The State of Washington Launches a National Bike Route for Cyclists in Anacortes

Bicycle National Corridor Plan

Washingtonians celebrated on September 14 to dedicate Washington’s first segment of an ambitious new national bike route system.

Washington’s U.S. Bike Route 10 spans 416 miles across northern portion of Washington on State Route 20 through Skagit, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. It is the first bicycle route to receive designation in the northwest and in all of the contiguous west coast states. With the help of the national organization, the Adventure Cycling Association, the U S Bicycle Route 10 interstate route will some day eventually connect all of the northern states for cyclists, linking Washington to Maine.

Land News

Rent a Tent at Manzanita Lake With a New Program at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Cinder Cone

Travelers to Lassen Volcanic National Park can currently go tent camping without worrying about having to possess, store, transport, set up or take down their own personal camping hardware, with the park’s new RentMyTent system, which started this month. The fresh program was designed by the National Park Service, the Coleman Company, the National Park Hospitality Association and its member national park concessionaires to make it a lot easier for park visitors to enjoy camping in a national park. California Guest Services, the licensed concessionaire for Lassen Volcanic National Park, will operate the program.
“It’s perfect for the 80 percent of Americans who live in urban areas and might not have enough room to store bulky camping equipment, but who’d like to experience camping in a national park,” mentioned Pam Pitts, with CGS.

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Oglala Sioux Tribe fears National Park Service Actions at Badlands

Badlands National Park

A few tribal landowners of the Oglala Sioux Tribe are afraid the National Park Service is going to take over their land in South Dakota Badlands National Park. On horses, ATV’s, and trucks, tribal members rode three miles to Wounded Knee, all to raise consciousness. They say some of their land in the South Unit of the Badlands National Park will be removed.
“I hear the voices of people that believe their land is going to be taken and that is not the case. The land boundary will be identical to what it was in 1968 when Congress established the South Unit,” stated Brunnemann.
“I haven’t heard anyone take the side of the federal government on this one. It is blatant land theft,” said Bud May, one of the land owners.
This was conducted on the anniversary of Little Big Horn and tribal members say they understood it was fitting to do the demonstration on that day.

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Federal Goverment Moves to Protect Gunnison Sage Grouse in Eleven States


The federal government this month announced more than 400,000 acres in southwest Colorado and eastern Utah out-of-bounds to energy consideration or any other kind of expansion to protect the Gunnison sage grouse, a predecessor to a much bigger struggle over another species of the bird that extends across 11 Western states.
A choice on whether to identify the greater sage grouse as endangered is due in the coming year. Western states fear that the bird will acquire federal protection, inhibiting development and ranching in huge parts of their territory.

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Utah Opens New Mountain Bike Trail System in Moab


Tourism pumps big money into Utah’s economy – in 2012 it was more than $7 billion. National and state parks play a big role in that.

Moab is certainly one of the top tourist hotspots in the state just miles from two national parks and Dead Horse State Park. That’s where Utah’s second in command was Tuesday to help officially open up a new mountain bike trail system. The ribbon is cut and the mountain bikers are ready to roll. The new, Intrepid trail ties together miles of single track at Dead Horse Point State Park.

“Grand County Trail mix opened up an extension of the original intrepid trail, we’ll call it intrepid 2 to double the mileage up here so you could come up and do a full day ride,” said Scott Escott, Trail designer. About 18 miles now fully connected, Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox (R- Utah) is one of the riders for the ceremonious first run. “I’m excited, I’ve talked about the trail, it’s a great trail, really a beginner trail which is important,” said Cox.

It’s more than pedaling the trail and taking in the breath taking views. There is a much bigger picture here. “Unfortunately, are one of the best kept secrets here in Utah, but word is finally getting out. We have visitors from all over the world here. It means a real economic boost for the state of Utah and surrounding communities.”

Dead Horse Point is one of 43 state parks. The system operates on a $28 million budget. It generates $24 million of that annually. This park has seen an increase in visitors and the new trail system is expected to draw even more guests from far and near. “I was here with my family on our family vacation just three weeks ago, we come here every other year; it’s incredible.”

Officials say tourism is one of the only investments in the state budget that makes money. For every one dollar spent there is a return of about $5 dollars. That $7 billion spent by tourists in 2012 resulted in $960 million in state and local tax revenues.

Land News

REI Celebrates Surpassing the $2 Billion Level in a Competitive Retail Market


Outdoor-gear retailer REI said Monday its sales rose 5.9 percent to a record $2 billion in 2013.

That sales growth represents a small slowdown from REI’s prior-year gain of 7 percent.

But REI celebrated the fact that it surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time, amid a super-competitive retail environment.

“For perspective, it took the co-op 67 years to reach $1 billion in sales and only eight years to double that number,” REI’s new president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, said in a letter to the co-op’s members.

Kent-based REI said its profit of $34.5 million excludes one-time charges of $24.9 million stemming from the cancellation of the launch of a private brand and “certain technology-related impairments.” It did not elaborate.

Sales at stores open at least a year, as well as direct-to-consumer sales, rose 2.9 percent over 2012, with the remaining growth coming from new stores.

REI, which was founded in 1938 as a member-owned co-op, ended the year with 132 stores in 33 states and more than 5 million active members. It plans to open seven new stores in 2014, up from five last year.

Of the seven, two will be in Columbus, Ohio, and one each will be in Salem, Ore.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Southlake, Texas.

REI said it has begun distributing patronage refunds to members based on their 2013 eligible purchases, for a total of $114.7 million, up 10 percent from the year before.

REI also said it’s making good on its promise to reduce its environmental footprint, noting that while sales grew nearly 6 percent last year, its energy consumption increased by only a tenth of a percent and its greenhouse-gas emissions fell by 39.5 percent.

REI board Chairman John Hamlin suggested in his own letter to co-op members that the transition to a new CEO had gone well. Stritzke, who previously was president and chief operating officer at New York-based handbag-maker Coach, took the helm at REI in October, replacing Sally Jewell, now secretary of the Interior under President Obama.

“While REI is in strong shape financially, we are looking to Jerry for progress in several areas,” Hamlin wrote, including expanding REI’s reach nationwide and enhancing its stewardship efforts.


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Cabela’s Coming to New Locations in the South


Cabela’s 100,000-square-foot store under construction in Acworth will likely open in early fall and expects to hire 200.

Wes Remmer, a spokesman with the Nebraska-based outdoor sporting goods chain, told the Marietta Daily Journal a specific official opening date has not yet been set. Remmer said a hiring event will take place in the next few months. The jobs will be full-time, part-time and seasonal positions.
Remmer said that in the meantime, those interested in applying can visit
The store is on Highway 92 at Interstate 75.

Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Amy Wenk reported in February that Cabela’s has announced it will open a third store in Georgia to join the Acworth store, and a store set to open Thursday in Augusta. (Click here to read that story). Click here to access Cabela’s site to read about grand opening festivities in Augusta.
The third Cabela’s – a 70,000-square-foot store in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., off Interstate 75 near the border of Tennessee – expects to employee about 140 people. That store will serve the Chattanooga market, the company said.

Jackson Hole Moose Population Bouncing Back After Long Declines


Although Jackson Hole’s moose population has declined by perhaps 85 percent since the 1980s, habitat specialists and biologists are encouraged about the herd’s future. For one, moose numbers appear to be on the rise. Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist Aly Courtemanch, colleagues and volunteer citizen scientists counted 275 moose in the valley this winter, an increase of almost 40 animals from the year before. The number takes into account observations from Moose Day volunteers, who on March 1 counted 74 moose.
“Our moose are pretty interesting this year,” Courtemanch said. “We had a higher cow-calf ratio.”
The relative abundance of young moose in the Jackson herd — 37 calves for every 100 cows — is up considerably compared with recent years. The ratio is used as an indication of population growth. There were just 15 calves for every 100 cows in the herd as recently as 2008, Courtemanch said.
By 2012 the cow-calf ratio grew to 24 per 100, before jumping to 33 per 100 last winter.
“It’s been slowly chunking up every year,” she said. “That’s really promising. It kind of is a preliminary indication that the herd may be starting to rebound.” Moose habitat in the valley also looks like it’s in relatively good shape.
Brett Jesmer, a University of Wyoming zoology doctoral student, is undertaking a statewide moose habitat and health assessment to help Game and Fish predict where and when moose declines are likely to occur. Courtemanch is collaborating with Jesmer on the research.
In Jackson Hole, “the willow habitat is as good or better than many of the other areas around the state,” Jesmer said Tuesday.
Results are preliminary, as moose scat analysis — a portion of his multiyear assessment — is still not complete, he said. Tests that would further gauge the health of valley’s willows were also forthcoming, he said.
“The goal is to develop some understanding of the interplay between climate, habitat and calf production,” Jesmer said.
Based on Courtemanch’s recent population assessment, moose are doing better in some areas where the species has struggled most.
The cow-calf ratios in the Buffalo Valley this year were 44 young for every 100 adult females. In the Gros Ventre drainage, the ratio was 33 calves for every 100 cows. “Both areas looked good,” Courtemanch said. “The Buffalo Valley’s population has definitely gone down the most. The Gros Ventre has also decreased, but not to the same extent.
“As you move further and further south, it gets increasingly better,” she said. “But they were still in decline.”
Jackson’s moose population has proven cyclical over the years, as the large ungulate tends to exhaust its productive habitat when numbers are high.
Douglas Houston, a moose researcher in the valley in the 1960s, predicted that the population was going to decline based on poor habitat quality and overabundance, Jesmer said. The warning proved correct. By the late 1980s — before the transplant of gray wolves — cow-calf ratios were dropping.
“Those calf-cow ratios that are now ticking back up, they started declining just before the 1988 Yellowstone fires,” Jesmer said,
Jesmer’s study also assesses the fat content of moose kidneys, donated by hunters, to determine animals’ health. He will use the moose feces to determine what moose are eating, their diet quality and pregnancy rates.
Besides Jackson Hole, Jesmer is studying herds in the Wyoming Range, Uinta Mountains, Big Horn Mountains, the Snowy Range and Colorado’s North Park. He hopes to expand the research into Colorado’s Flat Top Wilderness.
Results from the project are expected to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals in about a year and a half, Jesmer said.

Land News

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Blooming a Month Longer


The Rocky Mountain wildflower season has lengthened by over a month since the 1970s, according to a study published Monday that found climate change is altering the flowering patterns of more species than previously thought.

Flowers used to bloom from mid-May to early September, but the season now lasts 35 days longer, from April to mid-September, according to researchers who collected 39 years of data at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte, Colo.

Earlier spring snowmelt and other climate shifts have changed the timing of blooms for more than two-thirds of 60 species of native wildflowers in mountain meadows, stands of Aspen trees and conifer forest that were surveyed from 1974 to 2012, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientific paper is the latest to document one of the strongest signs that global warming is shaking up the natural world. Scientists studying phenology — the timing of seasonal events in nature — are observing rapid shifts in when flowers bloom, trees leaf out and bees, birds and butterflies appear in the spring.

Scientists have documented the trend using historical records from writers and naturalists, including Henry David Thoreau, who in the 1850s began recording in his journal the first blooms of the season around Concord, Mass.

Previous studies largely have focused on the first appearance of flowers in the spring, but that probably underestimates the true extent of the changes they are going through, the paper says.

To go beyond that, researchers analyzed wildflower species throughout the season. They found that half of them flowered earlier, more than a third reached their peak blooms sooner and 30% flowered later into the year due to a warming climate.

“We don’t know if it’s good or bad for these plant species at this point,” said Amy Iler, postdoctoral biology researcher at University of Maryland and co-author of the study.

The findings nonetheless raise many questions about how disruptive the changing bloom times might be to bees, birds and pollinators and other plants that are adapted to flowers appearing at very specific times, she said.

“Climate change is reshuffling flowering plants over a short time period,” Iler said. “So it might be changing things that were set in place by natural selection over a long time frame.”

Wildflowers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, which sits at about 9,500 feet in elevation, bloom almost immediately after the spring snowmelt and stick around until the first hard frost in the fall. But as temperatures rise, snow is melting earlier and the first hard frosts are occurring later.

The study is the product of decades of work by David Inouye, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, who since 1974 has amassed an exhaustive record by systematically counting dozens of species of wildflowers at the research station in the mountains of Colorado.

“It is probably the most detailed, long-term data set on flowering times that exists in the United States and perhaps even the world,” said Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University who has used Thoreau’s records to study the effects of climate change on plants and animals.

Primack, who was not involved in the study, praised the paper as an “extremely innovative type of analysis” that would stimulate a flurry of new research.

“As soon as I read this paper I thought, my God, why didn’t we analyze our data that way?” Primack said. “This study shows us that if you don’t just focus on the first flowering date but also on the peak flowering date and the final flowering date, there’s a much greater impact of climate change than we previously suspected.”

Land News

Dinosaur Footprint Missing from Utah Slickrock as a Moab Man is Indicted


A federal grand jury has indicted a Utah man on four counts related to the dinosaur footprint taken last month from the slickrock near Moab. All the counts allege Jared F. Ehlers, 35, of Moab, damaged or removed government property by taking the three-toed print on Feb. 17. The most serious count carries a penalty of 20 years in prison. Ehlers owns a construction business in Moab. His initial appearance in U.S. District Court is set for April 22.

The footprint was one of about 20 in the Hell’s Revenge jeeping area near the Sand Flats Recreation Area, just east of Moab. An off-road tour operator took visitors to see the print on Feb. 18, only to find that the rock containing the print was no longer there. The rock had partly come loose from the ground and appears to have been pried free with pry-bars, said Rebecca Hunt-Foster, Canyon Country paleontologist for the BLM, shortly after the theft.

The footprint became a cause for local outfitters who earn a living showing such artifacts and other Moab attractions to tourists. Multiple outfitters donated to a reward fund that totaled at least $7,000. It was unclear Tuesday whether someone was eligible for the reward. Jason Taylor, operations manager at Moab Adventure Center, one of the outfitters that contributed to the reward, said he was disappointed a local man was accused of taking the footprint, but was proud the community worked together to try to solve the case.

“It kind of proves a point that we locals here are not going to tolerate people coming in and taking what’s here,” Taylor said. The footprint has not been recovered. After receiving information that someone threw it in the Colorado River near Dewey Bridge, the Utah Department of Public Safety dive team searched Saturday to no avail.

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