Storm recovery – Support for Texas state park staff

The record storm has impacted many including our colleagues with Texas state parks. The following link has been set up by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to provide support to the employees who have had their homes and more destroyed. Please share the link with others.…

TPWD staff and first responders have saved hundreds of lives and as you might imagine, everyone, regardless of their position has a critical role in making this incident response function well, despite many of them having their own homes destroyed. 30 state parks are currently closed due to storm impacts and the other 60+ state parks that remain open are hosting thousands of evacuees. Times like these sure make you proud to be in this profession. #rangerfirst

A 1,000-Year-Old Texas Oak Tree Stands Firm

A natural treasure is weathering the calamitous storm.

TROPICAL STORM HARVEY HAS FORCED people from their homes and patients from hospitals, and turned quiet streets into turbulent torrents. For the city’s 2.3 million residents, it has been terrifying, catastrophic, tragic. Amid this ongoing disaster, one iconic local inhabitant is standing its ground: the 1,000-year-old Big Tree at Goose Island State Park near Rockport.

Big Oak

The 1000-year-old Big Tree at Goose Island State Park near Rockport is okay! Some younger trees are down.  You don’t get old by being weak.

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Learn more about one of the oldest live oak trees in the nation at Big Tree

Boat waste pumpout program secures $2.5 million in funding

Boater sewage, a source of pollution in Washington state waters, can contaminate shellfish beds or spread waterborne diseases at popular swimming beaches.

Washington State Parks Department’s Clean Vessel Act (CVA) program works with the University of Washington’s Washington Sea Grant to help boaters and marinas safely dispose of vessel waste and reduce the amount of sewage entering bays, lakes and Puget Sound, according to a recent UW news release.

Two recently awarded grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will bolster local CVA services, which include installing and operating septic pumpouts and educating boaters and marina owners about the importance of clean water and proper onboard sewage disposal.

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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

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 8.53.32 AM

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 >>