Public Outcry Could Save National Parks From Zinke’s Dramatic Fee Hikes
By Courtney Lindwall
Load the camper back up: U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be backtracking on the steep entrance fee hikes he proposed last October for 17 of the country's most popular national parks. In a relatively short public comment period of 30 days, the Interior Department received more than 100,000 comments from concerned Americans.
They were not happy campers. The response to the new entrance fees (some of which nearly tripled the current price) was overwhelmingly negative, with 98 percent of the comments, the Washington Post reported, opposing the raised fees. Americans of all stripes shared a similar sentiment: We deserve a fair price to visit our own public lands (and $70 is not it).
"$70 is insane! What the hell? You need to go to Congress, get them to fund NPS, and then get our president to actually sign it."
"If I were considering a trip to one of these parks and suddenly found that the trip would incur an exorbitant entrance fee, I would not ... repeat not, take my family on this trip."
Hiking the fees for us to enjoy #NationalParks while @SecretaryZinke flies around on private jets with taxpayer $$$ https://t.co/5sfYQxGNQ6— Sen. Maria Cantwell (@Sen. Maria Cantwell)1508881740.0
Others on Twitter called out the inherent exclusivity of Zinke's proposed price hikes.
What an absurd proposal. Making national parks even more inaccessible to people of modest means is not how you fill… https://t.co/d74g1NVhNo— Jesse Piedfort ⭐⭐ (@Jesse Piedfort ⭐⭐)1508888865.0
Wow, so Zinke is more than doubling the entrance fee to OUR national parks; from $30 to $70. @maddow #maddow Yeah, drain that swamp— GigiMommy (@GigiMommy)1508981756.0
Zinke had said that the increase was necessary to fund a $12 billion maintenance backlog for the parks. But this plan, along with Zinke's idea to use oil and gas leases on parklands to pay for infrastructure, is misguided. Paying for park maintenance falls on the federal budget, not on the backs of American families. Although President Trump's proposed budget has not made the park system a priority, two recent spending bills negotiated by Democratic lawmakers in Congress propose giving our national parks a modest boost.
Emily Douce of the National Parks Conservation Association applauded Zinke's apparent change of heart, saying it gave hope that "the administration has heard the outcry from the public and will abandon or significantly alter their proposal."
After all, there's a lot at stake. National parks bridge the widening gap between land and people. Accessibility to that land matters. As Rich Dolesh, a vice president of the National Recreation and Parks Association, puts it, "If you don't keep the next generation of Americans connected and valuing our national parks, it would irrevocably break a bond that's been there since the parks were created."
That's something Zinke's supposed hero, Theodore Roosevelt, knew well. In 1906, President Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, which was the first to legally protect cultural and natural resources on U.S. public land. Below is T.R. celebrating the signing with conservationist John Muir in Yosemite National Park.
And here's Zinke recreating that classic shot―and no, the irony was not lost on the Twitterverse.
Way to speak your mind, America, but the parks aren't out of the woods yet. They still face assaults on other fronts, including privatization and being leased to the oil, gas and mining industries at unprecedented rates. And while Zinke is implying that the new fee for driving into a national park won't be $70, he has yet to state just how much it will cost.
So while you resume planning for that summer road trip, you may want to hold off a little longer on buying those fancy new hiking boots.
'Outrageous' Gold Rush-Style Grab of Public Lands to Begin Friday https://t.co/tH0UHfq1c3 @greenpeaceusa @Sierra_Magazine @foe_us— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1517523008.0
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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