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How You Can Help our National Parks

Yellowstone Shutdown

The 35 day partial government shutdown had a huge negative impact on our national parks — and that was on top of the $11.6 billion dollar backlog for repairs or maintenance on roads, buildings, utility systems, and other structures and facilities.

The shutdown reduced the National Park Service’s 25,000-strong workforce to just more than 3,000 across it’s 418 sites. Trash piled up, toilets overflowed, protected trees were cut down and vandalism was rampant.

But the shutdown also brought out the best in people who helped to remove trash, staff information tables and made financial contributions to organizations that support our national parks.

And there are still plenty of opportunities to make these amazing places even better!

The National Park Service offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups as part of the Volunteers-In-Parks program. You can work behind the scenes or on the front lines, serving alongside park employees or with one of the many partner organizations. Opportunities are available at park locations throughout the United States, including the territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Some positions are specialized and require particular talents, knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as a background check. Other positions only require a desire and willingness to volunteer. Individuals under the age of 18 must have written consent of the parent or legal guardian before they may volunteer.

The National Park Foundation — the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service — encourages people to learn about volunteer opportunities. Many parks have independent “Friends” groups coordinating volunteer efforts locally.

In January, the National Park Foundation created a restoration fund for parks needing the most help. By supporting the Parks Restoration Fund, your donations will go to the parks that need help the most. The National Park Foundation will be able to work with the National Park Service and with park partners to assess needs and provide clean up efforts.

As we head into another busy travel season, get out and see the amazing landscapes, learn about our vibrant culture and rich history at a national park, seashore, lakeshore, recreation area, or at one of the many memorials and monuments across this great nation.

*Photo courtesy, National Park Foundation

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National Take A Hike Day — November 17th

Take A Hike Day

National Take a Hike Day is observed each year on November 17. With over 60,000 miles of trails in the National Trail System across the 50 states, there are plenty of opportunities for you to take a hike.

Events are scheduled on National Take A Hike Day around the country to celebrate! But you can just spend the day exploring hiking trails in and around your town. Make sure you carry enough food and water with you and tell your family and friends where you are going. Research has shown that hiking can have many health and social benefits. Considered to be a good way to exercise, hiking can have all the benefits associated with walking in nature – it can reduce stress, increase heart activity and reduce blood pressure.

Be sure to wear good shoes, take a snack and bring a buddy! Get out there and enjoy the fresh air, scenery can get a little exercise too!

Click here to learn more about some of the most amazing places to take a hike — our National Parks!

#NationalTakeAHikeDay

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Celebrate Arches National Park’s Anniversary, November 12th

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

A Red Rock Wonderland

Visit Arches National Park and discover an amazing landscape of landforms, textures and contrasting colors unlike any other place in the world. The park features more than 2,000 natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. Discover this red rock wonderland and be amazed by its natural formations, beautiful colors and inspiring sunsets.

Arches National Park lies north of Moab in Utah. Bordered by the Colorado River in the southeast, it’s known as the site of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, such as the massive, red-hued Delicate Arch in the east. Long, thin Landscape Arch stands in Devils Garden to the north. Other geological formations include Balanced Rock, towering over the desert landscape in the middle of the park.

The park lies above an underground evaporite layer or salt bed, which is the main cause of the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths. Over millions of years, the salt bed was covered with debris eroded from the Uncompahgre Uplift to the northeast.

Except for isolated remnants, the major formations visible in the park today are the salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone, in which most of the arches form, and the buff-colored Navajo Sandstone. These are visible in layer cake fashion throughout most of the park. Over time, water seeped into the surface cracks, joints, and folds of these layers. Ice formed in the fissures, expanding and putting pressure on surrounding rock, breaking off bits and pieces. Winds later cleaned out the loose particles. A series of free-standing fins remained. Wind and water attacked these fins until, in some, the cementing material gave way and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many damaged fins collapsed. Others, with the right degree of hardness and balance, survived despite their missing sections. These became the famous arches.

