Outdoor News May 18, 2018 - Explore! Outdoor News May 18, 2018 - Explore!

Outdoor News May 18, 2018

Yosemite Opens Tioga Road

Yesterday, Yosemite National Park announced that Tioga Road (Highway 120 East) will open for the season to all vehicular traffic on Monday, May 21, at 9:00 am. 
Ploiwng the Tioga Road in Yosemite National ParkThere will be limited services available along Tioga Road. All campgrounds along Tioga Road remain closed. There is no anticipated opening date for the Tuolumne Meadows store and the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. There is no gasoline available along Tioga Road. The closest gas station is located at Crane Flat.

Yosemite National Park is open year-round. All motorists should drive with caution and be aware of possible hazards in the roadway, including rocks, debris, and water. Tioga Road may be impacted by incoming storm activity, including snow and icy driving conditions, over the next week. Tioga Road may temporarily close due to weather and unsafe driving conditions at any time. Tioga Road is a seasonal road through Yosemite National Park, typically open from late spring to early fall.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200.

Kilauea Erupts

Kilauea ExplodesYesterday morning,  Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's big island, sent an explosive eruption of ash into the atmosphere.  The ash plume reached 30,000 feet elevation and drifted northeast from the mountain.  Since then seismic activity gradually increased and gas emissions from the summit remain high. The photo, from USGS,  shows the situation at the summit about an hour after the main eruption.

A new fissure opened yesterday afternoon (making a total of 21) and several other fissures continue to emit lava.  The USGS' Hawaii Volcano Observatory continues to monitor activity 24/7 in coordination with Hawaii County Civil Defense, with geologists onsite to track ongoing and new fissure activity and the advance of lava flows.

Volcanoes National Park remains closed. The situation on and near Kilauea is changing rapidly.  For current reports see: volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/status.html

National Trails Day®

National Trails Day is the only nationally coordinated event designed to unite all muscle-powered trail activities with the goal of connecting more people to trails. Every trail beckons adventure and has a story to share with any person willing to discover it, and American Hiking Society (AHS) believes these trail experiences can improve the lives of every American.

Improve 2802 miles of trailsEach year, on the first Saturday of June, AHS and the trails community invite Americans of all ages and abilities to find their own adventure and discover their unique story at one of the thousands of events hosted throughout the country.

National Trails Day is June 2 this year.  AHS invites everyone to pledge that they will leave a trail better than they found it.  That can be as simple as collecting trash or you may wish to join an organized trail work party to maintain or build new trail. Check out what trail work projects are in your area. More projects are added frequently, so check back if you don’t see a project close to you.

Go to americanhiking.org/national-trails-day to make your pledge by entering your information in the online form.  After National Trails Day AHS will ask you how many miles of trail you helped improve. Everyone who confirms they improved a section of trail (of any length) will be entered to win the grand prize, which includes swag and premium outdoor gear.

You may take the pledge to improve a trail on another day if you can't get outside for National Trails Day, but AHS highly encourages people to join the national movement on June 2nd.  The goal is to improve 2,802 miles of trail in the USA.

Every Kid Outdoors Act

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3186, the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act.  The act establishes the “Every Kids Outdoors” program to provide fourth graders free access to federal lands and waters to which the public has access. The bill has 52 cosponsors including original cosponsor Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.).

Kid OutdoorsIn developing the “Every Kid in a Park” program, the U.S. Department of the Interior focused on children 10 years of age, the age of most fourth graders, based on research that indicates children ages 9-11 are at a unique developmental stage where they begin to understand how the world around them works in more concrete ways. By targeting this age group, the program strives to provide every child in the United States with the opportunity to visit their federal lands and waters by the time he or she is 11 years old, thereby establishing a lifelong connection to our parks and other public lands.

H.R. 3186 codifies the “Every Kid in a Park” program by directing seven bureaus in four agencies to jointly establish the “Every Kid Outdoors” program to provide any United States fourth grader with a pass to gain free access to publicly accessible federal lands and waters. The bureaus that would establish and administer the program are the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Last July, the Administration testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks on an identical companion bill introduced as S. 1522 by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM). The Administration recommended that Congress defer action on S. 1522 until the Administration had the opportunity to review all of the Department’s youth programs and determine the most cost-effective strategies for engaging children, youth, and young adults in our nation’s great outdoors

You can find the bill at www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3186.


