Welcome the New Year with a New Tradition

For most of us, New Year’s traditions revolve around indoor activities—eating and watching football.

Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona, offers three First Day Hikes of varying length and difficulty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona, offers three First Day Hikes of varying length and difficulty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, an outdoor activity could make your holiday rituals even more fun and an invigorating way to kick off the New Year.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors.

First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

State parks nationwide have added First Day Hikes to their January 1 program schedule.

All 50 states are participating in the third annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds, and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.

“Last year, First Day Hikes hosted 22,000 people, who covered nearly 44,000 miles in 700 state parks all across the country,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).

“These family-friendly outings provide a great chance to get outside and experience the beauty of our parks, stay fit and build lasting traditions with loved ones.”

HOME_331On a First Day Hike visitors enjoy exciting one- to two- mile journeys through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park rangers and volunteers. Many hikes include additional activities such as campfires, s’mores, crafts, costume contests, and storytelling.

America’s State Parks and American Hiking Society are teaming up to promote First Day Hikes as a healthy and memorable way to start the New Year.

“Winter hiking is a fun and wonderful experience, but does require all hikers to be properly prepared,” noted Gregory Miller, president of American Hiking Society.

“We are encouraging Americans young and old to ring in the New Year by putting on their hiking boots and joining First Day Hikes in support of state parks and trails in 2014.”

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.

Featured hikes nationwide include a candlelight walk during Alaska’s darkest time of year, a horseback ride along Indiana’s Tippecanoe River, an interpretive trek along the magnificent longleaf pine forest at Florida’s Alfred B. Maclay Gardens, a guided exploration of the wide open desert hills of West Texas, and a sunrise tour of Hawaii’s sweeping ocean views.

“America’s State Parks is committed to connecting people with some of the most important natural and historical features in their region,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of NASPD.

“These hikes are also a reminder of the value of state parks to the well-being of children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from their electronics promotes their physical and mental health and inspires stewardship of our natural world for future generations.”

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation — a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks.

Details about the more than 700 hike locations, including difficulty and length, program themes, terrain and starting times are listed on most state park system websites.

So, end 2013 and begin 2014 with some outdoor exercise and fun. It will be a nice addition to your holiday traditions!

Ring in 2014 with a First Day Hike in a state park near you.

Details

America’s State Parks

ASP-LogoAmerica’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.

To find a First Day Hike near you click on your state park of interest.

Website: americasstateparks.org

America’s State Parks + America’s National Parks = Great National System of Parks

Worth Pondering…

Start the year off on the right foot, the left foot, any foot—take a First Day Hike in a state park near you.

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Top 3 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

To really explore a national wildlife refuge, of course, you’ll want to get out of your vehicle. But when time is limited or you want to get the lay of the land before you set out on a trail, a scenic drive should be considered.

For all us ‘let’s-check-it-out-first’ types, here’s a sampling of some super national wildlife refuge drives to whet your appetite for further exploration.

1. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Bosque del Apache includes wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests; and is considered one of the most spectacular refuges in North America and consistently recognized as one of the top birding areas in the United States. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bosque del Apache includes wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests; and is considered one of the most spectacular refuges in North America and consistently recognized as one of the top birding areas in the United States. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bosque del Apache is Spanish for “woods of the Apache,” and is rooted in the time when the Spanish observed Apaches routinely camped in the riverside forest.

An hour from Albuquerque, a 12-mile auto loop along refuge impoundments offers great views of the Chupadera and San Pascual Mountains. From late October through early spring, see huge flocks of sandhill cranes and snow geese fly out at dawn to feed in fields and return at dusk to roost in the marshes.

In November the annual Festival of the Cranes is a premier birding event. Organized by the Friends of the Bosque National Wildlife Refuge, the 26th annual Festival of the Cranes is scheduled for November 19-24, 2013. This will be the YEAR OF PHOTOGRAPHY; plan to take advantage of the optics, camera, printing, and eco-travel expert onsite.

Wildlife to Observe: Thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, Ross’s geese, and ducks.

Continue reading →

Phone: (575) 835-1828

Website: fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/bosque

Friends of the Bosque National Wildlife Refuge: friendsofthebosque.org

Festival of the Cranes: festivalofthecranes.com

2. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida's most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The aptly-named Roseate Spoonbill is one of Florida’s most distinctive wading birds. Spoonbills feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects with its unusual shaped bill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is known for its abundant birdlife and is a major destination for birders from throughout the world. Over 320 species have been documented so no matter what season you visit, you are likely to see a variety of birds.

The peak season for birding is between October and April with optimum conditions occurring from December to February. The best place to see wildlife is along the Black Point Wildlife Drive. The 7-mile, one-way drive follows a dike road around several shallow marsh impoundments and through pine flatwoods.

Seven walking trails are routed through a variety of wildlife habitats and provide additional wildlife viewing opportunities.

The 17th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival is scheduled for January 22-27, 2014.

Wildlife to Observe: Waterfowl (in season), wading birds (including roseate spoonbills), shorebirds, and raptors. Alligators, river otters, bobcats, various species of snakes, and other wildlife may be visible as well.

Phone: (321) 861-0668

Website: fws.gov/merrittisland

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival: spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org

3. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

Mount Scott at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: panoramio.com/kecid)
Mount Scott at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: panoramio.com/kecid)

Take a three-mile drive to the top of Mt. Scott for a stunning panoramic view of the Wichita Mountains. Interspersed between mountain peaks, visitors may view some of country’s last untilled native prairie, where bison and cattle roam among the cross timbers—remains of dense growth of oaks and greenbriar that once covered parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

Every September the Annual Bison Roundup culls the animals for testing and separation into groups for sale, donation, or return to the herd.

Another scenic driving option is SR-49, which extends about 20 miles through the refuge. Both roads are part of the Wichita Mountains National Scenic Byway.

Wildlife to Observe: Texas Longhorn cattle, bison, elk, deer, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, prairie dogs, turkey, bobcat.

Phone: (580) 429-3222

Website: fws.gov/refuge/Wichita_Mountains

Friends of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: friendsofthewichitas.org

Please Note: This is Part 4 of a 4 Part Series on National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 1: Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 2: Super National Wildlife Refuge Drives

Part 3: Great Scenic Drives On National Wildlife Refuges

Worth Pondering…

I saw them first many Novembers ago and heard their triumphant trumpet calls, a hundred or more sandhill cranes riding south on a thermal above the Rio Grande Valley, and that day their effortless flight and their brassy music got into my soul.

—Charles Kuralt

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Great Scenic Drives On National Wildlife Refuges

To really explore a national wildlife refuge, of course, you’ll want to get out of your vehicle. But when time is limited or you want to get the lay of the land before you set out on a trail, a scenic drive should be considered.

For all us ‘let’s-check-it-out-first’ types, here’s a sampling of some super national wildlife refuge drives to whet your appetite for further exploration.

4. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Aerial view of "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: USFWS/Susan White)
Aerial view of “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: USFWS/Susan White)

The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations.

The four-mile-long Wildlife Drive is presently closed for repaving with an anticipated reopening of October 1.

The Sanibel Island route winds through mangrove forest, cordgrass marsh, and hardwood hammocks, offering close-up views of wading birds, shorebirds, seabirds, waterfowl, and raptors. Bicycling is also popular on Wildlife Drive, part of the island’s system of multi-use trails.

In October the annual “Ding” Darling Days is a premier birding event. Organized by the Friends of the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, “Ding” Darling Days is scheduled for October 20-26, 2013.

Wildlife to Observe: Roseate spoonbills, wood storks, reddish egrets, little blue herons, yellow-crowned night-herons, anhingas, white pelicans, red knots, marbled godwits, bald eagles, otters, bobcats, and alligators.

Phone: (239) 472-1100

Website: fws.gov/dingdarling

Friends of “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge: dingdarlingsociety.org

“Ding” Darling Days: dingdarlingsociety.org/dingdarlingdays

5. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

river-s-tour1The 5,300-acre Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge contains a lush mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, riparian corridors, fir forests, and Oregon white oak woodlands.

On the shore of the Lower Columbia River, a 4.2-mile gravel loop road crosses fields, wetlands, sloughs, and forests—easily the refuge’s most popular visitor destination.

An auto tour provides a sense of the refuge landscape while making it easy to spy birds and other wildlife, especially at an observation blind. The River ‘S’ Discovery Auto Tour route is a one-way 4.2-mile loop on graveled road that is open every day to vehicles during daylight hours.

An Informative Audio Tour CD is available at the Visitor’s Station at the entrance to the Discovery Auto Tour Route and also at the refuge headquarters.

Organized by the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Birdfest is scheduled for October 5-6, 2013.

Wildlife to Observe: Migrant bird species such as sandhill cranes, as well as resident bird species such as mallards, great blue herons, and red-tailed hawks. Coyote, raccoon, skunk, beaver, and river otter are occasionally seen.

Phone: (360) 887-4106

Website: fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/ridgefield

Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge: ridgefieldfriends.org

Birdfest: ridgefieldfriends.org/birdfest

A wonderful bird is the pelican...  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A wonderful bird is the pelican… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 4 Part Series on National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 1: Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 2: Super National Wildlife Refuge Drives

Part 4: Top 3 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Worth Pondering…

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

—Dixon Lanier Merritt

Read More

Super National Wildlife Refuge Drives

To really explore a national wildlife refuge, of course, you’ll want to get out of your vehicle. But when time is limited or you want to get the lay of the land before you set out on a trail, a scenic drive should be considered.

For all us ‘let’s-check-it-out-first’ types, here’s a sampling of some super national wildlife refuge drives to whet your appetite for further exploration.

6. Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

Stretching eight miles along Delaware Bay and covering 16,251 acres, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for wildlife. (Credit: USFWS)
Stretching eight miles along Delaware Bay and covering 16,251 acres, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for wildlife. (Credit: USFWS)

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge protects one of the largest remaining expanses of tidal salt marsh in the mid-Atlantic region. The refuge, located along the coast of Delaware, is mostly marsh, but also includes freshwater impoundments and upland habitats that are managed for other wildlife.

A 12-mile wildlife drive cuts across man-made pools, salt marshes, mudflats, woodlands, and upland fields. Spring brings migrating waterfowl, wood warblers, and shorebirds. Summer draws herons, egrets, avocets, black-necked stilts, and terns. Fall and winter months provide resting and wintering grounds for Canada geese, snow geese, and a mix of waterfowl. Birds of prey are seen all year long.

The wildlife drive passes five short walking trails, three with 30-foot-high observation towers.

Wildlife to Observe: Snow geese, northern pintails, warblers, dunlins, dowitchers, avocets, black-necked stilts, yellow warblers, purple martins, red tailed hawks, and bald eagles.

Phone: (302) 653-9345

Website: fws.gov/refuge/Bombay_Hook

Friends of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge: friendsofbombayhook.org

7. Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Four short (less than 0.5 miles each) and two longer (1.5 – 4 miles) hiking trails are available adjacent to the wildlife drive or Refuge headquarters. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Four short (less than 0.5 miles each) and two longer (1.5 – 4 miles) hiking trails are available adjacent to the wildlife drive or Refuge headquarters. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Straddling the Pecos River, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a wetland oasis inhabited by a diversity of wildlife. Located where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Southern Plains, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the more biologically significant wetland areas of the Pecos River watershed system.

The eight-mile Wildlife Drive/Auto Tour Loop is one of the better ways to observe wildlife.

Four short trails and two longer hiking trails are available adjacent to the Refuge Headquarters and Wildlife Drive.

Organized by the Friends of the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the 2013 Dragonfly Festival will take place on September 7.

Wildlife to Observe: Take advantage of the overlooks for great views of flocks of sandhill cranes and Ross’ and snow geese, or to spot the coyotes and red-tail hawks criss-crossing the wetlands. Drive slowly and watch for basking spiny softshell turtles, coachwhip snakes, and checkered whiptail lizards. More than 100 species of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonates) have been documented.

