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  • Writer's pictureJamie R.

National Park News: February 2021

The shortest month of the year brings more news to keep in mind while planning a visit to a National Park.

a birds eye view of Zion National Park in Utah

Zion National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Falco Rodriguez

National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out January’s News, and 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.


Steep, craggy mountains in the valley of Yosemite that almost look purple as the sun begins to set. Trees and a pond at the base of the cliffs

Yosemite National Park, CA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

In late January, President Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal workforces to wear masks to support slowing the spread of COVID-19. This requirement extends to all employees, partners, contractors - and visitors too - effective as of February 2. Face coverings are required in all buildings and facilities, and on managed lands where 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as on crowded/narrow trails. Some areas may see limited capacity, trail changes, or possible closures based on local legislation and compliance. The National Park Service recommends checking the website of the individual park for more information on their operations.


Children learning about the outdoors on a hike through the forest

Youth Conservation Corps in Action - Photo Credit: Guduru Ajay Bhargav

The Youth Conservation Corps is a work opportunity for youth around their local National Parks, that allows those ages 15-18 to work alongside National Park Rangers on park conservation efforts. This program usually spans 8 to 10 weeks, and pays minimum wage for a 40-hour work week. Applications are available for submission online, or you can stop into your local National Park to inquire about positions in-person. This is an amazing opportunity that provides youth the chance to learn about future careers with the National Park Service, as well as developing valuable and transferable work experience for future job opportunities in other fields.


The skites burning orange red and black in the aftermath of a forest fire. Burnt and blackened trees line the mountain ridge at Yosemite National Park

Aftermath of fires in Yosemite National Park, CA - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

National Parks are beginning prescribed fires ahead of the upcoming dry summers that commonly produce wildfires. Parks that are beginning these controlled burns this month include, but are not limited to: Zion National Park, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Southern Florida Parks and Reserves. These efforts are carefully coordinated with parks and fire experts, taking into account weather and other conditions for proper and safe impacts/dispersal. Due to these prescribed burns, there may be areas within parks closed on short notice - but these closures typically don't last longer than one day.


Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas - Joshua tree in the forefront, mountain in the back

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX - Photo Credit: JB Okie

Guadalupe National Park is currently seeking Texans to volunteer three months of their time to act as a point-of-contact for visitors, performing daily water testing, safety oversight, and possibly assisting in search and rescue efforts as well. These positions require participants to commit to working 32 hours per week, and background/reference checks will be run prior to onboarding. An RV/trailer with a bathroom will be provided for living arrangements for the duration of the assignment. There are 3 host positions for 3 different campgrounds within Guadalupe open through October-December of 2021, and interested parties should apply via

Guadalupe is not the only National Park that has sought out support from local communities. More information about volunteering with your local parks can be found through the National Park Service website, or by directly reaching out to the park you desire to support.


a camera on a tripod, set up to film a brilliant sunset over Devil's Bridge in Sedona Arizona

Low-impact filming at Devil's Bridge: Sedona, AZ - Photo Credit: Falco Rodriguez

The National Park Service has updated their regulations and processes around filming in national parks as a response to Price v. Barr. This allows for low-impact filming without any advance notice or permits. Low-impact filming is defined as filming in areas open to the public in groups of five or less, using equipment that must be carried at all times (with the exception of a small tripod to hold a camera.) This rule does not apply to areas considered congressionally-designated wilderness.

All filming opportunities that are considered non-low impact must give at least 10 days’ notice to the National Park Service by directly communicating with the park you plan on filming in. There are situations where permits may be required, and if you’re unsure check with the park rangers just in case.


a black and white photo of Waberly Historic District in Columbia South Carolina. A two story house with an awning and a porch

Waverly Historic District: Columbia, SC - Photo Credit: Liana Orr

In honor of Black History Month, The National Park Service has added 11 locations and programs that were monumental during the African American Civil Rights Movement. These 11 additions join the growing list of systems and sites that chronicle the movement, now ranging from coast to coast. Currently, the African American Civil Rights Network has a total of 45 entities, including 18 national parks to present commemorative spaces and interpretations in honor of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.


deep in the swamps of Big Cypress Preserve, just south of Everglades National Park in Florida. Cypress trees grow out of the water, and there are certainly gators swimming just under the surface

Big Cypress National Preserve, FL - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

Annual appropriations from the Historic Preservation Funds are broken down and listed on the National Park Service’s website. These funds are designated for the preservation of cultures for future generations, and education to enhance the learning of these cultures. These funds, granted by congress on an annual basis since the 1970’s, are not taxpayer money, but instead are collected through royalties from energy companies. $55.7 million will be allocated to preservation grants for states, territories, and partnering nations. The remaining $15 million will be given to 200 tribal offices for the purpose of historical preservation.


a brilliant sunset over the Ute Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. The mountains in the distance are illuminated by the sun reflecting incredible light and patterns off of the clouds overhead

Ute Trail: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

State and National Parks Converting to Online-Only Reservations

As reported in January’s National Park News, many campgrounds closed due to the pandemic are beginning to welcome back visitors. This has recently been seen in New Mexico State Parks, Rocky Mountain Campgrounds, South Dakota State Parks (with the exception of Custer State Park), and many more. These and many other national and state parks are now requiring online reservations to be made prior to arrival. When making reservations, be sure to look into policies around your potential vacation spot, since some must be purchased a certain amount of time in advance. Planning ahead for these trips is a great habit to get into in order to ensure a seamless experience.


A dispersed campsite near Big Bend National Park. A tent is set up next to a car, with mountains in the distance the setting sun bursting oranges and blues off of the clouds overhead

Big Bend National Park Outskirts, TX - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

Across America, there were a total of 237 million visitors to National Parks during 2020. This was a decrease of 28% from the previous year, likely due to pandemic-related closures and restrictions by local governments in the areas surrounding our parks. Over 60 national parks were closed for two or more months.


Other Outdoors News of Note

Saguaro National Park in Tucson Arizona features all sorts of vegetation in addition to the eponymous Saguaros. Many different types of trees and cacti are featured in this photo

Saguaro National Park: Tucson, AZ - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

Pocket Outdoor Media has officially closed acquisitions involving Outside Integrated Media, Outside TV, Gaia GPS, athleteReg, and Peloton Magazine. This comes with a rebrand for the business in hopes of expanding their existing audience to a more lifestyle consumer base. The company is planning on rebranding to “Outside”.


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out January’s news, and sign up for Pathloom Beta Access to be added to a mailing list with news, weekly blog updates, and exclusive sneak peeks to upcoming posts.


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