Month: February 2016

Volunteers Needed at 24 California State Parks Statewide April 16 for Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup Event

Volunteers are needed at select California state parks on Saturday, April 16th, 2016 for the 18th Annual California State Parks Foundation’s (CSPF) Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

California’s state parks need this annual refurbishment. The chronic underfunding of the state parks system has resulted in a backlog in overdue maintenance projects of approximately $1.3 billion, the elimination of many education programs for kids, reduced staffing, and curtailed operating hours. Businesses and individuals are sought to actively participate with their communities to help restore the beauty and glory of California’s treasured state parks. Trail and campground improvements, trash cleanup, tree planting and restoring wildlife habitats are just some of the projects planned for Earth Day.

This annual event is made possible by the generous support of our program sponsors including PG&E, Edison International, Oracle, and Southern California Gas Company, and the contributions from our refreshment providers Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Nature’s Path.

Since its inception in 1998, CSPF’s Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup program has resulted in 81,670 participants contributing more than 334,301 volunteer hours worth nearly $6.39 million in park maintenance and improvements. Additionally, more than $4.6 million has been raised for the Earth Day program.

WHEN: Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: Visit calparks.org/earthday for a complete list of volunteer sites and times.

TO VOLUNTEER: Individuals, groups or businesses interested in volunteering on Earth Day should register athttp://www.calparks.org/help/earth-day/ or call 1-888-98-PARKS.

THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, FROM THE ICONIC TO THE UNEXPECTED

No one can truly say they’ve “been everywhere and done everything” in Hawaii. No one.

That’s because, in the Hawaiian Islands, even the most iconic, popular and well-traveled spots reveal unexpected finds and rewarding surprises along the route to get there.

Be open to really exploring Oahu’s Pearl Harbor on your next visit, for example, and you’ll discover still more sites rich with World War II-era history beyond the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and USS ArizonaMemorial, such as the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. Give yourself a little more time to more fully check out the lay of the land at road-ending Haena State Park on Kauai’s north shore and you’ll find lessons in Hawaiian cultural and agricultural history at Limahuli Garden and Preserve, alongside the area’s miles of white sand beaches.

