Would You Leave Your Campfire Unattended?

Firefighters have discovered 23 illegal, abandoned, or escaped campfires burning on the Bitterroot National Forest in just the last seven days, according to a Bitterroot National Forest news release.

Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)
Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)

Two of the fires were discovered Sunday morning (August 11) off Skalkaho Highway near Gird Point Lookout and Railroad Creek (near the Idaho-Montana state line), east of Hamilton, Montana (40 miles south of Missoula).

Both fires had escaped their makeshift rings and if crews had not been close by, could have quickly and easily spread to nearby grass and trees.

The Forest Service is asking for the public’s help in stopping this growing problem. It’s a major concern as fire crews are spending their time responding to and putting out abandoned campfires, which could delay responses to new wildfires that start.

More than half of the abandoned campfires were discovered outside designated/approved campgrounds, where fires are currently prohibited under Stage 1 Restrictions.

Fire Restrictions

Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect August 1 on the Bitterroot National Forest. Campfires are allowed only within a designated campground or recreation site which contains a Forest-provided fire ring.

For a list of all designated campgrounds and recreation sites, visit the Forest website (SEE link below)

Individuals who violate these restrictions could face fines of up to $5,000 and be held liable for all suppression costs and damages for starting a fire.

Forest Service map shows active wildfires in the U.S. The Elk Complex and Pony fires in Idaho are represented by Nos. 24 and 26, respectively. (Source: fs.usda.gov)
Forest Service map shows active wildfires in the U.S. The Elk Complex and Pony fires in Idaho are represented by Nos. 24 and 26, respectively. (Source: fs.usda.gov)

Current Fire Danger

The Bitterroot National Forest fire danger is currently very high.

Forest officials are asking the public to be extremely careful when camping and to remember that it’s your job and responsibility to properly maintain and extinguish all campfires.

Smoke & Haze

The smoke and haze that drifted into the Bitterroot Valley overnight is coming from the Pony Complex and Elk fires burning in Idaho.

Combined, the two fires have grown to nearly 200,000 acres

Details

Bitterroot National Forest

The 1.6 million acre Bitterroot National Forest, in west central Montana and east central Idaho, is part of the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Elevation ranges from 3,200 feet at the north end of the Bitterroot Valley to Trapper Peak at 10,157 feet in the mountains on the south. In the Idaho portion of the Forest, elevations drop to about 2,600 feet along the Selway River and 2,200 feet on the Salmon River.

Half of the forest is dedicated to the largest expanse of continuous pristine wilderness in the lower 48 states—the Selway Bitterroot, Frank Church River of No Return, and the Anaconda Pintler.

Much of its beauty can be attributed to the heavily glaciated, rugged peaks of the Bitterroot Range. Drainages carved by glaciers form steep canyons that open into the valley floor. The abundance of natural resources offers a wide range of opportunities for recreation, grazing, wildlife, fisheries, timber, and minerals.

Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)
Bitterroot National Forest (Source: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot)

Enjoy the magnificent mountains, the serenity of wilderness, miracle of spring flowers, majestic big game, and sounds of birds.

Summer is a great time to visit the Bitterroot National Forest.

Recreation opportunities abound here including camping at 24 developed campgrounds and five group sites, hiking on more than 1,600 miles of trails, fishing for brook and rainbow trout in crystal-clear Alpine lakes, boating, biking, horseback riding, and more.

The Forest is home to many species of wildlife including deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and moose, plus many varieties of smaller animals and birds.

Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor’s Office Address: 1801 North 1st, Hamilton, MT  59840

Phone: (406) 363-7100

Website: fs.usda.gov/bitterroot

Worth Pondering…

A beautiful flower, a beautiful river, a valley, a magnificent range—such is the Bitter Root.

—Wheeler, 1898

Read More

Alternatives to Camping in National Parks

ForestCamping.com, a comprehensive website for camping in national forests and grasslands, provides detailed information for campers interesting in discovering an alternative to camping in national parks.

Whether a first time visitor to a national park, or a returning  visitor, ForestCamping.com can help start planning.

