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.
Obama Administration Announces New Design, Expanded Content for Recreation.Gov as Part of Initiative to Boost Tourism, Strengthen Economy
New Features Make it Easier for Visitors to Discover and Explore Parks, Recreation Areas and other Public Lands
WASHINGTON -- As part of President Obama's initiative to fuel the economy and create jobs by promoting travel and tourism, the administration today announced a new design, improved navigation tools and expanded content for Recreation.Gov, the interagency website that guides visitors to 90,000 sites on federal lands such as national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, forests and recreation areas.
The redesign of www.recreation.gov is an initial step in a multi-year strategy to engage visitors with enhanced interactive content and more multimedia, mobile, trip-planning tools. The seven million visitors who use the web site every year will be able to make reservations, see ready-made itineraries for destination cities, and search for activities on an interactive map.
“Tourism and outdoor recreation are powerful economic engines in communities across the country,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “With the redesign of Recreation.Gov, we are making it easier for people to plan trips, find outdoor adventures, and explore activities at our public lands across the country.”
“Recreation.gov is a perfect example of interagency cooperation to leverage resources and provide recreational opportunities for all Americans, as well as international visitors to American public lands and waters,” Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Outdoor activities contribute an estimated $646 billion to the U.S. economy, according to independent estimates, and this enhanced website will provide a gateway for Americans to enjoy their great outdoors.”
“If we can provide visitors both here and abroad easily accessible information and itineraries at the click of a mouse, we will increase the number of people who choose to vacation and travel in the United States,” Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said. “From hotels to restaurants to taxis, small businesses across the nation stand to benefit from this new website.”
“Recreation.gov is an important tool to help all Americans connect with the benefits of being outdoors – a key goal of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Encouraging Americans and international tourists alike to enjoy the outdoors will boost tourism, create jobs, and promote healthier communities.”
"Recreation.gov is a ‘one-stop' website to find places that close to home for a day's fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and much more. There are so many sites within a short drive of urban areas that people don't know about,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said. “At Recreation.gov people can find parks, swimming beaches, boat ramps, and other places to get away to for a few hours, days, or weeks."
Highlights of the updated site include:
Explore Trip Ideas: Recreation.gov now features Explore Trip Ideas with interactive maps to help visitors discover points-of-interest on public lands when planning trips to popular destination cities like Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more.
Go Lists: Created to encourage more people to get active outdoors, Go Lists provide highlights of places to go, events, and activities at federal sites across the country with topics including “Day Hikes for Weekend Warriors” and “Civil War 150th Anniversary: Places and Events that Shaped Our Nation.”
Discover Great American Adventures: More in-depth articles and destination spotlights can be found in Discover Great American Adventures which feature a wide variety of experiences and adventures found only in America.
The Recreation.gov website update is a joint initiative between federal agency partners – including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is a key effort under President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which focuses on supporting healthy outdoor spaces and making them more accessible to Americans.
President Obama signed an executive order in January to significantly increase travel and tourism in and to the United States. As part of this initiative, the Departments of Commerce and the Interior outlined a long term strategy for increasing both domestic and international tourism.
The strategy provides a blueprint for the federal government to reach a goal of attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. International spending on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services set an all-time record of $153 billion in 2011, an 8.1 percent increase from 2010, and supported an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million industry jobs.