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Looking Back At The Top Stories From 2017 Across The National Park System

Without question, the biggest story of the year for the National Park Service and National Park System in 2017 was the arrival of the Trump administration and its public lands and workforce policies.

While there were many newsworthy events across the park system in 2017, none has had greater impact than President Trump and his Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke. Consider the following:  

  • President Trump has moved to cut the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments in half and break them into smaller pieces. If that action holds up in court, what might future presidents do to other monuments?
  • President Trump spurred the “alt” movement by criticizing climate change tweets from Badlands National Park, questioning Park Service estimates that the size of his inaugural crowd paled to those that turned out for President Obama’s two inaugurations, and by his perceived biases towards women and minorities.
  • Secretary Zinke maligned his far-flung workforce by claiming that at least one-third are working against him, and the Park Service specifically by saying the agency is good at cleaning restrooms, but not managing campgrounds.
  • Rather than calling on Congress to improve funding for the Park Service, the Interior secretary proposed a “surge pricing” scheme for 17 national parks that will have little if any effect on raising funds to slice away at the Park Service’s $11.3 billion maintenance backlog.
  • President Trump has proposed, and Secretary Zinke endorsed, a budget for the National Park Service that would cut nearly $400 million annually and some 1,200 employees.
  • Secretary Zinke has told the Park Service to reconsider the use of greasy baits for bear hunting in Alaska preserves and directed that the agency pull out of efforts to craft a grizzly bear recovery plan for the North Cascades Ecosystem.
  • The Trump administration, with Secretary Zinke leading the way, reversed the Obama administration's opposition to a more than 7-mile-long line of transmission towers running near Historic Jamestowne and Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia.
  • Nearly a year into his administration, President Trump still has not nominated a director for the National Park Service.

Interior Secretary Zinke saw concrete progress, not degradation, in how the administration is managing its public lands.

“Across the department we are striking the right balance to protect our greatest treasures and also generate the revenue and energy our country needs," the secretary said in a year-end message. "We ended the war on coal, and we restored millions of acres of public land for traditional multiple use. We expanded access for recreation, hunting and fishing on public lands, and also started looking at new ways to rebuild our national parks. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Next year will be an exciting year for the department and the American people."

Among Mr. Zinke's successes, his staff pointed to "the President restor(ing) traditional multiple-use public access to over a million acres of land in Utah while creating five distinct monument units at Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments. Under Zinke's leadership, the department also opened up the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge for emergency cattle grazing after a wildfire, and reopened U.S. (sic) Virgin Islands National Park ahead of the busy Christmas tourism season, helping the (Caribbean) islands' economic recovery."

But not everyone shared the secretary's view or that of his staff.

"Over the years, parks and public lands have been threatened by leadership, beginning with the White House that quite clearly does not support conservation," said Phil Francis, vice chair of the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks. "In those administrations, department heads, including Interior, Agriculture, EPA, and others, it appears they are chosen because they don't believe in the missions of the agencies they are picked to lead. Each time the outcomes are both tangible and intangible. 

"Staff in these departments withdraw from the political leadership that has withdrawn from them, resulting in all manner of subtle actions that are taken to defend our nation's resources from the threats posed from political leadership in Washington," he continued. "Morale suffers, and the best defenses cannot withstand the worst of decisions from department leaders."

While Secretary Zinke has pledged to bolster morale across Interior and within the National Park Service, his support of the president’s budget proposal, his position that The Antiquities Act has been misused by past presidents to designate national monuments, and his heavy-handed demand that the superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park fly to Washington, D.C., so he could be dressed down for climate change statements made on the park’s Twitter feed, go in the opposite direction.

With the expectation that President Trump early in 2018 will announce additional proclamations aimed at changing boundaries and uses of national monuments, this story will not end today.

