Archive for the ‘national grasslands’ Category
Avoid the “Are we there yet?” from the backseat by providing each child with their own map each morning at breakfast. (I would provide a map of our “before lunch” route to one child and an “after lunch” map to the other one.) You can print such a map from Google maps on the internet or from a mapping software you might have on your computer or use a road atlas map.
Briefly talk about the route, giving the child some idea of what might be waiting up ahead, such as a town with a funny name or a river with a history. You might want to highlight the planned route, may be not. Give the child a pencil and have them make notes on their map about what they see along the way. Maybe there is a 10-ft cowboy that waves at passing traffic, a herd of black cows with a white cream center (we called them Oreo cows) beside the road, or a really fun rest area they will want to remember.
Remind the child, they are the co-navigator and should let the driver know the name of any upcoming river or town and if there is some turn or change in the route coming up.
Some things to talk with the child about so they might be more aware of what they are going to see are:
Do the number signs look different for State, County, and US routes?
How does the map tells us if a route is State, County or US?
What are mile-marker?
Does every route have mile-marker? Why would mile-markers be important?
Are the mile-marker numbers going up or down? What do you think that tells us?
The Fort Pierre National Grassland will once again have viewing blinds available for people who want to want to watch the spring courtship rituals of prairie chickens.
The viewing blinds can be reserved at no charge on the National Grasslands south of Fort Pierre. The viewing blinds are available through May.
Wildlife Biologist Ruben Mares says the three blinds are placed at the edge of the birds’ dancing and booming grounds, which are called leks (LEHKS). He says visitors who use the blinds are overwhelmed by being able to view prairie chickens at such close range.
Can’t make to Fort Pierre NF? Click this link to see what you’ll be missing.
One of the highlights of our travels in 2011 was a Guided Auto Tour through Picketwire Canyon (available starting 3/1/13). It is a recommended “Must Do” for anyone visiting the Comanche National Grassland in southeast Colorado. A personal favorite stop on that tour was at the meandering dinosaur tracks near the Purgatoire River.
What I have just learned is, within the area covered during Picketwire Canyon Auto Tour, there have been upwards of 50 locations bearing dinosaur bones discovered since 2001 and four of these areas have been excavated. The discoveries were made by Passport in Time volunteers and a task force of volunteers selected by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a Forest Service partner, is taking on the task of stabilizing and storing the fossils.
So far, the remains of Ceratosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Allosaurus, and a limb bone possibly from a Stegosaurus have been found at what is called the “River View” quarry. FYI: Ceratosaurus and Allosaurus are meat eaters while Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, and Stegosaurus are plant eaters. Apparently, meat eating dinosaurs shed their teeth, like sharks, and a bunch their teeth have been found. The theory is bones were washed in and stacked up on a gravel bar in the river, thus the “toss dinosaur salad” image. It is thought many of the dinosaurs dead up river then either their partial skeletons or full carcasses washed down river, became lodge on an ancient sandbar, only to be chewed up by carnivores (meat eaters), thus, accounting for the tossed and strewn about fashion of the bones.
And to think we were there and, besides walking in dinosaur footsteps, we could have been walking on dinosaur bones! I want to go back!!!!
With the start of the new year, my thoughts stray to thoughts of another season of camping. To me, camping, surrounded by towering trees, endless horizons, and challenging trails, is a rejuvenating experience.
This year, 2013, may not be as rejuvenating as past years but it is still early and we’ll see. This year we have three options: stay close to home and enjoy the national forests in Arizona; take a long delayed trip to Puerto Rico to research and survey the El Yunque National Forest; or, maybe, take a couple to three months and revisit the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin. So many possibilities, were to start planning.
Since I am most familiar with the national forests in Arizona, that will be the first itinerary I’ll developed. I think I’ll try to integrate visiting some of Arizona’s wineries in our plans. An important starting point to my planning is the when do we start. At the moment, I doubt will be on the road before June no matter the option we pick. Option 1 (Arizona) and option 3 (Missouri and Wisconsin) will probably require two or three months while Puerto Rico will be only a month long. However, the duration of our travels will be determined by number of campgrounds, their physical locations, what there is to do nearby, etc. Also things like dump stations, grocery stores, laundromat, and such must be factored into the equation. I think it is all called “Logistics” and it is something all moms know about.