Continue reading →

Phone: (575) 622-6755

Website: fws.gov/refuge/Bitter_Lake

Friends of Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge: friendsofbitterlake.com

Dragonfly Festival: friendsofbitterlake.com/2013-dragonfly-festival

8. National Bison Range, Montana

The largest North American land mammal in existence, American bison were a key species of the Great Plains—their grazing habits helped establish the distribution of grasslands in the Plains. The current bison herd is maintained at approximately 350 animals. (Credit: USFWS)
The largest North American land mammal in existence, American bison were a key species of the Great Plains—their grazing habits helped establish the distribution of grasslands in the Plains. The current bison herd is maintained at approximately 350 animals. (Credit: USFWS)

Follow the one-way steep and winding 19-mile gravel road up Red Sleep Mountain for stunning grassland views with herds of bison, antelope, elk, big horn sheep, and deer. From the top, see the Mission Mountain range of the Rockies and enjoy panoramic views of Mission Valley. You can also access two short walks. In general, the Red Sleep Mountain Drive is open from mid-May to early October.

Due to the steepness of roads and tightness of switchbacks, no vehicles over 30 feet in length are allowed on Red Sleep Mountain Drive. They may access the shorter West Loop, Prairie Drive, and Winter Drive. No trailers of any kind may travel Red Sleep Mountain Drive.

Wildlife to Observe: Antelope, elk, mule deer, bison, mountain sheep, eagles.

Phone: (406) 644-2211

Website: fws.gov/refuge/national_bison_range

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 4 Part Series on National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 1: Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 3: Great Scenic Drives On National Wildlife Refuges

Part 4: Top 3 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Worth Pondering…

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

—Chinese Proverb

Read More

Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

To really explore a national wildlife refuge, of course, you’ll want to get out of your vehicle. But when time is limited or you want to get the lay of the land before you set out on a trail, a scenic drive should be considered.

For all us ‘let’s-check-it-out-first’ types, here’s a sampling of some super national wildlife refuge drives to whet your appetite for further exploration.

10. Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan

Photographers do a wonderful job at capturing the beauty of Seney National Wildlife Refuge. (Credit: fws.gov/Dawn Kopp)
Photographers do a wonderful job at capturing the beauty of Seney National Wildlife Refuge. (Credit: fws.gov/Dawn Kopp)

Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.

The refuge is located in the east-central portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

A seven-mile ride along Marshland Wildlife Drive leads past wetlands and open water and through deciduous and coniferous forests in the Great Manistique Swamp, an old lumbering area. The road passes three wheelchair-accessible observation decks with viewing scopes.

The tour route is open during daylight hours from May 15 through October 15. The route does not accommodate large recreational vehicles. Bicycles are permitted on the auto tour route.

Wildlife to Observe: Beaver, river otters, bald eagles, osprey, common loons, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, black bear, turtles, and songbirds.

Phone: (906) 586-9851

Website: fws.gov/refuge/seney

9. Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota

The diverse habitat types found on Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge—mixed grass prairie, river valley, marshes, sandhills, and woodlands—support an abundant variety of wildlife. (Credit: USFWS/Marlene Welstad)
The diverse habitat types found on Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge—mixed grass prairie, river valley, marshes, sandhills, and woodlands—support an abundant variety of wildlife. (Credit: USFWS/Marlene Welstad)

The 19-mile Refuge Backway follows the gently rolling hills of upland prairie, offering excellent views of the wooded draws of the Des Lacs Valley with great scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. More than 250 species of birds, including waterfowl, raptors, and many other migrants, have been seen there, along with deer, moose, and other mammals.

Also along the Backway is the trailhead for Munch’s Coulee National Recreation Trail, a mile-long loop with a universally accessible section; the trail provides panoramic views and opportunities to see wildlife close-up.

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge was officially named one of America’s top 500 Globally Important Bird Areas (IBA) by the national non-profit organization, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), in recognition of its significance in the ongoing effort to conserve wild birds and their habitats.

Wildlife to see: Mergansers and snow geese in the spring and fall, several species of grebes in summer, as well as wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and moose.

Phone: (701) 385-4046

Website: fws.gov/jclarksalyer/deslacs

Details

National Wildlife Refuge System

The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp. Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. (Credit: fws.gov)
The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp. Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. (Credit: fws.gov)

The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska.

National wildlife refuges provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 1,000 species of fish. More than 380 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on wildlife refuges.

Each year, millions of migrating birds use refuges as stepping stones while they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.

The Refuge System is a division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the Department of the Interior.

