Outdoor News November 3, 2017 - Explore! Outdoor News November 3, 2017 - Explore!

Outdoor News November 3, 2017

Uluru Climbing to End in 2019

On Wednesday,  the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy announced that visitors will no longer be allowed to climb Uluru.  In line with the agreed process in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan 2010-2020 and the wishes of traditional owners, the climb to the top of Uluru will close on October 26, 2019.

Ayers Rock = AluruThe management plan stated that the Uluru climb would close once one of three preconditions, including less than 20 per cent of visitors climb and that the cultural and natural experiences on offer are the main reasons why people visit the park, had been met. The Board is satisfied that these criteria have now been met. In an historic decision, the park’s Board of Management, made up of a majority of Aboriginal traditional owners, unanimously decided to close it.  

Uluru traditional owner and board chairman Sammy Wilson said simply that it was time. “We’ve talked about it for so long and now we’re able to close the climb. It’s about protection through combining two systems, the government and Anangu,” Mr Wilson said. “This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu together to feel proud about; to realize, of course it’s the right thing to close it. The land has law and culture. We welcome tourists here. Closing the climb is not something to feel upset about but a cause for celebration. Let’s come together; let’s close it together.  If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don’t enter or climb it, I respect it. It is the same here for Anangu. We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity.”

Director of National Parks Sally Barnes, also a member of the Board, said they had set the firm date of October 26, 2019.  “We’ve chosen the date of 26 October 2019 to close the climb permanently as it is a date of huge significance to Anangu. On October 26, 1985 Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to Anangu after many years of hard work by elders,” Ms Barnes said.  “We’ve always committed to giving the tourism industry at least 18 months’ notice. While there has been a significant reduction in the numbers of people wanting to climb, to less than 20 per cent, today we’ve got many alternative activities on place on the ground that people can enjoy instead of climbing.  This includes experiencing Uluru’s culture – for which we’re World-Heritage listed. To come and learn from Anangu about their culture is one of the most memorable experiences for many of our visitors. On a personal note, to be part of this moment of Australian history, is an enormous honor. We’re looking forward to a future where we can all work together to protect culture and country as we should do, while continuing to provide visitors with fulfilling experiences based on the parks unique cultural and natural attractions.  This is a significant moment for all Australians and marks a new chapter in our history. It clearly says we put country and culture first when managing this place for all Australians and our visitors from around the world.”

Indiana Dunes Clears House

Indiana DunesOn Wednesday,  the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to create Indiana Dunes National Park from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  The name change is intended to spur increased tourism in the area.  The bill was introduced by Representative Peter Visclosky on March 9 this year and reported out by the Committee on Natural Resources on October 19.  It passed the House by unanimous consent.  The Senate must now consider a companion bill introduced by Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young before the new name can take effect.

Forest Service Employees Awarded

Five White River National Forest (Colorado) employees are the recent recipients of individual, prestigious awards recognizing their contributions to the land and the communities they serve in their respective professional fields. “These recognitions, both internal and external, demonstrate what a lot of people already know; that the White River National Forest has incredibly dedicated, hardworking and talented people stewarding these lands on behalf of the American public,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor. “I am extremely proud to share these awards with our local communities and celebrate these individuals and their contributions to not only this Forest, but all of the communities they serve.”

Blue Bells - White River NF

The National Forest Recreation Association (NFRA) announced last week that Mike Kenealy has been selected as the 2017 ‘Ranger of the Year.’ Mike is the Recreation Special Uses Program Manager for the Forest. NFRA’s ‘Ranger of the Year’ Award has been presented annually since 1982 to individuals who show personal dedication in the realm of recreation management, and exhibit a true sense of partnership with recreation service providers.  Mike Kenealy will retire this year, ending his 43-year long career with the Forest Service on a well-deserved note.

Andrew Larson – Wilderness Lead on Aspen-Sopris Ranger District- received the Aldo Leopold Award for Overall Wilderness Stewardship. The Aldo Leopold Award is a national recognition awarded by the Washington D.C. Office of the Forest Service. Andrew received the award for his dedication and passion as a leader and mentor in the Wilderness program for 8 years on the White River National Forest. Andrew’s professional leadership, research and planning skills, and tireless monitoring efforts have been key in shaping future management direction and long-term stewardship for one of Colorado’s “high use” and beloved wilderness areas, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Andrew will be leaving the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District this fall for a new job with the Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest Region, advancing his career as a Law Enforcement Officer.

Erin Carey, Deputy District Ranger for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District was awarded one of the Rocky Mountain Region’s Inspiring Women Awards for her work in mentorship and coaching. Awarded by the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service, this award recognizes a mentor/coach who takes an active interest in the development of individuals, provides expert counsel as they prepare individuals for challenges and have helped individuals succeed in their career and advancement to the next level. 