According to National Geographic and National Parks Conservation Association, since 2007, among the top 10 national parks visited are Great Smokey, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Olympic, and Rocky Mountain. These parks share a boundary with 17 different national forests with literally hundreds of developed campgrounds convenient to a park entrance.

National forest campgrounds available to the national park visitor offer a variety of experiences, amenities and freedom not often found in national parks. These parks include:

The Great Smokey National Park in Tennessee is a short drive from the family-friendly Tsali campground in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.

The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has De Motte Park campground on the Canyon’s North Rim and Ten-X campground on the South Rim. Both are in the Kaibab National Forest.

Tioga Lake campground, in California’s Inyo National Forest is at Yosemite National Park’s east entrance and has fabulous views of the park.

Fred and Suzi Dow and their traveling companions.

The Stanislaus National Forest’s Diamond “O”, at the Yosemite National Park west entrance, is a peaceful alternative to the park’s crowds.

Baker’s Hole campground in the Gallatin National Forest, in Montana, has electric hook-ups and fishing in the famous Madison River and is less than 10 miles from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

In the shadow of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming are rock climbing and incredible views with campsites tucked into a stand of lush Douglas fir at Teton Canyon campground in Targhee National Forest in Idaho.

Nestled in a lush rain-forest on the west side the Olympic National Park, in Washington, is Klahowya campground. A thick moss carpet covers the ground while the campground’s grand old trees seem to reach down to welcome visitors.

Campgrounds that offer tranquil alternatives to the hustle-and-bustle of the very popular Rocky Mountain National Park are the Roosevelt National Forest’s Peaceful Valley and Arapaho National Forest’s Stillwater campgrounds.

Stillwater campground has the additional attractions of recreational vehicle hook-ups, hot showers, and campsites on the beautiful 7,000-acre Lake Granby.

This is just a sampling of a few of the developed campgrounds in national forests located conveniently to seven of the top 10 most visited national parks. There are many more available to campers looking for alternatives.

Redfish Lake near Glacier View Campground in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho (Source: forestcamping.com)

An example of how many camping alternatives there are is found around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. With both bordering each other, there are 75 developed campgrounds in seven national forests within 75 miles of these Parks, some as close as three miles from an entrance.

Details

ForestCamping.com

ForestCamping.com, the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website, is a complete and comprehensive guide to developed campgrounds in national forests and grasslands.

It provides detailed information to campers looking to experience the great outdoors.

In addition to managing a website, Fred and Suzi Dow also self-publish Ebook CDs and downloads of 11 U.S. National Forest Campground Guides, which can be purchased online at their website.

Fred and Suzi Dow, authors and publishers of ForestCamping.com, have devoted 17 years to visiting, personally researching, and providing the public with free, detailed information about 175 national forests and grasslands and more than 2,400 personally surveyed campgrounds.

Website: forestcamping.com

Worth Pondering…

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.

—John Muir

Read More

Top Fall Color Hotspots in National Forests

Fall colors are about to burst all over the country and the U.S. Forest Service wants you to get outdoors and enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular seasons in your national forests.

“Autumn is a wonderful time of the year to plan a trip to see the beauty of your national forests,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service in an agency news release.

“As tree experts, we have incredible resources on our website to help you plan a great adventure this fall season.”

From coast to coast, state and local economies are boosted because of the fall season and for many rural communities, fall color tourism is a major source of revenue. Hotels, restaurants, and local shops rely on the influx of dollars generated by fall visitors.

For example, the New England area receives an estimated $8 billion in local revenues annually due to fall activities. Throughout the Midwest, millions of visitors hit the road to enjoy the sights. In the West, the mountains provide destinations filled with tourists seeking a glimpse of shimmering gold aspens.

Weather conditions in all areas impact peak viewing dates, so information provided on the Forest Service website and phone hotline will help visitors best plan their trips.

The Forest Service’s Fall Colors 2012 website (see link below) includes clickable maps that link to forest-by-forest fall color information and to state tourism and fall color websites.

The timing of color changes and the onset of falling leaves is primarily regulated by the calendar as nights become longer. (Source: fs.fed.us)

Some of the most popular family friendly features include locations of scenic drives and trails, coloring pages for kids, the science behind the season, and links to a tree database.

Photographs from visitors nationwide will be added to the site.

Following tradition, the Forest Service has turned on its Fall Colors Hotline (see toll-free number below). The hotline provides audio updates on the best places, dates, and routes to take.

Learn the best places on your national forests and grasslands to see the changing hues by calling the hotline then pressing the number of the area nearest you:

  • #1 for Montana, North Dakota and North Idaho
  • #2 for Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and eastern Wyoming
  • #3 for Arizona and New Mexico
  • #4 for portions of eastern California, Nevada, southern Idaho, Utah, western Wyoming
  • #5 for California
  • #6 for Oregon and Washington State
  • #7 for Alaska
  • #8 for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
  • #9 for Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Details

U.S. Forest Service

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone.

National Forests in North Carolina (Source: fs.usda.gov)

Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.

The Forest Service offers many activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, camping, birding, using cabins, driving for pleasure, harvesting mushrooms, and gathering firewood. Many of the facilities and services associated with these opportunities are free. Some do require fees or permits to help maintain, manage and improve the amenities that you enjoy.

Address: 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-0003

Phone: (800) 832-1355

Fall Colors Hotline: (800) 354-4595

Website: fs.fed.us

Fall Colors Website: fs.fed.us/fallcolors/2012

Fall Colors Audio: Fall colors, and why the change starts when it does

Worth Pondering…

Millions of Americans each year use our national forests to go hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and canoeing.

—Ric Keller

Read More

Redesign of Recreation.gov

Recreation.gov, the interagency website that guides visitors to 90,000 sites on federal lands such as national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, forests, and recreation areas, has a new look with expanded content and improved navigation tools.

An updated logo and new look and feel have been created to reflect the evolution and future vision for Recreation.gov.
An updated logo and new look and feel have been created to reflect the evolution and future vision for Recreation.gov.

The redesign is an initial step in a multi-year strategy to engage visitors with enhanced interactive content and more multimedia, mobile, trip-planning tools, according to a doi.gov news release.

The seven million visitors who use the web site every year will be able to make reservations, see ready-made itineraries for destination cities, and search for activities on an interactive map.

“Tourism and outdoor recreation are powerful economic engines in communities across the country,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.

“With the redesign of Recreation.gov, we are making it easier for people to plan trips, find outdoor adventures, and explore activities at our public lands across the country.”

“Outdoor activities contribute an estimated $646 billion to the U.S. economy, according to independent estimates, and this enhanced website will provide a gateway for Americans to enjoy their great outdoors,” Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

“If we can provide visitors both here and abroad easily accessible information and itineraries at the click of a mouse, we will increase the number of people who choose to vacation and travel in the United States,” Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said.

This section includes more in-depth articles and destination spotlights featuring activities, places, events and experiences found only in America.
This section includes more in-depth articles and destination spotlights featuring activities, places, events and experiences found only in America.

“From hotels to restaurants to taxis, small businesses across the nation stand to benefit from this new website.”

“Recreation.gov is a ‘one-stop’ website to find places that close to home for a day’s fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and much more. There are so many sites within a short drive of urban areas that people don’t know about,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said.

“At Recreation.gov people can find parks, swimming beaches, boat ramps, and other places to get away to for a few hours, days, or weeks.”

Highlights of the updated site include:

Branding and Navigation: An updated logo and new look and feel have been created to reflect the evolution and future vision for Recreation.gov. Navigation links from the home page and throughout the content have been added to make it easier to find activities and places of interest.

Explore Trip Ideas: Recreation.gov now features Explore Trip Ideas with interactive maps to help visitors discover points-of-interest on public lands when planning trips to popular destination cities like Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more.

Go Lists: Created to encourage more people to get active outdoors, Go Lists provide highlights of places to go, events, and activities at federal sites across the country with topics including “Day Hikes for Weekend Warriors” and “Civil War 150th Anniversary: Places and Events that Shaped Our Nation.”

Discover Great American Adventures: More in-depth articles and destination spotlights can be found in Discover Great American Adventures which feature a wide variety of experiences and adventures found only in America.

Future Vision

This new evolution of Recreation.gov is just the beginning of a multi-year strategy aimed at delivering an enriched customer experience by engaging visitors with enhanced interactive content, more multimedia, mobile, and a variety of helpful trip-planning tools.

Interactive maps to help visitors discover points-of-interest on public lands when planning trips to popular destination cities in the U.S. including Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more.
Interactive maps to help visitors discover points-of-interest on public lands when planning trips to popular destination cities in the U.S. including Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more.

The Recreation.gov website update is a joint initiative between federal agency partners that include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Details

Recreation.gov

Recreation.gov is your gateway to discover America’s Outdoors and more!

Recreation.gov is your one-stop shop for trip planning, information sharing, and reservations brought to you by 12 federal Participating Partners. Seven of these partner agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Archives, offer advance reservations at 2,500 federal areas for over 60,000 facilities and activities.

Customer Service Toll Free Line: (888) 448-1474

Reservation Toll Free Line: (877) 444-6777

Website: recreation.gov

Worth Pondering…

There is something very special about the natural world, and each trip outdoors is like an unfinished book just waiting for you to write your own chapter.

—Paul Thompson

Read More

Arizona Bear Count Reaches Three

Numerous bear sightings and activities and bear attacks have recently been reported by officials in various regions of the U.S. and Canada.

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Today’s post focuses on Tonto National Forest in the Payson, Arizona area.

Arizona authorities have now killed three bears in Tonto National Forest after three attacks on three people since May 31. Since 1990, there have now been a total of 10 confirmed bear attacks within the state, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported.

Game and Fish Department officials said two packs of hound dogs picked up the scents (June 24) of two bears near the Ponderosa Campground, east of Payson, site of the recent attacks.

A male American black bear was found one mile below the campground and a large adult female was found in Hellsgate Wilderness.

The hounds chased the bears into trees and officials fatally shot both bears.

The third bear was killed by Game and Fish ground crew.

Authorities said they are conducting tests on the dead bears to ensure they are the ones involved in the non-fatal attacks.

Tonto National Forest officials have temporarily closed all six campgrounds in the Payson ranger district until at least July 15 because of the bear attacks. They recommended campgrounds in the Coconino and Apache Sitgraves national forests for people who desire to camp.

The black bear, which is the only bear species found in Arizona, is considered the least aggressive of North America’s bears. Black bears are normally shy, bashful animals that seek solitude in densely vegetated areas.

Although the black bear population in the state is estimated to be near 3,000 animals, bears are rarely seen and when they are spotted, they typically run from humans.
That typical bear behavior though can be altered by the influences of humans, and those bears can become dangerous and problematic.

Bears that become accustomed to and unafraid of traffic, noise, and human activity, and particularly those that begin to associate people with food sources, are more likely to become involved in a human-wildlife conflict. A bear that enters a campground has already demonstrated habituation, and even a small bear can overpower an adult.

The family of the most recent bear attack victim, who was attacked June 24 while camping at Ponderosa Campground, asks campers and outdoor recreationists to take precautions when camping outdoors in bear country, Cerbat Gem reports.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)
The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

While the investigation shows that the victim had taken the proper precautions to secure his food and garbage, Arizona Game and Fish Department officers believe that the bear responsible for the attack had already been habituated and conditioned to people and came to expect to find food or garbage in human-inhabited areas.

“Game and Fish is asking the public to do their part to keep bears wild and afraid of humans by not being complacent with food sources and garbage bins in areas where bears are known to live,” said Brian Wakeling, game branch chief and a wildlife biologist with extensive experience with black bears.

“We ask all residents and visitors to Arizona to take personal responsibility to not only protect yourself and your family, but to help minimize the chances that human behavior could change a bear and create a future public safety threat.

Drought conditions are likely a reason more bears, are coming into campgrounds in search of food.

Campers are reminded to take the following precautions to minimize bear encounters.

