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Stories From 2016 That Merit A Second Look


Every now and then there's a story that pops out and elicits an unusual reaction of one kind or another. During the course of the past 12 months across the National Park System, there were quite a few of those that deserve a second look. So, in no particular order...

Early 2016 brought a super bloom to Death Valley National Park/Kurt Repanshek

Super-Sized Bloom At Death Valley National Park

From tragedy sprang beauty. The torrential floods that swept Death Valley National Park in October 2015 and damaged Scotty's Castle so severely that it won't reopen until 2019 precipitated a "super bloom" across the valley floor, as the moisture brought Desert Gold, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, Desert Five-Spot and other wildflower species to their full glory.

See Also:

Is 2016 The Year Of The "Super Bloom" In Death Valley National Park?

Musings From Death Valley National Park

Mojave National Preserve Ranger Buys Fully Automatic Rifles And “Flash-Bang” Distraction Devices

Perhaps under the subtitle of, What Was He Thinking, a supervisory ranger at Mojave National Preserve in California purchased nine of the rifles and distributed them to law enforcement rangers at the preserve even though National Park Service regulations prohibit rangers from carrying fully automatic weapons in the park system.


GAO Report: NPS Revenues Up, But Not Keeping Pace With Inflation

Research by the Government Accountability Office explained why the National Park Service struggles so mightily to get out of the red:  The good news is that the National Park Service's revenues increased 15 percent between 2005 and 2014. The bad news is that the increase didn't keep up with inflation, and in the end total funding for the agency actually went down by 3 percent.


Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State

Though lawmakers in Utah and some other Western states believe they can legally force the federal government to relinquish public lands to them, legal experts don't agree.


Investigation Points To Contributing Factors To Costly Fire At Flight 93 National Memorial

A devastating fire at Flight 93 National Memorial that destroyed priceless artifacts was rooted in number of factors, ranging from an improperly enforced smoking policy to an insufficient structural fire management plan.


Castle Mountains was one of the new national monuments added to the National Park System in 2016/NPS

President Obama Designates Three National Monuments In California

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein got her wish early in 2016 when President Obama designated three new national monuments in the country that she long campaigned for: Castle Mountains National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, and Mojave Trails National Monument.


Spruce Tree House To Remain Closed At Mesa Verde National Park Out Of Safety Concerns

Spalling from the ceiling of Spruce Tree House kept the cliff ruin at Mesa Verde National Park closed through most of 2016.


Is NPS Getting Ready To Toss Bluffs Lodge On The Scrap Heap?

Problems with finding a concessionaire to operate Bluffs Lodge in the Blue Ridge Parkway left many fans of the charming lodge wondering if it would ever reopen.


Smartphone Photography Cited In Yellowstone Bison Attacks

Selfies and bison just don't mix.


Channel Islands Fox Closeup/Patrick Cone

The Channel Islands fox made a remarkable comeback in numbers, but genetic problems could complicate the recovery/Patrick Cone

Populations Of Channel Islands Fox Rebound, But Low Genetic Diversity Could Pose Problems

Population numbers and genetic variability don't always go hand in hand.


National Park Service Far From Achieving Hydration Station Goals

Six years after National Park Service officials set aspirational goals to reduce plastic waste across the park system by installing water-filling stations for the public, the agency has fallen far short of its hopes.


Condors Thought To Be Nesting At Zion National Park

A pair of California condors appear to be nesting again in Zion National Park.


It's amazing what you can do with duct tape/NPS

It's Amazing What You Can Do With Duct Tape: National Park Art!

Growing up, duct tape came in one color: grey. But with the advent of duct tape in a veritable rainbow of colors, artists are taking tape in hand and creating masterpieces. One of those masterpieces was of Badlands National Park.


'Not A Pretty Picture': Biscayne National Park Works To Remove Underwater Debris

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 Story Of A Tusk – 28KG / VOI RIVER / 30/5/14

The distressing story of the ivory trade in Kenya and what officials are doing to halt it.


Doug Leen not only makes replicas of the classic WPA park posters, but has been on a mission to track down the remaining originals to donate to the National Park Service/Doug Leen

Ranger Of The Lost Art: National Park History Preserved In Historic Posters

The Robin’s egg blue poster with the bold block lettering was stained, worn, faded, and even tattered a bit around the edges. It promoted ranger programs (“a free government service”) at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and is one of a unique set of posters that artists from the Works Progress Administration created in the late 1930s and early 1940s to draw interest to our national parks.


"Animal Life As An Asset Of National Parks," A Path-Breaking Essay

“Animal Life as an Asset of National Parks,” proposed two revolutionary ideas, first, that predators should live unmolested in the parks, and second, that education was essential to the visitor experience.


Yellowstone National Park Staff To Visitors: Don't Be Stupid

Getting too close to full-grown bison and trying to "save" newborn bison calves from the cold are some of the illegal and downright dangerous and inappropriate behaviors visitors to Yellowstone National Park have taken in recent weeks, prompting park officials to warn all visitors to behave appropriately in the park.


Glacier National Park Turning To Herding Dog To Move Wildlife Away From Humans

In a novel idea that possibly could be used elsewhere in the National Park System if successful, Glacier National Park officials are turning to a dog to keep wildlife a safe distance away from visitors on Logan Pass.


Death Valley's Heat Blamed For Motorcyclist's Death, Nearly Claims French Woman

The high heat of Death Valley National Park is believed to have played a role in the death of a motorcyclist whose body was found in the southern end of the park. 


UNESCO Report Warns Of Collision Of Climate Change, Tourism Impacts

Tourism impacts and climate change stressors are on course to greatly affect Yellowstone, Mesa Verde, the Statue of Liberty and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, according to a UNESCO report.


Runner Attacked By Black Bear During Event At Valles Caldera

A participant in a permitted running event at Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico was attacked by a female American black bear on Saturday when the individual came upon the bear’s cubs along a backcountry road being used as the event route.


Festus, who spent decades swimming the waters of Glacier Bay National Park, died in 2016/NPS

"Festus," A Humpback Whale Spotted For Four Decades In Glacier Bay National Park, Is Dead

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska is famous for its namesake bay and the ringing mountains and glaciers, but it's also renowned for its marine life, particularly the humpback whales that make the park home for parts of the year. One whale that long has been a familiar resident of the bay, "Festus," is no more, having been found dead floating in the park's waters.


Brain-Eating Parasite Found In Grand Teton National Park Warm Springs

Levels of a pathogen than can destroy brain cells and lead to death have been found in thermal features in Grand Teton National Park and the adjacent John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway in Wyoming, leading park officials to urge visitors to avoid Huckleberry Hot Springs, Polecat Springs, and Kelly Warm Spring.


Study: Roughly One-Third Of Yosemite National Park Lost For Resource Extraction

During a 32-year-period early in the 20th century, roughly one-third of Yosemite National Park in California was removed from the park so the land could be opened to natural resource extraction, according to an analysis published in Ecology and Society.


Earlier Springs Disrupting Ecosystems At Many National Parks, Study Finds

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Thursday announced a new study showing that spring is beginning earlier than its historical average in 75 percent of the national parks examined — providing further evidence that climate change is already impacting public lands. The announcement came during a visit to Shenandoah National Park, one of the sites identified in the study as experiencing the impacts of an early onset of spring.


Fossilized Dinosaur Bones Found In Denali National Park For The First Time

A window into Denali National Park's paleontological past has been unearthed by researchers who found fossilized dinosaur bones and trackways in the park's backcountry


5-Mile-Long Cat-Proof Fence Protects Endangered Hawaiian Petrels On Mauna Loa

Work is complete on what could be the largest cat-proof fence in the United States, designed to protect the federally endangered ‘ua‘u, or Hawaiian petrel, from the birds’ primary threat: feral cats.

That's one big fence/NPS

Featured Article


I'm not sure where would be best to post this, but this seems as good a place as any.  Here is a link to a very interesting article regarding Global Warming.  Be sure to watch the NASA video of the Arctic ice cap:

27 degrees in Seattle this morning. My cats won't even go out. Meanwhile, all of the television stations are reporting 110 percent of snowpack in the mountains. The ski areas plan remaining open past April, we are told. We are also told to expect three more months of cold and snow.

Okay. Weather is not the same as climate. The point is that neither is going away. 15,000 years ago, great ice sheets blocked Seattle, and the city didn't even exist. When Early Man crossed the Bering Land Bridge, there was still a bridge to cross. But people couldn't get here yet. It took another 2,000 years for the ice to melt.

Now that we can see the Arctic from a a satellite, oh, baby! What a story we can write! But is it the proper story? Is it the story of constant change? That is the story of Mother Earth.