Bear Advice

Yesterday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offered some great tips on dealing with bears in the backcountry.  The agency had this to say:
Bear Country BrochureOne of the most frequently asked questions to Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff each spring and summer is “What do I do if I encounter a bear while camping or hiking?” Whether you are visiting Colorado for a vacation or a long-time resident, it’s important to learn how to avoid potential issues and discourage human-bear encounters ahead of any outdoor recreation plans.

The first thing to remember is that bears are not naturally aggressive toward humans; in fact, most bears are naturally wary of people. Physical encounters between humans and bears are exceedingly rare. It is when bears become too comfortable around humans or find an easy food source that these powerful animals can cause damage to property or create conflict with people at campsites or on the trails.


When camping in bear country, the easiest way to avoid bears is to ensure you have nothing at your campsite that will attract them. Whether car camping or hiking into the backcountry, there are actions you can take to minimize your chances of an encounter.

  • Safely store food: If it smells good enough to eat, a bear will try to eat it. Store food, beverages and toiletries in airtight containers and place in provided campsite lockers, lock in your trunk or use bear-proof containers stored away from your tent.
  • Stash your trash: If a campground provides bear-proof trash receptacles, use them often to keep your campsite clean. If no trash receptacles are available, double bag your trash and lock it in your vehicle, or use a bear-proof container when backpacking.
  • Keep it clean: Scrape grill grates after use, clean all dishes and utensils, and ensure you have cleaned up any waste near your site. Never bring food or anything that smells like food – which includes toiletries, sunscreen and even clothes you wear when cooking – into your tent.
  • Lock it up: Be sure your car or RV windows are closed and your vehicles are locked whenever you leave your site or before going to sleep at night.
  • Follow signs (and instincts): Whether printed signs or natural signs such as tracks or scat, if you have evidence that a bear has been in the area recently, leave and choose another campsite.

If a bear is seen in your camp, try your best to haze it away with loud noises such as yelling, banging pots and pans together or using your car horn or an air horn. Be sure to notify the campground host and other campers.


With their tremendous senses of smell and hearing, bears will usually be aware of your presence well before you are aware of theirs. A bear’s natural instinct will be to leave before you know they are there. However, understanding bear behaviors and being aware of your surroundings will help you avoid unwanted encounters on the trails.

  • Hike with friends: Conversation and extra noise will alert bears to your presence and make them more likely to retreat. If your group includes furry friends, keep dogs leashed at all times. Not only will an unleashed dog be more likely to be injured, the instinct to return to its owner may bring an aggravated bear right back to you.
  • Stay alert at all times: Leave your headphones back at your campsite, be extra cautious at dawn and dusk, and pay closer attention to visuals when hiking in an area with noise from running water or heavy winds.
  • NEVER feed a bear: Never approach a bear of any size for any reason, especially to feed it. Double bag food and pack out all food waste to avoid encouraging bears to see trails as a food source. Do not think “natural” waste like apple cores or banana peels are okay to leave behind – they are certainly not natural treats for bears.
  • Respect forage areas: In the late summer and fall, bears are entering hyperphagia – the period before hibernation when their only concern is getting calories. If your usual trail runs through berry patches, oak brush or other known food sources, be extra vigilant. Make extra noise by periodically clapping or calling out to alert bears to your presence.

And if you’ve done everything above and still manage to surprise a bear on the trail? Stay calm, stand still and speak to it in a firm tone of voice. The bear will most likely identify you and leave. Never run from a bear!

If the bear does not leave, slowly wave your arms over your head trying to make yourself look big and continue speaking to encourage the bear’s exit. If the bear huffs, stomps or pops its jaws, that is a sign that it needs space. Continue facing the bear, slowly back away and keep slowly moving away until the bear is out of sight.

Finally, if the bear approaches before you have a chance to try to force its exit, stand your ground. Yell or throw smaller rocks in the direction of the bear. If the bear gets within 40 feet, utilize bear spray. If a bear attacks, do not play dead – fight back with anything available, including trekking poles, small knives, or even your bare hands.

It is important to remember that most human-bear interactions are relatively benign; bear sightings and witnessing standard bear behaviors are an awesome sight for most outdoor enthusiasts. Staying bear aware on the trails or at your campsite, and keeping respectful distances for photos and viewing, keeps these interactions safe for humans and bears alike. For more information on camping and hiking in bear country, visit cpw.state.co.us.


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