  • DO NOT be a contributor to food-conditioning
  • Keep your campsite clean; store food items and trash away from your tent or RV
  • Store food in air-tight containers in RV or car trunk
  • Keep food waste and garbage in a secure bear-proof container
  • Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease, or dish water lying around the campsite

Other potential food attractants include pet food, uncleaned BBQs, and even orchard fruit on the ground. The food odors attract bears that have a very keen sense of smell. Even an empty food wrapper can attract a bear from a long distance.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

If you do encounter a bear, try to scare the bear away by making yourself look as large as possible, making loud noises and throwing objects towards it. Do not run. In the rare event of a black bear attack, fight back aggressively.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…

In many cultures, the bear was looked upon with such reverence that members of the culture were not allowed to speak the word for “bear “. Instead, they referred to the animal with varied and creative euphamisms. Several names were used by the Navajo and other native groups—Fine Young Chief, He Who Lives in the Den, and Reared in the Mountains.

Read More

Bear Attack Reported at Arizona Campground

An Arizona woman was injured this morning (May 1) when a bear ripped a hole in the tent where she, her husband, and their dog had been sleeping at Ponderosa Campground in Tonto National Forest, just off Highway 260 about 10 miles east of Payson.

Grizzly bear attacks tent. (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

The attack occurred around 4:30 a.m.

After tearing open the tent, the bear reportedly stuck its head in and clawed at the 74-year-old woman, leaving her with bruises and a laceration on her scalp. She was treated at Payson Regional Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

The woman’s husband and dog were not hurt.

A large adult bear had recently been seen hanging around the campsite dumpsters. A wildlife manager with Arizona Game and Fish Department visited Ponderosa Campground yesterday looking for the bear, but it was not found.

A culvert-style trap was set. The wildlife manager talked to the campground host about precautions, and all campers were informed of the bear threat.

The bear returned to the campground sometime during the night. The campground host chased the bear, which retreated. It returned a short time later and attacked the campers in their tent.

Personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services are on scene and working with Game and Fish officers, using dogs to track the bear from the scene of the attack.

“Public safety is our first priority,” said Jim Paxon, information chief with Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“This bear poses a threat to public safety and therefore needs to be lethally removed.”
The Department will conduct a forensic necropsy to confirm that the captured bear is the one responsible for the attack. Disease testing, including rabies, will also be conducted by an outside laboratory.

Officials have evacuated campers and closed Ponderosa Campground. Lower Tonto Creek/Bear Flat/Forest Road 405A have also been closed to entry. An official closure will be put into effect by the Forest Service until the bear danger lessens.

“The bear was probably looking for food, which is scarce this summer because of drought,” Paxon said.

“These campers secured their food in the cab of their truck, and there was no food in the tent. While the campers were with the campground host and medical personnel, the bear came back to the tent a second time, ripped another hole in it, and then went after a pillow that had blood on it from the woman’s wounds.”

Bears are very active during the summer, Paxon added.

“It’s important to stay alert. Bears are attracted to places like dumpsters, trash bins and campsites. Whether folks live here or are just visiting, they need to remember this is bear country. Never leave food out, and never take food into a tent.”

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Bear attacks on humans are rare. There have only been seven documented cases of bear attacks in Arizona since 1990, including this one.

Bear Safety

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Bears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

Bears are naturally wary of people and are reluctant to come close to humans. However, if you do encounter a bear there are some important things to remember:

  • If the bear is spotted in the distance and has NOT seen you, back away (without running) the way you came while keeping the bear in view; remain calm and avoid direct eye contact
  • If the bear is at close range, back away slowly
  • If you need to move forward, give the bear as much space as possibly
  • If the bear is standing up, it is usually trying to identify you; talk softly so it knows what you are; if its snapping its jaws, lowering its head, flattening its ears, growling, or making ‘woofing’ signs, it is displaying aggression
  • Never come between a bear and its cubs or animal carcass, as the bear will protect them; slowly back away and leave the area the way you came
  • Carry pepper/bear spray when venturing into the wild
  • Report all sightings to Park Staff
What's worse than a grizzly bear attack? When that grizzly bear comes back to attack again. An Alaskan biologist was the recipient of two attacks but survived, and harbors no grudge against the grizzly. (Source: Newscom)

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Worth Pondering…
Alive, the grizzly is a symbol of freedom and understanding—a sign that man can learn to conserve what is left of the earth. Extinct, it will be another fading testimony to things man should have learned more about but was too preoccupied with himself to notice. In its beleaguered condition, it is above all a symbol of what man is doing to the entire planet. If we can learn from these experiences, and learn rationally, both grizzly and man may have a chance to survive.
—Frank Craighead, Track of the Grizzly, 1979

Read More

Updated Forest Service Campground Guides Available

Fred and Suzi Dow, authors of ForestCamping.com, the comprehensive website for camping in national forests and grasslands, announced publication of revised and updated U.S. National Forest Campground Guides for the Pacific Northwest, Eastern, and Rocky Mountain regions.

