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.
The America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass covers recreation opportunities on public lands managed by four Department of the Interior agencies – the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, and by the Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service.
The new pass program was created by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which Congress authorized in December 2004 and replaces the Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and the Golden Access Passports as well as the National Parks Pass. Existing passes will remain valid until expired.
Access to most public lands remains free. The pass applies to those locations that currently have entrance or standard amenity fees.
There are four different passes in the new interagency program; the most common is the Annual Interagency Pass costs $80. The pass offers unlimited coverage of entrance and standard amenity recreation fees for a specific period of time, typically a year, beginning from the month of purchase.
U.S. citizens 62 or older can purchase a $10 lifetime Senior Pass and citizens with permanent disabilities can receive a free lifetime Access Pass.
The Volunteer Pass is for volunteers who accumulate 500 hours of service.
One hundred percent of the revenue derived from passes sold at federal recreation sites will directly benefit the selling agency and no less than 80 percent of the revenue will remain at the site where the pass was sold.
Some specific examples of projects funded with fee revenues include: rehabilitating the Yellowstone National Park Canyon Visitor Center and creating new exhibits at Yellowstone National Park, enhancing boat launch facilities on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, building an accessible boardwalk at Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in Wyoming, and improving the museum at Desoto National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa.