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What Were The Top National Park Stories Of 2012?


Ranking anything is highly subjective. Nevertheless, the following stories from the national parks rose above most others in 2012. They range from the tragedy of a Mount Rainier National Park ranger gunned down in the line of duty on New Year's Day to the ongoing struggle over the future of an oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore.

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Ranger Margaret Anderson died in the line of duty on New Year's Day. NPS photo.

Ranger Shot And Killed At Mount Rainier National Park

A 34-year-old Mount Rainier National Park ranger was shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday as she tried to apprehend a man who fled a check stop at Paradise. Fellow rangers were prevented from reaching the downed ranger for about 90 minutes as the shooter pinned them down with gunfire.

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Related stories:

Memorial Service Set For Ranger Anderson

Traveler's View: A Time To Pause In The Parks

Memorial Fund Set Up For Ranger Anderson's Children

Mount Rainier Ranger 9th In National Park Service History To Die In Line Of Duty

Shooting Suspect Found Dead In Park

Park Says It Couldn't Have Prevented Ranger's Murder


Budget Cuts Forced On National Park Service By Failure To Avert Fiscal Cliff Could Be Crippling

Don't start planning your 2013 national park vacation just yet, for poised like the sword of Damocles over the National Park Service is the looming "fiscal cliff" that threatens to impact not only the agency but anyone considering a trip into the national parks next year.

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Related stories:

Obama Administration Reports Says "Sequestration" Would Cut $218 Million From NPS

House Republicans Aim To Exempt Border Patrol From Environmental Laws

When Congress returns to Washington later this month, watch for Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee to resume a push to exempt the Border Patrol from a wide variety of environmental and National Park Service regulations.

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Related stories:

Park Service Retirees Concerned About Package Of Bills That Could Harm Parks

House Approves Legislation That Some See As Doing Environmental Damage To Parks

Study Says Pythons Behind Startling Declines In Common Mammals in Everglades National Park

Non-native Burmese pythons, which are exploding in number across Everglades National Park, are being blamed for "precipitous declines" in mammals that once were commonly seen in parts of the park, according to a study.

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Related stories:

Study Says Salt Water Doesn't Seem To Slow Pythons' Movements

Snake In The Grass: An Unwelcome Invasion

Everglades Pythons Have A Taste For Birds And Their Eggs

Huge Python From Everglades Sets Unwelcome Record

Snake Hunt Aims To Dent South Florida Python Population

On The Eve Of America's Summit On National Parks, Some Questions To Mull

On the eve of America's Summit on National Parks, it's timely to recall Edward Abbey's belief that "(T)he chief reason so many people are fleeing the cities at every opportunity to go tramping, canoeing, skiing into the wilds is that wilderness offers a taste of adventure, a chance for the rediscovery of our ancient, preagricultural, preindustrial freedom."

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Related stories:

On The Eve Of Parks Summit, Some Questions To Mull

America's Summit On National Parks Hears Former Director's Advice

What Will Evolve From America's Summit On National Parks?

Talking About Teens, Video Games At America's Summit On National Parks

Organizers Of Summit On Parks Looking For More Support

After Three Days Lost in Mount Rainier National Park, 66-year-old Snowshoer Walks Out and Goes Home

As the search for a missing 66-year-old snowshoer in the backcountry of Mount Rainier National Park moved into its third cold, snowy day, more than a few of those involved began to fear the worst. But in the end, they found Yong Chun Kim able to walk and in no immediate need of medical care.

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Related stories:

Weather Hampering Search For Missing Parties On Mount Rainier

Elite Mountaineers Called In To Help With Search For Missing Parties

Two Parties Now A Week Overdue

Search For Missing Parties Begins To Scale Back

Man's Body Found As Snow Begins To Melt Off Mount Rainier

Bodies Of Two Climbers Recovered From Mount Rainier


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Cape Hatteras National Seashore adopted regulations to guide ORV use on the seashore. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Issues Final Rule Guiding Off-Road Vehicle Management 

Years of acrimony over how to regulate off-road vehicle use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are, barring another lawsuit, nearing an end, as final rules governing ORVs on the seashore are set to take effect next week.

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Related stories:

ORV Groups Files Lawsuit To Overturn Regs

Cape Hatteras Seashore Sets Rules, Fees, Fines For ORV Use

Congressman Tries To Derail ORV Regulations

Effort To Reduce Horse Access To Wilderness In Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Turning Into Wedge Issue

Horses are becoming the latest wedge issue in the National Park System, as efforts to reduce their access to wilderness in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks are being portrayed both as a job killer and a denier of your right to visit the parks.

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Related stories:

Court Rules Park Service Violated Wilderness Act By Allowing Pack Trips

House Democrats Urge GOP Leaders To Solve Horse-Packing Stalemate

House Moves Quickly On Legislation To Permit Horse Packing At Sequoia, Kings Canyon

President Sent Legislation To Allow Horse Packing In Sequoia, Kings Canyon 

Yellowstone National Park's Winter-Use Proposal Would Allow 110 "Transportation Events" A Day In Winter  

A draft winter-use plan for Yellowstone National Park redefines over-snow entries into the park under a system that stands to increase the number of over-snow vehicles into the park beyond the total that has been permitted in past winters.

