Searching for bugs, butterflies, and beetles, along with countless other species, at Rocky Mountain National Park will be one of the highlights of Founder's Day, August 25, when the National Park Service turns 96.
Across the National Park System, something special likely will be going on at your favorite park.
Park Service Director Jon Jarvis will celebrate his agency's birthday at Rocky Mountain, where the signature birthday event will be the National Park Service/National Geographic BioBlitz at Rocky Mountain National Park. Director Jarvis is expected to join thousands of children as they identify and inventory park species. In addition to scientific discovery expeditions, kids can take fun hands-on “classes” at the Biodiversity University, and enjoy music, live animals, and science demonstrations at the Biodiversity Festival.
Here's a glimpse of some of the other events taking place across the system on August 25:
* Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina will issue free National Park passes for active duty military and disabled servicemen and servicewomen and have reenactors firing 18th Century weapons. Special programs throughout the day feature the South Carolina Rangers, who portray colonists from the Revolutionary War era, demonstrating period muskets and rifles at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
* At Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Georgia the Park Service is partnering with the SAM Shortline Excursion Train to make the visitor experience to the park one to remember. The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a documentary by Ken Burns, will be shown during the day in the Community Room of the Plains High School where refreshments will also be served. Visitors will also have the opportunity to register for door prizes donated by Eastern National and the Plains Historic Preservation Trust.
* At John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site in Massachusetts, rangers will read from some of John F. Kennedy's favorite childhood books, and provide visitors with supplies and guidance for making Kennedy-themed bookmarks and writing journals to take home. House discovery booklets will also be available for aspiring Junior Rangers ages 5 to the young at heart. House tours will be offered every half hour, and a special neighborhood walking tour will leave from the Visitor Center at 1 pm. Inspired by Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, this brisk walk will follow in Mrs. Kennedy's footsteps as she encouraged her children to be active outside and explore the world around them.
* At Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Washington state, activities will include archaeology digs and a chance for families to travel back in time and spend the night inside the reconstructed fort. Some lucky visitors will even be able to camp out inside the fort.
"August 25th is your last chance to spend the night in the fort this summer!" said park ranger Cassie Anderson. "For a truly unforgettable experience in your national park, camp close to home and spend the night inside the reconstructed stockade with your family - 1840s style!"
Registered attendees can set up an 1840s tent, eat dinner cooked over the fire, tour the fort by twilight, and share spooky stories in the dark of the Bastion. The 1840's Overnighter includes dinner, breakfast, a tour of the fort, and many hands-on activities. The cost is $35 a person, recommended for families and ages 5 and up. Advanced registration is required through Fort Vancouver's partner, Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation.
* Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky will also be celebrating International Bat Day on August 25. Park staff have scheduled activities during daylight hours, and also at dusk, the prime time for viewing bats.
“We initiated Bat Night last year and it was a very popular activity,” said Acting Superintendent Bruce Powell. “Bats are an important part of the park’s ecosystem. There are eight species of bats that frequent the park caves, and we have five other species that roost in trees. In the entire world, there are 1,200 species of bats, accounting for one quarter of all mammal species.”
During the day there will be poster sessions and a display of bat information, said Shannon Trimboli, education director of the Mammoth Cave International Center of Science and Learning, who is coordinating the event. “But at dusk, when bats wake up and start flying, we’re going to set up monitoring stations with night-vision goggles and acoustic sonograms – come see for yourself," she said.
Day-time activities will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Central Time) at the park visitor center. Posters will be displayed and topics will focus on bat-related research at Mammoth Cave. Evening activities will begin at the park visitor center at 7 p.m. Park staff will present an introduction and orientation to the night’s activities every 15 minutes until 8:45 p.m. After their orientation, groups will be able rotate through four stations located between the visitor center and the Historic Entrance. This self-guided portion of the evening will allow visitors to learn about different scientific techniques and equipment used in bat research. Scientists will be available at each station for guidance and questions.
The stations will include:
· Light-trapping of insects, used in studying what bats eat;
· Bat sound recording , used in studying bat calls;
· Thermal imaging, used in studying bat populations; and
· Night vision goggles, used in studying bat populations.
“Sadly, we will also be sharing information about white-nose syndrome in bats,” said Ms. Powell. “It is a fungus that kills cave-dwelling bats. It was first found in a New York cave in 2006 and has since spread to caves and mines across the eastern states.”
White-nose syndrome has not been found at Mammoth Cave; it has been found in Kentucky and all adjacent states.
* At Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, kids ages 4 to 12 can become a Mesa Verde Junior Ranger by learning how to be good stewards, playing Cliff Dwelling Bingo, and enjoying kids’ activities at the Junior Ranger Station. Junior Ranger activity booklets can be picked up at the Far View Visitor Center or Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The Junior Ranger Station, located in the courtyard of the Museum, will be open noon to 3 p.m.