Mount Rushmore National Memorial under construction.
The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitterly cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500-foot face of the mountain in a "bosun chair." Despite the dangers, no one was killed during the project.
Otters in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
The sea otter population of Glacier Bay has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Ecologists consider sea otters a keystone species here. Otters consume vast quantities of clams, urchins, crabs, and other invertebrates and their presence creates ripples through the ecosystem. NPS photo.
Every day someone like you becomes a wildland wildfire fighter, a teacher, a trail-builder, a museum curator, or a park ranger. Discover your opportunities in national parks. Come to play. Come to learn. Come to serve. Develop your environmental leadership skills. Find a job. Be the next generation to preserve and protect these great places.
With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are more important than ever. The father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, said of urban parks:
It is one great purpose of the Park to supply to the hundreds of thousands of tired workers, who have no opportunity to spend their summers in the country, a specimen of God's handiwork that shall be to them, inexpensively, what a month or two in the White Mountains or the Adirondacks is, at great cost, to those in easier circumstances.
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar Highlights Two Proposed Projects in Arkansas to Promote Outdoor Recreation, Conservation
Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of Arkansas that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
Extension of the Delta Heritage Trail from Helena to Arkansas City and the Arkansas River Trail from downtown Little Rock to West Little Rock are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Mike Beebe and the state of Arkansas, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Arkansas and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in Arkansas highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Delta Heritage Trail
Arkansas State Parks acquired the Delta Heritage Trail in 1993 when the abandoned Union Pacific Rail line was converted to the “Rails to Trails” program. Ultimately, the state hopes to complete a 73-mile hiking and biking trail through the heart of the delta that would provide recreational access to a largely inaccessible area.
The area includes vital habitat for 265 species of neotropical migratory and resident songbirds and is the most important wintering area for mallard ducks in the United States. Designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, the area includes the largest contiguous block of bottomland hardwood forest remaining on any tributary of the Mississippi River.
The state has now completed 14 miles of the trail and there is an opportunity to build more. The trail skirts the White River National Wildlife Refuge and Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery National Historic Landmark, part of the National Park Service-managed Japanese American Confinement Sites Program. It also runs along the Osotuoy Unit of Arkansas Post National Monument.
When completed, the project promises to provide greater opportunities for outdoor recreation, to increase public understanding of the diverse landscapes of the Arkansas delta, and to enhance partnerships between Interior, agricultural interests, state agencies, and environmental organizations. It also will engage young people in outdoor recreation and education.
Arkansas River Trail
A chain of parks, on both sides of the Arkansas River, links a complex of city trails and parks that runs from the Clinton Presidential Center in downtown Little Rock to the Big Dam Bridge in West Little Rock.
The state and the communities envision the Arkansas River Trail reaching from downtown Little Rock to Pinnacle Mountain State Park (and the 225-mile Ouachita Wilderness Trail) on the southern shore and from downtown North Little Rock to Cook's Landing on the northern shore.
These routes will directly connect city residents to the surrounding rural areas. A pedestrian bridge across Murray Lock and Dam and a renovated railroad bridge near the Presidential Library Center and Park will help create another 14-mile loop. All together this project will open approximately 24 miles of trail in central Arkansas.
While a great deal of progress has already been made in developing these trails and parks, another 12.5 miles of the Arkansas River Trail needs to be completed.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Arkansas, for example, the Department could provide technical and financial assistance for extension of the Delta Heritage Trail and completion of the Arkansas River Trail.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus — including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.