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Related stories:

Data Seem To Contradict Claims Of Cleaner, Quieter Park Under Winter-Use Plan

Traveler's View: Yellowstone Deserves Better Winter-Use Plan

NPCA Criticizes Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan

Park Service Retirees Say Proposed Winter-Use Plan Bad For Park

Yellowstone Seeking Additional Comment On Winter-Use Plan

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An avalanche in Glacier Bay National Park sent a river of mud down the Johns Hopkins Glacier. Photo by Drake Olson.

Massive Landslide Coats Glacier Bay National Park's Johns Hopkins Glacier Like Chocolate Frosting  

A massive landslide, one of the biggest ever seen in North America and which registered on seismographs in Canada and the United States, has covered a more than 5-mile run of the Johns Hopkins Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve like chocolate frosting on cake.

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Related stories: 

Pilot's Video Provides Upclose View Of Landslide


Fluky Convergence Of Factors Possibly Behind Hantavirus Outbreak At Yosemite National Park

Though the calendar is running down on the incubation period for Hantavirus infecting visitors who stayed in Yosemite National Park this summer, a ninth case has been confirmed, park officials said Thursday. Three of those individuals died from the rare, rodent-borne disease, while the others are recovering.

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Related stories:

Better Sanitation Called For Curry Village After Hantavirus Outbreak

Deadly Hantavirus Claims Second Victim Who Visited Yosemite

Roughly 3,000 Yosemite Visitors Contacted About Hantavirus Outbreak

West Virginian's Death Associated With Hantavirus Outbreak At Yosemite


Legal Challenge Coming To Backcountry Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It might not cost you extra to venture off into the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an overnighter next year. That's because the park's intention to levy a $4 per person per night charge is going to face a legal challenge.

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Related stories:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Looking To Backcountry Fee To Help Protect Resources, Provide User Service

Great Smoky Mountains To Implement Backcountry Use Fee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Intends To Implement Backcountry Fee in'13 

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A San Diego man was fatally mauled along the Toklat River in Denali National Park. NPS file photo of general area along the river.

Solo Backpacker Fatally Mauled By Grizzly In Denali National Park

A solo backpacker along the Toklat River in Denali National Park and Preserve has been fatally mauled by a grizzly bear, according to park officials, who added that it is believed to be the first fatal mauling in the park's history.

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Scientific Panel Calls On NPS To Recommit To, And Reemphasize, Science In The Parks

Climate change, biodiversity, and the current state and understanding of ecosystem management all were unknown to A. Starker Leopold 50 years ago when he oversaw a report that became the National Park Service's guide to managing wildlife in the parks. That so-called Leopold Report, though valuable for its time, is now drastically obsolete, so much so that the National Park Service needs to, in essence, reinvent how it approaches scientific study, and management of natural resources, within its nearly 400 parks.

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Interior Secretary Rules Oyster Farm Must Vacate Drakes Estero At Point Reyes National Seashore

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, citing the value of wilderness and congressional intent, on Thursday ruled that an oyster farm at Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore must end its operations.

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Related stories:

Oyster Farm To Continue Operations Pending Court Hearing

Independent Panel Raises Concerns Over National Park Service Science Into Oyster Farm

Point Reyes National Seashore Staff Accused Of Wrongdoing In Measuring Oyster Impacts

Environmental Heavyweights Urge Interior Secretary To Remove Oyster Farm

Interior Department Releases Peer Review Of Oyster Farm Science

More Than 52,000 Comments Received On Fate Of Point Reyes Oyster Farm

Scrutiny On National Park Service And Oyster Company Heats Up

King Salmon Spotted Migrating Back Into Olympic National Park

The kings are back. Less than five months after the Elwha Dam was taken down, king salmon have been spotted migrating back up the Elwha River and into Olympic National Park.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota State Parks Feeling Pressures Of Energy Boom 

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Fracking and its associated impacts are on the border of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo courtesy of National Parks Conservation Association.

On clear, calm nights, from the top of Buck Hill you can see them flickering off in the distance. Not campfires, but rather gas flares, emblematic of North Dakota's energy boom, glimmering after dark.

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Related stories:

Oil And Gas Exploration Threatens Roosevelt's Homestead

The Aftermath Of Superstorm Sandy On The National Park System

Nearly 70 National Park System units along the Eastern Seaboard were either fully or partially closed due to impacts from "superstorm Sandy," and it could be days before some reopen.

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Related stories:

Congress Asked To Provide $400 Million In Storm Aid To National Parks

Experimental High Flow Release Coming To Grand Canyon National Park Next Week 

Come Monday, the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park will take on the appearance of "Big Muddy" as flood gates in the Glen Canyon Dam are cranked open to spawn a controlled flood down the river.

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