Things to know about park rangers (NC)

What do park rangers really do?  It’s more than you think.  Yes, they do get to wear a cool ranger hat and spend a lot of time outdoors.  But what you may not know is it is a position held by highly-educated and trained individuals.  Men and women who are passionate about their parks and are selfless in their quest to maintain and preserve the naturally wonderful spaces in North Carolina.

firstdayhikes3firstdayhikes3Park rangers see, hear, smell and sense all manner of wildlife and the environment.  They get to know the park up close and personal over extended periods of time.  They teach and manage the natural resources with this knowledge and experience.

Park rangers are the first responders in a park for any emergency. They communicate with local fire, EMS, and police when there is an emergency in or near the park. Since many parks are more than 30 minutes from the closest town or hospital, many rangers are also trained Emergency Medical Technicians.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPark rangers are certified as Environmental Educators, Emergency Medical Technicians, Canoe/Kayak Instructors, Wild-land Firefighters, Pesticide Applicators, Wastewater Treatment Operators and many other things.

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South Dakota Finds That Overtourism Can Even Hit Small Local Sites

Skift coined the phrase “overtourism” and we’ve led in covering it. While we have often focused on big spots like Venice, even smaller sites can get overrun with tourists. Creative fixes are needed.

— Sean O’Neill

Associated Press

– Aug 01, 2017 5:00 pm

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South Dakota Finds That Overtourism Can Even Hit Small Local Sites

Associated Press

– Aug 01, 2017 5:00 pm

Technology and social media have turned little-known natural spots in South Dakota into not-so-secret tourist destinations, much to the dismay of some locals.

The Rapid City Journal reports that one such spot includes a natural swimming hole known as Devils Bathtub, where user-created footpaths lead to a tributary that’s sometimes clogged with people.

Wyoming resident George Dunlap said he has had difficulty driving through all the parked vehicles to reach his cabin for the past several years. He has also seen people dumping garbage into the creek.

“It’s an unfortunate deal that so many people have found out about it,” Dunlap said. “Now it’s not hidden. It’s not anything right now except a mess.”

Other public sites in the Black Hills that have seen a rise in popularity from social media include Poet’s Table, a high granite alcove in Custer State Park; Hippie Hole, a natural swimming hole near Rockerville; and the Rock Maze, a labyrinthine cluster of rock formations in the Black Hills National Forest.

The management of such sites has come under scrutiny. With no infrastructure at any of the sites to control the flow of visitors, the increased visitation has caused congestion and public safety concerns.

Environmental damage also occurs — sometimes by accident, and sometimes by vandalism. Both Hippie Hole and the Rock Maze have been victims of graffiti.

The issues are causing some land managers to switch from loosely permissive oversight of the areas to aggressive intervention.

No-parking signs recently were installed along a highway curve near the gravel road that leads to Devils Bathtub’s unofficial trailhead. Last week Custer State Park officials removed in-ground fire pits and a shelter that were constructed by Poet’s Table visitors.

“We can either do nothing and let the damage occur, or we can manage it,” said Jim Hagen, secretary of the state Department of Tourism. “And I think the responsible thing to do is to manage it the best that we can.”

VISTAS – America’s State Park Newsletter, July 2017

 

Summer Greetings!

VISTAS Newsletter, July 2017

It is indeed the traditional season to enjoy the great outdoors. May your plans for the summer include visiting one or more of America’s State Parks. State parks across the country provide wonderful outdoor recreation experiences and unique historic, scientific and environment education opportunities. The 18 million plus acres provide for great diversity — from the vastness of a half a million acres mountainous landscape, to the colorful intricacies of a living coral reef, to the world’s longest stalactite formation, to historic locations where European settlers first came to America, and much, much more.

Thank you for your interest in the VISTAS newsletter, another voice for America’s State Parks. Our goal is to provide you with these brief updates regularly. Please share items of interest, and know that your feedback and advocacy are welcomed.

The mosaic of natural resources and the cultural fabric of America and the splendor of the beauty of state parks are grand. Both remote and resort in their offerings, America’s State Parks are yours to explore and experience!

All 42 [Colorado] state parks open to the public for free Monday

Forget Valentine’s Day, Colorado Day is a holiday to celebrate love.  After all, Colorado never lets us down.

Cherry Creek State Park (Photo: Andrew Novinger)

Monday marks the annual Colorado Day and the mutual affection means all 42 state parks will be open to the public, no entrance fee required.

Colorado Day is a celebration of the actions of the state legislature, marking the anniversary of statehood.