Phone: (800) 344-WILD (9453)

Website: fws.gov/refuges

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 4 Part Series on National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 2: Super National Wildlife Refuge Drives

Part 3: Great Scenic Drives On National Wildlife Refuges

Part 4: Top 3 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Worth Pondering…

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Eagle

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Lyme Disease Affects 300,000 Every Year

Late summer is peak Lyme disease season.

BiteBack_Header7During the past two years I have posted a series of articles on ticks, Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases.

Lyme and tick-borne diseases have been diagnosed in all 50 states, so even if you live outside of the Northeast, you are still at risk.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that thirty thousand Americans were diagnosed with Lyme disease—the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States.

New data was released by the CDC last week at the 2013 International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses indicating Lyme disease strikes 300,000 people each year, affecting 10 times more victims than reported a year earlier.

Advocacy_SliderThe new number was based on three studies: one analyzes medical-claims data submitted to insurance companies from twenty-two million people, the second is a survey of clinical laboratories, and the last is a more general assessment of people who believe they may be infected by Lyme.

The new numbers matter!

It’s now time for the public and decision makers in the halls of power to start paying attention.

In response to this alarming news, the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives, and promoting advocacy to find a cure for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, calls on government officials to allocate the critical resources needed for research and to focus on the development of a 100 percent reliable diagnostic tool for these devastating diseases, according to a news release.

“The new CDC report confirms what the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance and others have been saying for years—that tick-borne diseases are a national health epidemic and that we need more government research to fight these lethal illnesses,” said David Roth, co-chairman of TBDA and managing director at the Blackstone Real Estate Group.

“Furthermore, given the methodology the CDC used to determine its report of 300,000 new cases annually, it is likely that the actual number is much higher. In addition, the estimate fails to include those infected with other tick-borne illnesses, such as miyamotoi, babesiosis, and the Powassan virus, which can also cause debilitating symptoms, and in some cases death.”

“Everyone is at risk of contracting tick-borne diseases, and it’s important that mainstream America understands that tick-borne diseases are a serious threat to us all. Currently, there is no fully reliable diagnostic test for tick-borne diseases. So those infected often spend months, and in many cases years, searching to find the cause of their illness. Some never find out; they just continue to suffer,” Roth added.

“Whether we want to face it or not, we live in a society with a healthcare system that lacks both reliable diagnostics for tick-borne diseases and therapeutics that work for those whom the typically prescribed course of antibiotics fails. In short, the medical community is failing us, all of us, no matter where we live, what we do, or how old we are.”

Ride_With_JohnThis summer TBDA launched Bite Back for a Cure, a national grassroots campaign to raise awareness about and support for the fight against tick-borne diseases.

Bite Back for a Cure has two elements—an online campaign and a national bike ride.

This summer and fall, 24-year-old Lyme-sufferer John Donnally is biking across America to meet others affected by Lyme disease and galvanize local support to fund research and educate the public about the silent epidemic of tick-borne diseases.

Bite Back’s online campaign will accumulate testimonials from those affected by tick-borne diseases. This “video quilt” will be sent to state and federal legislators, urging them to support Lyme-disease legislation.

Details

Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA)

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) is dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives and promoting advocacy to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme.

Website: tbdalliance.org

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.
—Jeff Foxworthy

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6 Common Tick-Borne Diseases

Common tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, and babesiosis.

Lyme Disease

Circular rash that's usually the first sign of Lyme disease.
Circular rash that’s usually the first sign of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is an infection spread by the bite of ticks infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

Symptoms include fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle or joint pain, swelling, and sometimes an expanding red rash.

If a rash develops, it may look like a target or bull’s-eye in some people.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other conditions and tests do not always detect the bacteria.

It is usually effectively treated with a short course of antibiotics. If not treated properly, it can lead to complications involving the heart, nervous system, joints, and skin within weeks, months, or even years later.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, also called tick fever, spotted fever, or tick typhus, is a bacterial infection passed to humans by wood ticks and dog ticks.

It can lead to life-threatening complications such as shock and kidney failure if not treated promptly.

A potentially fatal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by an infection with the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii. The bacteria is transmitted to humans by three different types of ticks—American dog tick, Lone Star tick, and wood tick.
A potentially fatal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by an infection with the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii. The bacteria is transmitted to humans by three different types of ticks—American dog tick, Lone Star tick, and wood tick.

