Necessary but not Sufficient: The Great American Outdoors Act

Photo of a brilliant sunset from atop Clingman's Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the country with a deferred maintenance backlog of $235 million.
Brilliant sunset from atop Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the country with a deferred maintenance backlog of $235 million.

By Jerry Ginsberg

Back in August the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law. Among its provisions, it provides funding of approximately $1.3 billion per year for five years to address long-delayed maintenance needs of the National Park Service. Clearly, this is a good thing and a reason to rejoice.

That said, it isn’t a perfect bill.

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Get Outside for National Public Lands Day!

National Public Lands Day 2020 logo © NEEF
National Public Lands Day 2020 © NEEF

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Saturday, September 26, 2020, is National Public Lands Day. Each year the fourth Saturday of September is so designated in an initiative created and sponsored by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). Typically, this is the “largest single-day volunteer event for public lands,” with hikes, workshops, cleanups, demonstrations, and all sorts of opportunities for people to participate. Last year, more than 200,000 volunteers took part. With the Covid-19 virus still a threat, things will be different this year, but there will still be many chances to get involved.

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The Great American Outdoors Act Becomes Law

President Donald J. Trump signs H.R. 1957- The Great American Outdoors Act Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour) Public Domain
President Donald J. Trump signs H.R. 1957- The Great American Outdoors Act Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour) Public Domain

On August 4th, the president signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act. At a time when not many people agree on anything the act, with strong bipartisan support, passed the Senate 73 to 25 and the House 310 to 107.

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Great American Outdoors Act Clears Senate

The Yosemite Valley from the Mariposa Trail by Carleton Watkins. Watkins’ photos were instrumental in getting Congress to pass the Yosemite Grant in 1864, preserving the valley and leading to the creation of national parks. Public domain.

Last week the United States Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act by a strongly bipartisan vote of 73 to 25.  The bill provides billions of dollars in funding for parks, trails and public lands, including funding for some of the maintenance backlog in national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  For nature photographers who photograph or lead tours in parks, refuges and public lands, this is good news.

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Oh Shenandoah, My Shenandoah: Photography in Shenandoah National Park

West facing view of scenic Franklin Cliffs in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.
West facing view of scenic Franklin Cliffs in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Story & photos by Jerry Ginsberg

As I write this, the United States, like many other nations, is just beginning to stir after a long shutdown in a Herculean effort to slow the spread of the deadly corona virus pandemic. The great National Parks that I typically write about have been closed to visitors. As spring turns towards summer, some restrictions are easing and people are venturing out of their homes. In the meantime, we’ve spent a lot of time online. I have kept busy editing last winter’s images and re-playing webinars on You Tube while my wife is immersed in Words with Friends and ‘encourages’ me to clean out the garage. We look forward to returning to the gym and continue to diligently do what we can to avoid this horrendous plague.

In late May, Shenandoah National Park took the first steps towards reopening. Conditions vary from place to place, so please check with your park before heading out for a visit. In anticipation of better days ahead, then, it seems like a good time to share the information below.

In the meantime, above all, stay safe!

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A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 1

A bugling elk in Yellowstone is a favorite subject of photographers.
A bugling elk in Yellowstone is a favorite subject of photographers.

Story & photo by Frank Gallagher

As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us make an inventory of those people and things for which we are grateful. In that list we often find the landscapes and animals and plants that give us such joy when we’re out with our cameras. Not surprisingly, many of the items on our list reside in national parks. But, if we are so grateful for them, what are we doing to protect and preserve them?

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Arches National Park

Elegant and graceful, world-famous Delicate Arch dominates the scene in Arches National Park, Utah.

Story & Photography by Jerry Ginsberg

High on the list of the most photogenic landscapes anywhere is the Beehive State, Utah. With five spectacular national parks, each one special in its own right, Utah is simply not to be missed.

While in the past, I have written tips for a photo trip to Moab, Utah, Arches National Park is such a singularly important place for nature photography that adding an article focused specifically about it seems both necessary and worthwhile.

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Majestic Monument Valley

The Mittens, Monument Valley.

The famed Mittens, calling card of Monument Valley Tribal Park, Utah and Arizona.

Story & Photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Monument Valley Tribal Park, situated within the sprawling Navajo Nation, is not a National Park, nor is it federal land. It is a fascinating and wonderfully scenic, 30+ square mile chunk of Arizona and Utah belonging to the Navajo people.

In only a few places on Earth can we find such a concentration of fantastically-eroded sandstone formations in such a relatively small area.

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Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona – URGENT NOTE

Ed. Note:  Shortly after posting Jerry Ginsberg’s wonderful post on Pearl Harbor last week, we learned that the Memorial is going to be closed indefinitely for repairs. I decided that the best way to communicate this is to republish the post, along with a note from Jerry compiled from the NPS news:

The National Park Service announced on May 28 that tours to the USS Arizona Memorial will be suspended until further notice due to structural defects in the boat dock and visitor loading ramp. Engineers are working to devise long-term repairs.  The National Park Service deserves our respect and gratitude for the great work that they do, but as they presently struggle under a maintenance backlog exceeding $10 Billion, any expectation that we will see these repairs completed in the near future may well be overly optimistic.

 

Forward gun turret on the USS Missouri. As one of four New Jersey class battleships commissioned in 1943, the “Mighty Mo”was one of the very last of her kind ever built. © Jerry Ginsberg

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