These guides include essential information, such as descriptions, amenities, and anecdotes from the authors, who have visited each campground, to help campers select a campground best suited to the experience they want.

The Guides are available only in electronic format as Ebooks on CD and downloads from ForestCamping.com website’s bookstore, according to a news release.

The Ebook on CD includes a screen saver specific to the applicable region, maps reflecting the relative location of campgrounds in the national forest and grassland, and GPS coordinates.

In addition to the revised and updated Pacific Northwest, Eastern, and Rocky Mountain regions, guides are available for the Southern, Southwest, Northern, Intermountain, Pacific Southwest, and Alaska regions.

Also the guides can be purchased together on a single the National CD or download.

Details

ForestCamping.com

Fred and Suzi Dow and their traveling companions.

ForestCamping.com, the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website, is a complete and comprehensive guide to developed campgrounds in national forests and grasslands.

It provides detailed information to campers looking to experience the great outdoors.

In addition to managing a website, Fred and Suzi Dow also self-publish Ebook CDs and downloads of eleven U.S. National Forest Campground Guides, which can be purchased online at their website.

Fred and Suzi Dow have devoted 18 years to visiting, personally researching, and providing the public with free, detailed information about 175 national forests and grasslands and more than 2,400 personally surveyed campgrounds.

Fred Dow retired from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1996. Suzi Dow is a former instructor at George Mason University.

In 1996 the couple moved from their Virginia home to become full-time RVers and to devote their full attention to their research.

They now reside part-time in Bisbee, Arizona.

Fred and Suzi Dow have been featured in Newsweek, National Geographic, the NARFE Magazine (the National Association for Retired Federal Employees), and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as in local and regional publications including the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Daily Sun, and the Independent Record (Helena, MT).

Parker Canyon Lake west of Coronado National Monument in southeastern Arizona. The national forest campground is comprised of two loops above the lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Website: forestcamping.com

Related Story

Worth Pondering…

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,

A Jug of Wine,

A Loaf of Bread—and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness—

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise now!

—Rubaiyat of Omar Khyaam

Read More

The Graying of National Park Visitors

The average visitor to some of the nation’s parks and wilderness areas is getting grayer, prompting a new emphasis on getting young people to unplug and head outdoors.

“Without a generation of kids who have had good experiences with national parks, then in a very short amount of time, we may not have enough people who care about national parks to keep them going,” says John Hayes of the Dunes Learning Center at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

For the National Park Service, developing life-long connections between the public and parks — especially for young people — is a priority from now until its 2016 centennial, reports USA Today.

That could be a challenge: A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that people ages 8 to 18 spent an average of 7½ hours a day on digital media. Last month, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that three times as many Millennials — born in the 1980s and ’90s — as Baby Boomers said they made no personal effort to help the environment.

A “big concern” of the National Park Service “is maintaining 21st-century relevance,” says James Gramann, a Texas A&M professor writing a book on people-park links. Visitors ages 16 to 24 are most under-represented, he says.

The aging of visitors affects wild places across the United States:

  • The average age of a visitor to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area was 26 in 1969, 36 in 1991, and 45 in 2007, says a March report by the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s the same people. They got attached, and they keep going back,” says co-author Bob Dvorak, a Central Michigan University professor.
  • The average age of out-of-state visitors to Glacier and Yellowstone national parks in 2011 was 54, says the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.
  • At California’s Death Valley National Park, 49 percent of spring visitors in 2010 were 46 to 65 years old.
Late afternoon shadows enhance the beauty of Joshua Tree. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Late afternoon shadows enhance the beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Overall visits to national parks fell in 2011 for the second year in a row. The National Park Service counted 278.9 million visits in 2011, down about 1 percent from 2010.