No matter the option, there is a pile of research to be done and a ton of planning before we hit the road. Just between us, all the research and planning makes me more ready to get on the road. Camping is so much more fun then the preparation.
You heard or seen all the recent sad news. Don’t worry I’m not going to recount any but to say I was happy to come across this item. It helped bring that festive holiday feeling back.
“Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People” – Shelter dogs are being trained to be conservationists. These conservation canines climbed the Jemez Mountains in the Santa Fe National Forest, clambering over rocks, running from smell to smell, to track where rare Jemez salamanders, a species found nowhere else in the world, are living in New Mexico. Because salamanders are succumbing to warmer temperatures and drought conditions, their population has drastically declined. Between two dogs, and with human assistance, only seven of the salamanders were found during the latest search effort. By mapping the salamanders, scientists will be able to create a land management plan that will help salamanders, as well as the forests we all depend on for clean water supplies and recreation. The work includes restoring the forest, woodlands and streams. The plan is for the dogs to return in 2013 to continue their work.
Good story that I hope brought you a smile and a little holiday cheer.
We were once asked, “What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever experienced or seen in a national forest?” That’s tough one. Not because there was a lack of the “amazing” but rather an abundance of them. I have maybe 14 journals loaded with things we have seen and experienced with a long list of adjectives attached. Here are a few that come immediately to mind.
Seeing a swimming Bald eagle in the Tongass NF. To make a long story short, this mature eagle had caught a salmon that must have weighted around 10 pounds. The problem was a Bald eagle can’t fly carrying that much weight and this bird wasn’t going to give up its catch so it swam, using a butterfly stoke with its wings, about 75 yards to shore. Once there, it climbed up on the rocks and devoured that fish. One awesome, unforgettable sight.
Another amazing experience was driving the County/Forest route 630 between Ophir and Silverton, CO in the Uncomprahgre National Forest. (Later, I learned it was considered an “easy” 4X4 trail but it isn’t so easy in a 3/4 ton Ram pickup!) Route 630 is the mother of all “white knuckle roads.” Point in fact, Fred was a redhead when we started our drive and was grey by the time we finished. We should have realized it was going to be a challenge when the Post Mistress in Ophir told us, “Yeah, your truck’s got the clearance, you should be able to make it.”
I find waterfalls amazing. Towering waterfalls like Yakso in the Umpqua NF, Upper and Lower Mesa in Targhee NF, and Elk Creek, just to name a few, are awe-inspiring. But also inspiring are those unnamed waterfalls that appear only after a rainstorm. A favorite waterfall was discover when we took a hike out of Singletree campground (Fishlake NF) and discovered water falling from a cliff high above, forming a shower curtain or water. Imagine looking out over a hot, dry Utah desert of Ponderosa pine shimmering in the heat and having a cooling mist gently touching bare skin – wonderful.
I must say, for me, the most amazing part of our adventure are the people we have met. There was Doyle, the most politically knowledgeable person I have ever met even though he could neither read or write. And the 72-year old Buster who knew more about the trees in his native Ozark Mountains than anyone (the Forest Service still consults with him). And, the amazing people who are volunteer campground hosts all across this country,
We’ll stop here with marveling in amazement at all we have accomplished. Who could have imagined we would do so much? Certainly, we have exceeded our musing of 18 years ago.
“In season on-site RV storage” is one of the suggested proposals in the American Recreation Association (ARC) “Modernization of Recreation Sites” plan. The concept is that the U.S. Forest Service would give concessionaires operating Forest Service campgrounds the authority to permit, for a fee, the parking of unoccupied recreational vehicles on an active campsite for an extended period of time. According to industry sources, this would allow campers, especially from urban areas, to travel back and forth without having to haul their rigs each time they want to spent time in the forest. This, according to an ARC representative, would be easier on the environment and reduce fuel consumption. The assumption is both would be a good thing. And getting more people enjoying time in the out-of-doors would be good, too.
