Around The Parks: Paddling Rules, Poster Contests, Grand Canyon's Airshed

Congressional efforts to dictate paddling rules in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, a poster contest at Cedar Breaks National Monument, and cleaner air for Grand Canyon National Park are just some of the topics swirling about the National Park System.

Paddling In Yellowstone And Grand Teton

A Wyoming congresswoman has succeeded in getting the House of Representatives to approve of legislation that would direct the National Park Service to open some waters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks to paddlers.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, if eventually enacted would be detrimental to the two parks, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. The group contends opening up more of the park to paddlers could negatively impact wildlife and wildlife viewing for other park visitors.

“Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks deserve better. (Last Thursday), the House voted on a bill with a provision buried in it that will overturn longstanding protective management of roughly 7,500 miles of park rivers and streams. It’s a shame for America’s premier national parks to get such a short shrift," said Bart Melton, NPCA's Yellowstone program manager.

“All Americans take pride in the many conservation success stories evident in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, –where for decades park managers have balanced user access with conservation. Any major changes to these conservation priorities deserve careful consideration, not hasty congressional action," he added.

The legislation now heads to the Senate.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Seeking Wildflower Posters

It'll be months before any wildflowers sprout at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah, but that's not keeping the park staff from soliciting submissions for its annual Wildflower Festival poster contest.

The chosen artwork will be used on posters that will advertise the Wildflower Festival and will be available in limited numbers for a cash donation at the Cedar Breaks Visitor Center. The winning poster will also be displayed on Cedar Breaks’ website. Additionally, the winner will receive a cash prize of $100.

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2014. Acceptable forms of artwork include: photograph, watercolor, acrylic, oil, 3D sculpture, or installation art. Artwork should represent wildflowers found in and around Cedar Breaks National Monument. Entries must be photographed and submitted by email to teri_saa@nps.gov. Please do not send your actual work of art.

More information and an application can be found at this web page. The Cedar Breaks National Monument Wildflower Festival takes place each July. This year’s festival will take place July 5-20. Activities include daily wildflower walks and special weekend festivities.

Interior Secretary Called Upon To Clean Up Air Over Grand Canyon

Interior Department officials for too long have neglected their responsibility to protect the airshed over Grand Canyon National Park, according to a coalition of conservation groups that want Interior Secretary Sally Jewel to take some action.

The groups maintain that air pollution from the Navajo Generating Station located a dozen miles from the park long has impaired the park's viewshed. Late last week they wrote the Interior secretary about the problem and urged her to declare impairment of the Grand Canyon by air pollution, an action "that would trigger stringent and timely pollutant reduction requirements" for the generating station.

“DOI has a unique obligation to protect national parks,” said Stephanie Kodish, the National Parks Conservation Association's clean air program director. “Secretary Jewell faces a pivotal decision — will she exercise her right and responsibility under the Clean Air Act to protect the Grand Canyon, its sister parks and neighboring communities or will she continue to wait for others to act, which could prolong NGS’s pollution of the Grand Canyon for decades to come?”

“On a clear day, there is no more spectacular view than the one at Grand Canyon,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “But unfortunately, Navajo Generating Station, one of the most polluting coal plants in the country, continues to foul the skies over this world-renowned national park. Interior, due to its stake in the plant, and its responsibility to protect Grand Canyon must step up and take action and do so in a timely way.”

“The Department of the Interior is abdicating it's trust responsibility of protecting the economic and environmental interest of the Navajo and Hopi people by continued uncontrolled pollution by NGS impacting tribal people's health,” said Lori Goodman with the Navajo group Diné CARE.

The clean air proponents, which include NPCA, Dine’ CARE, To Nizhoni Ani, the Grand Canyon Trust, the San Juan Citizens Alliance and Sierra Club, have asked Secretary Jewell to certify that nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter emissions from NGS impair air quality at Grand Canyon National Park – impairment that has been overwhelmingly observed by some of the Grand Canyon’s 4.4 million annual visitors and validated by expert analysis.

“Anyone who looks can plainly see Navajo Generating Station’s pollution plume after the cool, clear air from the north settles into Grand Canyon for the night,” said Roger Clark with the Grand Canyon Trust. “Its mustard-brown smear from oxides of nitrogen and white vale of fine particles taint the sunrise and steal away sharp edges throughout the day."