"Thinking ahead," Mr. Francis wrote in an email, "I am concerned that the assault will continue on a number of fronts mentioned above and undoubtedly some new ones. I am reminded of the early 1980s and the early years of this century when a similar anti-environment attitude prevailed at the top of the Interior Department, and similar initiatives were launched. Then, there were attempts to contract out governments services, to significantly reduce NPS budgets, to change BASIC policies and environmental regulations, and to eliminate the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

"I don't think I would be able to judge whether or not this year was the worst in decades. I do think, however, that it is safe to say that it's been a dismal and depressing year for those of us who believe in the NPS mission of protecting and conserving the resources while providing for the enjoyment of the same by park visitors," said Mr. Francis.

At the National Parks Conservation Association, Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs, said the worst thing the administration did in 2017 was move to break up Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

"The monuments has been the biggest story to the national parks, because The Antiquities Act is probably the second-most important law governing the National Park System," she said. "It's the law that allows the president to actively protect places and conserve them for future generations. But, the 30 actions that the administration has pursued, whether it's energy development or tearing apart our clean water regulations, or preventing future conservation, are a failure for the national parks.

"This administration has a ways to go if they want to be known for protecting national parks. They're not doing a very good job right now," said Ms. Brengel.

Since President Trump was inaugurated a year ago, NPCA staff has been tracking actions his administration has taken that they deem detrimental to public lands in general and the National Park System specifically and has come up with the following list:

Presidential Actions

January 23: Presidential Memorandum instituted a freeze on hiring of Federal civilian employees. No vacant positions could be filled and no new positions created.

January 30: Executive Order 13771 requires a repeal of two regulations for every one enacted. Agencies must also offset cost of new rules by rescinding existing rules.

February 24: Executive Order 13777 initiates enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda. On June 21, the Department of the Interior (DOI) opened an ongoing comment period on unnecessary regulatory burdens.

February 28: Executive Order 13778 starts the review and rescission or revision of the “Waters of the United States” rule.. The comment period on the proposed rule to replace the 2015 definition of Waters of the United States and re-codify regulatory text that existed prior to 2015, closed on September 27.

March 13: Executive Order 13781 directs the Office on Management and Budget (OMB) to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies.

March 28: Executive Order 13783 starts a process to review and repeal the Clean Power Plan; starts process to review Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methane rule, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fracking rule, BLM methane rule, National Park Service (NPS) 9B rule; rescinds Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) final guidance on consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and effects of climate change in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews.

April 26: Executive Order 13792 starts a review of national monuments designated by the Antiquities Act since 1996 that are more than 100,000 acres or that received insufficient public input according to the Secretary of the Interior. The public comment period on the review of national monuments closed on July 10.

April 28: Executive Order 13795 starts the process to review and revise 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program; rescinds ban on drilling inside Marine Sanctuaries created after July 14, 2008; orders DOI and Commerce to expedite ITAs and IHAs under Marine Mammal Protection Act; requires Commerce to streamline permitting for seismic testing; starts process to review BSEE Well Control and Blowout Preventer Systems rule.

Department or Agency Actions

March 29: DOI Secretarial Order 3348 overturns the 2016 moratorium on all new coal leases on federal land and ends the programmatic environmental impacts statement that was set to be completed no sooner than 2019.

March 29: DOI Secretarial Order 3349 implements a review of agency actions that may hamper responsible energy development and reconsideration of regulations related to U.S. oil and natural gas development. It directs a reexamination of the mitigation and climate change policies and guidance across Interior.

April 5: DOI reversed course and took steps that could lead to approval of the controversial Cadiz Inc. groundwater mining proposal which would pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from the Mojave Desert.

April 12: OMB Memorandum M-17-22 on a comprehensive plan for reforming the federal government and reducing the federal civilian workforce as directed by Executive Order 13781.

April 21: BLM approves right-of-way for Eagle Crest pumped storage facility near Joshua Tree National Park.

May 12: EPA reverses decision on gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay region and allows for permitting and approval process to go forward. The comment period on reassessing proposed withdrawal closed October 17.

May 23: The Fiscal Year 2018 President’s Budget recommends a 13 percent cut to the National Park Service.

June 2: Secretary of the Interior announces he will recommend reducing the size of the Bears Ears National Monument.

June 22: Fish and Wildlife Service releases rule to delist Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List.

July 6: Army Corps of Engineers grants a permit for Dominion Virginia Power to build 17 obstructive transmission towers across the James River.