The official recognition was granted in 1876 by President Ulysses S. Grant.

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Arkansas State Parks Receives Special Achievement Award

Arkansas State Parks was recognized for its Geographic Information System (GIS).

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Arkansas State Parks has been chosen from a field of 300,000 candidates to receive a Special Achievement Award. This comes from the internationally recognized Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) for innovative use of technology.
This specific technology combines something called a Geographic Information System (GIS) with the latest web technologies. At first glance it might sound complicated and not related to everyday use – but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  This system simply stores and displays information in a multi-layered digital map. This allows park planners, superintendents and other staff to understand not only what’s on the surface of any area of an Arkansas State Park, but also what’s below it, around it and/or connected to it. So, instead of multiple, unrelated spreadsheets about park boundaries, trail locations, underground utilities and campsites, the GIS integrates all the unconnected information and creates one consistent set of facts that can all be seen at the same time through the Arkansas State Parks GIS Web App.
“This was something that took a lot of time and park staff from rangers, interpreters, accountants and more to collect the data, clean it up and put it all in one place for everyone to view” said Darin Mitchell, Sr. GIS Analyst for Arkansas State Parks “It’s increasing communications, that’s basically what the GIS is – a visual communication tool.”

(CT) State parks to close for the season after Labor Day

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said fall camping has been cut at state parks due to the budget.

According to a DEEP Spokesperson, state park summer season has always been Memorial Day through Labor Day, fall camping existed for few parks, but now Labor day is when camping season will end at all parks.

According to the Department’s website, of the 14 state parks and forests that offer camping, four are already closed for the year.

A DEEP spokesperson said Silver Sands and Hammonasset Beach State Park were the two parks slated to be open until Columbus Day, but both will close after September 4th.

Campers were disappointed to hear the news, especially North Haven resident Michael Thibault who said a trip to Hammonasset has been a family tradition for 20 years.

Full article with video >

Can State Parks Keep Waste Out Of Landfills?

  • Eighty-three-year-old Ralph Deckett stood outside the Curt Gowdy State Park visitor center, broom in hand. Now retired from the FBI, Deckett spends much of his time looking after museums and recreation sites like Curt Gowdy, where he had been volunteering since the beginning of July.

    “We just try to keep it nice, the best we can around here. It’s amazing how people can trash out a place,” Deckett said.

    And Deckett is not alone. Driving around the park, Assistant Superintendent Darrell Richardson told me Curt Gowdy depends on volunteers like Deckett.

    “Our volunteer program is one of the biggest things we have going for us around here,” Richardson said.

    During the summer, Richardson said, Curt Gowdy’s campsites are full. The trails are well trafficked. And for many people, disposables are part of the outdoor experience.

    “It’s primarily paper, you know, people come camping and they’re going to have paper and cardboard,” Richardson said. “And then there’s a lot of cans, and I’m sure plastic bottles because everybody’s all into drinking bottled water anymore.”

    Curt Gowdy employs only two full-time staff and two part-time staff. About 20 volunteers and a few seasonal workers do the rest of the work picking up trash. To pay for that help, state parks use entrance fees and Wyoming’s general fund. According to Curt Gowdy Superintendent Bill Conner, waste disposal takes up about ten percent of the park’s budget.

    Each week, he said, a private company empties twenty dumpsters spread across the park and drops the waste in Cheyenne’s landfill. Richardson said he is not aware of any entities that could transport recycling from Curt Gowdy.

    Full Story >>

Study: Greenways Fighting Crime?

Could Greenways Help Fight Chicago Crime?

A view of The 606 from near the Humboldt Park Boulevard overpass looking east. (Photo by Brandon Harris)

An in-depth study of Chicago neighborhoods in 2011 and 2015 suggests that parks and greenways could play a role in reducing crime. During that time, crime of all types decreased at a faster rate in neighborhoods along Chicago’s 2.7-mile Bloomingdale Trail – better known as The 606 – than in similar neighborhoods, according to research published in Environment and Behavior.

The new elevated greenway, built on an abandoned railway line northwest of downtown, connects diverse neighborhoods. University researchers from Clemson and North Carolina State drew on census data to find Chicago neighborhoods that shared similar socioeconomic characteristics with neighborhoods along The 606. Using City of Chicago crime statistics, researchers compared crime rates for June-November 2011, before the greenway opened, with rates for the same period in 2015, the trail’s first year of operation.