Although the park’s terrain may appear rugged and durable, it is extremely fragile. More than 1 million visitors each year threaten the fragile high desert ecosystem. The problem lies within the soil’s crust which is composed of cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, and lichens that grow in the dusty parts of the park.

Arches National Park

Click here to see the Arches National Park poster.

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Celebrating Badlands National Park’s Anniversary

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota and protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets (the most endangered land mammal in North America) live today. The South Unit, or Stronghold Unit, is co-managed with the Oglala Lakota tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances, a former United States Air Force bomb and gunnery range, and Red Shirt Table, the park’s highest point at 3,340 feet.

This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. Badlands National Park is a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

Authorized as Badlands National Monument on March 4, 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation on January 25, 1939 that established Badlands National Monument. In the late 60’s, Congress passed legislation adding more than 130,000 acres of Oglala Sioux tribal land, used since World War II as a U.S. Air Force bombing and gunnery range, to the Badlands to be managed by the National Park Service. An agreement between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the National Park Service governing the management of these lands was signed in 1976. The new Stronghold and Palmer Creek units added lands having significant scenic, scientific and cultural resources. Congress again focused it’s attention on the Badlands in 1978 on 10 November, it was re-designated as Badlands National Park.

> Click here to see the Badlands National Park poster!

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Celebrating Theodore Roosevelt & the National Park Service

Theodore Roosevelt

Often called “the conservation president,” Theodore Roosevelt, made an impact on the National Park System well beyond his term in office. As President from 1901 to 1909, he doubled the number of sites within the National Park system and signed legislation establishing five new national parks: Crater Lake, Oregon; Wind Cave, South Dakota; Sullys Hill, North Dakota (later re-designated a game preserve); Mesa Verde, Colorado; and Platt, Oklahoma (now part of Chickasaw National Recreation Area). However, the Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906 enabled President Roosevelt and succeeding Presidents to proclaim historic landmarks, historic or prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest in federal ownership as national monuments.

Crater Lake National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park

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Dry Tortugas National Park

Lighthouse at Garden Key

Some 70 miles west of Key West Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, lies one of North America’s most inaccessible national parks. Renowned for pirate legends, shipwrecks, and sheer unspoiled beauty, Dry Tortugas National Park harbors unrivaled coral reefs and marine life, an annual birding spectacle, and majestic Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry stronghold in the Western Hemisphere.

Continue reading Dry Tortugas National Park

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Join me on this 3-minute Seaplane Flight to Dry Tortugas National Park

In March of 2016, I visited Dry Tortugas National Park and photographed it for one of the next National Park Posters. I took the seaplane flight from Key West to Dry Tortugas — a 25 minute flight — but I’ll get you there in 3 minutes!

Enjoy the flight!!!

I also visited Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park so there will be a full set of posters for Florida.

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Celebrate Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s Anniversary

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

October 21st Marks the Anniversary for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!

Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.

Located in western Colorado and managed by the National Park Service, the park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon, making it the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America. By comparison, the Colorado River drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile through the Grand Canyon. The greatest descent of the Gunnison River occurs within the park at Chasm View dropping 240 feet per mile. The Black Canyon is so named because its steepness makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths. As a result, the canyon is often shrouded in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black. At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 ft wide at the river.

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Celebrate Guadalupe Mountains National Park Anniversary, October 15th

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is situated in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and preserves the rugged spirit and remote wilderness of the American West. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet and El Capitan, were long used as a landmark by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line. The Guadalupe Peak Trail offers perhaps the most outstanding views in the park. Climbing over 3,000 feet to the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the trail winds through pinyon pine and Douglas-fir forests and offers spectacular views of El Capitan and the vast Chihuahuan Desert.

Click here to see the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Poster!

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Celebrate Saguaro National Park’s Anniversary, October 14th!

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is home to the nation’s largest cacti — the giant saguaro — the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.

Click here to see the Saguaro National Park Poster.

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