July 7: OMB Memorandum M-17-28 provides Fiscal Year 2019 budget guidance to agencies to implement the FY18 budget and Executive Order 13781.

July 19: DOI directs NPS to reconsider Alaska wildlife hunting regulations.

July 25: BLM proposes rescinding 2015 hydraulic fracturing on public lands rule. The comment period on proposed rescission closed September 25.

August 17: NPS rescinds ban on selling bottled water in national parks.

August 31: DOI Secretarial Order 3355 “streamlines” NEPA by setting page and timing limitations for Environmental Impact Statemets, target page and timing limitations for Environmental Assessments, and directing additional NEPA-streamlining review.

August 31: NPS rescinds Directors Order #100.

September 15: DOI Secretarial Order 3356 requires agencies to produce plan to expand access for hunting and fishing, and, among other provisions, amends national monument management plans to ensure public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.

September 17: A leaked report shows Secretary Zinke recommended removing protections for nearly a dozen national monuments.

October 1: EPA misses the deadline for releasing non-attainment areas in order to comply with 2015 ozone standard.

October 4: BLM announces a comment period on a one-year delay of Methane Waste Prevention Rule.

October 10: EPA issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to repeal Clean Power Plan.

October 24: DOI announces a comment period on proposed fee increases in 17 national parks.

Nov 1: DOI recommends rolling back a 20-year-ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

Other significant stories that touched the park system and Park Service in 2017 included:

National Park Foundation Raised Record Millions For The Parks

Though the National Park Service Centennial celebration ended a year ago, giving to the parks through the National Park Foundation did not. Indeed, a campaign that started out with a $250 million goal has blown past that target and now is aspiring to raise $500 million by the end of 2018.

"Today we stand at about $463 million, and a number of really good things are in the pipeline," Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the Foundation, said shortly before Christmas. "So we have until the end of 2018 to finish off our $500 million goal. And we will certainly do that, a lot sooner than the end of the year."

The $500 million goal is particularly impressive when you realize that the Foundation, which just turned 50, has raised about $1 billion over those five decades. 

"The good news is that the team we have in place now has raised $463 million of that in the last four years," pointed out Mr. Shafroth.

Of particular note of that $463 million in donations is that 65 percent came from individuals, 13 percent from foundations, and 21 percent from corporations.

"I think during the centennial, the pace was so intense, we had so many events and fundraisers, the work was just relentless," said Mr. Shafroth. "We did Antelope Flats and Drakes Estero and all the new monuments the president was designating that we were being asked to be responsible for, raising money around. There was just so much going on. I'm not sure I really stopped and thought what we were going to do (in terms of an end goal).

"We had some extraordinary and one-time things that happened in 2016. Did I think we were going to maintain north of $200 million a year? No way," he continued. "But we just finished our last fiscal year, and it will be somewhere around $95 million, compared to roughly $20 million in 2013."

A good chunk of the money raised in recent years came from David Rubenstein, a Washington, D.C., philanthropist who has literally given tens of millions of dollars for projects in and around the National Mall and Memorial Parks. For instance he gave:

* $5.4 million to pay for rehabilitation of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, commonly referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial;

$18.5 million for work on the Lincoln Memorial and expansion of visitor services there;

* $2 -$3 million needed for the National Park Service to modernize the Washington Monument elevator;

*  $7.5 million in matching funds to repair earthquake damage to one of America's most iconic structures, the Washington Monument, and;

*  $12.35 million to restore Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial.

Leveraging the giving in 2017 was the success of the 2016 centennial campaign, said Mr. Shafroth. "Our partners want to do more. It was good for their personnel philanthropy, for their foundations, for corporate sponsorships, it worked all the way around," he said.

As large as the campaign has grown, Mr. Shafroth believes it can grow even more substantially.

"It just feels to me that we have barely scratched the surface on the amount of money that could be raised for our national parks," he said. "I think we're just beginning to hit our stride in that way, whether it be for annual gifts, planned gifts, gifts through foundations, etc."

While the reforms to the tax code made by the Congress stand to eliminate charitable deductions for most Americans, Mr. Shafroth didn't think that would impact giving to the National Park Foundation.

