Tuesday, January 14, 2020

National Park Service Announces Fiscal Year 2019 Accomplishments to Reduce Wildfire Risks

National Park Service (NPS) Deputy Director David Vela recently announced that the NPS successfully treated 230,308 acres of public land in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, helping to reduce wildfire risks in America’s national parks and safeguarding nearby communities, natural resources and infrastructure.

Prescribed fire was used to treat nearly 207,000 acres, and an additional 24,000 acres were treated by mechanical and other methods. In support of recently issued Executive and Secretary’s Orders calling for an increase in active management, 17,000 acres were treated through active vegetation treatments. A robust vegetation management program improves the resiliency of landscapes to wildfires and preserves public lands for a variety of uses and enjoyment by the public.

“The accomplishments of our fire and aviation programs are vital to meeting our mission as well as the Secretary’s priorities,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “We are proud of the dedication and hard work completed over the past year by the men and women of the aviation, structural and wildland fire programs.”

In FY 2019, the bureau reached a milestone with over 90% of the 31,339 structures listed in the NPS Wildland Fire Geodatabase now surveyed for threats from wildland fire. Also in 2019, the areas adjacent to more than 6,000 structures were treated and the potential of risk from wildfire was reduced.

Research in wildland fire to better inform and fuels management is another high priority for the NPS. In 2019, the following five research projects were funded totaling $157,000:

• Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California: Effectiveness of Fuel treatments on Wildfire in a Chaparral Community

• Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico: Identifying Activity Periods of an Endangered Salamander to Facilitate Fuels Treatments

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: Changes in Woody Fuel Loading and Ericaceous Shrub Cover from 2003 to 2019 in Great Smoky Mountains NP

• Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska: Fire and Ice – integrated fire research to inform managers on the short and long term impacts of fire and climate on ice-rich permafrost soils, water resources, vegetation and wildlife habitat

• Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier national parks, Wyoming and Montana: Drivers of Early Postfire Tree Regeneration and Indicators of Forest Resilience in National Parks of the Northern Rocky Mountains

Within the NPS Structural Fire Program, NPS revised and updated all structural fire classes and added a hazardous materials class; this provides bureau structural firefighters with all the multi-faceted training needed for certification. More than 150 NPS employees were trained in structural firefighting, including 41 new firefighters, 26 new driver operators and 92 at firefighter refresher classes. In addition, 34 new park structural fire coordinators were trained during 2019. The program has also developed cancer awareness and prevention procedures and a grant to support structural firefighter gear cleaning for cancer prevention in parks.

Aviation continues to be an important multidisciplinary program for the NPS. In 2019, aviation resources supported wildland fire, search and rescue, law enforcement, and natural resources studies, surveys, and research missions. Approximately 11,000 hours of flight time, from 7,400 flights were conducted in 2019.

In addition to treatment projects conducted domestically, the DOI and U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, continue to support ongoing efforts to combat the wildfires in Australia. At the request of the Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, DOI and the USFS have deployed 150 firefighters thus far, 10 total from the NPS.

“The loss of life, property and environment are devastating in Australia,” said U.S. Secretary David Bernhardt. “The United States stands with our partners, and we will continue to support Australia in sending our world class personnel to contain these blazes and help protect Australian communities and wildlife.”

The U.S., Australia and New Zealand have been exchanging fire assistance for more than 15 years as the Australian and New Zealand personnel filled critical needs during peak wildfire season in the United States. The last time the U.S sent firefighters to Australia was in 2010.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Division of NC Parks and Recreation Seeks Public Input on Wilderness Gateway State Trail Plan

The Division of Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on the Wilderness Gateway State Trail plan. When finalized, it will guide project stakeholders as they refine the planned corridor and build the trail.

The trail will connect Chimney Rock State Park to locations in Catawba County as well as the Overmountain Victory State Trail, the Town of Valdese, and South Mountain game lands and state park. When complete, the trail will traverse Rutherford, McDowell, Burke and Catawba counties.

The plan is being developed by the division with input from officials from the four counties, major towns in the corridor, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and Conserving Carolinas Land Conservancy, among others. It will identify opportunities, challenges, trail section sponsors and stakeholders along the trail corridor.

Drop-in style open house meetings to receive public input will be held on Jan. 14, 15 and 16 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

Jan. 14 
Rutherfordton County Administration Office
289 N. Main St.
Rutherfordton, N.C. 28139

Jan. 15
South Mountains State Park
3001 South Mountains Park Ave
Connelly Springs, N.C. 28612

Jan. 16 
Catawba County Government Center
25 Government Drive
Newton, N.C. 28658

Members of the public are encouraged to attend and can expect to spend about 20 minutes to review, discuss, and comment on the planned trail corridor.

