100 years of National Parks: visit the US’s 59 parks for Free this Month!

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The 100th birthday of the National Park Service (NPS) will be commemorated next week on August 25th. In honor of the centennial, the NPS will waive entrance fees at all 59 national parks across the country from August 25-28. Events will take place across the nation’s parks—including a U.S. citizenship and immigration service naturalization ceremony at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia and an evening of memorable performances at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Happy (almost) 100th birthday, National Park Service!

In honor of its big day, the federal government agency will waive entrance fees at all 59 national parks across the country from August 25-28.

Officially established on August 25, 1916—when President Woodrow Wilson signed an act that set up the agency within the Department of Interior to protect the then 35 national parks—the National Park Service is now also tasked with revitalizing communities, celebrating local heritages and educating the public on all things outdoors and green.

The centennial birthday week will also be marked by a slew of different events taking place across the nation’s parks—think Zumba lessons along Boston’s waterfront, a U.S. citizenship and immigration service naturalization ceremony at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia and an evening of memorable performances at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, among others.

But this isn’t the only way to get into a national park for free as this year’s new “Every Kid in a Park” program allows each American fourth grader to visit one alongside a parent or guardian completely gratis.

Need to narrow down your list of must-visit parks? Although we are partial to all green spaces across the country, we suggest you check out our list of best national parks in the U.S. for a bit of guidance.

Source: TIMEOUT 

 

100 Years of US National Parks: Climate change will mean the end of parks as we know them

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“Yosemite’s famous glacier, once a mile wide, is almost gone,” fretted US President Barack Obama during a visit to the vast park in June.

As the National Parks Service turns 100 this week, The Guardian we look at how receding ice, extreme heat and acidifying oceans are transforming America’s landscapes, and guardians of national parks face the herculean task of stopping it

After a century of shooing away hunters, tending to trails and helping visitors enjoy the wonder of the natural world, the guardians of America’s most treasured places have been handed an almost unimaginable new job – slowing the all-out assault climate change is waging against national parks across the nation.

As the National Parks Service (NPS) has charted the loss of glaciers, sea level rise and increase in wildfires spurred by rising temperatures in recent years, the scale of the threat to US heritage across the 412 national parks and monuments has become starkly apparent.

As the National Parks Service turns 100 this week, their efforts to chart and stem the threat to the country’s history faces a daunting task. America’s grand symbols and painstakingly preserved archaeological sites are at risk of being winnowed away by the crashing waves, wildfires and erosion triggered by warming temperatures.

The Statue of Liberty is at “high exposure” risk from increasingly punishing storms. A national monument dedicated to abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who will be enshrined on a new $20 note, could be eaten away by rising tides in Maryland. The land once walked by Pocahontas and Captain John Smith in Jamestown, the first English settlement in the US, is surrounded by waters rising at twice the global average and may be beyond rescue.

These threats are the latest in a pile of identified calamities to befall national parks and monuments due to climate change. Receding ice, extreme heat and acidifying oceans are morphing America’s landscapes and coasts at a faster pace than at any time in human history.

“Yosemite’s famous glacier, once a mile wide, is almost gone,” fretted Barack Obama during a visit to the vast park in June.

“Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers in Glacier national park, no more Joshua trees in Joshua Tree national park.

“Rising seas can destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades and at some point could even threaten icons like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That’s not the America I want to pass on to the next generation.”

Change, however, is inevitable no matter how quickly greenhouse gas emissions are cut. An NPS study from 2014 found four in five of America’s national parks are now at the “extreme end” of temperature variables charted since 1901.

“We are starting to see things spiral away now,” said Gregor Schuurman, an ecologist at the NPS climate change response program. “We are going to look back at this time and actually think it was a calm period. And then people will start asking questions about what we were doing about the situation.”

 

Read the full article here 

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China: Activists seek total ivory ban

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Do nothing – and African elephants will be functionally extinct within two decades….

From China Daily: Conservation organizations have called on the Chinese government to impose a total ban on the ivory trade in the country within the next two years, and with no expiration date or financial compensation for those who would lose business.

Xu Yang, a wildlife trade specialist at the World Wildlife Fund in China, said the majority of Chinese consumers would stop buying ivory products if the legal trade channel was shut down.

“It would also leave no room for speculators to operate if the ban on the ivory trade in China were permanent,” Xu said.

The WWF and TRAFFIC, an NGO that monitors the global wildlife trade, are compiling a feasibility report on banning the ivory trade in China, hoping that it will become a technical reference document for the Chinese government.

Zhou Fei, head of the China program at TRAFFIC, said the African elephant population had dropped from 3 to 5 million, to only 500,000 in recent years.

Activists seek total ivory ban in China

“If we don’t do anything, African elephants will be functionally extinct within two decades,” Zhou said.

