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Quantifying the Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity and Health: Introducing SOPARC

February 13, 2015 Comments off

Quantifying the Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity and Health: Introducing SOPARC
Source: RAND Corporation

As important venues for physical activity, public parks contribute to the health and well-being of the communities that surround them. It is therefore in the best interests of park administrators to have a method to measure this contribution. This paper introduces the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC), a reliable, valid, and easy-to-use tool for quantifying park use and park-based physical activity. Park administrators should understand how to use SOPARC to collect data that justify expenditures in parks and recreation departments. To that end, this paper lays out in some detail what SOPARC is and how it is used, as well as provides background information on the importance of physical activity to health.

CRS — Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues (September 8, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Over 30 years, Congress has established 49 national heritage areas (NHAs) to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources. NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, where the NPS supports state and local conservation through federal recognition, seed money, and technical assistance. NHAs are not part of the National Park System, where lands are federally owned and managed. Rather, lands within heritage areas typically remain in state, local, or private ownership or a combination thereof. Heritage areas have been supported as protecting lands and traditions and promoting tourism and community revitalization, but opposed as potentially burdensome, costly, or leading to federal control over nonfederal lands. This report focuses on heritage areas designated by Congress (not other entities) and related issues and legislation.

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

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.

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