Taking the mission a significant step forward, the European Space Agency (ESA) and OHB System, a European multinational technology corporation based in Bremen, Germany, signed on July 29 a contract to build the first two satellites that make up the mission.
With the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere approaching levels that humans may have never before experienced, the need to monitor sources of emissions is more urgent than ever – hence the Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission being one of Europe’s new high-priority satellite missions.
With a contract secured worth €445 million, OHB will lead the industrial consortium to start building the two satellites. As the main contractor, OHB is responsible overall, and is also developing the satellite platforms.
As the main sub-contractor, Thales Alenia Space will supply the instruments: the near-infrared and shortwave-infrared spectrometer that will measure emissions of carbon dioxide.
Importantly, the mission will be the first to measure how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere specifically through human activity.
Although measurements on the ground have made it possible to track general changes in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, it is not possible to make reliable statements about anthropogenic emissions from individual countries or even individual regions and cities.
The Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission, or CO2M for short, aims to close this gap. In turn, data gathered by CO2M will be used to help track and implement targets set out in the still weakened Paris Agreement philosophy.
The question of how the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will develop in the coming decades will also determine the fate of the global climate.”
Today, most ships burn bunker fuel. Typically, this is the dregs left over at the end of the refinery process. It is an environmental nightmare. It is heavy and toxic, doesn’t evaporate, and emits more sulfur than other fuels.
Like aviation, shipping isn’t covered by the Paris Agreement on climate change because of the international nature of the industry.
The Paris deal aims to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C this century by reducing emissions. Instead, it is the job of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to negotiate a reduction in emissions from the industry.
Reducing emissions from shipping is not an easy thing to do, agrees Maurice Meehan, director of global shipping operations with the Carbon War Room, an international think-tank working on market-based solutions to climate change.
The industry will simply say that they are doing a good job building more efficient vessels and retrofitting older ships. It has been estimated that just one of these container ships, the length of around six football pitches, can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars.
The emissions from 15 of these mega-ships match those from all the cars in the world. International shipping produces nearly one billion tons of CO2 emissions, which is approximately 2% to 3% of global man-made emissions.
WWF / Crickey Conservation Society 2020
Tropical Storm Gonzalo is headed for the Windward Islands Saturday, but weakening is expected as the storm approaches. Some islands may receive gusty rain showers as Gonzalo passes through.
Gonzalo is the earliest seventh named tropical storm on record to form in the Atlantic basin, according to Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University. The previous record was held by Tropical Storm Gert, which developed on July 24, 2005.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which formed Wednesday, is expected to become the first hurricane of the season by Friday night. Meantime, a tropical depression has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
A hurricane watch has been issued for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Gonzalo is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the next 24 hours and peak at a Category 1. Either way, there is an increasing risk of wind and rain impacts to portions of the southern Windward Islands this weekend.
Gonzalo had sustained winds of 60 mph and was about 810 miles east of the southern Windward Islands. Beyond tropical storm-force winds, rainfall will be a massive concern for the ABC-Islands along the coast of Venezuela.
The official forecast continues to show Gonzalo becoming a hurricane in about 24 hours, but the uncertainty in this scenario cannot be stressed enough. Small storms are prone to more significant fluctuations in intensity, both up and down.
NOAA / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.
Gold and frankincense and myrrh, sound familiar? These were the gifts that were allegedly brought by the three kings when Jesus Christ was born.
We all know that gold is valuable, but what about the others? Frankincense has long been touted as a magical, mystical medicine and has been regarded as such for millennia within many ancient cultures of the world.
The same goes for myrrh, but for the purpose of this article we are going to stick to the medicinal properties of frankincense.
Frankincense starts out as a type of resinous sap that is found inside a special family of trees called Boswellia, which grow almost exclusively in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.
When it is harvested at specific times of the year, the trees are cut carefully with special knives and the sap seeps out. This special sap is then dried in the sun until it is ready for use. More commonly, frankincense is burned simply as sweet smelling incense, but it has many other uses as well.
Frankincense has also been used medicinally, treating various ailments such as arthritis (it has strong anti-inflammatory properties), gut disorders (like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), asthma, and maintenance of oral health.
