Archive List

91st Anniversary for National Park Service

A Birthday Cake for the National Parks
91 years ago today, Congress approved a bill which is now simply known within the Park Service as the Organic Act. On August 25th each year, those close to the parks recognize today as Founder's Day. There are a number of events happening around the country in honor of the day, here are just a few.

The Essential Death Valley

Sand dunes in Death Valley; Kurt Repanshek photo.
Towering sand dunes that ripple across the heart of a 3.4-million-acre landscape, hidden canyons that echo with splashing, gurgling water that nourishes a surprising cache of lush vegetation, a human history of anguish as well as prosperity. The surreal landscape of Death Valley can be deadly hot in summer, and yet it is one of the more intriguing units of the national park system because of its stark beauty and demanding nature.
Secretary Kempthorne Announces the 2008 Centennial Projects in Yosemite National Park; DOI PhotoIn this audio program, we hear Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announce the first round of programs eligible for funding under the Centennial Initiative, a ten year plan which could bring $3 Billion in new appropriations for the National Parks.

Learning About the Parks, and Getting Credit for It, Too!

It's one thing to visit the National Park Service's web site to learn about the national park system, and it's entirely another thing to enroll in a college course that takes you to school on the parks. That's just what Bob Janiskee does with his course on the national parks.

NPS Retirees Prepare for the Centennial Announcements

Yellowstone Ranger gives interpretive talk; LiveALittle.org Photographer
Anticipating the announcement of Park Service Centennial projects and programs today, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees have released a statement which both celebrates the upcoming centennial, and cautions that new programs shouldn't overlook the core values which have made the park agency a success for 91 years.

NPS Centennial Projects and Programs Announced

Interior Secretary Kempthorne and NPS Director Bomar; DOI Photo
The long list of projects and programs for the National Park Service Centennial Initiative has been announced today. Secretary Kempthorne and Director Bomar shared the details of the plan for a crowd of reporters in Yosemite National Park.
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Mining, Nuclear Power, and Parks in the Balance

Ratcliffe Power Plant, Nottinghamshire U.K.; Alan Zomerfeld Photographer
As worldwide demand for clean nuclear power increases, mining claims for uranium and other material have boomed in the western United States. Many of these claims are being staked very close to the sensitive areas just outside of national parks, places like the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Arches. This has led to a plea for updated mining laws, which in present condition have remained nearly unchanged since 1872.

The Park Service's Historic Buildings Can Be Saved Without Resorting to Leases

It's no secret that I've been troubled by the National Park Service's seemingly quick reliance on the private sector to preserve historic buildings on its properties. The agency's ongoing efforts to allow a private developer to lease three dozen buildings at Fort Hancock in Gateway National Recreation Area are being done in the name of preservation. Yet there are parks that are managing restoration without resorting to privatization.

Someday, Elwha River to Flow Free

How to Tear Down a Dam
Removing the dams in Olympic National Park has been a very long process, but when it is finally completed, river restoration for the Elwha will mean the return of salmon, bears, eagles and more.
One Best Hike: Yosemite Climbing to the precipice of Half Dome is not a task easily done, nor one that should be lightly considered. That much I think is a given to anyone who has accomplished the day-long hike, or anyone who has read or heard of the tragedies that have taken place on this famous outcrop of granite.

The Consequences of the Legal Bear Hunt in Katmai

Map of Katmai National Park and nearby Katmai National Preserve
Starting October 1, 2007, the annual fall brown bear hunting season will open for three weeks in Alaska’s Katmai National Preserve. I bet you’re surprised. Brown bear hunting in a national park site?! Yep, here in Alaska national preserves are just like national parks with one exception: sport hunting is allowed. For three weeks in the Fall, hunters may take as many bears as they want.
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Celebrating the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Three-quarters of a century ago, the peace and friendship between the United States and Canada led to creation of the world's first "Peace Park," Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. To commemorate that event, and to explore how best to manage transboundary protected areas, particularly Peace Parks, a conference will be held in September at Waterton Lakes National Park.

Clara Barton's House Goes High-Tech

Clara Barton at desk
Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, knew how to heal the wounded, but surfing the web was probably not something she did often, especially considering she died in 1912. Well, fortunately for us, the modern day web surfers of the world, the Park Service has set up a new online exhibit which provides an interactive look at her home in Glenn Echo.

