November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Escape the cold: 6 beautiful (and warm) public lands getaways
Need a break from the snow and cold weather hitting much of the U.S.? You don’t need to leave the country to visit to a tropical getaway. Take the chill off of winter and escape to six of America’s beautiful (and warm) public lands.
Virgin Islands National Park
Virgin Islands National Park is an American paradise with breathtaking hills, valleys and beaches. With 7,000-plus acres on the island of St. John, Virgin Islands National Park offers snow-white sand dotted by palm trees, coral reefs, prehistoric sites and Bay Rum Tree forests. Its Trunk Bay is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and features a 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Florida’s Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge preserves the last unspoiled and undeveloped spring habitat in Kings Bay. The springs in the bay, with their constant 72-degree Fahrenheit water, provide an essential warm water refuge for the manatees that congregate there in the winter months, when people come from all over to see the manatees.
National Park of the American Samoa
Located in the heart of the South Pacific, National Park of American Samoa offers an escape from the everyday and is one of our most remote parks. It includes sections of three volcanic islands -- Tutuila, Ta’ū, and Ofu -- most of which are rainforest. With a bit of explorer's spirit, you can discover secluded villages, snorkel coral reefs, observe tropical forest plants and wildlife, and explore the magnificent island and sea vistas.
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park is close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart. The park encompasses five islands and their surrounding one mile of the ocean, offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities -- from hiking and camping to kayaking and sea lion watching. World-renowned kelp forests, sea caves and coves await the adventurous swimmer, snorkeler and diver.
Baldwin County, Alabama
Tired of cold weather and mounds of snow? Then head to the pristine white sand beaches in Baldwin County, Alabama, where you’ll find six small beachfront tracts made almost entirely of quartz grains washed down from the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago. This area provides access to recreation activities on the Gulf of Mexico and its many beaches. With winter daily average temperatures in the 60’s, these beaches make the bucket list if you wish to trade snow drifts for sand dunes, seagulls singing, and waves crashing. And, if you're lucky, you might get to observe sea turtle nesting.
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park on Hawaii’s Maui island is a special place with stark volcanic landscapes and a subtropical rain forest. You can watch the sunrise above the clouds at Haleakala Summit, or come for sunset and stick around for some of the best stargazing in the world. A visit to the park isn’t complete without a hike to Oheo Gulch in the park’s Kipahulu District. Also called the Seven Sacred Pools, the area is known for its beautifully tiered pools fed by cascading waterfalls that are surrounded by vibrant, lush vegetation.