At present, the trade and manufacture of registered ivory products is legal in China. In 2008, China got approval from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the body that regulates the international wildlife trade, to buy about 62 metric tons of ivory in a one-time sale from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Every year, about 5 tons of that ivory is released into the market.

However, a WWF China survey found that more than half of consumers don’t know how to distinguish between legal and illegal ivory products.

“Despite the fact that every legal ivory carving has an identity card, many consumers don’t know to ask for the card. These unclaimed cards can then be used for illegal ivory products,” Xu said.

“Besides, China has a growing middle-class, people who would like to purchase ivory as a symbol of social status. The limited amount of ivory put into the legal market will not satisfy this demand.”

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Climate change: Alaskan village votes on whether to relocate …

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Coastal village of Shishmaref, which is losing ground to rising sea levels, could become the first in the US to move over the threat of climate change, reports The Guardian 

One resident said: “To put this in perspective: I was born in 1997, and since then, Shishmaref has lost about 100 feet,” he continued. “In the past 15 years, we had to move 13 houses – including my dear grandma Edna’s house – from one end of the island to the other because of this loss of land.”

“Within the next two decades, the whole island will erode away completely.”

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More on climate change and education NAEE

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‘Forest & Bird’ asks ….. Help Save Our Cute – and Critically Endangered – Sea Lions!

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New Zealand’s sea lion could be virtually extinct in two decades – if trends continue! So Forest & Bird New Zealand is asking for your help…

Once found all around our coastline, the New Zealand sea lion is now the world’s rarest sea lion. They have the same Nationally Critical status as the kākāpō, and some studies predict they could be extinct within 20 years. They need all the help they can get, right now.

The Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Primary Industries have asked for feedback on their plan for managing risks to this special species, but they have only recommended more monitoring and research for the next 20 years – by which time it could be far too late.

The main preventable threat the New Zealand sea lion is the squid fishery that operates off the coast of their main breeding ground in the Auckland Islands.

Nursing females can be killed or injured in squid trawl nets and so-called Sea Lion Exclusion Devices (SLEDs) while out fishing to feed their young pups.

If a female sea lion is fatally wounded or drowned in a net or by the SLED, it’s not just her that dies. Her pup waiting on shore will starve to death and because she is often already pregnant, next year’s pup will die as well.

Saving our magnificent sea lion will take determined action from all of us, including the Government, and fishing industry.

Please take action: Make a submission by August 19 and tell the Government it must act to reduce the impact of commercial fishing on sea lions.

Online survey here 

More info at Forest & Bird Society and regards education National Association for Environmental Education (NAEE UK)  

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Florida: STOP painting tortoises!

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Painting a tortoise – funny, isn’t it? Here in China, they are sold as pets … but I have not heard of a ‘painted tortoise’. Only in America…?

‘If you want to paint something, paint a rock,’ Florida officials implore after shells of a threatened tortoise species were found daubed with paint – according to The Guardian

“That doesn’t sound like a lot but we didn’t hear about this happening in the state before all this,” she said. “It could be that there are youngsters who think it’s funny or people who don’t know of the harm it causes.

“This is a threatened species with protections against harassing it, which painting it definitely is. The best thing to do is admire its natural beauty. If you want to paint something, paint a rock.”

Read the full article here 

BIG but NOT GOOD news….It’s World Elephant Day!

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The elephant is one of the most persecuted creatures on earth! African elephants are slaughtered at an alarming rate for their ivory in places like Zimbabwe and Kenya  – fueled, dare I say, by the likes of China and other Asian countries demands for luxury goods. Asian elephants especially those in Thailand, are often abused in the name of ‘entertainment’

For the above reasons, World Elephant Day was established in 2012…..

Anne Dillon, with Patricia Sims of the Elephant Rehabilitation Foundation, tell us more: It’s the fifth annual World Elephant Day. What’s happening in the elephant world, and has anything really changed for them? In 2012, the World Elephant Day campaign was created as a rallying point for elephant conservation organizations and individuals worldwide to come together to help spread the word—through unique grassroots events and initiatives—about the dire situation that elephants presently face all over the world. Those threats may pertain to the ongoing and seemingly unstoppable slaughter of elephants for their ivory, the abject circumstances that captive elephants constantly endure at the hands of the entertainment industry, or the sad life of a street elephant begging on the streets of Asia, to list only a few of the grim scenarios that may define their lives.

On a personal level – the elephants ‘I have met’ have been brilliant beasts. In Africa on safari many, many years ago were magnificent and played a key role on the savannah; in Thailand, riding on their backs was an experience and was done at a ‘Nature Park’ where conservation was the uppermost aim.

To get involved – visit http://worldelephantday.org

For environmental education – visit http://naee.org.uk

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