If inclement weather is anticipated for any of the meetings, a weather-related notice will be posted on the Wilderness Gateway State Trail planning webpage at https://trails.nc.gov/state-trails/wilderness-gateway-state-trail.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Lane Closures Continue on Smokies Roads for Tree Removal Work

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials remind visitors that single-lane and area closures will continue to affect several park roads through Friday, March 27 for tree removal work. Closures are necessary to ensure the safety of motorists and tree-removal crews along the park’s narrow roadways during the work.

Single-lane closures will be implemented on the Spur through January 24. Wears Cove Gap Road will be fully closed from January 29 through January 30. Single-lane closures will be implemented for short durations on Newfound Gap Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg Bypass, Little River Road, Foothills Parkway West, and Lakeview Drive as well as the developed areas in Deep Creek, Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont through March 27. All tree removal work involving single-lane closures will occur from 6:00 a.m. on Mondays to noon on Fridays throughout the work period, excluding federal holidays. The work schedule is subject to change due to weather or other unplanned delays.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Headed to Grand Teton National Park?

Are you planning to visit Grand Teton National Park this summer - or anytime down the road? I wanted to let you know that I just published a new eBook that provides hikers with access to trail information while hiking in the park.

Exploring Grand Teton National Park is the mobile version of TetonHikingTrails.com, the most comprehensive website on the internet for hiking trail information in Grand Teton National Park. This book was published to provide readers with convenient access to the information contained on TetonHikingTrails.com while in the park, or on the trail, where internet access is most likely unavailable. Additionally, the format of this book will provide a much better experience for smartphone users.

Exploring Grand Teton National Park covers 44 hikes. This includes 41 hikes within Grand Teton National Park, as well as 3 hikes in the Teton Pass area, located just south of the park boundary. Like the website, the book includes driving directions to each trailhead, detailed trail descriptions, key features along the route, difficulty ratings, photographs, maps and elevation profiles, which provide readers with a visual representation of the change in elevation they’ll encounter on each hike. Some hikes will also include historical tidbits related to the trail. Whether you're looking for an easy stroll in the park, or an epic hike deep into Grand Teton's backcountry, this book provides all the tools you'll need to make your hiking trip as enjoyable as possible.

As with our four websites, this book also contains several directories that will help you choose the best hikes suited to your preferences and abilities. This includes hikes listed by location within the park, hikes listed by key trail feature, and hikes sorted by difficulty rating. I’ve also included lists of our top 10 hikes, the best easy hikes, the top fall hikes, and the top early season hikes.

The book is now available at Amazon.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Smokies Clarifies Cades Cove Access During the Winter Closure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials closed Laurel Creek Road, as scheduled, on Sunday, January 5 through Saturday, February 29 to repair the Bote Mountain Tunnel. The seven-mile access road leading from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove, is closed to all motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Trails remain open throughout the closure, although access to trailheads is limited due to the road closure. Trail access into the Cades Cove area requires at least a 14-mile, roundtrip hike to the Cades Cove Loop Road from any of the boundary trailheads. During the short days of the winter months, this leaves limited time to explore the Loop Road for most hikers.

The one-way, seven-mile Rich Mountain Road, seasonally closed in the winter, can be used by hikers only to walk in and out of the area. This roadway will also be utilized by park vehicles throughout the closure to access the Loop Road. Hikers should be prepared to encounter employee vehicles traveling in both directions along the roadway. Due to the increased employee traffic, cyclists and horseback riders are prohibited from using the narrow, gravel roadway during closure period.

The one-way, eight-mile Parson Branch Road, which has been closed to all public vehicle use since 2016, can be used by hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders to access Cades Cove throughout the closure by the public. Users should be prepared to encounter downed trees or park employee vehicles along this roadway as well.

The Laurel Creek Road closure, beginning just past Tremont Road, is necessary to allow equipment set-up for the repair of the internal drainage system in the walls and ceiling of the 121-foot long tunnel. Crews will enclose and heat the tunnel, allowing the temperature-sensitive repairs to be conducted during the winter months when visitation is lower. Intermittent single-lane closures will be necessary between March 1 and June 15 to complete the tunnel repairs and to re-pave the tunnel area.

The Cades Cove Campground, normally open during the winter months, is closed through March 5, 2020. To accommodate winter campers, Elkmont Campground will remain open year round along with Smokemont Campground in NC.