"Will that mean they're not going to give at all or give less? I just don't know. I feel like people's love for the national parks will overpower whether or not they want to save some percent around that," he said. "There's too many factors. I think we're all going to have to figure it out."

While the Foundation, and the national parks directly, saw some impressive gifts in 2017, the organization also was able to tap its revenues for direct benefits in the park system, such as helping the Grand Teton National Park Foundation purchase the Antelope Flats inholding for the Park Service, and to help clean up an estimated 500 tons of debris from Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Other projects funded through the Foundation included: 

PR Campaign Launched To See The National Park Service's Estimated $11.3 Billion Maintenance Backlog Wiped Out

Disappointed with Congress's inability to aggressively address the National Park Service's backlog of failed sewer and water systems, poor roads, and weary or damaged facilities, a coalition arose under the auspices of The Pew Charitable Trusts to bring attention to these needs.

By raising issues of maintenance items in parks to their surrounding stakeholders, amassing fact sheets that clearly point out the maintenance needs in specific parks, and by projecting a unified voice through Pew's Restore America's Parks initiative, grassroots support was being mobilized to bring pressure on Congress.

"From our perspective there's been a lot of progress," said Marcia Argust, who directs the initiative. "Keep in mind, that this is the first year, one year down, in a two-year Congress. The way we measure progress is, one, there's been a lot of public awareness that's been raised on this issue. You look at the constituencies that have weighed on and specifically weighed in with Congress, saying, 'Hey, you need to address this issue.' That's a very broad constituency that's been raising their voice on this. Everything from veterans to local businesses and local officials, and communities, and the travel and tourism industry, and the outdoor industry.

"You've got infrastructure groups who are weighing in now, and preservationists, and the list goes on," she said. 

In one instance the group garnered the signatures from more than 2,000 local businesses and officials across the country to lobby Congress on the issue. The organization also commissioned a study to show how much economic activity would be spawned if Congress would appropriate the money needed to wipe out the backlog.

"I don't think you've had in the past different constituencies and the public and specific interest groups really focused on deferred maintenance like they have in the past year or two," said Ms. Argust. "I think that's tremendous progress, and it's manifested itself in Congress responding. Several ways we've seen that is specific legislation. There are several initiatives out there right now. One is the National Park Service Legacy Act, which was introduced in the Senate. You also have a provision that it's in the energy bill, whether or not that moves, there's a provision in there that's been incorporated by Senators (Lisa) Murkowski and (Maria) Cantwell that addresses deferred maintenance.

"And then you also have Congressman (Mike) Simpson's bill, which specifically provides dedicated funding for deferred maintenance and (the Land and Water Conservation Fund)."

How much progress is seen in 2018 in terms of implementing on-the-ground projects remains to be seen.

"Having people paying attention in a serious way, putting this on the front burner, that's tremendous, that's real progress," Ms. Argust said.

While the tax reform legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president adds an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt, Ms. Argust could not say how that might affect efforts to seriously address the Park Service's backlog. But she was optimistic that efforts to fund infrastructure repairs across the nation would encompass the National Park System's needs.

"There's significant interest in an infrastructure package," she said, "which would seem to be the likely vehicle for taking up deferred maintenance in national parks."

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke/DOI

Rep. Zinke Confirmed As Interior Secretary

Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana was confirmed as Interior secretary by the U.S.Senate, prompting a mixed reaction of caution, concern, and exhilaration.

Hiring Freeze Exemptions Help National Park Service In Short Term, But Long-Term Concerns Persist

Exemptions to President Trump's hiring freeze for federal employees will allow the National Park Service to address seasonal and short-term positions, but uncertainty remains over the size of the agency's permanent workforce and whether it will be sufficient to manage the more than 400 units of the National Park System, a National Parks Conservation Association official said Wednesday.

OIG: National Park Service Didn't Exploit Trump Inauguration Crowd Size

National Park Service personnel did not exploit the size of the crowd at President Donald Trump's inauguration, nor did agency staff discuss with the media a call from the president to acting Park Service Director Mike Reynolds that day, an Interior Department investigation has concluded. 

