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  • Writer's pictureBryan Donoghue

National Park News: April 2022

National Park Week, Bear Season, Prescribed Burns, and More!

Grand Teton looking quite mysterious, mountains shrouded in fog with impossibly green pine trees in the foreground

Grand Teton National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan


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The white cliffs of Yosemite dwarf a black dead tree at the base of the mountain

Yosemite National Park: Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

National Park Week will be celebrated by Parks across the country from April 16th-24th, 2022. This year’s festivities have been (somewhat cheesily) dubbed “sPark Connections,” with a variety of themes for online and park-specific programs for each individual day. Check out the schedule of events over on the NPS website to find new ways to learn, experience, or even get involved via a volunteering campaign.

Earth Day (Friday, April 22nd) also coincides with National Park Week, and features many different educational and volunteering opportunities as well throughout the entire National Park System.

As part of this week-long celebration, Saturday, April 23rd has been dubbed “National Junior Ranger Day”, and will feature dozens of in-person and online events and activities that children of all ages can participate in to learn more about their favorite National Parks.

The ending of National Park Week also overlaps with the beginning of International Dark Sky Week (April 22-30). Many National Parks are certified by the International Dark Sky Organization as being some of the best places to view night skies due to a lack of surrounding light pollution, and several are offering special stargazing events to ring in this annual celebration.


Look for the bear necessities The simple bear necessities Forget about your worries and your strife I mean the bear necessities Old Mother Nature's recipes That brings the bear necessities of life

Katmai National Park, AK - Photo Credit: Pradeep Nayak

Spring conditions across the majority of the country mark the end of hibernation season for most of America’s Brown and Black Bears. This means through the wilderness there will be increased frequency of bear sightings and potential for bear/human interaction - so be sure to stay as far away as possible and practice proper bear safety techniques at all times! Sure, bear cubs are some of the most adorable creatures on the planet, but their presence as bear families emerge from their hibernatory dens means their parents may be even more aggressive in their foraging for food, as well as their defense. This can present real threats to humans in wilderness areas (including many National Parks) if visitors do not exercise proper precautions.


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Smoke rises from a catastrophic wildfire of in the distance in Northern California. This fire likely could have been avoided with prescribed burns in the area.

Forest Fire: Alturas, California - Photo Credit: Riley Fotis

As part of an initiative to maintain the unique and often delicate ecosystems found within National Parks across the country, rangers are implementing prescribed burns in various locations throughout the country. These controlled fires have long been proven to be an effective method of reducing the risk of wildfire destruction, reducing invasive plant species, and creating enriched soil to stimulate the germination of native seeds. There is evidence of indiginous peoples utilizing ‘fire as medicine’ in such a manner dating back thousands of years. These burns typically occur prior to wildfire season, when conditions are still humid from residual precipitation, temperatures are generally lower, and wind speeds are low enough to reduce the risk of the fires getting out of control.

Parks planning prescribed burns this month include Crater Lake National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Natl Park, Wind Cave National Park, King’s Mountain National Military Park, and many others. To avoid potential closures and smoke conditions, it is highly recommended to visit the website of any Parks you plan to visit in advance of your arrival.


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Fascinating stains on the rocks surrounding Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Abby Voce

In late March, the Biden-Harris administration approved a budget of $3.6 billion for the National Park Service in 2023, an increase of nearly $500 million over the previous year. The funds will be utilized for park maintenance and improvements, but also to promote initiatives such as justice and equity for underserved communities, climate science objectives, and increasing park capacity to accommodate the increase of visitorship since the Covid-19 pandemic rekindled Americans’ love for the socially-distanced great outdoors. The NPS employs over 20,000 to care for 423 National Parks across the country. Communities in close proximity to these parks benefit greatly from their presence, to the tune of 234,000 additional jobs and $28.6 billion in total economic output - a clear sign that this increase in budget is more of an investment in the future than an expenditure.


Total badass Ranger Betty is 100 years old and is finally retiring from the National Park Service. She looks like she is not someone to be trifled with.

Ranger Betty - Photo Credit: Luther Bailey

As has been widely reported in national media, in late March Betty Reid Soskin retired from her position at the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Historical Park at the age of 100 years old. Soskin, who started working for the National Park Service at the age of 84, has an important perspective on the WWII Home Front because she actually lived through that era, and her familiarity has proven invaluable to the development of programs within the Park that reflect that time in American history. “Ranger Betty’s” retirement ceremony was held this past Saturday, April 16th, though according to the Park website it appears she will still be hosting weekly informal video chats every Thursday afternoon.


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