national parks

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Amid the pandemic, people are headed to national parks in record numbers. While Oklahoma doesn’t have a National Park, the state does host seven sites run by the National Park Service.

Arguably no figure looms larger than John Muir in the history of America's national parks. His writings and contributions are widely regarded as the founding ethos of environmentalism in the U.S., including by one of the country's oldest environmental groups, the Sierra Club.

But amid the nationwide reappraisal of racist monuments, the Sierra Club said Wednesday that "it's time to take down some of our own monuments," including of its founder, Muir.

Those eager to retreat into the wilderness amid the coronavirus pandemic were delivered disappointing news on Tuesday: three major national parks are now closed to visitors.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains have shut their gates to the public.

Park officials said a crush of visitors moving through the trails was beginning to run afoul of social distancing.

About 30,000 people visited each day last week, a sharp increase from the same time last year, officials said.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country.

Electric assisted bicycles, or e-bikes, are becoming more and more popular across the United States. Throughout the country's national parks, that could be a good and a bad thing.

It can be tough to distinguish an e-bike from a regular road or mountain bike by sight, but once you start pedaling, you sure feel the difference.

Updated Jan. 10 at 3:50 p.m. ET

The U.S. government has been operating under a partial shutdown since Dec. 22. The shutdown, driven by a political battle over President Trump's demand that Congress approve funds for a wall along the border with Mexico, is touching the lives of Americans in myriad ways.

The superintendent of Yellowstone National Park says he's being forced out of his job. Daniel Wenk was informed on Tuesday that the National Park Service will replace him this August.

"I'm feeling like I devoted 43 years of my life, I think I have a record of achievement with the National Park Service that at the end of the day doesn't matter and that I'm no longer wanted at Yellowstone National Park," Wenk told Yellowstone Public Radio.

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.

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.

There are thousands of parks, refuges and wilderness areas in the U.S. that are kept in something close to their natural state. But one form of pollution isn't respecting those boundaries: man-made noise.

New research based on recordings from 492 protected natural areas reveals that they're awash in noise pollution.

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