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  • Writer's pictureJustine I.

National Park News: August 2021

Free entry, New Restoration Projects, and New Challenges

The blue-green waters of Delta Lake lay in stark contrast to the grey granite of the Grand Tetons and the blue skies overhead

Delta Lake: Grand Teton National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Brett Stanton


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out last month's edition here. Sign up for Pathloom Beta Access to be added to a mailing list for the latest news, weekly blog updates, and exclusive sneak peeks to upcoming posts.


Hikers admire the enormous red rock arches of Arches National Park in Moab Utah

Arches National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Falco Rodriguez

National Parks Continue to Fight Overcrowding Problem

Last month, overcrowding in National Parks continued to be a serious problem, with many outdoor enthusiasts and newbies alike flocking to these natural spots in record numbers. This caused a plethora of problems, including traffic jams and bad visitor behavior that for many, ruined the experience as a whole.

Now, over a month later, National Parks are still trying to deal with this issue. So far, the use of ticketed entry and reservation systems have proven to be effective, but this still frustrates locals and non-ticket holders who wish to enter the parks. Utah’s Arches National Park has decided to stop promoting itself in hopes of curbing tourism for now and other National Parks, including Acadia National Park, have prohibited private vehicles and have instead been utilizing shuttle systems to limit the amount of cars in parking lots. This has been effective in saving space, but is still an unrealistic solution without major funding. Because of this, Congress is negotiating a bill that would allocate funding for this cause - although the outcome is still up in the air. In the meantime, experts still recommend shifting focus to the lesser known natural areas in the U.S. while a more elegant solution is formulated.


The sun kisses the tops of the mountains surrounding Death Valley National Park in southern California

Death Valley National Park, CA - Photo Credit: Ankit Jain

National Parks will be Waving Entry Fees on August 25th

In celebration of the National Park Service’s 105th birthday, many National Parks will be offering free entry across the U.S.! You can look here to see which parks are participating! This is a great opportunity to plan a National Park trip you may not have done before. Along with this free entry day, U.S. National Parks will be offering in-person events inside the parks, as well as several online experiences for the entire month of August. This year’s theme is Park Scrapbooks, focusing on the many ways that guests have captured memories over the years. Guests are encouraged to share their own park memories on social media, using the hashtags #ParkScrapbooks, #FindYourPark, and #EncuentraTuParque.


Photographers stand ready to capture the starry night sky over Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota

Elkton, United States - Photo Credit: Yuting Gao

Voyageurs National Park to Host Events Series Celebrating Designation as International Dark Sky Park

Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park is the latest to be designated as a Dark Sky Park, meaning it has an significant lack of light pollution and will thus be protected by the International Dark-Sky Association for astronomical research and protection of nocturnal species. It also makes it an ideal spot for stargazing, which isn’t surprising considering Voyageurs’ potential to display the Northern Lights.

To celebrate this designation, the National Park has organized a series of events from August 11th-13th that are free to the public. These events include educational programs such as The Life and Death of Stars, and Ojibwe Constellations Storytelling and Art - which presents an exclusive look into traditional Native American knowledge and stories about constellations. There will also be a viewing of the Perseid meteor shower, and more interactive activities such as Paint the Milky Way and various Night Sky Activity Stations. The 3-day event will conclude with a Star Party and Telescope Viewing in collaboration with the Voyageurs Conservatory.


Blue skies overhead are reflected in the crystal blue waters of the many lakes in Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH - Photo Credit: Scott Hashier

Lisa Petit Becomes Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s First Female Superintendent

Lisa Petit, 60, has had a career with Cuyahoga Valley National Park for over two decades and has finally been named superintendent, a position she called a “lifelong dream.” Petit began working with the NPS in 2000 as a wildlife biologist, conducting research on birds native to the U.S. and Latin America in order to better understand conservation efforts in these areas. For the next 20 years, she worked various positions at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including Chief of the Resource Management Program and interim superintendent. This experience allowed her to learn about several activity branches in the park including science, engineering, designing, environmental compliance, and more.

Superiors who promoted her said that she was a “strong leader” who, thanks to her experience, can “quickly transition into her new role.” Petit will now oversee all of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, as well as the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, and the First Ladies National Historic Site.


The orange skies over the Grand Tetons are reflected in the waters of Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: Grand Tetons National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Nate Foong

National Parks Begin Significant Restoration Projects Thanks to ​​Great American Outdoors Act Funding

Last year, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAO) was signed into legislation to allot up to $1.9 billion per year for five years to allow for necessary maintenance and upgrades in National Parks throughout the country. Now, the National Parks are finally beginning needed projects as the GAO has begun significant work.

These projects aim to make Parks safe and accessible for all visitors, as well as preserve their natural beauty for years to come. Some projects that will get underway this month include the rehabilitation of the Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite National Park to improve campground roads, picnic areas, add storage for protection against bears, and other amenities as well. Another project will improve the Moose-Wilson road in Grand Teton National Park - including repaving and spot-widening to improve safety.

Unnecessary structures will also be removed in Shenandoah National Park to make room for the restoration of natural conditions in the area. You can see the rest of the GAO’s projects to restore and preserve America’s natural treasures here.


An overhead view of a volcano, steam rising from the rim of the caldera

Kīlauea Volcano: Big Island, HI - Photo Credit: Pieter De Malsche

Wildfires and Dry Conditions Threaten National Parks, Cause Temporary Closing of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

This Summer, several wildfires have caused problems for our National Parks, including a whopping 35 fires within Yosemite in this calendar year alone. On July 29, lightning storms ignited at least five wildfires in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California. Although these events may seem catastrophic, they actually aren’t very uncommon as National Parks across the Pacific states are naturally fire-adapted ecosystems.

However, the real problem is a lack of ample rainfall to regulate these ecosystems, and this concern has stretched from the Pacific states all the way to Hawai’i as rainfall around Eastern Hawai’i has been scarce as well. To combat these concerns, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has initiated road closures at parts of Mauna Loa Road and Hilina Pali Road. Officials have also banned open fires at the Nāmakanipaio campground until further notice. Propane and gas stoves will still be allowed, and guests will still be able to travel to the park on foot and bicycle while park officials continue to monitor safety concerns.


Snowy mountains rising majestically over the ridgeline at Denali National Park in Alaska

Denali National Park and Preserve: Alaska, USA - Photo Credit: Patrick Federi

Denali National Park Hosting Annual ‘Need for Seed’ Event

On August 8th at 9 a.m., Denali National Park and Preserve will be hosting its “Need for Seed” event, a day in the park to facilitate revegetation projects in the park, and teach the public about how native plants preserve the natural ecosystem. Guests are encouraged to visit and learn about the park’s plant life, but volunteers are also needed to collect and dry seeds for these projects. Volunteers will receive all materials and instructions on how to identify all plants, and in return, all volunteers will receive a special gift from the NPS!


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out last month's edition here. Sign up for Pathloom Beta Access to be added to a mailing list for the latest news, weekly blog updates, and exclusive sneak peeks to upcoming posts.


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