Outdoor Recreation News - March 9, 2018 - Explore! Outdoor Recreation News - March 9, 2018 - Explore!

Outdoor Recreation News – March 9, 2018

Storm Closes Prince William Forest Park

Yesterday, the National Park Service (NPS) announced that its crews have cleared over 600 fallen and hazardous trees at Prince William Forest Park following last week’s wind storm. Employees continue to clear damaged trees and debris, restore downed power lines, and repair damaged historic buildings across the park.
Prince William Forest Park - NPS PhotoPrince William Forest Park is currently CLOSED. The park asks area residents and visitors to please respect the closure. Damaged trees and downed power lines continue to pose a threat to visitors, and current conditions would make any search and rescue efforts extremely difficult. The park is expected to be closed for 2-3 weeks.

An Incident Command Team arrived at Prince William Forest Park Wednesday, and is coordinating efforts to assess and address storm damage throughout the park’s 14,000 acres. Sawyers from nearby Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park are also onsite to help remove hazardous trees.

NPS crews are focusing their work on the most heavily used areas of the park. They have made great progress clearing trees from roads and trails near the visitor center. Park administrators hope to begin reopening limited areas of the park once they are deemed safe. The Prince William Forest RV Campground on Rt. 234 remains open, but some areas within the campground are currently closed off.

Prince William Forest Park protects unique natural, cultural and historic features and provides opportunities to hike, camp, bike, and more in Northern Virginia. 

For more updates and photos of the damage and clean-up, follow Prince William Forest Park on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Major in Parks and Recreation

Lincoln University in New Zealand announced today that the school is once again offering its Parks and Outdoor Recreation major.  The major, which was previously offered from 2008 to 2014, is the only one of its kind offered in New Zealand.   It is designed to equip students for roles in parks and reserves management, nature-based tourism, visitor services and recreation policy or planning.

New Zealand“Good management of our iconic natural landscapes and ecosystems is key to the success of the visitor industry. These skills are desperately needed to manage the increase in visitors,” says Department of Conservation (DOC) Director-General Lou Sanson.

“Many of DOC’s current senior managers came from this course, which at the time also attracted overseas participants from South East Asia and Nepal, as it was internationally recognised in helping develop excellent parks managers, be they working for central or local government.” 

The major brings together areas of social science and ecology and supports a requirement for sound management of New Zealand’s natural resources, as visitor numbers to protected areas grow. Lincoln University Parks and Recreation Senior Lecturer Stephen Espiner says recent  research has highlighted a pressing need for more skilled workers and the uniqueness of Lincoln’s programme will give students an in-depth knowledge of the discipline. 

“There are no other university degrees that allow students to study the specialisation of parks and outdoor recreation,” Espiner says. “Other universities offer courses that deal with related aspects of parks, outdoor recreation, nature-based tourism and outdoor education, but there has been no development of a coherent suite of courses in this important area.” 

Lincoln University Associate Professor Emma Stewart is delighted to report that a higher number of students than anticipated have enrolled in the programme this year. “It’s particularly pleasing that the major has resonated across the campus, with students enrolled from a number of different degrees, including environmental management, sport and recreation, science, landscape architecture and commerce.” 

Students of the Parks and Outdoor Recreation major have until the end of this month to apply for one of the seven DOC-funded scholarships, which are valued at $5000 each. Scholarship recipients will be acknowledged with certificates in June at a Protected Areas Symposium, convened by Lincoln University Landscape Architecture Associate Professor Mick Abbott in conjunction with the New Zealand Conservation Authority. 

Maryland Updating Recreation Plan

On Wednesday, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and its partner, GreenPlay, LLC, announced that they will be hosting a series of information sessions and workshops to solicit public comment and stakeholder feedback on land conservation and outdoor recreation.  This is part of updating the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan. Residents and nonresidents are invited to attend.

Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan“Providing top-notch amenities and services to our citizens and visitors – and enhancing their quality of life – is paramount to the department and its staff,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “I encourage the public to participate in these public forums to help direct and guide our decision-making and strategic planning. Help us better serve you.”

The four workshops – two sessions each day – will focus on gathering comment on the state’s outdoor activities, amenities and services, be it boating, camping, fishing, hiking or hunting. They will complement feedback provided in the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan Survey, which remains open until May 1.

The department welcomes the public to participate in the following workshops (RSVP requested):

March 26 (First session at 1 p.m., Second session at 6 p.m.)
Fort Frederick State Park, Visitor Center
11100 Fort Frederick Road
Big Pool, Maryland 21711

March 27 (First session at 1 p.m., Second session at 6 p.m.)
Talbot County Community Center
100128 Ocean Gateway
Easton, Maryland 21601

April 18 (First session at 1 p.m., Second session at 6 p.m.)
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
10515 Mackall Road
St. Leonard, Maryland 20685

April 19 (First session at 1 p.m., Second session at 6 p.m.)
Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, Auditorium
5100 Deer Park Road
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117

Session and survey results will be incorporated into the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan, which is required to receive federal funding from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.


Ski Area Fee Retention Act

On Tuesday, Senators Michael Bennet (CO), Cory Gardner (CO), and Ron Wyden (OR) introduced the Ski Area Fee Retention Act. Currently, ski area permit fees paid to the Forest Service are sent to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and then appropriated back to the Forest Service. This legislation would create a Ski Area Fee Retention Account under the National Forest System, in which a portion of the roughly $37 million in annual fees generated by the ski areas would be retained. This would ensure that the Forest Service has adequate resources to administer permits and review capital improvement project proposals in more heavily trafficked forests, such as the White River National Forest – the most visited National Forest in the country.