“Rates of violent, property and disorderly crime all fell at a faster rate in neighborhoods along The 606 than in similar neighborhoods nearby,” said lead author Brandon Harris, a Chicago resident and former city Park District intern who chose The 606 for his dissertation research at Clemson. “The decrease was largest in lower-income neighborhoods along the western part of the trail.”

Several factors could have contributed to a greater drop in crime along The 606 over the four-year period, said co-author Lincoln Larson, an NC State faculty member who has previously studied greenway use in urban Atlanta and suburban San Antonio.

“We know that having a well-designed greenway can increase residential and commercial activity, bringing in more foot traffic that pushes out crime in the neighborhood,” Larson said. “People along the trail may also be having more positive interactions and feeling a greater sense of community among neighborhoods, which prompts them to take ownership in the trail.”

After looking at crime patterns on a city scale, researchers zoomed in on crime rates within walking distance – a half-mile – of The 606. Their analysis showed that property crime decreased at a faster rate in neighborhoods closest to the trail, said co-author Scott Ogletree, a Clemson graduate student. There were no significant differences in rates of violent or disorderly crimes.

Ogletree noted that the city invested in lighting, installed security cameras, increased police presence and added access points along the trail, which tourism officials promoted as a “must-see” destination for visitors.

Before a recent uptick, Chicago crime rates had been falling in many neighborhoods. Could investments in park-based urban revitalization be part of a long-term solution?

“A growing body of evidence suggests that’s true, but there are a few counter-examples,” Larson said, adding that keeping the trail in good condition is vital to prevent crime. “It’s not just the presence of parks that matters,” he said. “Design and programming for parks is also critical, especially considering some of the troubling crime trends in Chicago over the past year.”

Harris said one example of quality neighborhood programming is The 606 Moves, a dance workshop offered in pocket parks along the trail with support from the city.

Officials must also consider how revitalization and increased development affect residents, said Harris, who is doing follow-up research on those issues. “Cities must be very careful when constructing a trail through a minority enclave. Revitalized spaces can be transformative, but they must be inclusive, safe and welcoming to all parties.”

Ethan Tyler New Parks Director in Alaska

 

Ethan Tyler to serve as new Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation director

(Anchorage, AK) – Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack announced today that Ethan Tyler will join the Department of Natural Resources as director of the Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation on July 17.

Tyler has 17 years of private sector and non-profit experience in Alaska, largely in tourism, outdoor recreation and economic development. He is moving to DNR from his current position as the Economic Development Manager for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development where he supervises a variety of statewide programs including the Made in Alaska program.

“A key objective for the State of Alaska is sustaining and protecting our park system by making it less reliant on general funds for its operations,” Mack said. “Ethan’s skills and experience make him a natural fit to carry on this important work.”

“I look forward to joining the DNR team and working cooperatively with fellow Alaskans to manage the nation’s largest and best state park system, and increase opportunities for outdoor recreation in our state,” Tyler said.

Tyler began his Alaska career at the Alyeska Resort in 2000. He joined CIRI Alaska Tourism Corp. four years later as a sales manager, and went on to work in management positions at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the Alaska Community Foundation. From 2009 to 2013, he owned a consulting business that provided communications, sales, marketing and other services to Alaska’s visitor industry.

Tyler has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys ski instructing, backcountry skiing, as well as biking, hiking, surfing, and time spent with family.

CONTACT: Elizabeth Bluemink, 269-8434, elizabeth.bluemink@alaska.gov ###

Parks and Conservation Lose an Icon – Ney Landrum

 

The parks and conservation community lost an icon in the passing of Ney Landrum this week.  Ney served as the Florida State Parks Director for nearly 20 years, as the first executive director of NASPD, and was active in BSA leadership and a number of other natural resource and conservation organizations.  A gentleman’s gentleman, he served as a mentor to many in the parks profession.  Memorial services are planned for Tuesday in Tallahassee.  More details are included in the obituary.   In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested to be made to the James P. Cook Memorial Relief Fund c/o Florida Park Service Alumni Association, Judi Maxwell, Treasurer, 558 SW Maxwell Court, Fort White, FL 32038.  More info about the fund may be found here.

Excerpt from Landrum’s, In Pursuit of a Great State Park System, “Educate everybody – the public, pressure groups, legislators, commissions, bosses, personnel – as to the real importance of state parks.  …  Before attempting to convince others, however, be sure of your own resolve and depth of commitment.” 

 

Attached is a photo of Ney with other Florida state park directors:  Mike Bullock, Fran Mainella, NCL, Wendy Spencer, Donald Forgione.