Thursday, September 26, 2013

5 National Parks That Protect Endangered Species--GUEST POST by Alanna Sobel of the National Park Foundation

The United States is home to a diverse and splendid array of plant and animal species that cannot all be found elsewhere naturally. These species, some of whom symbolize our nation such as the American Bald Eagle, face continuing and growing hardships as their habitat is compromised by urban development. The National Park System was created to preserve the most treasured places in the United States, resulting in the protection of the native plants and animals that live in them as well. Below you will learn about some of the ways national parks have recognized the importance of protecting our country’s endangered species and how they’ve committed themselves to protecting these habitats that are vital to each species' survival.

The endangered Nēnē and Hawaiian Petrel have suffered significantly due to the light pollution from urban areas on the islands. Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii is on the forefront of seabird rescue and education, and has engaged in several outreach programs that protect the Nēnē and Hawaiian Petrel.  The National Park Service raises public awareness about the challenges these birds face, what to do if someone spots a disoriented or confused seabird, and what rehabilitation and rescue programs exist. Haleakalā park visitors are discouraged from feeding seabirds or leaving waste that can be confused as food. Many seabirds confuse plastics for jellyfish or fish and ingest it mistakenly.

Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park are two Florida parks that take center-stage in protecting endangered species. Biscayne National Park has gone to great lengths to protect the breeding grounds of sea turtles. Everglades National Park protects several endangered species through activities and research conducted at the South Florida Natural Resources Center. Both parks enforce strict visiting rules and regulations to minimize harm to wildlife, including banning pets from the park and closing trails or park areas as necessary to protect species.

Channel Islands National Parkand Great Smoky Mountains National Park are inhabited by several endangered species like the Channel Islands Fox and Indiana Bat, respectively. The National Park System helps support and maintain many tagging and breeding initiatives, as well as census and invasive species counts.  Both parks contribute information to research centers studying the impact of industrial pollution on the ecosystem. 

In addition to visiting and supporting national parks and research centers, people can do their part to help protect wildlife by always following park regulations on waste disposal and wildlife interaction. For more information on how to help endangered species living in national parks, visit

Alanna Sobel is a writer for the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. In partnership with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation enriches America’s national parks and programs through private support, preserving our country’s heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts. To learn about our national parks or to find out how you help, visit

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fishing and Photos at Alta Lakes

Jay and Garrett did some fishing while I walked around Alta Lakes and took photos yesterday.  Finally a beautiful afternoon after so many rainy ones!

Palmyra Peak (13,320 feet) above the largest lake.

The sunset looked like the sky was on fire to the right of Wilson Peak as we left that evening.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park

Our son Garrett is a Marine stationed at 29 Palms, California, and had been wanting to go on an adventure at Joshua Tree National Park, so we took the time to go visit him and the park over Labor Day weekend.  It was definitely a big change of scenery from the San Juan Mountains!

Joshua Trees are the largest of the yuccas, and believed to have gotten their name from Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of the Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky while praying to God.

It rained on us a little while we were there, and the clouds provided some very welcomed cooler weather.

Rock climbing is also very popular here.  It seems that every time I turned around Savanna and Garrett were up higher than I wanted them to be, like in the photo below.

The tiny red-spotted toads were hopping around all over the place after the rain.

There are petroglyphs in the park that were unfortunately "enhanced" with paint some years ago.

From a distance, the rock in the center looked like it should be named eye socket rock.

We hiked Ryan Mountain, elevation 5,467 feet.

There were beautiful views from the top of Ryan Mountain, although very different from the views on top of our mountains at home!

One of the most famous rocks in the park is Skull Rock.

We exited the park via the Geology Tour Road, and came out through Berdoo Canyon.  Jay loves roads like this.  It got pretty gnarly.

One last photo I had fun with playing with the colors and using the "heat map."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lower Blue Lake

Last week Jay and I hiked to the Lower Blue Lake on a cloudy day.  Mt. Sneffels and the Blue Lakes Pass were completely covered with clouds the whole time, but I did have some fun color changes with the sun breaking through the clouds above the Lower Blue Lake and Dallas Peak.