Moonrise at Granite Mountain Wilderness, California

October 26, 2016

Your public lands at work, filling you with awe.

From BLM National's Twitter feed: A full moon 🌕 lights up the sky at Granite Mountain Wilderness, #California. (Photo: Bob Wick)

From BLM National’s Twitter feed: A full moon 🌕 lights up the sky at Granite Mountain Wilderness, #California. (Photo: Bob Wick)

BLM National put this photo up on September 30, so we might assume the photo is from September’s Moon, as well.

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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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1st National Parks Director Stephen Mather, memorial at Teton NP

August 26, 2015

Photo from the poet and muse of the National Parks and wild places, Terry Tempest Williams (at least, she posted it on Instagram).

Don’t you love the way the Tetons just peak over the fence?

U.S. National Park System just celebrated 99 years. Williams works on a book for the centennial in 2016.

Wouldn’t it be fun to do 100 parks in the 100th year? Anybody up for funding me to join them?


Earth on fire? No, just Idaho (and a lot not pictured)

August 23, 2013

Photo and press release from NASA’s Earth Observatory:

Image from the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, acquired August 18, 2013 -- 50 mm lens. Looking to the west, over Idaho.

Image from the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, acquired August 18, 2013 — 50 mm lens. Looking to the west, over Idaho. See photo below for labels of fire sites.

Description of the photo:

Taken with a short lens (50 millimeters), this west-looking image from the International Space Station includes much of forested central Idaho. The oblique image highlights part of the largest single wilderness area in the contiguous United States, the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness.

Within this mountainous region (the dark areas are all wooded), several fires produced extensive smoke plumes. The densest smoke appeared to be generated by a combination of the Little Queens and Leggit fires (within the Salmon River Mountains [link added]). This image shows the common pattern of westerly winds carrying smoke in an easterly direction, as seen during the wildfire season of one year ago.

Named fires—most ignited by lightning—had burned 53,000 acres of forest south of the Salmon River by August 20, 2013; the number would be significantly higher if unnamed fires were included. The Gold Pan fire, north of the Salmon River, had burned 27,000 acres. For a sense of scale, Gold Pan lies about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of the Little Queens fire.

Ten days before this image was taken, fires in central Idaho (near Boise) had been aggravated by southerly winds. Some of those fires began to burn in July, but were quelled and remain under observation for new flare-ups.

In the image above, smoke partly obscures the black lava flows of the Craters of the Moon National Monument [link added] (lower left). The Beaverhead Mountains [link added] mark the eastern boundary of Idaho with Montana.

Astronaut photograph ISS036-E-32853 was acquired on August 18, 2013, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 50 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 36 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs/JETS at NASA-JSC.

English: Salmon River Mountains, ID

Salmon River Mountains, Idaho, on the ground; notice the steep mountains on-the-ground firefighters must contend with. Wikipedia image

Instrument: ISS – Digital Camera

My older brother Dwight was a firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management in the early 1960s.  There were some huge fires then — but not so many, so large, all at once.  While we don’t have satellite photos to compare from way back then, this is just scary.  Those were scary on the ground, and smaller than these — and fewer.

Notice in the photo below, some of these huge fires are not even big enough to be named.  Wow.

Image from the International Space Station of Idaho fires, with names of larger fires overlayed.  August 23, 2013

Image from the International Space Station of Idaho fires, with names of larger fires overlayed. August 23, 2013

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Compare with NASA photo from a month ago; Idaho’s been hammered by fire in 2013:

Photo of Idaho from about July 20, 2013, showing then-active fires in the state -- north at top of photo. Notice Craters of the Moon National Monument, the dark area in the southeast section -- this area is obscured by new fires in the photos above.