The Bote Mountain Tunnel, constructed in 1948, has not had any significant rehabilitation work since that time. Crews will replace nine drainage chases requiring track-mounted saws to cut through the concrete liner along the arc of the 18-foot high tunnel opening. Cracks throughout the tunnel would also be sealed and repaired. Without repairs, leaks will lead to compromised concrete walls and the development of ice hazards during the winter months. For more information on road and trail closures, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm. For more information about road closures, please follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on twitter or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Shenandoah National Park Programs Will Thrive in 2020 Due To Generous Support from The Shenandoah National Park Trust

In 2020, The Shenandoah National Park Trust aims to raise funds to support programs and projects in Shenandoah National Park totaling nearly $1 million. Their generous support will make an enormous positive impact on the park for years to come. The programs for 2020 include:

* Play, Learn, Serve - introduces children through young adults to the outdoors in a fun and engaging way by combining outdoor play with education and public service. It begins with ranger activities in their neighborhoods and schools and progresses to hiking, camping and educational opportunities in their “backyard” national park. In 2019, this program brought over 7400 students to the park!

* Shenandoah Youth Corps - provides an opportunity for youth to immerse themselves in the park and through the experience gain a greater understanding of our public lands. This is a summer job opportunity where they earn a salary while working on various projects that will have a lasting benefit to the park; such as, trail maintenance, monitoring sensitive species, weed elimination, archeology and rehabilitation of historic structures.

* Internships - provides training, work experience and professional development opportunities for young adults to acquire skills necessary to become competitive for future jobs. In 2020, interns will work in the Interpretation and Education, Cultural Resources and Maintenance Divisions.

* Exotic Plants and Trail Maintenance Volunteer Coordinators – helps fight the spread of invasive plants and maintains park trails using the power of volunteers. The coordinators organize volunteer work crews to cut invasive vines, map invasive plants, collect native seeds, salvage native plants, plant native plants in restoration areas, and tackle resource damage along park trails and in campgrounds. In 2019 this program treated invasive plants on over 727 acres, planted over 4000 native plants, and completed 116 trail maintenance projects.

* Invasive Insects - strengthens our park's resilience to forest health threats by helping to control invasive, non-native insects and protecting the park's native plants and other species from decline.

* Managing Human-Bear Interactions - reduces negative human-bear interactions at park campgrounds, picnic areas and popular visitor locations through education, prevention, and safety measures to minimize trash problems, assist with food storage, provide public education on proper wildlife viewing practices, and work to prevent illegal wildlife feeding.

* Trail Maintenance - helps maintain and improve the park’s five hundred miles of trails, ensuring it remains a hiker's paradise for generations to come. Research Grant –provides funding for research studies on relevant issues that are critical to preserving and protecting the park’s natural and cultural resources.

* Artist-in-Residence –supports artists during a short-term residence in the park where they create and showcase works of art, often inviting the public to participate alongside them.

* Electric Vehicle Charging Station – allows visitors to charge their vehicles at the electric vehicle charging station at Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 Skyline Drive).

* Robert Jacobsen Employee Development –enables our employees to attend training courses and conferences to enhance their existing job skills and learn new skills that will help them in their future careers.

* Expert-in-Residence –allows park managers to engage outside experts in natural resource protection, cultural resource preservation, and other park-related goals for short- to mid-term projects.

* Boulder Cabin – the Trust will be raising funds for the renovation and maintenance of Boulder Cabin, a 1911 historic cabin at Skyland Resort that is a contributing feature of the Skyline Drive National Historic Landmark District. It is an excellent example of a cabin from the rustic resort period (1887-1930) of architecture and will be used as a residence and studio space for the Artist-in-Residence program.

Superintendent Jennifer Flynn said “We are sincerely grateful and extend our heartfelt thanks to the Trust and its donors for providing these funds to support essential programs and projects.”

Executive Director Susan Sherman added "The Shenandoah National Park Trust is proud to partner with our park to help ensure its health and vitality. And we're grateful that our donors recognize the value of this work."



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 30, 2019

Friends of the Smokies Announces 2020 Classic Hikes of the Smokies Schedule

The Friends of the Smokies has just announced the schedule for their Classic Hikes of the Smokies series in 2020. The year-long series will include 10 hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park this upcoming year, and will feature interpretation of the trail, history, and park projects supported by Friends of the Smokies. Moreover, these hikes will help support restoration and rehabilitation of some of the park's most impacted trails through the Trails Forever program.

Please note that pre-registration is required to participate. Here's a rundown of the hikes included in this year's series:

March 10 - Elkmont Loop

April 14 - Porters Creek to Fern Falls

May 12 - Chimney Tops

June 9 - Sugarland Mountain

July 14 - Catalooche Divide Trail

August 11 - Boogerman Loop

September 8 - A.T. to Mt. Cammerer

October 13 - Andrews Bald

November 10 - Lost Cove Loop (includes a visit to the Shuckstack Fire Tower)

December 8 - Smokemont Loop

For more information, and to register, please click here.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking