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U.S. Forest Service — Proposed Directive for Commercial Filming in Wilderness; Special Uses Administration

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Proposed Directive for Commercial Filming in Wilderness; Special Uses Administration
Source: U.S. Forest Service (via Federal Register)

ACTION
Notice Of Proposed Directive; Request For Public Comment.

SUMMARY
The Forest Service proposes to incorporate interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40 to make permanent guidance for the evaluation of proposals for still photography and commercial filming on National Forest System Lands. The proposed amendment would addressthe establishment of consistent national criteria to evaluate requests for special use permits on National Forest System (NFS) lands. Specifically, this policy provides the criteria used to evaluate request for special use permits related to still photography and commercial filming in congressionally designated wilderness areas. Public comment is invited and will be considered in the development of the final directive.

See: Forest Service says media needs photography permit in wilderness areas, alarming First Amendment advocates

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The Health Risks of Bathing in Recreational Waters: A Rapid Evidence Assessment of Water Quality and Gastrointestinal Illness

September 18, 2014 Comments off

The Health Risks of Bathing in Recreational Waters: A Rapid Evidence Assessment of Water Quality and Gastrointestinal Illness
Source: RAND Corporation

The European Bathing Directive (2006/7/EC) stipulates water quality standards for recreational bathing waters based on specified limits of faecal indicator organisms (FIOs). Presence of FIOs above the limits is considered to be indicative of poor water quality and to present a risk to bathers’ health. The European Bathing Directive (2006) is to be reviewed in 2020. We conducted a rapid evidence assessment on recreational bathing waters and gastrointestinal illness (GI) to identify the extent of the literature published since the previous review period in 2003 and to determine whether there is any new evidence which may indicate that a revision to the Directive would be justified.

Overall, 21 papers (from 16 studies), including two RCTs, met the inclusion criteria; 12 were conducted in marine waters and four were conducted in freshwater. Considerable heterogeneity existed between study protocols and the majority had significant methodological limitations, including self-selection and misclassification biases. Moreover, there was limited variation in water quality among studies, providing a limited evidence base on which to assess the classification standards.

Overall, there appears to be a consistent significant relationship between faecal indicator organisms and GI in freshwater, but not marine water studies. Given the apparent lack of relationship between GI and water quality, it is unclear whether the boundaries of the Bathing Waters Directive are supported by studies published in the post-2003 period. We suggest that more epidemiological evidence is needed to disprove or confirm the original work that was used to derive these boundaries for marine waters.

New economic study shows marine debris costs California residents millions of dollars

August 16, 2014 Comments off

New economic study shows marine debris costs California residents millions of dollars
Source: NOAA

Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches.

The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

CRS — Hunting and Fishing: Issues and Legislation in the 113th Congress (July 7, 2013)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Hunting and Fishing: Issues and Legislation in the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

For several years, the House and Senate have been considering various approaches to improve hunting and recreational fishing opportunities both on and off of federal lands. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) is pending in the Senate, and addresses many of the same topics considered by recent Congresses.

Hunting, fishing, and conservation have been linked since the advent of federal wildlife legislation. Among early examples are the Lacey Act of 1900, the first federal wildlife law, which made it a federal crime to ship game killed in violation of one state’s laws to another state, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which regulated the killing, hunting, buying, or selling of migratory birds. Today’s controversies concern, among other things, exactly what hunting, fishing, or shooting sports should be allowed on federal land, and when. S. 2363 seeks to increase the priority of hunting, trapping, fishing, and recreational shooting on federal lands.

Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish in Western U.S. National Parks

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish in Western U.S. National Parks
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Mercury has been discovered in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska. Mercury levels in some fish exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans.

The information about mercury, and its appearance in protected areas considered to be relatively pristine and removed from environmental contaminants, is in a recently published scientific report from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

The study of mercury in fish is the first of its kind to incorporate information from remote places at 21 national parks in 10 western states, including Alaska. Western parks were selected for this study because of the significant role that atmospheric mercury deposition plays in remote places, and the lack of broad-scale assessments on mercury in fish in remote areas of the west.

Mercury concentrations in fish sampled from these parks were generally low, but were elevated in some instances. This study examines total mercury in fish, of which 95 percent is in the form of methylmercury, the most dangerous form to human and wildlife health.

Mercury is harmful to human and wildlife health, and is among the most widespread contaminants in the world. It is distributed at a global scale from natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions and from human sources such as burning fossil fuels in power plants. Mercury is distributed at local or regional scales as a result of current and historic mining activities. These human activities have increased levels of atmospheric mercury at least three fold during the past 150 years.

2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation

March 18, 2014 Comments off

2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation (PDF)
Source: National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) manages the nation’s most iconic destinations that attract millions of visitors from across the nation and around the world. Trip-related spending by NPS visitors generates and supports a considerable amount of economic activity within park gateway communities. This economic effects analysis measures how NPS visitor spending cycles through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income.

In 2012, the National Park System received over 282 million recreation visits. NPS visitors spent $14.7 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy was 243 thousand jobs, $9.3 billion in labor income, $15.8 billion in value added, and $26.8 billion in output. The lodging sector saw the highest direct contributions with more than 40 thousand jobs and $4.5 billion in output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally. The sector with the next greatest direct contributions was restaurants and bars, with 51 thousand jobs and $3 billion in output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally.

This 2012 analysis marks a major revision to the NPS visitor spending effects analyses, with the development of a new visitor spending effects model (VSE model) that replaces the former Money Generation Model (MGM2). Many of the hallmarks and processes of the MGM2 model are preserved in the new VSE model, but the new model makes significant strides in improving the accuracy and transparency of the analysis. Because of this change from the MGM2 model to the VSE model, estimates from this year’s analysis are not directly comparable to previous analyses.

Using social media to quantify nature-based tourism and recreation

October 23, 2013 Comments off

Using social media to quantify nature-based tourism and recreation
Source: Scientific Reports

Scientists have traditionally studied recreation in nature by conducting surveys at entrances to major attractions such as national parks. This method is expensive and provides limited spatial and temporal coverage. A new source of information is available from online social media websites such as flickr. Here, we test whether this source of “big data” can be used to approximate visitation rates. We use the locations of photographs in flickr to estimate visitation rates at 836 recreational sites around the world, and use information from the profiles of the photographers to derive travelers’ origins. We compare these estimates to empirical data at each site and conclude that the crowd-sourced information can indeed serve as a reliable proxy for empirical visitation rates. This new approach offers opportunities to understand which elements of nature attract people to locations around the globe, and whether changes in ecosystems will alter visitation rates.

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