National Parks Starting to Close Amid Coronavirus Fears
When the novel coronavirus started to sweep across the country, the National Park Service started to waive entrance fees. The idea was that as we started to practice social distancing, Americans should have unfettered access to the outdoors. Then the parking lots and the visitor centers started to fill up, worrying park employees.
Now, after officials grew concerned about the spread of the coronavirus on crowded trails, some of the country's most popular parks have started to close, according to The Associated Press.
Glacier in Montana and Arches and Canyonlands in Utah announced their decisions to close just before the weekend, just days after several others as Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains did the same, The Associated Press reported.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials, for example, announced that "visitors from across the country have flocked to the area due to spring break, wildflowers and warm weather conditions," as Marketplace reported. Officials said that in the week before closing, approximately 30,000 people entered daily. That's up by 5,000 a day from last March.
Local leaders in Moab, which is the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands, had pleaded with the Federal government to close the parks, arguing that an influx of visitors posed a grave threat to the surrounding communities. They also implemented tight strictures on businesses outside the park, as EcoWatch reported.
The Southeast Utah Health Department issued orders limiting tourist services to protect Moab, the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The health department ordered businesses where people gather to close down and only offer curbside, "no contact" service. It also banned nonlocals from checking into hotels or camping outside the park, according to EcoWatch.
Moab's tiny hospital has only two ventilators and no intensive care unit at all, according to the Southeast Utah Health Department, as The Associated Press reported.
In Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park remains open, even though local health officials and the Navajo Nation have asked for it to be closed as cases of COVID-19 in the surroundings areas have grown.
"They're scared for their health and the health of the community and visitors," said Kevin Dahl, Arizona's senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, over the weekend, referring to the Grand Canyon park employees and South Rim residents he's talked with, as National Parks Traveler reported. "They wonder why hasn't it closed down when other national parks have closed down?"
The decision to keep parks open by the secretary of the interior drew criticism from an Arizona congressman, Raúl Grijalva, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
"For someone in Secretary Bernhardt's position, it is cavalier at best and profoundly dangerous at worst to encourage public lands visits without encouraging all visitors to avoid crowding of high-traffic areas and popular parks. He should revise his recommendations to better reflect the advice of public health experts," Grijalva said in a statement, as Marketplace reported.
- Singapore Will Plant One Million Trees by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- Australia to Build the World's Largest Solar Farm to Power Singapore ›
- Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.
Transmission lines from the Churchill Falls generating station in Labrador. Douglas Spott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Atlantic sturgeon were brought to the brink of extension in the 20th century and are now are listed as an endangered species. NOAA
Near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on the Churchill (Grand) River downstream from Muskrat Falls. Douglas Sprott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia in 2017. Jason Woodhead / CC BY 2.0
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Dennis Schroeder / NREL / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
- Earth Is Hurtling Towards a Catastrophe Worse Than the Dinosaur ... ›
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- Humans Release 40 to 100x More CO2 Than Volcanoes, Major ... ›
By Teri Schultz
Europe is in a panic over the second wave of COVID-19, with infection rates sky-rocketing and GDP plummeting. Belgium has just announced it will no longer test asymptomatic people, even if they've been in contact with someone who has the disease, because the backlog in processing is overwhelming. Other European countries are also struggling to keep up testing and tracing.
Meanwhile in a small cabin in Helsinki airport, for his preferred payment of a morsel of cat food, rescue dog Kossi needs just a few seconds to tell whether someone has coronavirus.