Initial symptoms usually start an average of seven days after the tick bite and include a sudden fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, distinct rash, nausea, and vomiting.

The rash typically is made up of many tiny, flat, purple, or red spots. It usually starts on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and then spreads to the arms, legs, and the rest of the body.

Tularemia

Tularemia, also called deerfly fever or rabbit fever, is a disease that usually occurs in animals, but the disease can be transmitted to humans through an infected tick.

Symptoms usually start within 21 days, but average one to 10 days, after the tick bite.

Symptoms of tularemia include chills, sudden high fever, headache, an open crater-like sore at the site of the bite, swollen glands near the site of the bite, nausea, and vomiting.

Prescription medicine is used to treat tularemia.

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease that can be passed to humans by ticks.

It causes fever, chills, headache, general ill feeling, nausea, vomiting, and a purple or red rash. Symptoms usually start from one to 21 days (average of seven days) after the tick bite. Prescription medicine is used to treat ehrlichiosis.

Relapsing Fever

Relapsing fever is an infectious disease that can be passed to humans by ticks.

It is most common in the western United States.

Symptoms usually start three to 11 days (average of six days) after the tick bite. They may last for several days, go away, and then return several days later.

Symptoms include sudden high fever, headache, rapid heart rate, muscle aches, abdominal pain, general feeling of illness, and a rash in up to 50 percent of cases.

Prescription medicine is used to treat relapsing fever.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a rare parasitic disease that can be passed to humans by deer ticks.

Tularemia is named after Tulane County, California.
Tularemia is named after Tulane County, California.

It may not always cause symptoms. When present, symptoms usually start one to four weeks after the tick bite. Symptoms of babesiosis include a general feeling of illness, decreased appetite, tiredness, fever, chills, recurring sweats, and muscle aches.

Babesiosis is treated with antibiotic medicines.

When returning home after spending time in areas where ticks may live, always carefully check for ticks on the skin and scalp. A little time spent conducting a tick check may prevent days, weeks or months of illness.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on tick-borne diseases.

Part 1: Human Illnesses Associated With Tick Bites

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.

—Jeff Foxworthy

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Discover a New Reason to Love the Outdoors

Longer summer days and warmer weather provide great opportunities for families to get outside and discover something new.

130617_HP_PrimaryV2cWith summer right around the corner, L.L.Bean is encouraging families to discover ways to enjoy the outdoors and is launching the 2013 Outdoor Discovery Tour as a way to introduce new forms of outdoor recreation.

And outdoor adventure can be as close as your local park.

With the help of its expert Outdoor Discovery Schools guides, L.L.Bean hopes to show families how easy—and fun—it is to enjoy the outdoors and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. L.L.Bean’s larger-than-life Bootmobile embarked on a multi-city tour in New York City on June 22 with free kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and fly casting instruction as part of the 9th annual Adventures NYC in Central Park.

Following New York City, the Outdoor Discovery Tour brings outdoor adventure to Pittsburgh (June 29), Philadelphia (July 13), and Chicago (July 20), among other cities, where expert guides will demonstrate outdoor activities, promote local outdoor resources, and share their own experiences to inspire others.

In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, L.L.Bean will host an “Outdoor Discovery Day”—a day where families can try new activities like fly casting and geocaching or learn the basics of camping.

A survey conducted by L.L.Bean and the National Park Foundation found that according to 60 percent of parents, their children spend less than one hour a day outdoors.

LLBean_Bootmobile_at_flagship_store“We’re concerned that people—particularly children—are spending less time outside than ever before and losing out on the physical and mental benefits of the outdoors,” said Chris McCormick, L.L.Bean Chief Executive Officer.

“With our 2013 Outdoor Discovery Tour and Outdoor Discovery Schools’ programming, our goal is to make the outdoors both accessible and fun, hopefully helping to instill a lifelong passion for the outdoors.”

Bootmobile Kicks Off 2013 Outdoor Discovery Tour

This year, L.L.Bean is offering dozens of courses through its popular Outdoor Discovery Schools, ranging from multi-day expeditions to free clinics right in the store.

Expert guides provide instruction at all levels, providing an easy and affordable way to learn more about a favorite activity or try something new for the first time. This summer there is something for everyone with activities including kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and much more. Check the calendar for a full monthly schedule at L.L.Bean store locations.