And perhaps the most intriguing quality for our westernized modern culture is the psychoactive effects of this special resin, as studies have shown that burning frankincense can trigger an effect that can aid and even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
One study in particular, conducted by a team of researchers form John Hopkins University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, explains how burning the resin from the Boswellia plant (frankincense) activates certain previously misunderstood ion channels in the brain in order to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
This might explain why Roman emperor Nero once burned an entire year’s harvest of frankincense at his favorite mistress’ funeral. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”
The researchers administered incensole acetate in order to determine its psychoactive effects. This compound they found drastically impacted the parts of the brain that generate emotions and the nerve circuits that have responded positively to current drugs used for depression and anxiety.
The incensole that was administered activated a protein called TRPV3, which is connected to the ability to perceive warmth of the skin.
Perhaps Karl Marx wasn’t too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony.
Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system.
This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!
So, the good thing is that if used appropriately, it really can’t hurt to try. You can typically buy the resin at health food stores and more commonly at stores that sell incense, crystals, sage and those sorts of spiritual ceremonial tools.
It can also be found as an essential oil. I like to diffuse it in a diffuser, and sometimes I’ll burn the resin on charcoal pucks as well.
At the very least, you’ll get a nice and pleasant smelling aroma, and at best it can help turn that frown upside down, increase your mood, reduce your anxiety and maybe even put a smile on your face.
Perhaps those three wise men were as wise as they’ve been made out to be, and frankincense really is as special as it’s been believed to be for millennia.
Cigarette butts account for one-third of all trash collected according to the ocean conservatory project. Research shows that filters aren’t even needed as they do next to nothing to mitigate the harmful effects of smoking.
Over the past several years a lot of attention has been brought to the amount of trash that is ending up in our world’s oceans. We have seen straw bans happening around the world and bans on single-use plastic bags as well.
There is one pollutant that should be in the spotlight as it is the single greatest source of ocean trash — cigarette butts.
For some reason, this small, but ubiquitous source of trash has mostly avoided any form of regulation. This soon could change if a committed group of activists has a say.
A tobacco industry academic, California lawmaker, and a worldwide surfing organization are among the growing number of people who are arguing that cigarette filters should be banned.
It’s pretty clear there is no health benefit from filters. They are just a marketing tool. And they make it easier for people to smoke, or even inhale toxic fiber substance into the lungs?
It’s also a major contaminant, with all that plastic waste. It seems like a no-brainer to me that we can’t continue to allow this,” Thomas Novotny, a professor of public health at San Diego State University told NBC News.
A California assemblyman proposed an outright ban on cigarettes with filters but wasn’t able to get the proposal out of the committee.
A state senator from New York has written legislation to create a rebate program for butts returned to redemption centers, but that idea is also on hold.
San Francisco has propositioned for a 60 cent per pack increase to raise around $3 million annually to help to cover the cost of cleaning up these discarded butts.
The Truth Initiative, one of the largest anti-smoking initiatives in the U.S. is doing everything it can to raise awareness around this issue.
They use funds collected between state attorneys general and tobacco industries to deliver hard facts against smoking. The group used a nationally televised Video Music Awards show to launch a campaign against cigarette butts. The group is going against the hands down, “most littered item in the world.
With 5.6 trillion cigarettes manufactured worldwide each year, the filters made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that takes a minimum of 10 years to decompose. An alarming two-thirds of those butts are dumped irresponsibly each year according to Novotny, who founded the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project.
Since 1982 the Ocean Conservancy has sponsored a beach cleanup. Each year, cigarette butts have been the most collected item on the beaches of the world.
Over 60 million have been collected over that period of time. Out of all the plastic wrappers, eating utensils, bottles, containers, cigarette butts have accounted for one-third of all the trash collected.
Let’s not forget that these discarded filters contain synthetic fibers and hundreds of chemicals that are used to treat tobacco. Novonty is actively pursuing further research to see exactly what waste from cigarettes is leaching into the soil, streams, rivers, and oceans.
If you are a smoker, it is up to you to take responsibility for the proper disposal of your butts. This may even be enough of a drawback from smoking that it may inspire you to quit. If not, there are many options available. One being, rolling your own cigarettes.
Collective Evolution / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.