Some parks have plenty of young visitors. The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois, attracts about 10,000 students a year, Superintendent Dale Phillips says. “It’s important that we teach them early,” he says.

Realizing that the future of the park system is at stake, parks and wilderness areas across the nation are working hard to attract younger visitors, USA Today reports. They want to create a new generation of stewards.

“It isn’t cool or interesting to young people to visit parks,” says Ron Tipton, senior vice president for policy at the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). “We’ve got to find ways to bring them into parks … and keep them coming back.”

Safiya Samman, director of conservation education at the U.S. Forest Service, says once youngsters visit wilderness areas, “They want to come again, because it inspires them and gives them a connection that they were missing.”

At the non-profit Dunes Learning Center at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, children stay overnight for flashlight-free night hikes. No electronic devices are allowed, Executive Director John Hayes says.

“It’s a profound experience” when youngsters are immersed in nature for the first time, he says. “The underlying goal is to give kids an experience that develops their relationship to a point where they care” about parks’ future.

A survey of 62 students who visited the Dunes recently found 44 had never been to a national park site before, Hayes says. All 62 wanted to return.

California’s Joshua Tree National Park offers lessons that meet state educational standards and helps pay for buses to get students to the park, says Joe Zarki, chief of interpretation. A smartphone app is in the works.

An outdoor adventure “becomes something they remember when they’re 18 or 35,” Zarki says.

Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Acuña. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along San Antonio's Mission Trail, Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Acuña. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, a junior ranger program and Get Outdoors fair attract young visitors, Ranger Al Remley says. “We need to engage that next generation in preserving our heritage,” he says.

Jason Morris of NatureBridge, a San Francisco non-profit group that takes students to national parks, says it’s vital to connect them with nature when states are closing parks because of budget constraints.

“If we don’t have a constituency that cares … I’m afraid those places would be whittled away,” he says. “What would happen if we sold off Yosemite? We can’t take the short view.”

Worth Pondering…

The nation behaves well when it treats the natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Read More

U.S. Forest Service: Celebrating Wildflowers

U.S. Forest Service promotes wildflower viewing in national forests lands.

The U.S. Forest Service has released an updated online wildflower map with hundreds of locations on national forests for prime wildflower viewing, making it easier than ever to enjoy America’s great outdoors.

The wildflower map includes 317 wildflower viewing areas on National Forest System (NFS) lands and can be referenced by specific states, individual national forests, and geographic regions, according to a news release.

“This updated map provides visitors a quick guide to find locations and best viewing times for the spectacular natural beauty of wildflowers on national forests,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

“This is one more way folks can experience the bounty of natural surroundings.”

For many rural communities, the tourist revenue generated by thousands of wildflower festivals and events held each year helps support local economies.

According to recent research, viewing and photographing wildflowers and trees is the fastest growing nature-based outdoor activity.

Celebrating Wildflowers is dedicated to the enjoyment of the thousands of wildflowers growing on our national forests and grasslands, and to educating the public about the many values of native plants.

A narrative for each location describes the viewing area’s botanical habitat, the types of wildflowers that can be found by season, and recommendations for the best time of year to visit. Information on safety advisories such as animal habitats, clothing recommendations, insect or plant cautions, and traffic and parking tips are included.

Directions to the site, the closest town and contacts for more information are also offered.

The map is part of the agency’s Celebrating Wildflowers website which includes more than 10,000 plant images and information about the aesthetic, recreational, biological, medicinal, and economic values of native plants.

Celebrating Wildflowers emphasizes:

  • The aesthetic value of plants – a field of wildflowers is a beautiful sight
  • The recreational value of plants – picking berries is fun for the whole family
  • The biological value of plants – native plants support other life
  • The medicinal value of plants – chemicals from plants help combat sickness
  • The economic value of plants – plant material such as floral greens are commercially valuable
  • The conservation of native plants – protecting and maintaining native plant habitat

Feature sections focus on the role of pollinators, overviews of flower types, and spotlights on rare and interesting plant communities. An ethnobotany page highlights how people of particular cultures and regions make use of indigenous plants. Educational activities for kids and resources for teachers also are available.