Additionally, people can search thousands of national, state, and local parks using L.L.Bean’s ParkFinder tool on the company’s website to identify outdoor activities in which to participate. The free Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder app, available for iPhone, iPad, and Android, makes finding a hiking trail or spot for kayaking easy while on the go.

For more information on ways to get your family outside this summer with L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools or to see the full Bootmobile tour schedule visit the L.L. Bean Website (SEE details below).

People can share their outdoor discoveries to help inspire others using #OutdoorDiscovery.

Details

L.L.Bean, Inc.

Whether you're looking for an introduction to paddling, a relaxing scenic tour or a multiday adventure, L.L.Bean has a kayaking activity to suit your interests.
Whether you’re looking for an introduction to paddling, a relaxing scenic tour or a multiday adventure, L.L.Bean has a kayaking activity to suit your interests.

L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel.

Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe.

While its business has grown over the years, L.L.Bean still upholds the values of its founder, including his dedication to quality, customer service, and a love of the outdoors. L.L.Bean products are rigorously tested, guaranteed to last, and always shipped free.

In the past five years, L.L.Bean has donated over $6 million toward conservation and land stewardship. The 200,000 square foot L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, Maine, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and welcomes more than 3 million visitors every year.

L.L.Bean invites people to also join the fun on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and on the ParkFinder app.

Website: llbean.com

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part series

Part 1: Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Engine

Part 2: National Parks as an Economic Engine

Worth Pondering…

Take time to listen to the voices of the earth and what they mean…the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of flowing streams. And the voices of living things: the dawn chorus of the birds, the insects that play little fiddles in the grass.

—Rachel Carson

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Rand McNally Introduces Outdoor Handheld GPS

Rand McNally introduces its first handheld/bike mounted outdoor GPS device for hiking, biking, geocaching, and more.

Rand McNally’s Foris 850
Rand McNally’s Foris 850

The Rand McNally’s Foris 850 comes loaded with millions of miles of high-quality street and trail maps, a sturdy bike mount, and an easy-to-use interface with on-device help.

Announced at the Outdoor Retailer show, Winter Market, the Foris 850 has been in beta testing and reviews by outdoor enthusiasts since January, the company noted in a press release. Received favorably, the Foris 850 is the result of collaboration between Rand McNally and Falk Outdoor Navigation, a business unit of United Navigation Limited.

Rand McNally’s Foris 850 map screen
Rand McNally’s Foris 850 map screen

“The Foris is designed to provide a ‘trail ready’ experience out of the box with everything included to get outside and go,” explained Dave Marsh, vice president of research and development for Rand McNally.

“Consumers have come to expect turn-by-turn voice guidance on GPS and in-car units, and we’ve brought that feature uniquely to the outdoor market with guidance on trails as well as roads.”

“Other industry firsts include Loop Me, a feature that creates a looped trail with the same starting and ending point, based on the user’s preferred time or distance for the hike or ride, and TrackNav, which creates navigable routes from ‘breadcrumb’ trails,” Marsh explained.

Other key features of the Foris device include:

  • Multiple U.S. map databases on device, including Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, U.S National Park Service trails, National Forestry hiking trails and multi-purpose trails, U.S. National Wildlife Refuge trails, and the national hydrographic dataset, among others (the trail maps are pre-loaded as vector trails, rather than raster images, allowing for navigation and routing vs. just viewing)
  • Millions of points of interest relevant to the outdoor market, such as trailheads, high points, bike shops, recreation areas, and campgrounds
  • Spoken and visual turn-by-turn directions, even on trails
  • Route compare feature that compares three alternative routes, along with their elevation profiles
  • Paperless geocaching through direct integration with geocaching.com; all descriptions, hints, logs, difficulty and terrain level on device
  • Storage capacity for a category-leading 7,000 waypoints
  • Barometric altimeter that shows accurate elevation levels on the map, or along current trail as well as how far to the top of a mountain or other location
  • Trailhead companion software for desktop computers allows geocaches, hikes, and rides to be stored, viewed, and transferred to and from the Foris
  • Glove friendly 3-inch touch screen (240 x 400 pixels) is sensitive enough to be used while wearing biking gloves
  • The box includes bike mount, batteries, an anti-glare screen protector, 8 GB internal memory

The Foris 850 has a suggested retail price of $399.99 and is anticipated to be the first in a line of outdoor market products from Rand McNally.

