Outdoor News July 28, 2017 | Explore! Outdoor News July 28, 2017 - Explore!

Outdoor News July 28, 2017

Recreation Not Red-Tape Act

On Wednesday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced a bill that will update processes and policies on national public lands to improve the outdoor recreation experience. It was initially introduced last year and didn’t go anywhere.  The bill is supported by the The Wilderness Society, Outdoor Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, International Mountain Biking Association, Trout Unlimited, the American Alpine Club, American Canoe Association and others.  Here are the main points:

Expediting Permits for Recreation Guides
Ron WydenThe bill simplifies the permitting process for accessing public lands in several ways:

  • Requires the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to adopt a uniform and consistent permitting process for outfitters and guides, including standard forms, deadlines, and informational materials.
  • Encourages all federal land management agencies to work with states to allow visitors to buy a state and federal pass at one location in one transaction.
  • Directs land management agencies to make all visitor passes and permits for outfitters and guides available online.

Getting More Veterans, Seniors and Kids Outdoors

  • Rob BishopThe bill encourages all military branches to provide servicemembers and veterans with information about outdoor recreation opportunities as part of the basic services provided to servicemembers and veterans and through the current Transition Assistance Program.
  • It encourages all military branches to allow active-duty servicemembers to engage in outdoor recreation activities without taking away their hard-earned leave.
  • The bill requires agencies to provide free America the Beautiful passes, which grant access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, to schools that serve low-income students and their families.
  • It encourages increased participation in outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities on public lands for Americans age 55 and older.

Holding Agencies Accountable to Make Recreation a Priority for the First Time
The bill:

  • Directs the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (which controls water flows at hydropower dams) to promote new recreation opportunities and recreation-based jobs in land and water management decisions. • Requires all land management agencies to report on the number of jobs and the types of jobs that are recreation-based.
  • Directs the agencies to develop creative partnerships to extend recreation seasons. • Directs revenue from ski area permits on federal lands to fund recreation projects on the same lands where the ski area is located, just like revenue from other recreation permits.
  • To eliminate confusion for hunters, fishers, bikers and recreation users, the existing National Recreation Area program will be simplified and streamlined.

Maintaining Public Lands
The bill:

  • Encourages volunteer opportunities to help agencies carry out public lands maintenance projects, such as trail maintenance on federal lands.
  • Requires the land management agencies to select from 9 to 15 priority landscapes for trail maintenance and improved recreation opportunities.
  • Establishes a pilot program for interagency trail management for trails that cross agency jurisdictional boundaries, to ensure trails are maintained according to the same standards.
  • Expands the Public Lands Service Corps to include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a participating agency, broadens the types of projects corps members can work on, raises the age of eligibility for military veterans to 35, and establishes an Indian Youth Service Corps to work on Indian lands. 

Get all the details at: www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2706
 

Washington Gets Grants

On Tuesday, the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office announced that the federal government has awarded more than $1 million to two projects in Washington State to develop a park and trails in underserved communities.

The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks received $369,626 for the Skyway Park revitalization project and the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma received $750,000 for the Swan Creek Park trail network project.Swan Creek

“We are so fortunate to have access to beautiful outdoor spaces in every part of Washington state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “We want to encourage children and families to explore together, and give opportunities for Washingtonians of all ages to experience trails and parks near where they live. I appreciate the work of our Congressional delegation to support this important funding. Investing in the outdoors just makes sense all around.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service awarded the funding, which comes as grants from the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program. Congress created the outdoor grant program in 2014 as part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has used federal offshore oil and gas royalties to fund more than 40,000 outdoor recreation facilities and conservation projects in every state.

 

New North Carolina Parks

On Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina signed a bill that authorizes three new state natural areas for the North Carolina State Parks system and directs a study for a potential state park along the Black River in the southeastern part of the state.

North CarolinaThe bill authorizes the addition of Bob’s Pocket in McDowell County, Warwick Mill Bay in Robeson County and Salmon Creek in Bertie County to the state parks system as state natural areas.

“From the mountains to the coast, our state parks and state natural areas protect North Carolina’s treasured natural resources for all of us to enjoy,” said Governor Cooper. “I’m proud to continue this tradition by adding these three unique properties to our state parks system.”

North Carolina’s state natural areas preserve and protect areas of scientific, aesthetic, or ecological value with more limited recreation. Facilities are limited to those needed for interpretation, protection, and maintenance.

The three new state natural areas will protect some of North Carolina’s most distinctive natural resources. Bob’s Pocket is a series of sheltered coves and ravines with rare flora and geology. Warwick Mill Bay is home to herons, egrets, amhingas, alligators, and the federally threatened wood storm among other wildlife. Salmon Creek features cypress-gum swamps, freshwater tidal marshes, and several archaeological sites. These three properties will offer minimal impact access for birdwatching, photography, and scientific research.

The bill directs the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation to study the feasibility of establishing a state park on the Black River in Bladen, Pender, and Sampson counties. The park would be home to some of the oldest trees east of the Rocky Mountains – cypress trees more than 1,600 years old. The study will explore the natural resources, land use, costs, and impacts on surrounding communities that would result from a state park designation.

“These additions to our state parks system are truly special,” Mike Murphy, state parks director, said. “Not only do they represent outstanding natural communities, but they also protect lands in areas of the state that are currently underserved by our state parks system. State natural areas help preserve North Carolina’s heritage for future generations, and they provide living laboratories for our state’s students and scientists.”

 

Goats at Olympic National Park

The National Park Service has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Mountain Goat Management Plan for Olympic National Park. This plan was developed in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plan provides management direction to address resource stewardship and human safety concerns resulting from the presence of non-native mountain goats within the park. The Draft Mountain Goat Management Plan considers potential impacts to park resources and values, including visitor experience, wilderness character, vegetation, wildlife and habitat, park operations, and cultural resources. 

Mountain GoatThe plan also proposes moving goats from the Olympic Peninsula to native mountain goat habitat on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forests. 

The original need to manage the goat population was driven by ecological concerns related to the impact of goats on the park’s natural resources, particularly sensitive vegetation communities. New concerns were raised in 2010 when a visitor was fatally gored by a mountain goat while hiking on a park trail. The park updated its Mountain Goat Action Plan (part of the Olympic National Park Nuisance and Hazardous Animal Management Plan) in 2011. This plan addresses mountain goat behavior and seeks to minimize the potential for hazardous goat-human encounters. Planning and compliance is needed to address overall management of the mountain goat population within the park. 

The plan and Draft EIS is now available for public review and comment. Get all the details at parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=49246
 

A Little Funding for National Parks

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner announced that the National Park Service is teaming up with partners across the nation to distribute nearly $50 million in high priority maintenance and infrastructure projects at 42 parks in 29 states. Congress provided $20 million for the projects as part of the Centennial Challenge program which will be matched by $33 million from more than 50 park partners to improve trails, restore buildings, and increase visitor access to parks.  The Park Service has over $11 billion in deferred maintenance that lacks funding.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Beaver PondSecretary Zinke and Senator Gardner made the announcement while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, which will receive $200,000 in federal funds matched by $200,000 from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to reduce deferred maintenance on the Alluvial Fan Trail.

“Our national parks span twelve time zones and attract more than 330 million visitors every year. Some locations, like Rocky Mountain National Park, attract millions of visitors alone. This puts an incredible stress on the aging infrastructure at our parks and thanks to Centennial Grants and the generosity of public-private partners, we are able to distribute funds to rebuild our parks,” said Secretary Zinke. “Using public-private partnerships to help address the deferred maintenance backlog remains a priority for the Department and the Trump Administration. Park infrastructure includes trails, signage, restrooms, lodges, roads, bridges and waterlines. These funds will help us continue to provide a world-class experience to visitors and ensure that these amazing places are around for future generations.”

“Many of the national parks that Americans treasure today would simply not exist without the strong partnerships and philanthropy that have benefited the national park idea for over a century,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “The Centennial Challenge program continues that proud tradition by matching dollars from Congress with generous donations from dedicated partners to make high-impact improvements in parks.”

Examples of the more than 50 projects the Centennial Challenge program will fund this year using partner donations and federal matching funds include:

  • Centennial Challenge funds will complement a donation announced last year from philanthropist David M. Rubenstein to the National Park Foundation that will repair and restore the Lincoln Memorial in addition to expanding educational resources and public access.
  • Funding from Yellowstone Forever will improve overlooks along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
  • Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park will restore heavily used frontcountry trails in the park.
  • The Gettysburg Foundation will help create a multi-use trail at Gettysburg National Military Park that will connect the visitor center to a historic farm that was used as a field hospital during the battle.
  • Friends of Saguaro National Park, the Western National Park Association, and G. Arthur Jansson are teaming up to create an accessible outdoor classroom space at Saguaro National Park.

For a complete list of centennial challenge projects and partners please visit http://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/nps-centennial-challenge-projects.htm

 

Special Savings for Our Readers 

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Video of the Week

This week we highlight Olympic National Park with a short National Geographic video that features the animals found there.  From killer whales and sea lions to marmots and bears the array of animals matches the range of habitats from the ocean to mountain peaks.  Enjoy!

  patreon.com/ExploreEmag

   


This newsletter is compiled by Jerry Haugen and brought to you by
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