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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Crowds Force Closures and Restrictions in Parks and Natural Areas

A newspaper story reports the closure of a popular and photogenic waterfall.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

A day in the great outdoors has become increasingly attractive during the coronavirus pandemic. With many entertainment, sporting, and recreational activities constrained by safety precautions, people are flooding into national and local parks and recreation areas, as well as some previously little-known places. The crowds, congestion and litter have now forced a new set of restrictions. Some parks are limiting the number of visitors and some lesser-known locations are closing. If you’re headed out to a park or natural area, avoid disappointment by checking for the latest information before you head out the door.

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Now More than Ever, Know before You Go

Visitors won't be seeing this view of Mount Wilbur across Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana this year. © Frank Gallagher
Visitors won’t be seeing this view of Mount Wilbur across Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana this year. © Frank Gallagher

A time-tested piece of travel advice is to check the status of things at your destination before you depart. The last thing you want to encounter is a key location in your once-in-a-lifetime trip that is CLOSED. That’s happening now, as various national parks and points of interest are in varying stages of reopening during a pandemic. But a virus isn’t the only thing that can impact availability. Today you’ll find roads, campgrounds and entire sites that are closed or open only for limited hours almost anywhere you want to travel. It pays to know before you go.

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Art & Craft vs. Technology

Photo of snow-covered mountain in background with lake in foreground. While timing my visit to mighty Denali to coincide with the peak of the late summer color in the tundra, I was able to camp just a half mile from Ansel Adams Point. Fuji GSW-690, 65mm, Velvia.
Denali – While timing my visit to mighty Denali to coincide with the peak of the late summer color in the tundra, I was able to camp just a half mile from Ansel Adams Point. Fuji GSW-690, 65mm, Velvia.

Story and photos by Jerry Ginsberg

Because I always have something to say and am pleased to share many stories with people, I am often asked to address audiences ranging from the Garden Club of America to National Park visitors and staff to camera clubs. These talks accompany slide shows featuring some of my favorite images of our National Parks and other ‘Scenic Gems of America.’

The Questions

Once my prepared bloviating is done, we open it up to Q&A. The first questions that will invariably come from any audience are,

“What is your favorite national park?” and “What camera do you use?”

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Photographing Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Where, When and Why

Bull elk bugling during rut
Bull elk bugling during rut

Story & photos by Tom Croce

As a nature photographer, one of my favorite things is showing someone a picture of a beautiful elk bull, and then asking them where it was taken. They usually guess the Rocky Mountains or somewhere out west. It’s fun to see their expression when I tell them no, it was taken in North Carolina!

Perhaps one of the most important things we do as nature photographers is educate and help bring awareness to the plight of animals in the wild. Equally important is highlighting the programs where thoughtful, patient intervention has helped ensure that these wild places remain wild for future generations. One such program is the United States National Park Service’s reintroduction of the majestic elk to the Great Smoky Mountains. That’s the why. But where are the best places to photograph elk and when are the best times?

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Finding Community in NANPA

Sunset over water. Photo by Mark Kreider.
Photo by Mark Kreider.

Story and photos by Mark Kreider

I have been a NANPA member for a year and a half. Even in that short time, NANPA and its supportive community have influenced me in many meaningful ways. Life seems to be full of wonderful flukes, and my introduction to NANPA was one such instance. One morning in November of 2012, when I was a high school senior, I received word from a fellow photographer of a great photographic opportunity that existed for high school students. Though just three days away from the deadline of NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program application, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I quite honestly remember thinking it looked too good to be true – a chance to spend a week in the field and at the NANPA Annual Summit, all the while learning and being inspired. I wondered to myself a little incredulously, How could I not have heard of NANPA before? It looks awesome!

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Wanted: Future Nature Photographers

Students at work during Photo from 2019 High School Scholarship Program at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. © Tom Haxby.
Photo from 2019 High School Scholarship Program at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. © Tom Haxby.

By NANPA President Tom Haxby

Do you know a high school student who will be between the age of 14-19 and a rising sophomore, junior or senior during the dates of July 6-11, 2020, who might be interested in exploring nature through nature photography while having fun too? Perhaps this might be one of your children, grandchildren or even a non-relative.

Please consider encouraging eligible students to apply to the NANPA High School Photography Scholarship Program in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Applications are available at http://nanpafoundation.org/high-school-scholarships/ and must be submitted online by January 31, 2020.

If you know an educator who might interact with interested students, please inform them of this program. You can download a flyer to share.

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From the President: Come to Asheville in the Springtime

Foothills Sunrise view.
Foothills Sunrise

Story & photos by Tom Haxby

Winter will soon be upon us and while many photographers revel in the unique opportunities for winter photography, I always look forward to spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains with my camera in hand. My annual visits there quite literally put a spring in my step. Birds sing for mates from the newly green trees, waterfalls flow from spring rains, flowers bloom in profusion and it seems that the whole world is new again.

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Weekly Wow! Week of November 18, 2019

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: " I Wanted to Show the Way an Osprey Carries a Fish, Fort Myers Beach, Florida" © Sankha Hota.
Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: ” I Wanted to Show the Way an Osprey Carries a Fish, Fort Myers Beach, Florida” © Sankha Hota.

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, November 18, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. 

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Bump: Autumn in the Smokies paints these venerable mountains with a riot of brilliant colors.
Bump: Autumn in the Smokies paints these venerable mountains with a riot of brilliant colors.

Story & photos by Jerry Ginsberg

The Basics

It doesn’t have the granite domes of Yosemite or the geysers of Yellowstone, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts over 11 million visitors each year making it the most popular in the nation. That’s more than Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined.

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