Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Great American Outdoors Day" To Become Annual Free Entrance Day

In celebration of President Trump signing the Great American Outdoors Act, Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced free entrance to national parks and public lands for August 5, 2020, and he designated August 4th as the “Great American Outdoors Day.” In future years, every August 4 will be a free entrance day to celebrate the signing of this landmark legislation, joining the other scheduled entrance fee-free days which commemorate or celebrate significant dates. The Great American Outdoors Act will enable national parks and other federal lands to repair and upgrade vital infrastructure and facilities that will enrich the visitor experience, protect resources, and enable increased access for all visitors.

“President Trump has just enacted the most consequential dedicated funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, public recreation facilities and American Indian school infrastructure in U.S. history,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “I’ve designated August 4th as Great American Outdoors Day and waived entrance fees to celebrate the passage of this historic conservation law.”

The Great American Outdoors Act combines two major conservation initiatives into one legislative package. It establishes the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund (Restoration Fund) and guarantees permanent full funding for the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funding of this magnitude will reduce the maintenance backlog, protect critical resources, increase recreational offerings, and focus on long-term sustainable operations for the next century.

The investment will pay dividends. Public lands are an important contributor to a strong and growing outdoor recreation economy that benefits states and local communities. National parks have been experiencing record-breaking attendance in recent years, including hosting 328 million visitors in 2019. National park visitor spending supports nearly 330,000 jobs and contributes more than $40 billion annually to the national economy, including more than $20 billion in communities surrounding parks.

There are 109 national parks that charge entrance fees ranging from $5 to $35. The other 310 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Great American Outdoors Act Signed Into Law Today

America’s public lands received its greatest boost in decades this morning when President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. This historic Act will provide billions of dollars for public lands projects ranging from landscape preservation to infrastructure improvements.

The Act is the single largest investment in America’s national parks and public lands in history, and marks the most significant conservation accomplishment since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

“This is a great day for our national parks, forests and public lands, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy sends its thanks for the overwhelming support the Great American Outdoors Act received from Congress, the President and outdoor enthusiasts around the nation,” said Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). “The Act will help ensure irreplaceable national treasures like the Appalachian Trail are protected and have the funding they need to enhance safety and accessibility for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.”

The Great American Outdoors Act provides full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and creates a Restoration Fund to address the deferred maintenance needs of federal public lands. Funding LWCF at its fully authorized level — $900 million a year — will double what was available in 2019 for states, municipalities and the federal government to conserve land for recreation and wildlife habitats. The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) as we know it would not exist without the support of the LWCF, which has helped protect such varied locations as Blood Mountain in Georgia, the Roan Highlands of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania and community forests throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

The Restoration Fund will make available $9.5 billion over five years, with $6 billion slated for National Park System units, about $1.4 billion slated for National Forest System units, and $475 million for National Wildlife Refuges. Across all its public lands, the United States has a deferred maintenance backlog of $20 billion. According to the President more than 5,500 miles of road, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings are in critical need of repair. Its estimated that the Great American Outdoors Act will create over 100,000 additional infrastructure-related jobs.







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

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

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Blue Ridge Parkway Increases Recreational Access to Campgrounds in NC and VA

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Blue Ridge Parkway is increasing recreational access at campgrounds in both Virginia and North Carolina. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning July 31, 2020, the Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen access to four campgrounds at the following locations:

Virginia:

* Peaks of Otter Campground, Milepost 85.9
* Rocky Knob Campground, Milepost 169

North Carolina:

* Julian Price Park Campground, Milepost 297
* Linville Falls Campground, Milepost 316.4

Reservations for each location are now available through www.recreation.gov with dates beginning July 31.

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders in North Carolina and Virginia, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on the park website at www.nps.gov/blri and social media channels



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

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Smokies Cites SARs Stat in Facebook Post

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park cited an interesting stat in a Facebook post earlier today with regards to Search and Rescues (SARs) within the park. Here's the post:
Know your limits!

Before heading into the Park please plan and prepare accordingly. #trailstuesday

Whether it is for a multi-day adventure, a quick day hike, or even just a drive through the Park, things can go wrong in a jiffy!