USFS Ski Area - USDA Photo"The Forest Service is an important partner for Colorado's communities and outdoor recreation industry," Bennet said. "Retaining some of the ski area fees in our National Forests will help strengthen that partnership and provide new opportunities for growth in our mountain communities."

"It's important that our skiing communities don't just send money to Washington and not fully benefit from the government fees they are charged," Gardner said. "My bipartisan legislation with Senator Bennet will make it easier for our skiing communities to make the capital improvements they need to grow and thrive."

"Ski areas are huge economic generators in the recreation industry and rural communities in Oregon and across the country," Wyden said. "They also require active management to keep their environmental impacts to a minimum. This bill keeps revenue from ski area fees at the source of where that money was raised, allowing the Forest Service to better manage public lands that host ski areas."

"All of the ski areas operating on public land appreciate Senator Gardner and Senator Bennet's support in introducing this critical legislation," said Geraldine Link, Director of Public Policy for National Ski Areas Association. "The bill will support the important public-private partnership between the Forest Service and ski areas, facilitate private investment in infrastructure on public lands, and ultimately benefit rural economies and the recreating public."

"Colorado Ski Country USA thanks Senators Gardner and Bennet for their leadership in introducing the Ski Area Fee Retention Act of 2018," said Melanie Mills, President & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. "Ski areas in Colorado strongly support this proposed legislation, which will provide local Forest Service offices with the resources they so badly need to administer ski area permits and to review and process ski area proposals for improvements."

Find the details on the Congressional website.


National Park Restoration Act

On Wednesday, Senators Heinrich (NM), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Angus King (Maine), Steve Daines (Mont.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.) , introduced the National Park Restoration Act to address the maintenance backlog at our national parks. The National Park Restoration Act is intended help restore and rebuild roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails and water systems in National Parks across the country.

“From the ancient wonders in Chaco Culture National Historical Park and caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, our national parks in New Mexico offer endless opportunities to explore our nation's natural and historical treasures and fuel our thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Senator Heinrich of New Mexico. “This legislation will address the maintenance backlog and invest in our Park Service infrastructure to ensure our national parks are safe and accessible to the millions of visitors from near and far who pass through their gates each year.” 

Needed Road Work - NPS PhotoThe backlog of infrastructure projects at our national parks can limit access and impair visitor experiences and recreation opportunities, and without additional funding, the backlog could continue to grow. The National Park Service (NPS) maintenance backlog is nearly four times what NPS receives in annual appropriations. 

The National Park Service estimates that its maintenance and repair backlog exceeds $11.6 billion. In 2017, 330 million people visited the 417 NPS sites across the country. The NPS completed over $650 million in maintenance and repair work in FY 2017, but aging facilities, high visitation, and resource constraints have kept the maintenance backlog between $11 billion and $12 billion since 2010.

Some examples of maintenance projects include:

  • Everglades National Park (Florida) – Showers, campgrounds and lodges that were destroyed during a hurricane more than a decade ago remain broken. Total Everglades maintenance backlog cost, more than $90 million.
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana) – Earlier this month, an observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan crumbled and fell to the ground after years of erosion. Total Indiana Dunes maintenance backlog cost, more than $26 million.
  • Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – A pipeline, and the only infrastructure to deliver water to the South Rim Village of 19,634 people daily for drinking, cooking and firefighting, breaks several times a year putting the well-being of the community including park lodges, visitor centers, homes, and Grand Canyon hikers at risk. Total Grand Canyon maintenance backlog cost, more than $329 million.
  • Statue of Liberty National Monument (NY/NJ) – $34.45 million is needed to stabilize the Ellis Island Seawall, which protects Ellis Island from erosion of wave action. $3.77 million is also needed to rehabilitate the Fire-Life-Safety System in the Main Immigration Building, where 2.2 million annual visitors start and end their visit to the island. Total Statue of Liberty National Monument maintenance backlog cost, more than $166 million.

While National Parks have enjoyed historic visitation over the past few years, many Americans have never been to a NPS site and are unfamiliar with what infrastructure they hold. Here's a quick look at National Park Service infrastructure across the board:

  • More than 5,500 miles of paved roads
  • More than 1,700 bridges and tunnels
  • More than 17,000 miles of trails
  • More than 1,300 campgrounds
  • More than 24,000 buildings including more than 500 visitor centers, 425 park lodges and hotel buildings, 3,870 housing units and more than 3,700 bathrooms
  • More than 1,000 miles of water pipelines
  • More than 1,500 water systems
  • More than 1,800 wastewater systems
  • More than 500 electrical systems

Find all the details about deferred maintenance projects at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/plandesignconstruct/defermain.htm

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Video of the Week

It's still winter at Crater Lake National Park, but it you would like to embark on a unique bicycle adventure, now is the time to start planning.  This year the park will close East Rim Drive on September 8 and 15 (8am to 6pm) to motor vehicles. Bicyclists and hikers will be able to experience the 24 miles of scenic roadway from a uniquely quiet perspective.   The road has steep grades and bounces up and down between 6700 and 7700 feet (2042- 2346 meters) elevation.  You will need to be in good condition to tackle the ride.  This week's video offers a great look at the ride in its inaugural year.  Enjoy the video then learn more and register at ridetherimoregon.com.

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