Nearly 130 years ago, Italian explorer Elio Modigliani arrived at a natural history museum in Genoa with a lizard he’d reportedly collected from the forests of Indonesia. Nose
Based on Modigliani’s specimen, the striking lizard — notable for a horn that protrudes from its nose — got its official taxonomic description and name, Harpesaurus modiglianii, in 1933. But no accounts of anyone finding another such lizard were ever recorded, until now
In June 2018, Chairunas Adha Putra, an independent wildlife biologist conducting a bird survey in a mountainous region surrounding Lake Toba in Indonesia’s North Sumatra, called herpetologist Thasun Amarasinghe.
Near the lake, which fills the caldera of a supervolcano, Putra had found “a dead lizard with interesting morphological features, but he wasn’t sure what it was,” says Amarasinghe, who later asked the biologist to send the specimen to Jakarta.
It took only a look at the lizard’s nose-horn for Amarasinghe to suspect that he was holding Modigliani’s lizard. “It is the only nose-horned lizard species found in North Sumatra.
Wooden arts and folktales of the Bataks — indigenous people native to the region — show that lizards have a special place in the people’s mythology.
But simply there was no report at all about this species” following Modigliani’s, says Amarasinghe, of the University of Indonesia in Depok.
He asked Putra to get back to the caldera to see if there was a living population. After five days, Putra found what he was looking for one evening, “lying on a low branch, probably sleeping,” according to the biologist.
He took pictures of the lizard and measured the size and shape of its body parts, such as the length of its nose-horn and head. He also observed its behavior before finally releasing it the same night.
Using this data, Amarasinghe compared the lizard with the one described in 1933, and concluded that the living lizard and the dead one that Putra had stumbled across were in fact Modigliani’s nose-horned lizards.
The Genoa museum’s dead specimen is pale blue due to preservation, but it’s now known that the lizard’s natural color is mostly luminous green. Its camouflage and tree-dwelling behavior are similar to African mountain chameleons.
The reptile belongs to the Agamidae family of lizards, which are commonly called dragon lizards and include species such as bearded dragons (SN: 6/14/17).
Shai Meiri, a herpetologist at Tel Aviv University, has previously shown that many dragon lizards live in small, hard-to-access areas, making the reptiles difficult to study.
There are 30 agamid species that have never been seen since they were first described, and 19 species which are known from just a single specimen.
While thrilled with their find, Amarasinghe and Putra are worried about the lizard’s future. “The living dragon was found outside a conservation area, and massive deforestation for Palm oil purposes (*Unilver) is happening nearby.
But the rediscovery offers a glimmer of hope for the lizard’s conservation, Meiri says. Before the reptile resurfaced, no one knew where exactly Modigliani’s lizard lived, or whether it had already gone extinct, he says.
But now, “we can study it, understand its conservation needs and hopefully implement some kind of conservation measures to save the species from extinction.”
Science News Organization / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.
Cane toads are native to South and Central America. They are extremely hardy animals and voracious predators of insects and other small prey.
These qualities led to their introduction into Australia as a means of controlling pest beetles in the sugar cane industry in 1935, before the use of agricultural chemicals became widespread.
Since then, the range of cane toads has expanded through Australia’s northern landscape and they are now moving westward at an estimated 40 to 60 km per year.
Cane toads reached Brisbane by 1945, Burketown in north-western Queensland by the early 1980s, Iron Range on the Cape York Peninsula by 1983 and the tip of the Cape by 1994. Cane toads are capable of poisoning predators that try to eat them and they continue to spread across Australia.
There is no broad scale way to control this pest but scientists are developing a better understanding of the impacts they have on the environment and the ways in which assets, such as rare and vulnerable wildlife, can be protected.
Cane toads forage at night in a wide variety of habitats. The toad is a ground-dwelling predator, primarily eating terrestrial and aquatic insects and snails. Toads will even take food left out for pets. The toads can be accidentally transported to new locations, for example in pot plants or loads of timber.
Cane toads need constant access to moisture to survive. Instead of drinking, they absorb water through the skin on their belly — from dew, moist sand or any other moist material.
If forced to stay in flooded conditions, cane toads can absorb too much water and die. They can also die from water loss during dry conditions. In Australia there are no specific predators or diseases that control cane toads.
