Wildlife refuge photos, early January 2016

January 5, 2016

National Wildlife Refuges. Four days ago, most people were very fuzzy on what they are, except for members of Ducks Unlimited, and conservationists.

Here are a few Tweets to help the rest along.

Moose at the National Elk Refuge, outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

Wisdom is a 64-year old albatross who remarkably returns to the Midway National Wildlife Refuge every year, and has raised chicks most of those years. Midway NWR is northwest of Hawaii:

Sparky the lightning catching bull bison, at the Midwest NWR:

Every Kid in a Park shares a photo of an unnamed wild area (threw it in just for the heck of it):

Yellow-rumped warbler at the Sacramento NWR:

USFWS workers conduct a controlled burn at the Okefenokee NWR in Florida:

Hamden Slough NWR, Minnesota, is 26 years old today, January 5:

Great blue heron at Sacramento NWR:

Pied-billed grebe at Sacramento NWR:

Conservatives keep misattributing a famous quote to Thomas Paine, but it was Ed Abbey who said it. Rumor is you can find Abbey at the Caza Prieta NWR in Arizona:

Buenos Aires NWR, Arizona:

Wichita Mountains NWR, Oklahoma:

Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico (near Las Vegas, New Mexico, home of the first Owl Cafe and the wonderful Owl Burger):

https//twitter.com/CherylRofer/status/683725871123791872

Back to the Midway Atoll NWR:

1908 photo from Oregon’s Malheur NWR:

Working against extinction of monarch butterflies, at St. Marks NWR:

Lake Klamath NWR in Oregon, critical habitat for ducks along the Pacific flyway:

Loxahatchee NWR:

“Conservatives” want to sell these lands off, or drill for oil or gas, or mine for minerals, on many of these lands. Will these places be preserved for your great grandchildren and America’s future?


Sunrise in the Colorado Rockies

December 23, 2015

Our friends who steward our public lands find great beauty in America; this is what they protect, and why they protect it.

Caption from U.S. Department of Interior on Twitter: #Sunrise over the snowy mountains @rockynps is amazing. Photo by Eric Schuette #Colorado

Caption from U.S. Department of Interior on Twitter: #Sunrise over the snowy mountains @rockynps is amazing. Photo by Eric Schuette #Colorado


A new day: Sunrise at Rooster Rock

September 9, 2015

We seek renewal in wilderness, and find that wilderness itself renews with every sunrise.

Mike Scofield photo, Sunrise at Rooster Rock in Table Rock Wilderness, Oregon

@BLMOregon: Rooster Rock #sunrise from the Table Rock #Wilderness near Molalla, #Oregon – photo: Mike Scofield #camping #hiking

Mike Scofield is a lucky guy to have been there to get that shot.

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Milky Way from a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

June 3, 2015

Ready to go camping this summer?

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Bryce Bradford captured the Milky Way from Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Public lands: St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Idaho

May 28, 2015

St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Idaho -- a part of the undifferentiated lands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Interior. #Sunset photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management - Idaho.

St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Idaho — a part of the undifferentiated lands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Interior. #Sunset photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management – Idaho.

From the Department of Interior Facebook page:

Located far from any ocean, the St. Anthony Sand Dunes appears as a rolling sea of sand on the eastern edge of Idaho’s volcanic Snake River Plain. These vast dunes are the largest in Idaho. They blanket an area approximately 35 miles long and 5 wide, and range from 50 to 500 feet high. These white quartz sand dunes are a unique and popular recreational area for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, hikers and equestrians. The best time to visit is spring through fall; summer temperatures cause sands to reach over 100 degrees. #Sunset photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management – Idaho.

One more stellar example of the great resources held by U.S. citizens for the future, for preservation — and for recreation and awe.

James and Michelle sent photos from their recent foray to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Kathryn, Kenny, James and I camped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah some years back, at the new Moon, the better to be wholly awestruck at the stars at night.

Michelle and James on top of a dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Michelle and James on top of a dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, 2015

Then there are the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Some dunes in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park.  I can show you smaller collections of dunes on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.

Where else in America do we have marvelous dunes like these?  (I’ve missed some, I’m sure — tell me in comments.) When you start thinking about it, it’s a lot!

Each site well worth the time and trouble to get there.

Take your camera, and your memory-making machine.


Homestead Act of 1862: Socialist land giveaway that appealed to free-market Americans, then and now

May 21, 2015

We passed an important anniversary in American history this week.  I’m not sure anyone noted it.

I am constantly amazed at how much of our history gets ignored in conservative politics, especially with regard to the role the government played in stimulating development of the nation with subsidies and give-aways.  What would America be without the Homestead Act?

A family off to find and settle their homestead, 1886. Photo from the National Archives

A family off to find and settle their homestead, 1886. Photo from the National Archives

History and demographics of the United States were forever changed when the Homestead Act became law early in the administration of President Abraham Lincoln, on May 20, 1862.

With Congress paralyzed and unable to act to do even minor good things now, it’s astonishing to think how the Congress of 1862 could do so much to open the American west, in the middle of the American Civil War.  Perhaps Congress was able to act because legislators from the South were absent, and did not oppose progress.

In any case, the Homestead Act encouraged Americans who lacked property, or who wanted to go west, to strike out for the western territories and states, to make a new life, to found new towns, cities and farms, and fulfill the nation’s “manifest destiny.”

The bill that became the Homestead Act, H.R. 125, in the 37th Congress, 1862. Image from the U.S. National Archives

The bill that became the Homestead Act, H.R. 125, in the 37th Congress, 1862. Image from the U.S. National Archives

Here’s the history from the National Archives:

The notion that the United States government should give free land titles to settlers to encourage westward expansion became popular in the 1850s. During that time the U.S. House of Representatives passed numerous homestead bills but southern opposition in the Senate prevented enactment. In 1860, during the 36th Congress, the Senate narrowly passed a homestead act but President James Buchanan vetoed it and the Senate failed its override attempt.

When the 37th Congress convened for its brief summer session in 1861, now without members from seceded states, it was preoccupied with Civil War-related legislation. The House took up briefly the homestead issue in December but postponed further consideration of it until the following February. The House finally passed the Homestead Act on February 28, 1862 by the large margin of 107 to 16. The act worked its way through the Senate until May 6, 1862 when it passed easily by a vote of 33 to 7. After a few minor changes in conference committee—which both houses agreed to without controversy—Congress sent the final legislation to President Abraham Lincoln who signed the act into law on May 20, 1862.

The Homestead Act encouraged western migration by providing settlers with 160 acres of land in exchange for a nominal filing fee. Among its provisions was a five-year requirement of continuous residence before receiving the title to the land and the settlers had to be, or in the process of becoming, U.S. citizens. Through 1986, when the last claim was made in Alaska, the Homestead Act distributed 270 million acres of land in the United States making it arguably one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation in American history.

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Much of this post has appeared at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub before; the Homestead Act deserves commemoration.


Saguaro cactus and the Milky Way

March 12, 2015

Somewhere in Arizona?

Saguaro cactus and the Milky Way; photo by Bob Wick, U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Via Wilderness Society on Twitter, and flickr.

Saguaro cactus and the Milky Way; photo by Bob Wick, U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Via Wilderness Society on Twitter, and flickr.

The Wilderness Society added a quote:

“I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.” – Henry David Thoreau

If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere between Phoenix and Tucson, but I don’t know.  Mr. Wick managed to get a good exposure without distorting the shapes of the stars.  Somewhere far away from city lights.

Anyone have more details? Gotta track down the quote, too.

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