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.
In 2009, the Command Oil Spill Trustee Council, consisting of the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and three California state agencies, continued to implement and monitor several inter-related restoration projects. These projects are intended to compensate for injuries to birds and impacts to human recreational uses resulting from an oil spill in 1998 along the San Mateo County coast.
One of the primary components of the Command restoration plan is to protect seabird colonies on rocky outcrops and islands in and near the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Farallones National Wildlife Refuge. Through a partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration, the Command Trustee Council has been able to establish seven restricted zones around seabird colonies and educate boaters, kayakers, pilots and others about the need avoid these sensitive sites and to view the seabirds without disturbance.
The trustees plan to install an additional 27 buoys around the enclosure areas. This project has become a model that is being adopted at other coastal restoration sites up and down the California coast.
The trustees have also designed and built rock walls and structures to prevent disturbance of common murre nest sites by hikers using a foot path on Southeast Farallon Island. This project has led to a 12% increase in nests. Trustee biologists have observed that the vast majority, approximately 90%, of the common murres on the island reside and nest in areas where walls shield the birds from view. Additional projects undertaken by the trustees include a partnership to restore native vegetation to Año Nuevo Island, improving public access to beaches and coastal observation sites, and continuing to monitor the results of bird management and land acquisition projects undertaken in past years.