Field Work in Joshua Tree National Park

Posts have been lacking lately but I have a legitimate excuse; I have been in the field. Specifically in Joshua Tree National Park where there is no water, let alone an internet connection.  I was in the park for about a week conducting some social science research through a grant that I received from a private foundation associated with the park.  The research part is a bit boring (basically I was surveying climbers and hikers about their perceptions of resource impacts), but I came home with some good photos and some even better stories.

Joshua Tree at sunset at the Hidden Valley Nature Trail

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Dogs and wildlife: How do wildlife respond?

Recreation ecologists are often concerned about how different recreational activities impact wildlife species.  However, little research has been conducted around this topic.  In 2001, Miller et al. examined how the presence of dogs (and hikers, since dogs are rarely on trails alone) influence wildlife in Boulder, Colorado.  Various characteristics of a recreational activity can influence the level of impact to wildlife; these include intensity, frequency, and locations of the recreational activity.  Recreation ecologists also refer to a concept called the “area of influence”.  The area of influence is defined by the probability that an animal will respond at a given perpendicular distance from the recreationist.  The greater the area of influence (or the greater the probability of response) the greater the impact is to the particular wildlife species in question.

Dog on a hiking trail in Park City, Utah

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Two New National Park Units in One Week!

Less than a week ago, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to establish the Fort Monroe National Monument and today the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park.  Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park marks the 397th National Park in the NPS system.  This National Historic Park is located in Paterson, New Jersey and was a center for early industry in the United States. The falls themselves are 77 feet tall and located on the Passaic River. Historically, the falls were used for water-based power during the Industrial Revolution. The Great Falls powered cotton mills, the locomotive industry, and the silk spinning industry (to name just a few).

Paterson Great Falls on the Passaic River, New Jersey

In the coming months, the National Park Service will begin working on the General Management Plan for the Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park.  The NPS will work closely with the town of Paterson as well as other stakeholders to ensure that the park is managed in a responsible manner.  Public open houses will also be held in Paterson during the month of November to receive public input on the management of this new historic park.


Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park

Live feed of Paterson Great Falls

Obama uses the Antiquities Act

Yesterday, for the first time during his presidency, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to add a new unit to the National Park System.  The Antiquities Act (signed in 1906 by Roosevelt) allows the President, by executive order, to create a new national monument. On Tuesday, November 1st, with just the stroke of his pen, President Obama created the Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia.

Aerial Image of Fort Monroe National Monument, Hampton, Virginia

Fort Monroe, located on the tip of the Virginia peninsula, was completed in 1834. Fort Monroe was incredibly important during the Civil War and was one of the few areas of Virginia that remained under Union control. As such, the fort was also a symbol of freedom for slaves during the Civil War.  Fort Monroe was closed on September 15th, 2011 and it’s future was uncertain. However, now the history and cultural significance of Fort Monroe will be protected under the Antiquities Act and managed by the National Park Service as another one of our nations jewels.


Fort Monroe National Monument

Washington Post Article