Photo of Idaho from about July 20, 2013, showing then-active fires in the state — north at top of photo. Notice Craters of the Moon National Monument, the dark area in the southeast section — this area is obscured by new fires in the photos above. Idaho’s borders are barely visible in a thin, black line.  This photo from NASA/Goddard


“Out of Yellowstone,” Nature Conservancy film on surviving the winter, and surviving the future

September 19, 2011

It seems like just a few months ago that Kathryn the Trophy Wifeâ„¢ and I honeymooned in Yellowstone National Park, for a glorious January week.  On more than one occasion we had Old Faithful all to ourselves — it seemed like such an indulgence.

Seems just a few months ago, but that was before the 1988 fires, before our 1989 vacation there, before our 2004 ceremony casting the ashes of brother Jerry and his wife Barbara to the Yellowstone winds.

Will Yellowstone be there for our children, and for our grandchildren, as it has been for my lifetime?  The Nature Conservancy produced a 16-minute film showing much of the glory of winter of the place, and talking about the problems.

For the deer, elk and pronghorn in and around Yellowstone National Park, surviving the winter means finding adequate food and areas with low snow accumulation. But this critical winter range is increasingly threatened by energy and residential development. At stake is the very future of the Greater Yellowstone region’s iconic wildlife. This film highlights the voices of those working together to save these magnificent herds: ranchers, conservationists, scientists and others. http://www.nature.org/yellowstone

Growing up in the Mountain West, I learned to appreciate the stark beauty of the cold northern desert — but seldom is that beauty captured on film so well as it is here.  Phlogiston Media, LLC, made a remarkable, beautiful film, about a remarkable, beautiful land threatened by gritty, banal and mundane development.

This movie has been viewed only 542 times when I posted it.  Spread the word, will you?


Sky islands in Yosemite National Park

September 19, 2011

Nature Notes #16 from the good people at Yosemite National Park:  Sky Islands.

Throughout the Sierra Nevada, high flat plateaus are found at elevations around twelve and thirteen thousand feet. These isolated sky islands are the home to unique plant communities that are found nowhere else.


Typewriter of the moment: Sigurd Olson, a typewriter in the wilderness

January 11, 2011

 

Chuck Wick with Sigurd Olson's typewriter, in Olson's Ely, Minnesota, Home.  MPR photo
Chuck Wick knew Sigurd Olson and now owns Olson’s Ely home and writing shack. Olson’s old Royal typewriter, his pipes, photos, duck decoys and rock collection are still in the shack, where they were left after Olson died more than 20 years ago. (MPR Photo/Bob Kelleher)

Sigurd Olson, in his spare time, ghosted part of the National Wilderness Act, always fighting to preserve and protect his love, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area — on this typewriter.

It’s just a small shack, really an old garage — a drab olive green with a pair of windows on each side, tucked under a few shade trees in the corner of the yard.

When you enter, you hear the spring of a weathered, wooden screen door, and the slap when it closes behind.

Inside, it’s mustiness and old pine. The faded Royal typewriter still waits on a broad oak desk. Olson’s pipes are in the shallow bowl to the right.

Sigurd Olson at Quetico

Sigurd Olson at Quetico

From this typewriter, and this shack, Sigurd Olson captured in words the spirit of wilderness. Olson’s poetic writing has been compared to Henry David Thoreau’s, or John Muir’s. Chuck Wick owns the shack now.

“There’s all kinds of stuff here,” Wick says, fumbling a metal axe head pulled from a wooden drawer. “This piece here — this is an interesting one here. This is a trader’s axe that’s back from the voyageurs era.”

As he worked in his shack, Olson worried that 20th century America was fast gobbling up the nation’s last wild places.

Read the story at Minnesota Public Radio.

Read Olson’s book, The Singing Wilderness, or visit the website for the documentary on Olson with the same title, by Peter Olsen.

Resources:

It is wonderful to have national parks and forests to go to, but they are not enough. It is not enough to make a trip once a year or to see these places occasionally over a long week end. We need to have places close at hand, breathing spaces in cities and towns, little plots of ground where things have not changed; green belts, oases among the piles of steel and stone.

Sigurd Olson, “Our Need of Breathing Space,” at a Resources for the Future, Inc., forum, Washington, D.C., early 1958.


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