Hawaii’s six major islands – Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii Island – provide travelers with infinite possibilities for unexpected exploration beyond places and locales generally considered iconic to the Islands. And neither residents nor repeat visitors can claim they’ve exhausted every one of these possibilities. For example:
KAUAI
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park, and taken in its high-elevation vista of the Napali Coast’s lush Kalalau Valley and ocean beyond …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the park’s multiple hiking trails, traversing the towering heights of the cool, windswept ridges of Napali and lush mist-enshrouded landscape surrounding the plateau of Mount Waialeale.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Waimea Canyon, but taken in its visual grandeur of the 14-mile-long gorge only from its scenic overlooks …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the less-traveled vistas of Waimea Canyon State Park from theKukui Trail (which descends 2,000 feet to the canyon floor) or the Iliau Nature Loop Trail(which skirts the canyon’s west rim). If sightseeing from a two-wheel-perch is more your thing, take a sunrise or afternoon downhill bicycle tour with Outfitters Kauai descending canyon-hugging Kokee Road from its 3,600-foot elevation to sea level.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Wailua River State Park and navigated its tranquil waters to the hanging emerald flora that gave the lava rock cavern Fern Grotto its name …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the three beautiful gardens of the nonprofit National Tropical Botanical Garden organization – Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which restores the native and canoe plant terraces of an early Hawaiian agricultural river valley; Allerton Garden, a tranquil, surprise-filled marriage of ornamental and tropical flora, art and landscape design; andMcBryde Garden, with its prodigious collection of tropical flora from Hawaii and around the world.
OAHU
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the summit rim Waikiki and Honolulu observation platform of Diamond Head State Monument, the volcanic tuff cone that is one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most globally recognized natural landmarks …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the surprisingly diverse eateries on Monsarrat Avenue at the foot of Leahi (Diamond Head’s given Hawaiian name), including Diamond Head Market & Grill, Pioneer Saloon, Monsarrat Ave Shave Ice, South Shore Grill, Bogart’s Café, and Shaka Pressed Juice.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Manoa Falls Trail on Oahu, and hiked its .8 mile length winding through the deepest, rainforest-covered pockets of urban Honolulu’s Manoa Valley to the 150-foot waterfall …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, a 194-acre collection of native and non-native tropical botanical gardens, also in the back of Manoa Valley, featuring its own collection of rainforest and waterfall hiking trails.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and taken its perennially-popular boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the three additional World War II museums, which are part of the nonprofit Pearl Harbor Historic Sites organization – the Battleship Missouri Memorial andPacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, both on Ford Island, and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, neighboring the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. While on Ford Island, visit theUSS Oklahoma Memorial, honoring crewmembers who lost their lives when the battleship was sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. And if you’re visiting in 2016, look for announcements throughout the year of special tours and events commemorating this year’s 75thanniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
MAUI
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the summit of Maui’s Haleakala volcano for sunrise, along with the hundreds of others converging each day, to watch the rise of the morning sun illuminate the peak’s radiant, rust-colored cinder …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the 10,023-foot summit area’s 30 miles of Haleakala National Park hiking trails, offering opportunities for hours-long (Keoneheehee “Sliding Sands” Trail), day-length (Halemauu Trail) and overnight (Kaupo Trail) treks in myriad environments, from high-elevation native shrub forests and cinder desert, to dense tropical rainforest. Further downslope, stroll through Hosmer Grove, where the towering non-native trees of a 1927 exercise in experimental timber industry and watershed forestation borders and contrasts native trees, ferns and shrubs of Haleakala’s 7,000-foot elevation.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Iao Valley State Monument, the extraordinarily verdant West Maui Mountains erosional valley, home to the towering, vegetation-covered, stream-cut lava pinnacle Kukaemoku (more famously known as Iao Needle) …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: one (or two, or three) of the many low-key, big-menu local eateries in neighboring Wailuku, ever-popular and ever-filled with residents drawn to their mouthwatering comfort food favorites. For starters, check out Tiffany’s Bar & Grill, Sam Sato’s, Tokyo Tei, Stillwell’s Bakery & Café, Geste Shrimp Truck and, when you’re hungry again, lots more.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: West Maui, gazed out from Lahaina’s Front Street seawall or sat on the beaches at Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua and wondered why you’ve never been to those two islands across the channel …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the islands of Lanai and Molokai on a day trip from Lahaina Harbor. Take off early in the morning on Expeditions’ Maui-Lanai ferry or Sea Link of Hawaii’s Maui-Molokai Ferry and return after a full day of adventuring. On Lanai, rent a Jeep for paved (Hulopoe Beach) or unpaved (Polihua Beach, Kaiolohia aka “Shipwreck Beach”) shoreline adventures, or a cool, upland forest run on the evergreen Munro Trail. Head to Molokai and spend your morning in small town Kaunakakai, followed by an afternoon on one of Hawaii’s longest white sand expanses, Papohaku Beach. Or spend the day at one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most remote, and wonderfully scenic peninsulas at historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
HAWAII ISLAND
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and checked off everything on your list of must-see and must-explore places on its vast mountain and seashore acreage, encompassing two active volcanoes …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: Hawaii Island’s four other National Park Service-managed parks, sites and trails – Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. Each has a unique story to tell of its importance and role in Hawaiian culture and history. Each also has a great website with all the information you’ll need to begin exploring.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Hawaii Island’s scenic Hamakua Coast via modern Mamalahoa Highway (aka Hawaii Belt Road), traversing its greenery-rich ravines, soaring steel bridges and vast agricultural fields, while taking in its ocean views on the quick …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the remaining, at times even more rewardingly scenic pockets ofOld Mamalahoa Highway, once the main road connecting the many sugar plantation towns of the Hamakua Coast. Its still-drivable remaining segments offer a slower-paced, back-in-time view of Hamakua, crossing century-old bridges and lush rainforests, and rambling past remnant structures of the coast’s sugar plantation history, small towns and rugged coastline.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Akaka Falls and Waianunue (aka Rainbow) Falls and gazed longingly at each cascade’s substantial scenic splendor from their ground-level overlooks …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: Hiking and helicopter tours of the island’s Hilo, Hamakua and North Kohala districts showcasing countless other interior and coastline waterfalls, streams and forest reserves within the vast eastside slopes of Maunakea and Kohala mountains. From birding tours in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and ziplining at Umauma Falls to hikes into Pololu Valley and up-close air tours of the North Kohala sea cliffs and valleys, there’s an adventure for every kind of forest and waterfall fan.
The possibilities for amazing discoveries are endless. For more trip ideas from residents and vacationers, follow the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Lonely Planet Announces Best Places in the US to Visit in 2016

