Odds and Ends from Around the National Park System

A climbing death in Yosemite, a new recreation site at the Delaware Water Gap NRA, and a question on whether to force climbers to wear helmets are among the odds and ends that have recently crossed our computer screens.

Respected Climber Dies in Fall at Yosemite

A respected member of the climbing community at Yosemite National Park, Christina Chan, has been killed in a fall from Eichorn Pinnacle on Cathedral Peak.

The 31-year-old climber, a doctoral student at Stanford University where she was past-president of the Stanford Alpine Club and an instructor with the university's Outdoor Education Program, died July 9 when she fell about 300 feet while free climbing with a group of others.

Delaware Water Gap NRA to Dedicate New Beach on Friday

Delaware Water Gap NRA Superintendent John Donahue and members of his staff will dedicate Turtle Beach, the newest developed recreation site in the NRA, on Friday at 11 a.m.

“This new site represents the completion of another element in the long-term vision for the park described in the General Management Plan," the superintendent said in a release. "It’s very exciting for us to be able to bring more opportunities for river recreation to the people of New Jersey and the United States."

According to the release, Turtle Beach offers a swim beach with life guards during the summer season, facilities for picnics, restrooms, and nearby hiking trails. There is a $7 day-use fee per vehicle (holding up to seven adults) to use the area during the week. That fee jumps to $10 on weekends and holidays. Ride a bike or walk to the area and the entrance charge is $1.

Turtle Beach is located on Old Mine Road in New Jersey, seven miles north of Interstate 80.

Should Climbers Be Banned From Parks For Not Wearing Helmets?

A tough stance against climbing without helmets seems to be rising in Canada, where officials at Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario reportedly banned two climbers for not wearing headgear.

A report from Gripped, the Climbing Magazine, states that "(W)itnesses report that park officials confronted the un-helmeted climbers and requested they use helmets or stop climbing. The discussion escalated as the climbers challenged the park’s authority to dictate helmet use, which resulted with the park officials banning the climbers for one year and threatening to ban all other climbers from the cliff during that weekend."

According to Gripped, there never have been mandatory helmet laws in Ontario's climbing area. "Some speculate that park’s seemingly heavy-handed actions were a result of officials being on-edge over the traumatic body recovery of a non-climbing cliff jumper that occurred the previous week," the magazine said. "The precedent set by the park’s actions could have serious long-term implications in other climbing areas and may create unnecessary bureaucracy as the parks attempt to over-dictate safety practices."

That's Quite A Cash Crop!

The marijuana growing fields in Sequoia National Park continue to boggle the mind. A recent raid on a patch by park rangers led to the removal of 20,324 plants that park officials say had a street value of more than $81 million.

"Some expended gun shell casings were also found. The site is believed to have ties to a Mexican drug trafficking organization. No arrests have been made yet. An investigation is ongoing," reports Dana Dierkes, the park's public affairs officer.

Gateway NRA Offering Free Lifejackets For Kids

Here's a good cause looking for a sponsor. The folks at Gateway National Recreation Area in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area have set up a station to let families borrow, at no charge, life jackets for their youngsters.

The life jacket station can be found at Nichols Marina, which is in Great Kills Park, which is part of the NRA. The program is an off-shoot of one long run by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to educate boaters on the importance of wearing life jackets, particularly kids.

Unfortunately, the NRA only has six life jackets to kick off the program. If you can help out, contact the area's U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at 718-948-5691.

Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent To Retire

After 35 years in various land-management roles with the federal government, Curt Sauer soon will retire from his position as superintendent at Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Superintendent Sauer, who has held the job for the past seven years, plans to retire at the end of September. During his career, Supterintendent Sauer served as chief ranger at Olympic National Park; manager for the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, which is part of North Cascades National Park; park ranger at Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain national parks; as well as seasonal positions with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.