2023 A Look Back: Meter Maid Award

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has earned this one for its decision to begin charging for parking, effective March 1 this year. 

NPS issues decision on Gatlinburg Spur improvements

The National Park Service issued a decision and a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Gatlinburg Spur Improvements Environmental Assessment.

Park Service releases updated ‘Green Parks Plan’

This spring, the National Park Service released its third edition of the Green Parks Plan, setting refreshed goals and objectives to advance sustainable park operations.

A press release describes the plan as “a bold vision for national parks to attain net-zero status by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and water, reducing solid waste, transitioning to green transportation and fostering a culture of sustainability inside and outside of parks.”

The plan also aims to further the NPS’ commitment to work toward phasing out single-use plastics over the next decade.

Five goals in the Green Parks Plan are: combat the climate crisis by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, achieve net-zero water use and net zero energy for facilities and operations, achieve net-zero waste and sustainable procurement, adopt and support zero-emissions transportation methods, and engage the NPS workforce, partners, visitors, stakeholders and communities to support and participate in sustainability, climate resilience and environmental justice.

The plan is part of the NPS response to climate change outlined in its Climate Change Response Strategy.

The first edition of the Green Parks Plan was released in 2012. The update incorporates advancements in science and technology, as well as new legislation and executive orders. Read the plan at nps.gov/subjects/sustainability/index.htm.

From the mountains to the sea: WCU alum, scientist helps preserve coastal parks through NPS grant

Growing up in Franklin, Katie Peek never dreamed she would one day be living in the mountains and working as a coastal scientist in Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.

Country miles: Federal designation sought for Benton MacKaye Trail

This year marked both the 16th birthday of the Benton MacKaye Trail and the 100th anniversary of its namesake’s flagship idea. Proponents of the trail want Congress to honor these milestones by designating the Benton MacKaye Trail as the nation’s 12th National Scenic Trail

Masking rules take effect on public lands

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring coronavirus prevention protocols — including mask-wearing — on all federal lands and buildings. Now, management teams at National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service lands are deciding how to implement the new requirement locally. 

Masks required at Park Service facilities

Face masks are now required at all National Park Service buildings and facilities as a result of President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing issued Jan. 20.

Congress passes legislation to fund parks, conservation

The environmental community has been celebrating since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act July 22, sending the landmark legislation to the desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

America, mile by mile: Cross-country trip reveals country’s beauty, diversity

Back when the trip was a new idea, I don’t think either of us took it seriously. Three weeks on the road, at a time when most American cars were sitting idle in the driveway? Thousands of miles of driving through sand and snow, mountain and desert, far from home? Surely this was just a pie-in-the-sky dream borne from the hunger pangs of quarantine, nothing more. 

National parks battle invasion

The National Park Service is embarking on a system-wide effort to crack down on invasive animal species following the conclusion of a three-year research endeavor conducted by a panel of experts in fields ranging from park management to emerging technology. 

The Park Service reached out to members of the group in 2016, asking them to review the agency’s existing approach to invasive animal management and to look at the results of data collected from park units across the country. Combining panel members’ expert knowledge with data results and information gleaned from questions to park staff, the group produced an internal report to the Park Service as well as a scientific paper published this month in the journal “Biological Invasions.”

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