California Deserts In ‘Super Bloom’ Thanks To A Wet Winter

People are scattered throughout the hills and valleys of Anza-Borrego, Califonia’s largest state park, taking in the beauty of a rare “super bloom” of wild flowers.

NIna Gregory/NPR

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what’s called a “super bloom.” After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

“It just looks like a sea of flowers,” says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

Visitors have flocked from as far as Asia and Africa to see the rare floral bloom in the California desert.

“You got purple, red, yellows and blues,” adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

“It’s fantastic,” says Dennis Brian, from Reno, Nev., who says he was a flower child in the 1960s. “You don’t see this very often. The little flowers look so delicate, but yet they’re prolific. They’re everywhere.”

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Nina Gregory/NPR

‘Bark ranger’ helps park rangers keep animals and people safe

Black-and-white dog overlooking bighorn sheep in mountain meadow (NPS/A.W. Biel)
Gracie the “bark ranger” surveys her territory. (NPS/A.W. Biel)

Gracie is a 2-year-old border collie with a mission. She is Glacier National Park’s first “bark ranger” — a skilled herder, she keeps mountain goats and bighorn sheep away from park visitors.

Gracie also helps rangers teach visitors good park manners. Getting too close to wildlife to take selfies isn’t a good idea for animals or humans, for example. And trying to touch the wildlife isn’t smart either. Both are problems in national parks.

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STIHL Inc. Supports State Park Director’s Leadership School’s 10th Anniversary


America’s State Parks have been one of our nation’s natural treasures for more than 100 years, and that’s why, here at STIHL, we continue to support the men and women who attend the National Association of State Park Director’s (NASPD) Leadership School. This year, we continued to provide student scholarships to the next generation of park professionals and remained the exclusive outdoor power equipment sponsor of the NASPD’s annual training program.

This year marks the Leadership School’s 10th year of providing park personnel with the education, training, networks, and tools to prepare themselves, and their teams, to take on larger responsibilities in their park systems. “The partnership with STIHL Inc., who’s sponsorship has provided opportunities for those, where out of state travel restrictions would have otherwise limited participation, has been vital to its broad success,” said Lewis Ledford, school director and executive director of NASPD.

Over the past decade, more than 400 senior park leaders, from 44 states, have graduated from the program; while participation and enrollment continue to grow. Each student goes through a two-year training program which includes online education courses and hands-on training at the Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, W. Va. The leadership program allows experienced park managers and students to interact, share experiences, and learn about a variety of topics, including state park planning, calculating budgets and technology trends in parks. The combination of the students’ passion and the park directors, who volunteer their time to teach, makes this leadership school both a unique and exciting program. Here at STIHL, knowing our company’s contributions, as a sponsor and a scholarship contributor, is both gratifying and rewarding for all of us.

Corporate Communications Manager Roger Phelps with the 2017 STIHL Inc Scholarship Recipients






We would like to congratulate this year’s scholarship recipients:

  • Carmino Paliotta Jr., Rhode Island
  • Micheal Mahoney, Rhode Island
  • Kendra Wallis, Missouri
  • Melissa Bueker, Missouri
  • Lesley Porter, Vermont
  • Amy Grout, Montana
  • David Bennetts, Montana
  • Adam Morris, Massachusetts
  • Erik Otto, Missouri

Local and State Park Groups Congratulate New Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 5.14.50 PMrsz_1logo-11




Media Contact:
Heather Williams                                                                                                              Lewis Ledford
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Local and State Park Groups Congratulate New Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke

NRPA and NASPD pledge support to permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and better connect youth to the outdoors

For Immediate Release

Ashburn, Va. (March 1, 2017) — The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) congratulate Ryan Zinke on his Senate confirmation to serve as the new Secretary of the Interior and applaud his continued support for permanently authorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). NRPA and NASPD also recognize U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for highlighting the significance of LWCF as it relates to supporting outdoor recreation in local communities and city parks as part of his exchange with then nominee Zinke during January’s confirmation hearing. Both men agree on the importance of connecting youth to the great outdoors and teaching them the value of public lands, which NRPA and NASPD fully support.

“Millions of people utilize local parks every day and I commend Sec. Zinke for recognizing the need to protect these spaces — especially for future generations,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA President and CEO. “Preservation of our public lands is a top priority. Now is the time for others to follow suit.”

“The need to preserve access to our nation’s public lands has never been greater,” said Lewis Ledford, NASPD Executive Director. “State park visitation numbers are at an all-time high and with Sec. Zinke’s support to permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund we can ensure the accessibility and economic impact of our state parks for generations to come.”

During his confirmation hearing, Zinke vowed to work in partnership with local communities and states on issues relating to the U.S. Department of Interior and its agencies like the National Park Service. NRPA and NASPD look forward to working with the department, as well, on preserving access to public lands through LWCF and other related conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives.

A recent poll conducted by NRPA reaffirms the fact that Americans are passionate about the preservation of public lands, such as local, state and national parks. Eighty-two percent of Americans polled say it’s important to preserve public lands, including parks, recreation areas, forests, conservation areas, wildlife refuges, etc. This includes 62 percent of Americans who say it is either “very” or “extremely” important to protect open space.

To learn more about NRPA, visit

To learn more about NASPD, visit


About The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 52,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

About The National Association of State Park Directors
The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 760 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.

MISSOURI New admin halts state park expansion

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Missouri’s state park policy has taken a sharp turn under Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

For the past eight years under former Gov. Jay Nixon (D), the state has consistently bought land for the state Department of Natural Resources to preserve as parks.

The new administration has halted for now any new land purchases and stopped a purchase of a historic building in Ste. Geneviève, the last colonial French town in the country.

The moves come on the heels of the dismissal of Bill Bryan, the former parks director. The Republican governor’s administration also closed the state’s newest park, which had been named after Nixon.

An administration spokesman said the focus is now on maintaining existing parks.

The state added seven parks during Nixon’s tenure, angering GOP lawmakers. Some have proposed bills that would sell some of the land acquired with funds from a pollution settlement.

Last year, the last of Nixon’s administration, set a record for Missouri state park tourism (Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 28). — NB