According to ARC, the number of people enjoying the out-of-doors, specifically in national forests and grasslands, is steadily declining. Although this representative admits obtaining accurate and comprehensive numbers for the number of people who are enjoying national forests and grasslands is nearly impossible, he suggests the decline is more a function of “working mothers” not having the time or energy to perform the logistics necessary for a family to spend time in the out-of-doors. My response is that’s nonsense!
I have been camping for a long time, before children, with children, working outside the home, and now, in “my golden years” when it is just Fred and my dogs heading for the woods. It is always a challenge planning, packing, and preparing for any trip, and trip camping is no different. However, there are techniques and methods that make it easier and possible to, at-the-drop-of-a-hat, head for the woods. Plus, many working mothers have a helper known as the “dad.” (And by the way, Mr. Recreational Industry Representative, EVERY mother is a “working mother.”) Don’t blame declining numbers on “working mothers.”
There are many factors likely influencing the possible decline of people using national forest campgrounds. Deteriorating infrastructure in campgrounds and the ever increasing influence of concessionaires could be reasons. An infrastructure where the vaults are not maintained or there is an absence of drinking water would discourage many potential campers. Fees for having pets in a campground, restrictions on collecting dead and down wood so campers must purchase firewood from the concessionaire, and closing of campgrounds as soon as schools are back in session, voiding the possibility of camping in the less crowded “shoulder” season, are likely to contribute to the reduction in people camping at concessionaire-operated campgrounds. Perhaps ARC and others in the outdoor recreation industry should look at other factors contributing to the alleged decline in national forest and grassland campground occupancy before pointing their finger at the “working mother” or suggesting “in season on-site RV storage” would miraculously improve campground occupancy.
At least, that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Please, tell us how you feel about this proposal.
Public Lands Day is coming up. Check with your favorite national forest or grassland about what activities they are offering. Remember, Public Lands Day is a “Fee Free” day so do get out and enjoy.
Join the Friends of Mount Rogers at 3714 Highway 16, Marion, VA on Saturday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a celebration of public lands.
A variety of activities will take place including: family hikes, a native snake program, nature crafts for kids, a program on black bears, visits from Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, a rescue dog demonstration, storm safety, and music by Gerald Anderson and Friends. This event , celebrating George Washington-Thomas Jefferson National Forests, is free and open to the public.
This picture doesn’t really illustrate the size of the vehicle that pulled up besides at a Montana rest stop. Remove the cab part and you have a device used to hold and pump a ceramic “sand” (actually tiny man-made spheres) into the earth. It happened this device is broken and was being transported to some repair facility in Montana.
The driver pulled into the rest stop to use the bathroom and to do a safety check of his rig. While he checked and tighten stuff, he explained what this massive blue device did, how the “sand” helped to extract the oil/gas, and that fracking is beneficial to all. You can learn the most interesting stuff when you travel and stay receptive.
FYI: ”Fracking” is a topic of heated discussion in a number of national forests and grasslands. Mining and drilling are permitted with a special permit in all national forests and grasslands. A special permit for such activity are not awarded without public comment and environmental study.
Back to the size of the device – We have a 31-foot motorhome with a 15-foot towed vehicle and were completely hidden by this wall of blue!
Just heard about a movement by private industry to “modernize and upgrade national forest recreation sites, particularly campgrounds and marinas.” Full hookups, wifi, yurts, and the list goes on. Sounds good, but it means the campground or marina would be privatized, meaning handed over to a concessionaire, for upwards of 20 years. FYI: One of the suggested “improvements” is for “year-round storage.”
Here is the presentation used in the initial meeting between American Recreation Coalition and the Forest Service. The Forest Service has had a follow-up meeting but haven’t heard of any results.
My question – Does any one care if concessionaires take over recreating in our national forest? Your comments are appreciated.
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