Spring is a Great Time To Watch For Migratory Birds in the National Parks

Spring is a fantastic time to be outdoors. Along with the beauty of plants in bloom, a trip to a national park can reveal mammals emerging from their hibernation and frogs singing up a storm. But the one spring event that brings countless new and life-long nature lovers to our nation’s parks is the return of migratory songbirds.

Cavallo Point: New National Park Lodging in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

As this is written, we are at the start of our third day at Cavallo Point, located in California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is our country’s newest national park lodging facility, although a qualifier is required because the lodge is in a century-old U.S. Army post located just north of the famed Golden Gate Bridget.

Cost Savings Mean the National Park Service Can Fund More Projects In the Parks

Favorable contracts on some of the major construction projects the National Park Service has funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment dollars means the agency will be able to afford more projects this year.

Kentucky's Sen. Bunning Singlehandedly Idles Road Construction Projects Nationally, Including Many in National Parks

Jim Bunning, Kentucky's contrary U.S. senator, singlehandedly has shut down road construction projects across the nation, including many in national parks, because he doesn't want to help middle-class families weather the economic storm, U.S. Department of Transportation officials said Monday.

There Will be No Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio

Gap founder Donald Fisher is dead, and so is his proposal to build an art museum at the Presidio. Fisher’s magnificent collection of contemporary art will instead go to San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.

Does Ashy Storm Petrel Ruling Imply that Bush-Era “Ignore the Science” Policies are Being Perpetuated at DOI?

Brushing aside scientific evidence that the ashy storm petrel population is in profound decline, the Interior Department has ruled that this seabird doesn’t deserve federal protection. Having expected better from the new administration, disappointed environmentalists think it looks like same-old, same-old at Interior.

Marine Protected Areas Enhance Ocean Resources Management in California National Parks

New marine protected areas are in the offing for California’s North-Central Coast. These new MPA's will facilitate ocean resource management in the coastal waters of Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

National Park Mystery Spot 1 Revealed: Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Were Here Too

Did you take a crack at yesterday’s mystery spot quiz? If not, you might want to go ahead and do that before you read this.

National Park Mystery Spot 1: Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth Used It

It’s a place somewhere in the National Park System. Can you identify it if we give you five clues?

Update: Presidio Main Post Won’t Be CAMP site

Frustrated by fierce opposition, the Fishers have abandoned plans to build a contemporary art museum at the Main Post of San Francisco's Presidio. Alternative sites at the Presidio and elsewhere will now be considered.

Creature Feature: To Save the Mission Blue Butterfly, You Have to Save the Lupine

Saving the endangered mission blue butterfly is a lupine-focused mission. The mission blues, which now survive only in a few places near San Francisco Bay, can’t reproduce in habitats that lack certain kinds of lupine.

Updated: Brian O'Neill, Golden Gate National Recreation Area Superintendent, Dies Following Heart Surgery

Brian O'Neill, who had guided Golden Gate National Recreation Area as its superintendent since 1986, has passed away following complications from heart surgery. He was 67.

Update: Will a “Chop and Drop” Strategy Rescue the Presidio’s Contemporary Art Museum Project?

Harsh criticism forced the Presidio Trust to rethink its plans for the new Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio. A new "chop and drop" proposal emphasizes smaller, better located structures built largely underground.

Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"

There's an economic report out touting the benefits that a Mount St. Helens "National Park" would bring surrounding communities. And that begs the question of whether units of the National Park System should be viewed largely as economic engines?
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Election 2008: Fearless Forecasts, Foregone Conclusions, and Prescient Prognostications

The campaigns are over, the results are in, and it’s time to consider what the 2008 elections portend for the National Park System. We highlight several foregone conclusions, make a couple of fearless forecasts, and invite you, the readers, to share your prognostications.

Wetlands Restoration Project at Golden Gate National Recreation Area is Well Worth the Cost

It cost $12 million to create the newly flooded Giacomini Wetlands at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is not just an exercise in “feel good” environmental action. Because wetlands provide many valuable benefits, this project will more than pay for itself.

Are There Really 391 Units in the National Park System? You Won’t Think So After You Read This!

The National Park Service says there are 391 units in the National Park System. If you take a close look at how that number is derived, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. Have the inmates taken charge of the asylum?

Parade of Raptors at Hawk Hill Delights Birders in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

With the fall migration underway, birders are beating a path to Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It’s one of the world’s best places for watching hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, and other raptors.

Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?

What's in a name? That's a good question in light of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unsolicited bid to turn Golden Gate National Recreation Area into a "national park."

Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers

Should rules meant to protect resources and visitors be less stringent if a National Park System unit is designated Recreation Area? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is spearheading a legislative campaign to have Golden Gate National Recreation Area redesignated Golden Gate National Parks. Bay Area dog owners oppose the proposed change, fearing that it would put an end to off-leash dog walking privileges they currently enjoy.

At Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Presidio Trust Ponders Where to Put a New Art Museum

The Presidio Trust must decide where to put a new art museum to be built at the Presidio unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The donor-specified site is problematic, and some critics argue that the museum complex’s massive scale and modern appearance are incompatible with the Presidio’s historic milieu.

National Park Service Considering Commercial Developments for Alcatraz

In a move certain to dismay many national park advocates, the National Park Service has proposed to convert to commercial use a number of buildings on Alcatraz, a popular component of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The proposed developments would include souvenir stands, special venues, and lodging facilities.

National Park Quiz 4: Beaches

Swimsuit season is nearly here. Are you ready for the beach? There are loads of beaches in the national parks -- even a few “clothing optional” ones for people who don’t like tan lines. This week's quiz will assess your knowledge of all kinds of beaches in the national parks. Answers are at the end. No peeking.

Creature Feature: The Red-Throated Loon

Red-throated Loon, copyright Ashok Khosla.
The red-throated loon is the smallest, most widely distributed, and most distinctive of the world’s five loon species. Annually migrating from summer nesting sites in the Arctic reaches of North America and Eurasia to wintering grounds in the Lower 48, Mexico, Europe, and Asia, this bird can really move.

Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks

Dozens of movies have depicted actors and actresses cavorting, romancing, running, hiding, fighting, and yes, even dying in national parks or places destined to become national parks. Here are ten of Traveler's favorite movies with a national park connection of some sort. Note that we don’t restrict the field to films shot on location in parks.

2007 Visitation Across National Park System Projected To Rise

Two years ago there were concerns that national parks were losing their pull over the traveling public. Today, though, National Park Service officials are bullish about visitation, pointing to gains at a number of parks, including Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Dying in the Parks: Park Service Concerned About Suicides

Each year nearly 100 people attempt suicide somewhere in the national park system. That's a troubling statistic for the National Park Service.

Like No Other Park in the System (I Hope)

eltonlin Photo
Can you imagine a national park where you'd be able to learn about the life of Walt Disney? A park where you can pose with Yoda? A park where you can set up your high-tech business next to others like Alexa, and Discovery Mining? And a park where can you relax with a round of golf? Imagine no more, because this park unit actually exists and is managed by the NPS.

Setting Precedents in the Parks

There's a passage in Director's Order 53, one of the many documents that guide National Park Service management decisions, that warns of proverbial icebergs ready to assail superintendents who truly believe their mission is to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?

Is it appropriate for the National Park Service to transform portions of the prison on Alcatraz Island into a cabaret with scantily clad dancers, all in the name of luring younger generations to the parks? Should corporations be allowed to rent out portions of parks for lavish parties? These are hot-button topics to some, but elicit a shrug of the shoulder from others.