Katy Nelson, Wilderness and Trails program coordinator on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District was named a Public Lands Hero for 2017 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Katy was selected because of her commitment to using Leave No Trace to build greater education about outdoor ethics in Colorado’s White River National Forest – specifically the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area.

Mary Gillespie, Range Program Manager, Blanco Ranger District was awarded the International Migratory Bird Day participant award for 2017. Mary received an award from Environment for the Americas in recognition of her efforts for the last 15 years to organize an annual program for local children in Meeker, Colo. to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. 

U.S. Territories Want Fair Share

OnTuesday, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo of Guam introduced bipartisan legislation to provide full federal funding for public parks, playgrounds, outdoor sports fields, and other community spaces in Guam, the other U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. This bipartisan bill is supported by all six members of Congress representing the U.S. territories and the federal District of Columbia.

The LWCF Parity for Territories and DC Act would provide a full, state-equivalent share in yearly grant funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for Guam, the other U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. A 1965 federal law currently requires the five territories and D.C. to split six ways the LWCF grant funding that a single state receives annually.

SamoaAccording to the U.S. Department of the Interior, $94,309,439 was awarded nationally through the LWCF program in fiscal year 2017. Of this, the two least-populous mainland states each received more than $823,000 in federal LWCF grants for their public parkland and outdoor recreation projects, while Guam received just $75,130. Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill would fix this disparity by guaranteeing a full state-equivalent share for each of the territories and D.C., every year.

“This is about fairness for Guam and the other territories,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “My bill guarantees that Guam, D.C., and the other territories receive a full share of federal LWCF grant funding to improve our public parks, sports fields, and community open spaces. The federal government should treat us equitably with the states, and that is exactly what this bill does. I am proud to have the support of my colleagues representing the other four territories and D.C on this bipartisan bill.”

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands added, “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has proven to be a spectacular investment for the places that make this country special, like the US Virgin Islands, for the people who benefit from access to those places for fishing and camping, and for the local communities that host these truly remarkable resources. Fully funding this program will allow communities across the country to continue protecting our nation’s public lands and providing access for the outdoor activities Americans enjoy. For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped states and territories be stewards for millions of acres of land. It has helped protect parks like the Virgin Islands National Park, which occupies the majority of St. John, and areas that provide clean drinking water for Americans, valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, and outdoor activities for families. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation passed.”

The LWCF Parity for Territories and DC Act will be referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, of which Congresswoman Bordallo is a senior Democratic member. She will make this bill a priority as Congress is likely to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) before the end of fiscal year 2018.


People Getting Kids Outdoors

Last Friday, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the recipients of the 2017 “OAK Awards.” A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers including Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and several OAK members received awards during the annual meeting of the Alliance.

The “OAK Awards” are bestowed annually for significant contributions in advancing opportunities for children, youth, and families to learn, get active, and serve in the outdoors.

OAK Tree Award Recipients (Decision-Makers):

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act. Heinrich said: “Our national parks and public lands are outdoor classrooms with endless opportunities to learn and make memories. Connecting kids to the outdoors can inspire a lifelong connection to conservation, while reaping all of the health benefits that go along with an active lifestyle. I am grateful for the support and work of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids that helps kids and their families access the rich natural and cultural history on display in our parks, forests, and monuments.”

Tsongas AwardedSenator John McCain (R-AZ): recognized for leadership in supporting career pathway programs for youth and veterans in conservation, and advancement of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.

Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act. (photo at left). Tongas said, “Thank you to OAK for this award but even more so for your members’ dedicated efforts to encourage kids and families to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spaces that play such an important role in our communities. Together, we must continue to inspire a new and more diverse generation to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, learn about our country’s natural and historic treasures, and fall in love with our public lands and the outdoors.”

Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.  Stefanik said, “I thank the Outdoors Alliance for Kids for this award, but also for their tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s children. The Every Kid Outdoors Act will encourage our nation’s children to see our beautiful treasures and monuments, learning about our rich national heritage in the process. This will help cultivate their appreciation for protecting our environment and public lands. As the home of the Adirondacks, in my district we know how critical it is to get our children outdoors exploring our parks, and I am pleased to work in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues on this issue.”

OAK Leaf Award Recipients (OAK Members):

OAK Leaf AwardeesKyle Stewart (left in photo), Alliance of New York State YMCAs: recognized for work to pass Assembly Bill 735 into law to develop a long-term strategy to encourage and promote outdoor environmental education and recreational opportunities in New York State.  

Casey Andrews (center in photo), Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative: recognized for work to advance the Every Kid in a Park program across Seattle. 

Paul Sanford (right in photo), The Wilderness Society: recognized for his leadership in advancing OAK’s advocacy efforts and building strong federal partnerships for the Alliance in service of getting more kids outdoors on federal lands and waters.

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Video of the Week

This week’s video features Austin, Andrea, Summit and the spectacular scenery of Colorado’s Maroon Bells Wilderness.  Enjoy!

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