national parks

Nonprofit Staff And Tour Guides Are Keeping South Florida National Parks Clean

Jan 3, 2019
Miami Herald

In national parks around the country left understaffed by the government shutdown, trash is piling up, bathrooms are overflowing and visitors are running amok.

But not in South Florida.

Thanks to a small army of nonprofit staffers and the private companies that do business in South Florida’s four national park lands, a handful of visitor centers remain open and garbage is being collected.

Photo by Eric Barton

The Department of the Interior is one of the parts of the federal government affected by the current shutdown. But you can still visit South Florida's national parks.

Tom Brandner and his family were hoping to visit Dry Tortugas National Park during their Key West vacation.

That was not to be — but not because of the shutdown. The ferry to the national park was full.

"We wanted to book it about a month ago, but they were sold out," said Brandner, who is from Columbia, SC.

A Wyoming property rights attorney who's long criticized what she calls federal overreach over public land management will take a position as one of the U.S. Department of Interior's top litigators.

The DOI confirmed in an email Monday that Karen Budd-Falen will join the agency as deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife.

Advocacy Groups Say Florida Parks At Risk By Offshore Drilling

May 24, 2018

Eleven national parks in Florida are threatened by White House proposals to open to oil drilling currently protected parts of the nation’s outer continental shelf and to revise the 2016 Well Control Rule, according to a report released Wednesday by environmental conservation groups. 

The Interior Department is abandoning a plan to more than double entrance fees to some of the country's most popular national parks, opting instead to apply a "modest" fee increase to 117 parks beginning this summer in an effort to raise funds for park maintenance.

The announcement Thursday comes after an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, who were concerned that certain large increases that were initially proposed would price people out of the nation's parks.

Michal Kranz / WLRN

An event at Biscayne National Park this weekend celebrates water -- and storytellers who want to make a splash.

As part of its 50th anniversary, the park is hosting a storytelling contest. Before a live audience and a panel of judges, participants will tell short, real-life stories that include water -- sparkling or still, salty or fresh.

The event is open to the public and will take place 7 p.m. Saturday outside the park's Dante Fascell Visitors Center, 9700 SW 328th St. in Homestead.

Peter Haden / WLRN

In South Florida, they all have alligators. But there are some key differences between national wildlife refuges, national parks and national preserves. Here’s a snapshot:

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Nearly all of the seats on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board are vacant following a mass resignation Monday night, with ex-members citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's unwillingness to meet with them.

The National Park Service has announced a proposal to more than double the peak-season entrance fees at the country's busiest national parks, including Shenandoah, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.

The park service said Tuesday that it needs the revenue expected from the fees to address its nearly $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenance. But the announcement has been met with worries that higher prices will push the parks out of reach for many Americans.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Are you a South Floridian who's been meaning to explore the Everglades, ride a boat on Biscayne Bay or trek through Dry Tortugas... but just never gotten around to it?

Well, now you're out of excuses. This weekend (April 22 and 23), you can visit South Florida's three national parks for free. It's part of National Park Week, which goes through Sunday. And the celebration includes abundant activities to highlight these natural, national treasures.

President Trump has donated his salary from his first few months in office to the National Park Service, making good on a campaign pledge to forego a presidential paycheck.

His gift represents a small fraction, however, of the money the Park Service stands to lose if Trump's budget were adopted.

Instead of collecting a salary of $400,000 a year, Trump has volunteered to donate that money to charity. He chose the Park Service as the beneficiary of his first installment, $78,333, which covers the first ten weeks Trump was in office.

Courtesy Kelly Clark / National Park Service

Seventy miles west of Key West, a group of islands forms the Dry Tortugas. Those islands, and the waters surrounding them, are at the center of a national park with spectacular coral reefs. But the park is best known for its biggest structure.

If Twitter accounts fall silent in the woods, can they still make a sound? Turns out, yes — lots.

Tuesday afternoon, a new Twitter account called "AltUSNatParkService" appeared and began tweeting out facts about climate change, support for the National Parks and comments in opposition of President Trump, who has called climate change a hoax created by China.

Big Cypress National Preserve is now internationally known as a “Dark Sky Park.” That means it’s lessening light pollution to preserve the night sky in parts of Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. 

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