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: Salazar Announces Successful Renovation of Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
National Park Service to begin filling Reflecting Pool in coming days; Sustainable, accessible design to re-open to public end of August
WASHINGTON DC -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the National Park Service will soon begin refilling the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool after completing a historic renovation, including replacement of the pool's structure and installation of a sustainable, state-of-the-art circulation system that pulls water from the Tidal Basin. Nearly 25 million people visit the National Mall each year.
“The Reflecting Pool has served as the backdrop for important moments in our nation's history ranging from Marian Anderson's concert on Easter Sunday in 1939 to Martin Luther King's ‘I Have a Dream' speech in 1963,” Salazar said. “With this renovation, we have given the Reflecting Pool a much-needed overhaul and brought its engineering into the 21st century. The design is accessible and sustainable, significantly reducing water usage, improving water quality, and welcoming visitors from around the world who come to see this iconic landmark."
Built in the 1920's on marshland without pilings for support, the original pool sank significantly over the years, which caused cracks and leaks. Holding 6.75 million gallons of water, the reflecting pool lost an estimated 500,000 gallons a week to leaks and evaporation and required about 30 million gallons of municipal water annually to maintain it. Because it lacked a circulation system, it had to be emptied, cleaned and refilled twice a year.
The pool was closed in November, 2010 for reconstruction, which was made possible with $34 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The new pool is supported underground by more than 2,100 50-foot timbers to prevent it from sinking. It is shallower than the original, holding about 4 million gallons of water and realizing significant water savings. Specially-designed tinted concrete will improve the appearance and reflectivity of the water. The design maintained the footprint of the original structure, and the 580 granite stones that had been placed along the edges of the pool in the 1920's were catalogued and put back into place to maintain the pool's cultural integrity.
The new pool uses the Tidal Basin as its primary water source, eliminating the reliance on the potable city water supply. The water will be treated and circulated in a closed loop. Water that is lost to evaporation will be addressed by capturing and treating the discharge from the adjacent World War II Memorial fountain.
“The extraordinary engineering of the new pool will enable the National Park Service to meet our long-term strategy for sustainable management of our parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The design enhances what is one of the most iconic vistas in the National Park System for the benefit of the 25 million visitors each year and for generations to come.”
The project also improved security for the Lincoln Memorial and enhanced the surrounding landscape. Dirt walkways were paved to improve access for visitors and will be wheelchair accessible. New energy-efficient lighting will reduce light pollution and cut maintenance costs.
Overall, the renovation required more than 19,000 cubic yards of concrete, 14,300 linear feet of pipe, 3 million pounds of epoxy coated rebar, and more than 350,000 square feet of copper wire mesh.
It will take the National Park Service approximately three to five days to fill the pool, which is scheduled to be reopened to the public at the end of the month.
“We know that the pool's closure during construction has been a disappointment to many of our visitors, so we're excited to be able to make it available once again,” said Bob Vogel, superintendant of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “This is one of our nation's most important landmarks, and I think that our visitors will agree that the wait was well worth it when they see the quality of work and improved design.”