The toads can breed at any time of year but seem to prefer the weather conditions that occur with the onset of the wet season. They will lay their eggs in still or slow-moving waters. Females can lay 8000–30 000 eggs at a time.
The cane toad defends itself through poison and is poisonous, to varying degrees, during all its life stages. Adult cane toads produce toxin from glands over their upper surface, but especially from bulging glands on their shoulders — these exude venom when the toad is provoked.
While some birds and native predators have learned to avoid the poison glands of adult toads, other predators are more vulnerable and die rapidly after ingesting toads. Toads contain poisons that act on the heart and on the central nervous system. The poison is absorbed through body tissues such as those of the eyes, mouth and nose.
Adult cane toads may compete with native animals, particularly for shelter. For example, a 2004 study showed that cane toads ruined one-third of nest attempts of ground-nesting rainbow bee-eaters by usurping their nest burrows and preying upon their eggs and young nestling.
There is unlikely to ever be a broad scale method available to control cane toads across Australia.
Researchers are beginning to understand the toad’s impact on native fauna and to appreciate the ways in which native species are adapting to the presence of cane toads and recovering from the impact of their arrival. Protecting our most vulnerable native species on a local scale is the focus of current planning around cane toads.
The Government will continue to work with regional natural resource management organizations and with state governments to achieve outcomes for our environment and sustainable agriculture.
Crickey Conservation Society Foundation 2020.
Het begint nu wel heel erg op te vallen dat er op belachelijke schaal bomen gekapt worden. Er vindt een enorme kaalslag plaats in de NL’se bossen. Bos verdwijnt om ruimte te geven aan heide. Lanen met prachtige bomen die verdwijnen. Wat ook de agenda achter de massale bomenkap mag zijn, het wordt tijd om daar mee te kappen!
Men verzint allerlei redenen waarom er bos moet verdwijnen. Bijvoorbeeld om plaats te maken voor andere soorten natuur, zoals heide of stuifzand. Het is ingegeven door Europese klimaatdoelstellingen.
In de wet natuurbescherming staat dat elke boom die gekapt wordt gecompenseerd moet worden, maar dat geldt niet wanneer bos gekapt wordt voor andere natuur. Uit onderzoek van de Wageningen Universiteit bleek al dat het bosareaal tussen 2013 en 2017 met 5400 hectare is afgenomen.
Het klimaatbeleid is gebaseerd op verdienmodellen en met levende bomen verdient men niets. Dus zijn ze goed om de biomassacentrales te laten branden. Dat levert niet alleen veel geld op, maar de Europese klimaatdoelstellingen schrijft eveneens voor dat we naar andere energievormen moeten, ook als deze in wezen slechter zijn voor de natuur, het milieu en de gezondheid.
Dus worden we niet alleen opgescheept met windmolens en zonnepanelen die slecht zijn voor flora en fauna, maar worden er ook massaal bomen gekapt. Ook stelt men dat bomen plotseling onveilig zouden zijn?
Ondertussen probeert Staatsbosbeheer om met onderstaand filmpje bezorgde mensen gerust te stellen. Maar gaat dit nog wel overtuigen nu de massale houtkap wel heel erg begint op te vallen? Het klinkt aantrekkelijk: “aanplanten van nieuw bos en jonge bomen nemen meer CO2 op”, maar hoeveel jaar duurt het voordat een boom volgroeid is?
Bovendien, wanneer je rigoureus bomen kapt in een bestaand bosgebied, wordt eveneens het hele ecosysteem van de bodem vernield. Natuurmonumenten en Staatsbosbeheer komen dan ook steeds meer onder vuur te liggen.
Hoeveel mooie redenen ze ook verzinnen om op deze belachelijke schaal te blijven kappen, het wordt steeds duidelijker dat er ook andere belangen achter de bomenkap zitten. Hout voor de biomassacentrale is een leuk verdienmodel nu de subsidiekraan aan deze organisaties grotendeels is dichtgedraaid.
Biomassa heeft onterecht een groen imago. De verbranding zou een CO2-neutraal proces zijn omdat bij het stoken van houtsnippers geen extra CO2 vrijkomt. Volgens wetenschappers is biomassa echter helemaal niet duurzaam en stoot in werkelijkheid meer CO2 uit. Bovendien duurt het jaren voordat geplante bomen volwassen zijn.
