Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

What Were the Top Stories Across the National Park System in 2008?

What were the top stories across the National Park System in 2008? That's a good question, but unfortunately one that brings to mind many stories we at the Traveler wish never arose.

Don't Overlook Park Advocates and Friends Groups When You Make Your Charitable Donations

Programs to lure youngsters into the parks. "Healthy Kids/Healthy Parks." Research to gauge the impact of visitation on park natural resources. Restoration work. These are just some of the projects that your taxable donations allowed to occur across the National Park System in 2008.

28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres

Imagine if the National Park System could grow, overnight, by 43 million acres. That's exactly what happened nearly three decades ago in a place called Alaska.

From Job Creation to Everglades Czar, Green Groups Have Lengthy National Parks Wishlist

Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park. Kurt Repanshek photo.
A coalition of nearly 30 "green groups" has a lengthy to-do list for the incoming Obama administration when it comes to the National Park System. For starters, they say, let's include the parks in the economic stimuli being proposed, expect more from National Park Service leadership, and protect the natural resources.
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Transition to Green - NPS.pdf229.76 KB

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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Mount St. Helens Economics.pdf174.7 KB

National Parks the World Over are Preparing for Climate Change

Devils Postpile, Middle Fork of San Joaquin River. Kurt Repanshek photo.
Climate change is global. No one country or hemisphere has a monopoly on calmer or stormier weather, on drier or wetter climates, on higher or lower lake, sea, and river levels. While here in the United States the National Park Service is trying to confront the change, on the far side of the world another country is doing what it can to protect its parks from climate change.

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.

Plenty of National Park Issues for Next Administration, But Will They Get Tackled?

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. Kurt Repanshek photo.
With the days of the Bush administration vanishing more quickly than the fall colors, what's in store for the next administration in terms of national park issues? Quite a bit, actually. The real question is whether they'll get tackled.

How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?

After eight years of highly questionable management of public lands by the Bush administration, the next administration will face myriad environmental issues when it takes office in January. But how will it respond?

Imagine the Impacts of Climate Change on the National Park System

Waterless Yosemite Fall, Kurt Repanshek photo
Imagine Yosemite National Park without Yosemite Fall. Or Glacier National Park without glaciers. Or Old Faithful becoming less faithful. Across the National Park System, the effects of climate change could be quite dramatic.
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sap4-4-final-report-Ch4-Parks.pdf1.52 MB

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?

How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?

How did the National Park Service err so badly in developing a winter-use plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks? According to a federal judge who blocked the plan from taking effect, the agency overlooked its own science and its own mission.

Is Climate Change Driving A New Forest Regimen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?

As ecological drivers go, you wouldn't think an insect roughly the size of a rice grain would be that significant in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. And yet, the mountain pine beetle, aided by a warming climate, is poised to send quite a shudder through the ecosystem.

Is Technology Compatible With The National Park Wilderness Experience?

The recent posts about GPS Rangers and SPOT beg the question of whether technology is compatible with wilderness values in the National Park System. Are these truly useful tools, or do they diminish the wilderness experience? Where do you draw the line?

Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks

Backcountry rangers in some Alaska national parks routinely signal their position with "Spot," a personal locater beacon that can be used to summon help or to simply let friends know you're OK. Recently, Spot helped rangers find two backcountry travelers in Sequoia National Park who found themselves in trouble.

Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?

Call it a $1 million question. Will the National Parks Second Century Commission make a difference in the future of the National Park System, or will its findings and suggestions simply collect dust on a back-room shelf as some other studies have done?

Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?

With the National Park Service's centennial eight years off, it's not too early to take the measure of both the service and the National Park System it manages. Has the time arrived to overhaul and strengthen this venerable agency?
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National Park Centennial Commission.pdf181.3 KB

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."

Park History: The U.S. Life-Saving Service

Fierce winter storms and shifting shoals gave birth to the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," where thousands of ships have foundered since record-keeping began in the 16th century. Beginning late in the 18th century, rescuers began patrolling the East Coast in search of such wrecks.

Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?

One-hundred-and-forty-five years had passed since Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded by "friendly fire" in the woods at Chancellorsville, and yet it might have been yesterday. Thick forest still hangs over the waning vestige of the Old Mountain Road where the general was riding, beyond the front lines, on the night of May 2, 1863, when members of the 18th North Carolina mistook him and his aides for a Union incursion.

Will The Superintendent's Summit Chart The Path For The National Park Service's Next Chapter?

What does the future hold for the National Park Service and its wonderful system? It's a question worth asking as the Bush administration nears the end of its eight years in office, one that is particularly timely to ponder considering the Superintendents' Summit '08 that will be held at a Utah ski resort later this month.

Recalling Yellowstone National Park's Historic 1988 Fire Season

No one realized it at the time, but when a lightning strike ignited a single tree in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley 20 years ago, it was a dire harbinger of what would become a historic fire season.

A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were discussing the financial plight of the National Park System and I wondered aloud how it possibly could be improved. After all, this country has some enormous bills, starting with those from the Iraq war and running on down to Social Security and the national infrastructure, just to name the most obvious.

Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?

Who runs the National Park System? Is it the National Park Service, or communities that fuel their economies off the parks? That's a good question to consider in the wake of the moxie and clout that tiny Cody, Wyoming, summoned to turn the heat up on its golden goose, Yellowstone National Park.

How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?

What draws people to national parks in general, and to national park issues specifically? Why is it that gun issues and deaths inevitably draw attention to the national parks, but stories of insufficient budgets and deteriorating infrastructure and harsh impacts on the "parkscape" draw comparatively scant notice?

Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System

There is no need, nor justification, to allow concealed weapons into the National Park System. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne needs to stand up to the National Rifle Association and for the National Park System.
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NPS Firearms-history.pdf149.38 KB
NPS Directors-Guns.pdf93.94 KB

Is Your Backcountry Safety Net A Personal Locator Beacon or Cell Phone?

Do you skimp on backcountry preparations, figuring you've got your trusty personal locator beacon or cell phone to summon help at a moment's notice? It's tempting, no? Why prepare yourself equipment-wise and possibly skill-wise when help is just a push button away?

National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?

A two-week search for a missing hiker in Yosemite National Park. A search for a missing snowshoer on Mount Rainier. Recovery of bodies from climbing accidents in Grand Teton National Park. A week-long, and unsuccessful, search for a missing 8-year-old at Crater Lake National Park. Each year, thousands of search-and-rescue missions cost the National Park Service millions of dollars. And each year the agency eats the costs.
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Rescue Cost Recovery.pdf338.09 KB

Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health

Visiting national parks could be hazardous to your health. That's the conclusion that can be drawn from a snapshot of health and safety conditions across the National Park System.

Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks

Moving at a politically expedient speed, Interior Department officials are proposing to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons with them.
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DOI-Proposed Gun Reg.pdf28.75 KB