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.
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: DC STUDENTS CELEBRATE LET'S MOVE OUTSIDE! ANNIVERSARY ON SOUTH LAWN
Outdoors Alliance for Kids Launches “Get Your Nature On!” Facebook Application
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, seventy-five local DC students from Thurgood Marshall High School were invited to play on what may be considered the nation's most well-known backyard, the White House South Lawn. As part of the First Lady's Summer South Lawn Series and in celebration of the Let's Move Outside! (LMO) one year anniversary, the South Lawn provided exciting opportunities for the students to engage in healthy, outdoor recreation. Activities included a rock climbing wall, camping demonstration, kayak clinic, mountain biking, frisbee, and a fly fishing station.
Launched in June 2010, Let's Move Outside! is the outdoor activity component of the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity in a generation. Led by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers – which together, manage over one-fifth of the nation's landmass – Let's Move Outside! is part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and aims to connect children and families to the outdoors through healthy recreation on public lands and waters.
“It's great to see so many young people finding entertainment and adventure in the great outdoors,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With one year of Let's Move Outside! under our belt, we look forward to establishing new ways to engage our youth, expand opportunities for outdoor recreation, and build on partnerships to support these efforts.”
One example of a national organization finding new ways to connect kids to outdoors experiences is the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). To commemorate the LMO! one year anniversary, OAK launched a new Facebook application to inspire and encourage young people to get outside, and be active. The new “Get Your Nature On” Facebook application will provide inspiration, encouragement and resources to young people who commit to getting active in the outdoors this year.
“By using social media to inspire, inform, and connect young people to nature, OAK addresses some of the key challenges raised by the thousands of young people who participated in the America's Great Outdoors listening sessions,” added Salazar. “I am proud of our work with groups like OAK who have committed to implementing the recommendations in the report by making the health of our nation's youth and public lands a priority.”
Based on recommendations from the America's Great Outdoors Youth Report to create infrastructure, access, programming, service opportunities and inspiration to help the next generation of America's youth engage in healthy, outdoor recreation, members of OAK have made commitments in key areas. Examples include:
YMCA, National Military Family Association and Sierra Club. Free camp access for 7,000 military kids and families in over 35 states.
International Mountain Biking Association. Pledging to host 300 free clinics and get 30,00 kids mountain biking this year.
The North Face. Hosting 7 regional events engaging hundreds of kids and families in guided hikes and activities in state parks across the country and distributing 70,000 free entrance passes and Activity Guides with tips on where to go and what to do to State Parks.
Outdoor Nation. Engaging thousands of youth through five regional summits with the goal of mobilizing youth around recreation and connecting to the outdoors.
National Wildlife Federation. Launching a new and improved version of its online park and outdoor activity-finder program, NatureFind. NatureFind is a one-stop, online source for free information and directions to 10,000 of the best outdoor places in America.
The Outdoor Alliance for Kids is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The alliance was launched by Sierra Club, YMCA of the USA, REI, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, Outdoor Foundation, Children & Nature Network and the National Recreation and Park Association in June 2010. Since then, OAK's steering committee has grown to include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, the National Association of State Park Directors, The North Face and Active Network. OAK's membership continues to expand.