A Look Back At Some Of The Year's Top Stories in the National Park System

Work is under way to update the Leopold Report, which examined how the National Park Service approaches wildlife management. USFWS photo of an endangered Florida panther.

Planning for the next century of the National Park Service, ecosystems at risk, and fatal grizzly bear maulings were some of the stories that surfaced across the National Park System in 2011. Here, in no particular order, is a glance at some of the top stories that the Traveler followed.

Call To Action: Updating The Leopold Report For the 21st Century

Nearly 50 years after it was completed, the Leopold Report on wildlife management in the national parks is perhaps overdue for revisions to take into account the realities of climate change, sprawl, and greater visitation to the parks.

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A National Park Superintendent And His Questionable Real Estate Deal

What should we make from the story that a National Park Service superintendent sold his house for more than three times its assessed value to a key concessionaire in his park and didn’t consider it a conflict of interest?

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Study Says More Studies Needed To Determine Impact of Oyster Farm At Point Reyes

While an oyster company operating at Point Reyes National Seashore seems to be influencing the behavior of harbor seals there, more research is needed to determine a "cause and effect," a new report concludes.

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Looking At the National Park Service's Goal To Eliminate Plastic Bottles

What symbolic role should America's national parks play in promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability in front of hundreds of millions of visitors a year?

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis is determined to rid plastic bottles from the national parks, but wants to consider all factors before doing so, the agency's communications chief said today while addressing the uproar over the director's decision to put a hold on a water bottle ban at Grand Canyon National Park.

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Ozark National Scenic Riverways, A System At Risk

Earlier this year Ozark National Scenic National Riverways was named to American River's list of Most Endangered Rivers. In the following two-part article Susan Flader, who long taught in the University of Missouri-Columbia History Department, traces the riverways' history while pointing to many of the problems it faces.

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Is it time for a "Maine Woods National Park"? Photo by QT Luong, www.terragalleria.com/parks.

Is Time Right For "Maine Woods" National Park?

Inspired in no small measure by others who gave so much to the National Park System, Roxanne Quimby is offering 70,000 acres for a national park embracing Maine's North Woods.

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History To Be Made With Dismantling Of Dams Impacting Olympic National Park Watershed

Nearly a century after they rose up and blocked the Elwha River to generate power, two dams on the river with headwaters in Olympic National Park will begin to be removed this weekend in a historic event aimed at restoring the watershed.

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War and Consequences: The American Indian Movement Vs. The National Park Service At Ft. Laramie

Has the National Park Service failed to adequately and fully explore Native American history at Fort Laramie National Historic Site, skewing history to avoid discussing the darker side to the Indian wars? A long-time Park Service historian thinks so.

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Read Part II

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Does the National Park Service faithfully explain Native American history?

Many National Parks Get The Indian Story Wrong

Earlier this year we ran a story by former Park Service historian Richard West Sellars that examined how fully the National Park Service at Fort Laramie National Historic Site recounts the history of the 19th Century Indian Wars. The following article from Robert Pahre takes a broader look at how the National Park Service interprets Native American history.

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NPS Issues "Call to Action" For Moving Towards Its Second Century

A more expansive, and inclusive, National Park System, stronger educational outreach, and a revised approach for managing today's natural and cultural resource challenges are among goals laid out in a blueprint for leading the National Park Service into its second century.

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How far will Appalachian Trail thru-hikers need to walk in between restocking? Kurt Repanshek photo of Spence Field AT Shelter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Closing Small-Town Post Offices Could Impact Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers

How far are you willing to go out of your way for a meal? For Appalachian National Scenic Trail thru-hikers, that question could take on more relevance if the U.S. Postal Service closes down some of its smaller operations in a cost-saving move.

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At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Birds, Turtles, and Humans Have Created An Air Of Controversy

A dispute over birds, turtles, and humans has filled the air over Cape Hatteras National Seashore with controversy, and has drawn into question the very purpose of the national seashores and the mission of the National Park Service.

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Read Part II

Inspector General's Report On Hubbell Trading Post Fiasco Points To Park Service Errors

In its long-hidden report on the National Park Service's mistake-prone investigation of the business side of Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site the Interior Department's investigative arm cites significant missteps by Park Service investigators and raises questions of the propriety of both the Park Service and Inspector General's probes.

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Grizzlies killed two hikers in Yellowstone this year. NPS photo.

Grizzlies Kill Hikers In Yellowstone National Park

A grizzly sow linked to two fatal maulings of hikers in Yellowstone National Park has been killed by rangers, and her two cubs have been placed in an educational zoo outside the park, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk announced Monday.

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NPCA Report: National Parks Have Troubling Problems With Natural, Cultural, Historic Resources

A report out today from the National Parks Conservation Association paints a distressing picture of the health of the National Park System just five years out from the centennial of the National Park Service.

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Can, and Should, The Hetch Hetchy Valley In Yosemite National Park Be Restored?

Though it's missing a Half Dome, the twin to the Yosemite Valley has been described by none other than John Muir as "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples.” But since 1923 the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park has been submerged, a victim of sorts to thirsty San Franciscans, but one that more than a few believe should be drained and brought back to life.

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The Jefferson Memorial gained notoriety in 2011 for dancing. Kurt Repanshek photo.

When Did Dancing Become Illegal At The Thomas Jefferson Memorial?

When did dancing become a sign of protest, and when was it outlawed in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial? Those questions might come to mind after watching the following video.

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Federal Judge Rules a Creek in Canyonlands National Park Is Not a Road

A winding creek that jogs through Canyonlands National Park to a spectacular sandstone arch is not a road, and that finding by a federal judge could send reverberations throughout many Western states determined to expand access across the federal landscape.

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Report Raises Concerns Over How Colorado River Basin Dams Impact National Parks

Some of the most magnificent national parks of the Southwest owe their rugged beauty to the Colorado River and its tributaries. Unfortunately, dams that have sprung up along the river have changed the water flows in a way detrimental to these national parks, according to a report from the National Parks Conservation Association.

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How much should climbers pay to scale Mt. McKinley? NPS photo.

Issue of Climb Fees At Denali National Park Raises Questions of Fee Equity

Climbing at high elevations is a highly specialized sport, and the support network for those who aspire to summit Mount McKinley in Denali National Park is a million-dollar proposition. While park officials believe climbers should bear more of that cost, the climbing community is pushing back.

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2010 National Park Visitation Dips to 281.3 Million, Down 4.2 Million From 2009

Bad weather, lack of a presidential inauguration, and safety concerns along the Southwestern border with Mexico apparently were the major drivers behind a slight dip in 2010 visitation to the National Park System from 2009 levels.

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Traveler's View: National Park Service Failed Its Mission With Management Plan At Big Cypress National Preserve

Faced with a wondrous opportunity to truly preserve a large swath of Florida still bearing wilderness characteristics, one that can play a critical role in the recovery of North America's most endangered mammal, the National Park Service instead looked the other way.

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