The Foris 850 will be available exclusively at amazon.com beginning June 7 and at other retailers as of June 21.

Foris_Launch_Homepage_1370x350Details

Rand McNally 

Rand McNally is the most trusted source for maps, directions, and travel content.

Rand McNally’s products and services include road travel review site (bestoftheroad),  interactive travel referral service (tripology), America’s #1 Road Atlas, TripMaker RVND GPS for RVers, IntelliRoute truck routing software and mobile communication solutions for the transportation industry, and the leading geography-based educational resources for the classroom.

Consumers, businesses, truckers, and educators depend upon Rand McNally to help navigate today’s world.

Address: 9855 Woods Drive Skokie, Illinois 60077

Phone: (800) 333-0136

Website: randmcnally.com

Best of RVing website: bestoftheroad.com/rv

Best of the Road website: bestoftheroad.com

Tripology website: tripology.com/

Lifetime Maps program website: randmcnally.com/lifetimemaps

Worth Pondering…                

I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.

—Daniel Boone

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Start the New Year Off with a First Day Hike

With New Year’s Day just around the corner, people everywhere are zeroing in on their new year’s resolutions for 2013.

First Day Hikes 6460810215_b6a5b965f7Some will vow to add more exercise into their routines, and others will promise not to stay indoors as much.

You can start the New Year off on the right foot, the left foot, or any foot by tackling both those resolutions at once and at the same time create a new family tradition by participating in a “First Day Hike” at a park near you, and together start off your year in a new direction.

America’s State Parks announces that all 50 state park systems will sponsor guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day 2013.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks.

State involvement has grown to the point where, for the first time in 2012, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

America’s State Parks anticipated 50 events but were amazed at the number of Americans willing to skip New Year’s Eve revelry in order to get up early January 1 and hit the trails.

They ended up with 400 outings that drew 14,000 people, hiking a total of more than 30,000 miles.

This year will be even bigger, with more than 660 events from a cross-country ski outing in Alaska to a sunrise hike in Hawaii.

A perfect holiday tradition for the whole family, a First Day Hike will help make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle while appreciating the beauty of nature.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ring in the new year with a Summit Trail Hike. Come climb the rock and see what amazing geology, ecology, and cultural history Enchanted Rock has to offer. Meet at the gazebo at 9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. for a 2-hour hike. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose from guided hikes led by rangers, volunteers, or Master Naturalists or choose your own trail with a hike that meets your desired difficulty and length.

Pennsylvania

Eighteen of Pennsylvania’s state parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day to help visitors ring in 2013 with healthy exercise and a glimpse of nature’s winter beauty.

“We are excited to join in hosting these hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said.

“For the second consecutive year, First Day Hikes offer a great cure for cabin fever and a chance to burn off those extra holiday calories.”

Virginia

Last year 3,708 people hiked 5,583 miles as part of Virginia State Parks 2012 First Day Hikes. Hikers are encouraged to bring field, guides, a natural journal, and a camera.

Wyoming

The Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails are offering eight guided hikes on New Year’s Day at venues statewide. It’s the second year Wyoming has participated. More than 500 people participated in the four hikes the state held last year.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the coming hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park or historic site.

Texas

In Texas the First Day Hikes vary in difficulty and fitness levels, and range from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails and along boardwalks, to special bird watching hikes, to climbs into the mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Most hikes are guided by state park staff and volunteers and feature an interpretive message about native plants, animals, or park history. The walks average one to two miles in length, but many also offer shorter or longer trek options as well. There’s something for everyone!

America’s State Parks

Bring a  hat, sturdy shoes, binoculars, camera, warm clothes, and water to Alamo Lake State Park in Arizona. The one mile hike begins at 9 a.m.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bring a hat, sturdy shoes, binoculars, camera, warm clothes, and water to Alamo Lake State Park in Arizona. The one mile hike begins at 9 a.m. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.

To find a First Day Hike near you click on your state park of interest.

Website: americasstateparks.org

Worth Pondering…

So many trails…so little time…

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