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Archive for the ‘outdoor recreation’ Category

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.

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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.

Present and future nitrogen deposition to national parks in the United States: critical load exceedances

October 13, 2013 Comments off

Present and future nitrogen deposition to national parks in the United States: critical load exceedances
Source: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

National parks in the United States are protected areas wherein the natural habitat is to be conserved for future generations. Deposition of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) transported from areas of human activity (fuel combustion, agriculture) may affect these natural habitats if it exceeds an ecosystem-dependent critical load (CL). We quantify and interpret the deposition to Class I US national parks for present-day and future (2050) conditions using the GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model with 1/2° × 2/3° horizontal resolution over North America. We estimate CL values in the range 2.5–5 kg N ha−1 yr−1 for the different parks to protect the most sensitive ecosystem receptors. For present-day conditions, we find 24 out of 45 parks to be in CL exceedance and 14 more to be marginally so. Many of these are in remote areas of the West. Most (40–85%) of the deposition originates from NOx emissions (fuel combustion). We project future changes in N deposition using representative concentration pathway (RCP) anthropogenic emission scenarios for 2050. These feature 52–73% declines in US NOx emissions relative to present but 19–50% increases in US ammonia (NH3) emissions. Nitrogen deposition at US national parks then becomes dominated by domestic NH3 emissions. While deposition decreases in the East relative to present, there is little progress in the West and increases in some regions. We find that 17–25 US national parks will have CL exceedances in 2050 based on the RCP8.5 and RCP2.6 scenarios. Even in total absence of anthropogenic NOx emissions, 14–18 parks would still have a CL exceedance. Returning all parks to N deposition below CL by 2050 would require at least a 50% decrease in US anthropogenic NH3 emissions relative to RCP-projected 2050 levels.

Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda: A Workshop Summary (2013)

August 28, 2013 Comments off

Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda: A Workshop Summary (2013)
Source: National Research Council

Much of the ecological research in the past decades has focused on rural or wilderness areas. Today, however, ecological research has been taking place in our cities, where our everyday decisions can have profound effects on our environment. This research, or urban ecology, includes an important element, trees. Trees have had a variety of environmental benefits for our environment including the sequestering carbon, reducing urban heat island effects, providing vital habitat for wildlife, and making nature accessible. These benefits have important impacts on the physical, socio-economic, and mental health of humans as well. Being exposed to trees has been shown to enhance social cohesion, improve health and recreational opportunities, and increase real estate values.

In order to gain more knowledge into this urban forestry, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) held a workshop February 25-26, 2013. The workshop brought together more than 100 people with various interests in urban forestry research to share information and perspectives, foster communication across specific areas of ecosystem service research, and consider integrated approaches that cut across these realms. The workshop specifically examined current capabilities to characterize and quantify the benefits, key gaps in our understanding, the challenges of planning urban forests in a way that optimizes multiple ecosystem services and more.

Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda: A Workshop Summary presents an overview of the issues discussed by the workshop’s breakout groups; summarizes presentations from the four panels which included Biophysical Services of the Urban Forest; and context for the study with introductory material from the workshop.

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