Trump Administration Orders Interior Department To Shut Down Twitter Accounts

A few national park twitter accounts, at least, went silent Friday afternoon after the newly installed Trump administration ordered the Interior Department to idle all its accounts.

National Park Service Back On Twitter After Apologizing

The National Park Service returned to Twitter on Saturday after apologizing for tweets on Friday that apparently irked the Trump administration.

Metate Arch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument/BLM

President Trump Signs Order Directing Interior Department Review Of National Monuments

President Trump, sounding as if he's ready to transfer federal lands back to the states, on Wednesday signed an executive order directing the Interior Department to review national monuments designated by the last three presidents, going back to 1996 when President Clinton established the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah via his authority under the Antiquities Act.

Among Traveler's coverage: 

President Trump Issues Proclamation To Shrink National Monuments, Tees Off Legal Battle

A handful of hours after President Trump on Monday issued a proclamation to chop 1 million acres off the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah a lawsuit was filed to prevent that from happening. Other groups were expected to file a similar lawsuit over the president's move to reduce Bears Ears National Monument, also in Utah, by 1 million acres.

Dueling Legal Opinions Offered In Battle Over National Monuments

Two legal analyses have been added to the debate over whether President Trump can unilaterally rescind the designation of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and, not surprisingly, they reach different conclusions.

Poll Says Westerners Want Public Lands Protected, But Will It Matter?

Polling in seven Western states shows a strong majority of voters value clean air and water and outdoor recreation above energy development on public lands. And while the results showed eight in 10 voters want to retain, not decommission, national monuments, Utah officials were working to ask the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument designation and shrink the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

A National Park In Name Only?

Imagine a national park where you can hunt and trap the wildlife, where livestock grazing is not just permitted but also "enhanced," and a presidentially appointed management council tells the National Park Service how to run the park.

Lawsuit Filed Over Administration's National Monument Review

Leaked memos and a senator's comments regarding Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's review of 27 national monuments lack the requisite transparency over the Trump administration's efforts to shrink some monuments, according to a legal organization that has filed a lawsuit seeking more details on the secretary's review process.

Interior Secretary Vigorously Defends Actions On National Monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday vigorously defended the Trump administration's move to reduce by 2 million acres the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah, saying previous presidents greatly misused their authority under The Antiquities Act. The secretary, in response to a reporter's question, also called Patagonia officials liars for their claim that President Trump "stole your land."

Secretary Zinke's Positions On National Monuments Link Him More Closely To Pinchot Than Roosevelt

Though he casts himself in the image of Theodore Roosevelt, by his actions Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seems closer to Gifford Pinchot, the country's first chief of the U.S. Forest Service who viewed natural resources as existing to be consumed by people.

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Perhaps we are at least a little fortunate that trumpf spends so much time golfing.  So far, he's spent a full 25% of his days since inauguration on the links.  Can you imagine the damage he'd be able to do if he was a full-time destroyer?

i have to disagree with some of these assertions, particularly that the Alt-NPS was caused by Trump tweets... The Alt-NPS appeared before those tweets and before the Trump Administration issued and edicts, though at the time they claimed it was his edict...the North Dakota NPS Confederates started the Alt-NPS and blamed Trump but they actually jumped the gun reacting to Obama officials communications.  A good investigative Jounalist would get these details correct.  In addition, the Alt-NPS has been aided greatly by Russian trolls.  I for one hoped Trump/Zinke would use NPS as a source of employment in a CCC fashion, but after the Alt-NPS and other NPS Confederates gave the the one finger salute before their first move.  I tried to warn NPS.  While I have not researched the monument shrinkage, you fail to mention this land remains in federal control as it was before and is now - they are not giving up much, just reversing the unDemocratic over-reach of the Obama Adminstration, which cause us to get Trump in the first place.  Trump is the result, not the problem.  Now let's use democracy to put down the Confederates and rebuild the best National Park Service in the world.

Alt-National Park Service was founded on January 26.

NPR on January 25, 2017:

Tuesday afternoon, a new Twitter account called "AltUSNatParkService" appeared and began tweeting out facts about climate change, support for the National Parks and comments in opposition of President Trump, who has called climate change a hoax created by China.

