Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar Designates National Water Trails in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today designated three National Water Trails in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, committing to work with state and local partners to increase water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship, and promote tourism that fuels local economies.
“Restoring our nation's rivers and expanding outdoor recreational activities on them is one of the major goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative,” Salazar said. “Through a national network of National Water Trails, we are not only connecting people to the outdoors and supporting conservation efforts for our scenic rivers, but also supporting tourism and the recreation economy in nearby communities.”
The three new National Water Trails include:
The Alabama Scenic River Trail: The water trail begins at the point where the Coosa River enters Alabama just northeast of Cedar Bluff, and continues down the Coosa River to its confluence with the Tallapoosa near Wetumpka. From this conjunction, the trail follows the Alabama River to its junction with the Tombigbee/Warrior system just north of Mobile. It then proceeds through the Mobile River and the Tensaw-Mobile delta, along the Tensaw River and its tributaries to Mobile Bay. The trail, managed by the Alabama Scenic River Association, includes beautiful stretches of seven rivers, two creeks and one bay.
Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail: This 120-mile water trail is located in Georgia near the towns of Folkston, Waycross, and Fargo. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the trail allows visitors to canoe past alligators, black bears, egrets, sandhill cranes, and many other species in the cypress swamps and open watery "prairies" of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
The Mississippi River Water Trail: Great River Water Trail: This 121-mile water trail begins in Saverton, Missouri at mile marker 301, and ends at St. Louis, Missouri Riverfront at mile marker 180. The water trail, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is lined with majestic bluffs, steeped in history, features abundant wildlife, and provides plenty of places to stop and relax whether it be a remote island or a river town.
On Saturday, Secretary Salazar was in Kansas with Governor Sam Brownback to designate the Kansas River Trail as a National Water Trail. The 173-mile trail follows the Kansas River, one of the longest prairie rivers in the world. It is managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.
Earlier this year, Salazar established the National Water Trails System as a class of national recreational trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The designation acknowledges not only the recreation values of the trails but also the excellent stewardship of the state, local communities and other partners who maintain their natural beauty and integrity.
With the designation, the National Park Service will work with the state and local partners to provide resources and technical expertise to promote the development and recognition of the trail.