Details

U.S. Forest Service

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

Website: fs.fed.us

Celebrating Wildflowers Program

The U.S. Forest Service started the Celebrating Wildflowers program in 1991. The program responds to public desire for information about native plants and their conservation. It is a way to promote and enjoy wildflowers on the 191 million acres of national forests and grasslands.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages 270 million acres of public lands, joined the program in 1994. Together, the two agencies now promote wildflower programs on about 20 percent of the nation’s landmass. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and USDA Agricultural Research Service have also joined the program.

In addition, groups like, garden clubs, botanical gardens, Native Plant Society chapters, nurseries, universities, and public schools actively participate in Celebrating Wildflowers.

Website: fs.fed.us/wildflowers

Worth Pondering…
The Amen of nature is always a flower.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Read More

Camping Opportunities in National Forests & Grasslands

As summer camping season approaches many families will rely on ForestCamping.com for camping opportunities in national forests and grasslands.

Mendenhall Glacier from the campground in Tongass National Forest, Alaska (Source: forestcamping.com)

Old man winter may have made a late arrival in your area but summer and the family camping season is just around the corner.

Camping is a good way for families to reconnect, to help strengthen family bonds, and counter the stressful effects of a busy lifestyle.

Many national forest campgrounds were designed, developed, and are managed for families, making them outstanding and affordable family vacation destinations.

Each year more families are discovering great family vacation destinations in national forest and grassland campgrounds. Whether camping with pre-school or older children, there are Forest Service campgrounds that will fit the family.

Using ForestCamping.com, with more than 2,400 developed campgrounds in 175 national forests and grasslands scattered across the country in 44 states, families can be assured they’ll find a Forest Service campground with what they want to see, do, and enjoy.

Canoes at Sawbill Campground in Superior National Forest, Minnesota (Source: forestcamping.com)

Whether close to home or for a cross-country trip, ForestCamping.com provides families—new or experienced campers—a source to locate an affordable camping experience.

Several examples follow:

Mendenhall Campground in Tongass National Forest, Alaska – Full hookups, a Visitor Center that is outstanding, fishing, hiking, hot showers, and a glacier right there. And it’s Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun, an ultimate family camping adventure destination. Details here>

Sawbill Campground in Superior National Forest, Minnesota – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is just steps from every campsite. The adjacent outfitter has everything needed for a memorable one day or week long canoe trip into the BWCAC including canoes and guide. Imagine listening to loon calls while eating pancakes stuffed with fresh picked blueberries. Details here>

Glacier View Campground in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho – One of 37 developed campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Centrally located, it is convenient to the breathtaking Sawtooth Wilderness with fabulous hiking trails, Redfish Lake with Rainbow, Brook, and Mackinaw trout, historic Redfish Lake Lodge offering a boat shuttle to Sawtooth Wilderness, trail rides, and a cook’s night out, and interpretive programs throughout the summer. Details here>

Lake Powhatan Campground in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina– Full hookups, modern bathroom facilities, beach and swim area, fishing, hiking

Redfish Lake near Glacier View Campground in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho (Source: forestcamping.com)

, educational programs, and convenient to a number of attraction such as Cradle of Forestry Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway and the Biltmore Estate, this campground has been popular with families for decades. Details here>

Details

ForestCamping.com
ForestCamping.com, the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website, is a complete and comprehensive guide to developed campgrounds in national forests and grasslands.

It provides detailed information to campers looking to experience the great outdoors.

In addition to managing a website, Fred and Suzi Dow also self-publish Ebook CDs and downloads of eleven U.S. National Forest Campground Guides, which can be purchased online at their website.

Fred and Suzi Dow, authors and publishers of ForestCamping.com, have devoted 17 years to visiting, personally researching, and providing the public with free, detailed information about 175 national forests and grasslands and more than 2,400 personally surveyed campgrounds.

Website: forestcamping.com

Worth Pondering…

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.

—John Muir

Read More