Park staff respond to over 100 Search and Rescues every year, many of which could be avoided with proper planning and preparation. It is critical, especially during the ongoing health crisis, that visitors make wise decisions to help keep themselves, our rangers, and our first responders out of harms way. #searchandrescue

People often overestimate their abilities and underestimate the Smokies. Start with a short hike stay on trail, and play it safe! #recreateresponsibly #knowyourlimits

Check out the NPS’s list of ‘Ten Essentials’, for when venturing into the backcountry: https://www.nps.gov/articles/10essentials.htm

For information to help you plan your trip and to get updates on current Park conditions please visit the Park website: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm
Although not a world news item, I have never seen any SAR data for the Smokies. I did some research for my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, with regards to SARs in the entire national park system, and found out that the Grand Canyon used to account for more than 10% of all SARs across the entire system. During the late-80s and early-90s, the park recorded roughly 482 SARs each year. The park has been able to reduce that number by 25% in recent years, due to programs geared to help better educate visitors about the dangers of hiking in the park. Most interestingly, however, is that the Smokies records "only" 100 SARs each year, compared to roughly 360 for the Grand Canyon. That difference is magnified even more when you take into account that the Smokies has more than twice the number of visitors each year!

In addition to the resources cited in the Smokies Facebook post above, you can also find a list of safety tips for hiking in the Smokies on our website. You can also use our list of hikes sorted by difficulty rating to help you find a hike that's best suited to your abilities.



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

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

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Tunnel Ridge Road in Red River Gorge closed 3 weeks in August

Tunnel Ridge Road (Forest Route 39) in the Red River Gorge portion of the Daniel Boone National Forest will be closed approximately 3 weeks starting August 3. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced a restoration project on the bridge carrying Tunnel Ridge Road over the Mountain Parkway. Tunnel Ridge Road provides access to popular destinations such as Gray’s Arch and Auxier Ridge.

The bridge will be closed to all traffic -- vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle -- during the work. Signs will be posted notifying drivers and hikers of the closure. Please do not park vehicles in front of closed gates or block emergency vehicle access. Gates will close Sunday, August 2, at 9:00 pm with a tentative reopening August 21.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet also announced that the westbound lanes of the Mountain Parkway have been closed indefinitely from Pine Ridge exit 40 to Slade exit 33 due to a collapse of the roadbed beneath the pavement near the Tunnel Ridge Road underpass. Westbound traffic is being detoured onto northbound KY 15 from Pine Ridge to Slade.

To accommodate truck traffic on the detour route, the southbound lane of KY 15 has been closed at Slade. Uphill traffic on Slade Hill will be blocked. To access National Forest sites such as Koomer Ridge Campground and Tunnel Ridge Road, visitors should take Pine Ridge exit 40 off the Mountain Parkway and then KY 15.

For additional information, please contact the Cumberland Ranger District at 606-784-6428 or visit the Daniel Boone National Forest website at www.usda.gov/dbnf.

Updates will also be posted on Facebook for Daniel Boone National Forest: https://www.facebook.com/danielboonenf/







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

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Great Smoky Mountains Proposes Mountain Bike Trail System in Wears Valley

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is proposing a mountain bike trail system within the Foothill Parkway Section 8D corridor in Wears Valley, Sevier County, Tennessee.

The proposed project is needed because recreational access and opportunities are currently limited along unfinished sections of the Foothills Parkway, including Section 8D. The GSMNP General Management Plan and the original Foothills Parkway Master Plan, envisioned some form for recreational development in the Wears Valley area, but none currently exist. Community interest in exploring possible recreational opportunities along undeveloped sections of the Foothills Parkway has increased. The Conservation Fund recently began engaging the National Park Service and community stakeholders to identify specific recreational opportunities that would not conflict with future completion of the Parkway as envisioned by Congress. This process identified mountain biking as a potentially compatible opportunity, with strong community interest in establishing a network of trails specifically designed for mountain biking use. Recommendations included further analysis of opportunities to develop a mountain bike trail system in the Wears Valley portion of Section 8D.

While more than 800 miles of trails exist in the Park, less than 8 miles are open to biking and there are no by-design mountain biking trails. Most of the Park's trails are in areas managed as wilderness where bikes are not permitted. The Foothills Parkway corridor, which is within the Park's transportation management zone and is not managed as wilderness, could provide visitors new opportunities to experience the park through mountain biking.

Two, two-hour virtual meetings have been scheduled for 7/28 and 7/30. Both will begin at 5:00 PM. For more information, and to participate in the meetings, please click here.

The comment period for this project closes on Aug 19, 2020. For more information on the project, and to comment, please click here.



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

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Friends of the Smokies Resumes Classic Hikes of the Smokies Series

As reported this past March, Friends of the Smokies was forced to postpone their Classic Hikes of the Smokies series due to the Covid outbreak. For those interested, the "Friends" group has recently resumed the series with a hike to Catalooche Divide last week. Fortunately there are several more hikes scheduled through the remainder of the year if anyone wishes to participate, and help support this important organization. The series provides funds that help support the restoration and rehabilitation of some of the park's most popular trails through its Trails Forever program.

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

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
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park