprises have not only painstakingly reproduced the 14 original WPA designs but also—working in collaboration with individual parks—created and screen printed more than 25 new designs “in the style of” the WPA artists. The iconic prints sustain a rich artistic tradition and resonate with park and vintage graphics enthusiasts worldwide. The U.S. Department of the Interior Museum has united for the first time six WPA originals and a full complement of Leen’s contemporary editions for this visually stunning retrospective. Featured are nearly 50 classic posters associated with 36 national parks, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Interior Museum. The works may be viewed from now through Spring 2015 at the Interior Museum, 1849 C. Street in Washington, D.C. ###

Fossilized Footprints Meet Modern Technology in New Mexico

An interagency team of scientists and technical specialists joined together recently in an effort to document fragile and ephemeral fossilized footprints by using remote imaging technology.

The area of study includes a portion of a Late Pleistocene megatracksite within and around White Sands National Monument. Thousands of “Ice Age” fossil vertebrate tracks and track ways that date back approximately 20,000 years have been documented within the White Sands megatracksite. The trace fossil assemblage is dominated by mammoth footprints along with associated camel-like and large and small carnivore tracks. These fossil tracks are preserved in soft sediments that are fragile, ephemeral, and weather rapidly once exposed.

Monitoring fossil tracks preserved within the monument continuously reveals new fossil track occurrences, as well as documents the rapid deterioration of previously recorded tracks. Traditional ground level monitoring and photography that captures high resolution imagery for remote sensing and analysis of fossil trackways requires close proximity that results in ground disturbance and leads to the accumulation of modern human footprint impressions in the soft sediments near the fossil tracks. This potentially leads to overprinting of fossil tracks and damaging some tracks not initially identified by the photographer on the ground.

To document the large number and diversity of fragile fossil tracks preserved over such an extensive geographic area, an interagency team came together to support this project. Paleontologists, resource managers and aviation specialists from the NPS, BLM, USGS and the State of New Mexico worked with the staff at White Sands National Monument in a multi-month project planning effort to support the paleontological field work.

The Department of Defense provided high resolution satellite imagery for the area of the monument encompassing the megatracksite and authorized the BLM flight crew to fly an unmanned aircraft system – specifically, the RQ-16 Tarantula-Hawk (T-Hawk) pictured above – in the DOD restricted airspace over the park.

Several manuscripts will describe these important fossil tracks and the technology and methodologies used in their documentation. The monument staff will roll the new findings into comprehensive interpretive planning, media development, wayside exhibits, and hands-on activities. ###

Digital Access Provided to Historical Panoramic Photographs from National Park Service Lookouts

History enthusiasts, the tech savvy, and national park fans will all enjoy a new section that has been added to the National Park Service Fire and Aviation website that explores a little-known NPS story. "Panoramic Photographs from NPS Lookouts" focuses on an enterprise that began more than 75 years ago through a photography project from lookout points at 200 locations across the country for the purpose of map-making for wildfire detection. There has been recent recognition of the importance of these photographs because, among other things, they can be compared with present-day photographs to understand change over time. For insight into interpreting the photos, click here. ###

Number of Yellowstone Bison Increases Slightly

The bison herd at Yellowstone National Park is healthy and productive--so much so that it's approaching the peak estimate of 5,000 animals made back in 2005.

During their annual summer aerial bison count, park biologists estimated the Northern herd contained 3,200 animals and the Central herd numbered 1,400 for a total park population of 4,600 animals. There were about 700 calves-of-the-year observed in a June aerial survey, a park release said.

Observations in 2013 represented an increase of 8.75 percent over last year's count, the park noted. The observed rate of population change this past year is within the natural range of expectation for wild bison. This population estimate is used to inform adaptive management strategies under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). The IBMP is a cooperative plan designed to conserve a viable, wild bison population while minimizing the risk of brucellosis transmission between bison and cattle.

The cooperating agencies operating under the IBMP are the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, and the Nez Perce Tribe.###

Lightning Safety

In the United States, an average of 54 people a year are killed by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured--including at national parks, especially when camping or hiking. Here is the NWS page that includes helpful links and tips regarding lightning safety. "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors." ###

See the Pecos NHP Museum Collection Online

The museum collection here at the park includes an impressive array of items. Thanks to the ever-more-accessible Web Catalog on the NPS Museum Collections website, it has become possible to search for and view thousands of images and records from National Park museum sites across the country--including the one at Pecos. The site's home page features a "Collection of the Week" and opens the door to a not-often seen side of the resources that NPS protects. Here's a link to part of the Pecos NHP collection. And here are the Forked Lightning Ranch furnishings. ###

Take a Look at the NPS New Mexico Web Page

The work of the National Park Service touches almost every county in the country-regardless of proximity to a national park. Communities invite NPS to provide expertise and grants, review tax credit projects, and make surplus federal land available for parks and recreation facilities. The goal of the new web pages is to tell what NPS does in 394 parks and in national programs that benefit communities. Only those who know about the agency's work can benefit from it-so, according to NPS Director Jon Jarvis, "we are building relevance both inside park boundaries and in neighborhoods across the country." To access the New Mexico site, please click here. ###

Civil War to Civil Rights Trading Cards at Pecos NHP

Trading cards have been popular with kids for generations, from images of sports figures to movie stars. Now, Pecos National Historical Parkis offering five free trading cards featuring photographs and facts pertaining to the Battle of Glorieta Pass.

The cards at Pecos NHP are part of a series of 550 cards available at participating national parks throughout the United States. To "earn" a trading card, kids (and adults) may participate in a ranger-led tour or answer a question about their park visit. "The trading cards are vehicles for telling some 'lesser-known' stories-including the stories of civilians, women, African-Americans, Northern New Mexicans and American Indians," said Superintendent Dennis L. Carruth."They are a great way to engage kids with our history as a nation, both here at Pecos and throughout the United States." The program also provides further incentive to families with children to visit Pecos NHP and the 86 other parks that offer the cards.

Each trading card tells a little-known story, but collectively the cards describe struggles we have endured as a nation to strive for freedom and equality. The Civil War Sesquicentennial and the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement provide opportunities to reflect upon our past, celebrate the strides we have made, and look forward with commitment to achieve a more perfect union. ###

Military Pass for Free Access to Public Lands Available at Pecos National Historical Park

As part of the federal Joining Forces Initiative to support our nation's service members and their families, Pecos NHP and other Department of the Interior sites and agencies have made available to active military the new pass for free access to national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, and other public lands around the nation. Active duty service men and women-Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and activated National Guard and Reserves-may obtain the new military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass by coming to the Pecos NHP Visitor Center and showing current, valid military I.D.

The pass will be accepted at National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees. Where there are entrance fees, the pass covers the owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at recreation sites that charge per vehicle. At sites where per-person entrance fees are charged, it covers the pass owner and three accompanying adults age 16 and older. There is no entry fee for children 15 and under.

Although the pass is not available to veterans and retirees, many of these individuals are eligible for other discounted passes, such as the Senior Pass, granting lifetime access to U.S. citizens over 62 for $10, and the Access Pass, granting free lifetime access for permanently disabled U.S. citizens.

For more information about the pass, click here. ###

Science Learning Network

For a series of new National Park Service-centered science learning videos, go to the North Coast Cascades Science Learning Network (SLN) website and begin with "Taking the Pulse of the National Parks." Each movie is approximately four minutes long. Students will discover how park scientists preserve park ecological health and historical riches; see a glimpse of daily fieldwork; and find information about glaciers, intertidal zones and wind-swept prairies. ###

929 flags lanterns

On September 29, 2013, the Forked Lightning Ranch house flew the American, New Mexico, and British flags, as Greer Garson had done when she lived here. Also visible--and reminiscent of Garson's style--are festive colored lanterns hung along the front portal.

Photo by Patricia Lenihan

TL heli water

Helicopter leaves staging area at Pecos NHP to drop water along Tres Lagunas fire containment lines, summer 2013.

Photo by Patricia Lenihan

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