Hurricane Matthew was expected to strengthen into a category 4 hurricane by the time it reaches Florida, leading many units of the National Park System from Florida into North Carolina to batten down for the storm.
Biscayne National Park
Hurricane Matthew's continued march north through the Caribbean spurred national parks in the Southeastern United States to plan closures if the storm stays on track.
While comparatively few cases of Zika virus have been identified in the United States, the National Park Service has been working to keep visitors, and employees, on top of the situation and is recommending that everyone visiting National Park System sites in Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico take precautions to ward off mosquitoes.
National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis expects to hear of more incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct from his agency once a hotline is set up to receive reports.
Running more than 160 pages, the National Park Service Management Policies provides park managers with quick reference to how they are to manage their units, what uses are appropriate, and how to usher visitors out of the park when Congress fails to fund the National Park Service. But the Management Policies, which last were updated in 2006, also leave much to interpretation and exception.
A congressional effort has been launched to block a plan by Biscayne National Park officials to set aside 6 percent of the park for a marine reserve in a bid to restore and protect a stretch of the only tropical coral reef system in the continental United States, and the boating and fishing industry has quickly jumped on board in support of the legislation.
At Biscayne National Park in Florida, staff are working to preserve 10,502 underwater acres in a bid to protect the only tropical coral reef in the continental United States, but it's not an easy task. Politics aside, one of the longest and largest studies of coral reef health ever undertaken finds that corals are declining worldwide because a variety of threats -- overfishing, nutrient pollution and pathogenic disease -- that ultimately become deadly in the face of higher ocean temperatures.
As Vanessa McDonough scanned the ocean floor off the South Florida coast, she spotted an empty beer bottle among the fish, corals, and sponges protected by Biscayne National Park. Only the bottle wasn’t empty. Upon closer examination, a small fish had swam inside, and pebbles and shells had blocked the exit. “The poor fish was a prisoner in this Corona bottle,” she said.
Lobsters are tasty, and can bring a decent profit, but for some poachers at Biscayne National Park in Florida the lure of those crustaceans came with a high price: forfeiture of their 43-foot boat.