Zo adviseerde de stikstof-commissie onder leiding van Johan Remkes het kabinet eind vorig jaar al om te stoppen met subsidies voor het bijstoken van biomassa.
Er is op dit moment in Nederland niet eens voldoende hout. Veel hout komt uit de Verenigde Staten. Momenteel wordt alleen al vanuit de Amerikaanse staat North Carolina 3 miljoen ton hout naar Europa vervoerd, om deze industrie van brandstof te voorzien. Dat zijn miljoenen bomen.
Toch wordt biomassa gezien als oplossing en goed alternatief voor fossiele brandstoffen. Is vernietiging van bos duurzame oplossing?
Voor Nederland geldt dat biomassa verantwoordelijk is voor bijna 61% van alle duurzame energie die in ons land wordt geproduceerd.
Het kabinet wil voor de komende twintig jaar 14 miljard aan subsidies uittrekken om te kunnen investeren in energie uit biomassa. Er moet dus nog een andere verborgen agenda aan ten grondslag liggen.?
Ondertussen kapt men bomen terwijl men claimt dat er teveel aan CO2 is. Dat terwijl men wél lege vliegtuigen laat vliegen om de vliegrechten te behouden. Het is niet logisch. Sterker nog, de massale bomenkap is krankzinnig! Met dit beleid wordt een niet-bestaand zogenaamd probleem — een te hoge CO2-waarde — vanzelf een self fulfilling prophecy.
Mensen moeten in verzet komen tegen de bomenkap; het is één van de grootste misdaden gepleegd door de mens op de natuur. Bomen zijn onze filters, bieden ons zuurstof. Zonder bomen is er geen leven. Het klimaatbeleid is slecht voor de natuur en nog slechter voor de mens.
Het is een paard van Troje om draconische regels in te voeren. De eerste rechtszaak om biomassa uit bomen als klimaatmaatregel te verwijderen uit de EU-hernieuwbare energierichtlijn is reeds begonnen.
Ellaster / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.
The largest mangrove forest in the world is @ Sundarban. It is located in the two south Asian countries between Bangladesh and India. Most part of Sundarban lies in Bangladesh. The area of Sundarban is nearly 10,000 square kilometer on which 6000 km2 is situated in Bangladesh and rest of the part is in India.
Sundarban is bounded by Khulna,Satkhira and Bagerhat district in the north reason. Bay of Bengal in the south reason. In the east there is Baleswar river, Perojpur and Barisal district and the river Raimangal and Hariabhanga is in the west which indicates partially Bangladesh boundary with Indian west Bengal.
From above, the Sundarbans mangrove forest is an impressive labyrinth of colors and textures. The clear blues of the Bay of Bengal run into the murky waters of criss-crossing river systems lined by emerald foliage.
Throughout history, locals have worshipped the goddess Bonbibi, or “lady of the forest.” According to one version of the story, Bonbibi was the daughter of a Sufi fakir, brought from Saudi Arabia to the jungles of South Asia.
There, she was chosen by God to battle the creature Dokkhin Rai, who took the form of a tiger and preyed on locals. Instead of killing Dokkhin Rai, Bonbibi made a bargain that he could not attack anyone who worshipped her.
The number of Royal Bengal Tiger was estimated 500 in 1993. This animal is very powerful and nice to look at. Sometimes the honey collectors become the victim of this carnivorous animal. As a precaution the honey collectors use mask on back portion of their head.
So that the tigers think the men are looking them eye to eye contact and the two faces men can create danger for them. Another beautiful animal in the Sundarban is spotted or chital deer. It is estimated 30,000 now. Rhino, wild Boar, Monkey, Fishing cats; Foxes, Pangolin, etc. are also the important kingdom of animal of Sundarban. Sundori is the main and valuable tree in the Sundarban.
In addition to the Bengal tiger—the only one of its species adapted to a mangrove environment—the forest has a wide array of wildlife, including rare species like the Indian python and Irrawaddy dolphins. Because of its wildlife and unique ecosystem, the Sundarbans was inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
The animals’ habitat is under threat, however. Rising sea levels are swallowing the forest, and increasing water salinity is damaging plant and marine life—this has a domino effect on larger animals.