Are you good folks reading 25 MYTHS THAT ARE DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT: WHAT MANY ENVIRONMENTALISTS BELIEVE AND WHY THEY ARE WRONG, by Daniel B. Botkin? I know the media isn't reading it, because it doesn't fit their storyline. They don't write about change unless they can write about fear. Be afraid, and buy my newspaper. Be afraid, and watch my commercials. Before you know it, the evening news will be a few minutes of fear squeezed between an hour of commercials, aka, the NFL.

Sorry, got to go and turn the heat up. The cats want to sleep by the ducts. Who likes cold? Who is moving to Fairbanks? But yes, my friends who love to ski are having a ball.


I am unclear about your point. Is it that the earth-atmosphere system is part of cycles that can be called "constant change?" Scientists know about "constant change" and have known about it long before Botkin; constant change is a moot point in discussions about anthropocentric global change because not only is it known that it needs to be (and is) addressed by the global climate change community. There is nothing about what we know about "constant change' that lead to different conclusions about anthropocentric global climate change.

Is your view that anthropocentric climate change is not occurring? if so, your view is the opposite of the overwhelming majority of scientists working in the area of global climate change as well as opposite that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Global Climate Change, at least three major reports of the US National Academies of Sciences, over twenty reports from over twenty other nations' national academies of sciences, and many hundreds if not thousands of peer-reviewed published scientific studies. (These are only a few examples)

What is your reason for constantly haranguing that the role of humans in anthropocentric global change is not significant?

John Lemons

Anon - please provide us with the survey of all the scientists working in the area of global climate change and the evidence the overwhelming majority believe humans are the primary cause of climate change.  

I just finished reading what the Trump administration nominees think about global warming and air and water pollution. It reminds me of the comments on this website regarding global warming and humanities part in it. In reality it is not worth the argument because regardless of the cause the governemts of the world are powerless to do do anything about it. In China they are trying to with limited success while our government is ignoring the problem. Our public will oppose any solution to any of the worlds problems if it requires us to make a single sacrifice in our pursuit of ever higher material wealth. One of my regrets is I will not live to see Trumps Mar a Lago abandoned but my grandchildren will.

In China they are trying to with limited success while our government is ignoring the problem.

What in the world are you talking about?  Our environmental protections are light years ahead of the Chinese.

Do any of our cities look like this:

Perhap I hould have been more specific and said the Trump administration is ignoring the problem.

First, a spoiler alert. Ryan Zinke is allegedly about to announce at his confirmation hearings that he wants to address the NPS $12 billion backlog. I won't say I told you so, but give Mr. Trump a chance.

As to climate change. Yes, what are you going to do about it? Throw eight billion people into the sea? Earth caused, human caused, God caused, Trump caused. What are you going to do about it? Destroy our public lands?

That's the forumla American industry has glommed onto. Get us scared into doing something stupid so they can walk off with billions in tax breaks. Responsible scientists want renewable energy.  They just want it sited properly--and planned properly. They also warn us what it might never do. "Reverse" what WE consider to be climate change. The Earth we know is not the Earth our forebears knew. How far back do we need to go? Well, there's the Sahara Desert; the Bering Land Bridge. And the 3200-foot ice sheet that used to cover Seattle. If I can "see" them in history, they're legitimate examples. Why should I worry about a future that's going to be different? Humans have always been faced with that. 

Scare tactics and rumors ARE NOT NEWS. They're rather meant to get you hot so you turn off your brain. Sorry, John, I'm not turning mine off just because some alleged "majority" claims to have a handle on the future. From where I sit, it also seems to have a hand in the taxpayers' wallets, now to want something it never earned.

You want a solution to climate change? Yes, I have a solution. I wrote about it here on Sunday. I've been writing about it all my life. In fact, when I started writing about it, there were only three billion people on this planet. Did they listen? Yes, in Europe. Did we listen here? No. We rather proposed giving up our public lands again, now to blame Rob Bishop of Utah.

Show me that you agree with my solution, and I just might agree with yours. But bait me with this business that I am not part of "the majority," and yes, you lose me. I am lousy at following herds off of cliffs. Now, I'm going to watch the confirmation hearings and see what my next Interior Secretary has to say. I want to work with him; I believe he wants my input. LIke me, he seems to steer clear of cliffs.

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