Some of the statements in that article are just plain wrong...IE  fake news.  If people would just look at facts instead of going straight to emotion we would all be better off.

Please, anonymous, tell us which ones are "just plain wrong," and if you're right, we'll happily correct them. At the same time, please identify yourself.

I simply agree with the secretary.  Others don't.  I have visited 41of the 61 or 62 national parks.  I have also visited over 100 sites in the NPS.  Like all government there is a lot of waste.  Cutting back will force them to be more aware of it.  I also want the parks to bring in more money.  I believe this is the only way to keep them forever.  Most people in this country don't really care about them enough to spend money on them.  If they can't support themselves they will go away.  I also have plans to visit the other 20 or so I need.  Looking forward to it.

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A sordid, long-running chapter of sexual harassment in Grand Canyon National Park preceded the national uproar over the issue/NPS

Interior Secretary Promises To Root Out Sexual Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying Across National Park Service

Faced with a survey showing that nearly 40 percent of the National Park Service workforce has been the victim of sexual harassment, intimidation, or discrimination, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday promised immediate and lasting reform, saying "there’s an expectation of the Park Service that not only that they can and should be the greatest stewards of our lands, but also they should be the greatest stewards of our values."

Among Traveler's coverage:

OIG: Women Harassed In Yellowstone National Park's Maintenance Division

A "good old boy system" that spewed inappropriate comments and behaviors toward female coworkers existed in the Maintenance Division at Yellowstone National Park, according to an investigation, which also found that the atmosphere continued "because of the actions, or inaction, of supervisors.

Despite the National Park Service's pledge to take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment incidents, a park superintendent accused of inappropriate behavior against a female employee was transferred to a larger park and given a cash bonus, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Survey Shows Extent Of Harassment In Interior Department 
Working in the wide open spaces managed by the Interior Department, whether your job is in a national park, riding the range managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, or counting ducks in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge, places you at higher odds than most other Interior bureaus of being harassed in one form or another.
Much like a homeowner who puts off "until next year" repairs to that leaky roof or well-aged furnace, Congress for years largely has turned a blind eye to growing maintenance issues around the National Park System. While two U.S. senators have introduced legislation to tackle that backlog, estimated at $12 billion, their bill alone won't get the job done.

Back-to-back hurricanes battered National Park System units in the Caribbean and Florida in September 2017/NPS

Hurricanes Batter Florida and Caribbean National Parks

Hurricanes Irma and Maria delivered a one-two punch to park system units in Florida and the Caribbean, closing some for months due to downed vegetation, damaged and eroded roads, and damaged and destroyed buildings.

Among Traveler's coverage:

National Park Service Trying To Locate Owners Of Boats Damaged By Hurricanes In Caribbean
The National Park Service is working in coordination with U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency to address damaged vessels that have been displaced in the Caribbean due to recent hurricane activity.
Long, Slow Recovery Predicted For Some National Parks In Caribbean

Damage inflicted by the one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria could keep Virgin Islands National Park virtually closed for six months to a year, according to the National Park Service's Caribbean superintendent. When the five other parks in the Caribbean reopen depends largely on when the islands' power grids are restored and fuel becomes available, he added.

Slowly Putting The Pieces Back Together At Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park looks like ... it was hit head-on by a hurricane.

Island-Wide Curfew In Effect As St. John, Virgin Islands National Park Recover From Hurricane Maria

An island-wide curfew was in effect Thursday as St. John and Virgin Islands National Park started to dig out from the aftermath of two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, in the past two weeks.

A Solar Eclipse Cast Its Shadow Across The National Park System

From Oregon through Wyoming and across the country to South Carolina, a total solar eclipse cast a dark shadow across parks in August.

The Strain Of Overcrowding Spreads In The National Park System

 There should be little doubt that the National Park Service's Find Your Park campaign for its centennial in 2016 was a resounding success, with overall visitation up nearly 8 percent to 331 million, setting a record for the third consecutive year. But those visitation levels are having adverse impacts on both park resources and the national park experience in some corners of the National Park System.