Stamps Celebrating Nature to be Unveiled at Rocky Mountain NP

Nature, particularly that preserved in the national parks, is being celebrated by the U.S. Postal Service with a plate of stamps capturing the alpine beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite

Though much of the news involving national parks and marijuana plantations has been focused on Sequoia National Park, a bust the other day in Yosemite shows that that park has some pretty fertile ground for pot as well.

Missing Hiker in Yosemite Found Dead

An 80-year-old hiker who's been missing in Yosemite since July 30 has been found dead.

Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?

Generations of Americans got their first taste of national parks via car camping, that venerable tradition of driving to a park and setting up a tent or two in a roadside campground. That genre of park visitation seems to be slipping these days, though, and at least one car camping veteran blames it on economics -- there's more money to be made in lodgings than campgrounds.
Nancy at the Sand Creek Masacre NHSNancy Bandley is the president of a club which promotes national park visitation. The favorite club activity is collecting park passport stamps from around the nation. In this 18 minute interview, Nancy and I talk about the stamp program, her club, and the club's annual conference being held this weekend in Olympic National Park.

Fire Continues to Keep Yellowstone's East Entrance Closed

For those planning a Yellowstone vacation in the immediate future, know that the East Entrance to the park currently is closed due to forest fires burning in the area.

The Traveler's Code of Conduct

The blogosphere is a pretty free-wheeling place. As a result, its developed a persona, right or wrong, of playing fast and loose with facts, with running roughshod over some posters, with allowing anonymity to serve as a shield for attackers. Some bloggers have called for a code of conduct for the blogosphere, and we at the Traveler support that movement.

The Fight Against Fees Losses a Champion

Robert Funkhouser, President of the Western Slope No Fee Coalition
The fight against charging fees to access our public lands lost a true champion this weekend. Robert Funkhouser, the president of the Western Slope No Fee Coalition, died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack on August 10 at his home. He was 50.
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How is Secretary Kempthorne Doing After Year One?

Dirk Kempthorne is sworn in as Secretary of the Interior; White House photo by Eric Draper.
It's been just over a year since Dirk Kempthorne was sworn in as the new Secretary of the Interior. The Seattle Times has written an article reviewing some of the highs and lows for Mr. Kempthorne since he's been in office.

There's Plenty to Talk About

Plenty Magazine
The "green" magazine 'Plenty' recently published an interview with Kurt. See what he has got to say about the site, and some thoughts for future features we are considering here on the 'Traveler'.

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.

Candlelight Vigil Planned for Harpers Ferry

Candlelight; Stephie189 Photographer.
It's been a year since a 45-foot-wide, 2,000-foot-long trench was blazed, without permission, through a portion of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to lay utility lines for a commercial development. And still the government has not taken any action against the developers. To call attention to this, a candlelight vigil is planned for August 17th at the park.

Going Above and Beyond; Stewardship in the National Parks

Yosemite National Park, El Capitan with Clouds; Jim Brekke Photo
Parks are famous as travel destinations, but for many of us, they represent more than just a road-trip. This fall, rock-climbers in Yosemite, backcountry hikers in Olympic, and students in Kentucky and Tennessee are gathering together in their favorite parks to give back to the places which have provided so much for them. You are welcome to join in.

Glacier NP Is Open For Business

While Montana has been much in the news lately, courtesy of all the forest fires burning in that state, the folks at Glacier National Park want to assure you that the park is open for business and flame-free.

Mammoth Cave Offering Free Tour on August 25

If your schedule allows you to be in the vicinity of Mammoth Cave National Park on August 25th, you'll be able to go on one of the cave tour's for free in celebration of the 91st birthday of the National Park Service.

Vice President Cheney To Dedicate Grand Teton Visitor Center

If you're planning to be in Grand Teton National Park on Saturday, you'll be sharing the park with the vice president of the United States, the Department of Interior secretary, and the National Park Service director. All will be at Moose to dedicate the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center.

Are Yellowstone's Geysers At Risk From BLM's Leasing Proposals?

Yellowstone Thermal Feature; Kurt Repanshek Photo.
The geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park were largely responsible for its designation as the world's first national park in 1872. These features are a global treasure. Nowhere else in the world can you find the array or number of geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles found in Yellowstone. More than 75 percent of the world's geysers, including the world's largest are in Yellowstone’s seven major basins.