Under the strain of land loss, people are also encroaching on the animals’ habitat, tearing down trees to make space for farmland, and poaching. A 2004 census estimated around 440 tigers in the Sundarbans, and the population has steadily declined. More recent surveys estimate around 106 tigers in the Bangladeshi region.
Conservationists, along with the government, are working to preserve the Sundarbans and its wildlife. “We must do everything possible to save the remaining population and help people and tigers to coexist,” says Raquibul Amin, Bangladesh country director for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “The Bengal tiger is the national icon of Bangladesh.
National Geographic / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.
February 2020 was the second-hottest February ever recorded. And according to a Friday report by scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Northern Hemisphere winter months as a whole – December 2019 through February 2020 – were also the second-hottest in recorded history.
According to the scientists, the first two months of 2020 also ranked as the second-warmest such period in the 141-year climate history record.
The global temperature in February 2020 “was the highest monthly temperature departure without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean,” the NOAA noted. The El Niño is a series of climate variations that usually result in warm water along the equatorial Pacific region.
Record-warm December to February temperatures were observed across much of the western half of Russia and parts of Europe, eastern Asia, northern Australia and across the Atlantic, Indian and western Pacific Oceans.
Arctic sea ice coverage was 4% below the 1981-2010 average in February, while Antarctic ice coverage was 6.5% below that average, NOAA scientists added.
An analysis by the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (IMBIE), an international collaboration of polar scientists, released on March 11 revealed that polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica are melting six times faster than they were in the 1990’s.
The scientists found that the rapid melting of polar ice caps could lead to an “extra 17 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100.”
The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization also revealed in early December that the past decade was the hottest ever experienced in recorded history.
NOAA / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.
Three days of rejuvenation in Canyonlands National Park seemed the perfect bridge from winter to summer. But like so many other spring break national park escapes, our plans to pitch tents in the Needles Campground next week were undone by Corona-virus.
Confusion about whether it’s safe to social distance at national parks was heightened by U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s announcement Wednesday that park fees would be waived. But, during the Corona-virus pandemic, it’s “irresponsible” to flock to wilderness areas, experts say.
The decision to waive park fees and encourage Americans to head to the great outdoors runs contrary to ongoing closures, public concerns—and to official White House guidance instructing that all gatherings of 10 or more people be canceled.
Bernhardt’s message drew condemnation from the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, where Phil Francis highlighted concerns about the virus’ contagiousness.
It is irresponsible to urge people to visit national park sites when gathering at other public spaces is no longer considered safe,” Francis said. “We are concerned that the Secretary’s decision to waive entrance fees will lead to overcrowding and a greater risk to the health and well-being of our NPS employees and visitors.
Options are quickly dwindling for a relaxing getaway within the National Park System. Though many NPS units remain open, facility and service closures are stacking up across the country, from Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial (closed) to Virgin Islands National Park (the Cruz Bay Visitor Center has locked its doors, and food service and ranger programs at Trunk Bay have been suspended).
Iconic destination lodges have also closed their doors, including Yosemite’s Ahwahnee, the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar, and Zion National Park’s namesake lodge. On Friday, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which runs the Zion Lodge, closed its other park lodgings in Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Yellowstone until at least late May, with hopes the Corona-virus pandemic will wane before summer.
Utah health officials have gone so far as to post “not welcome” messages for the Beehive State’s southeastern corner, a traditionally crowded—and rowdy—spring break destination due to the Slickrock mountain bike trail system and the red-rock beauty of Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks.
So unprecedented is the Corona-virus threat that the National Park Hospitality Association, which includes most major park concessionaires and outfitters, wrote President Trump this week seeking rescue. Along with a waiver of franchise fees paid to the National Park Service, the association is also asking for current concessions contracts to be extended two years.
The American Alpine Club has asked its members to restrict recreational travel in order to “flatten the curve,” or keep Covid-19 cases at a manageable daily level for healthcare providers. “This is not the time to head to the desert or rally to your favorite national park for ‘social distancing,’” the club wrote.
Considering the closing of facilities and campgrounds and the threat of contracting COVID-19, your clearest option instead might be to spend spring break binging the Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.
National Geographic / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.