Among Traveler's coverage: 

Crowding Issues In National Parks Drawing Concern And Brainstorming

Key to ongoing debates into how to manage seemingly ever growing visitation at Zion and Yellowstone, Yosemite and Acadia, and Glacier and Grand Canyon national parks is the notion of how national parks should be preserved and protected for future generations. It's a natural conversation in light of what one might call overcrowding of these places.

Acadia National Park Officials Debating How To Deal With Crowds

As discussion into how to handle soaring crowds to the National Park System is beginning to turn into planning, one user group -- local residents -- is wondering how it will be affected by the resulting approach to overcrowding.

Yellowstone National Park Expands Human Footprint To Handle Crowds

Yellowstone National Park officials, struggling to deal with greater and greater visitation year after year, have responded by increasing the human footprint with a new parking lot, trail, and hardened overlook of Grand Prismatic Spring.

Motor Vehicle Accidents In Yellowstone Skyrocketing

With more and more visitors heading to Yellowstone National Park, it might be reasonable that there would be an increase in motor vehicle accidents. But the increase has been incredible, with a nearly 900 percent increase in vehicle rollovers in 2016 vs. 2014.
Huge Increase In Tour Bus Traffic At Yellowstone National Park

They're ponderous, pavement clogging, and capable of disgorging more than 50 visitors at a time; leg-stretching, camera-toting pedestrians who often will swarm en masse onto the boardwalks ringing Yellowstone National Park's geyser basins. And in 2016, those commercial tour buses would have stretched roughly 108 miles if you had parked them end-to-end-to-end.

Zion National Park Considering Reservation System To Manage Crowds

In a move that could signal the future of your national park vacation, Zion National Park officials are thinking of moving to a reservation system for entry into the iconic red rock cathedral to protect resources and ensure the enjoyment of visitors.

Rise In National Park Visitation Last Year Produced $35 Billion Economic Boost

A bullish report on 2017 visitation to the National Park System was met with both welcome and concern, as parks across the country are gearing up for a busy summer with ailing infrastructure and staff struggling to handle the crowds.

Good and Bad News Pertaining To The Park Service’s Maintenance Backlog

A $227 million plan to make critical repairs to the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., will take a quarter of the National Park Service's annual construction fund budget and lead to delays in construction projects elsewhere in the National Park System.

The wildfire that ravaged Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on the border with Great Smoky Mountains National Park "overwhelmed" the park's staff, according to a review of firefighting efforts/Bruce McCamish

Report: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Staff Not Negligent In Battling Deadly Chimney Tops 2 Fire

A deadly fire fed by kindling-dry forests and whipped out of control by hurricane-force winds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park "overwhelmed" the park staff's ability to fight it, according to an independent review of the blaze that killed 14 in neighboring communities.

Tennessee Drops Charges Against Teens In Connection With Deadly Chimney Tops Fire

Saying they could not directly tie the Chimney Tops 2 fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the subsequent fires in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, that killed 14 people last year, Tennessee authorities have dropped charges against two teenagers.

National Park Service Scuttles Director's Order Pertaining To Natural Resource Protection

Among the last tasks National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis took before retiring was signing Director's Order 100, which updated the agency’s guidelines for stewardship and reaffirmed its “predominant” duty to protect natural and cultural resources. Last week acting-National Park Service Director Michael Reynolds rescinded that order, reportedly at the Interior Department's direction.

EPA Revives Possibility Of Massive Mine Near Lake Clark National Park And Preserve

As expected, the Trump administration is proposing that a company that wants to sink a massive copper, gold, and molybdenum mine not far from Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and near the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Alaska be allowed to apply for the necessary permits.

New National Park Senior Pass Price -- $80 -- Coming On August 28

If you're 62 or older and don't have a Senior Pass to the National Park System, or will turn 62 before August 28, you might want to buy one before the price rockets from $10 for the rest of your life to $80 on that day.

President Obama Designates Three National Monuments To Preserve Cultural History

President Obama moved Thursday to preserve three chapters of American history by designating national monuments to tell the nation's Civil Rights and Reconstruction stories.