Lonely Planet – the world’s leading travel media company – released today its annual list of the top 10 best places to go in the United States in 2016.

Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2016 (lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us) list is a diverse mix of cities, regions and states across the country that are poised to shine in the year ahead – places often-overlooked, hidden gems and household names with new reasons to visit in 2016. This year, national treasure Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was named number one, followed by the picturesque town of Natchez, Mississippi and the iconic Yellowstone National Park in third place.

Now in its 6th year, Lonely Planet’s Best in the US is a handpicked list selected and ranked by the US-based editors and travel writers at Lonely Planet to point to the top 10 most exciting, intriguing and up-and-coming US destinations worth visiting in the year ahead.

“These are the places to pay attention to in 2016,” said US Destination Editor Rebecca Warren at Lonely Planet. “Whether they’ve been on the public radar for years or are only recently emerging as travel hotspots, each destination offers compelling reasons to visit this year.”

The list is available online at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us, with accompanying articles to each destination. Best in the US 2016 will also be featured in the second edition of the new US Lonely Planet magazine, on newsstands March 24, 2016.

Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2016 

1.       Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – “Hands up to the sky, Rocky fans.”

Recently recognized as the US’s first and only World Heritage City and visited by the Pope, Philly’s on a roll right now.  Hosting the Democratic National Convention in July and celebrating the 40th anniversary of Rocky this year, the city is experiencing a transformation to its urban core, yet retaining its deep American history and uniquely gritty flavor.

2.       Natchez, Mississippi – “Natchez will be rolling on the river in 2016.”

Hitting its 300th anniversary this year – making it two years older than New Orleans – this charming city settled along the Mississippi will be hosting hundreds of events throughout the year, from their annual hot air balloon races to historical celebrations.

3.       Yellowstone National Park – “Where better to celebrate than where it all began?”

This is the world’s first national park, established 144 years ago. Yellowstone’s biggest draw, the Old Faithful geyser, just got a new boardwalk and gateway towns like Gardiner, Montana and Cody, Wyoming are all geared up to accommodate the millions of visitors expected while the US National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year.

4.       Birmingham, Alabama – “Could Birmingham be the coolest city in the South?”

The once industrial Avondale neighborhood has been reinvigorated with a surge of pubs, breweries and good eats, and the Civil Rights District is notable for the Civil Rights Institute, the 16th St. Baptist Church and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

5.       Alaska  “Hey Americans: have you crossed the Arctic Circle in your own country?”

Last year, President Obama became the first sitting president to visit this remote state and it’s time the rest of Americans follow, especially to experience the newly renamed Denali, America’s tallest peak, which can be done on foot for the adventurous, or by train or bus.

6.       Somerville, Massachusetts – “Boston’s hippest ‘hood moved a few stops up the Orange Line.”

Boston’s most exciting new neighborhood has cutting-edge restaurants, craft breweries and offbeat attractions like the hugely popular Museum of Bad Art, the Tiny Museum, the Fluff Festival and HONK!, a festival of socially-conscious music-making.

7.       Northwest Arkansas – “Give the Rockies a run for their money.”

With wide open spaces, mountains and crystal blue lakes and rivers, this region also has cultural flare, with towns that are distinctly unique from one another, like Fayetteville – an artsy university city with a vibrant literary scene – and Eureka Springs, which has access to some of the best hiking in the Ozarks.

8.       San Antonio, Texas – “Take a hearty stew of Mexican culture, add a dash of Austin weird and a big dollop of pure Texas ‘tude.”

The popular River Walk has expanded from three to 15 miles and the Pearl Brewery District continues to evolve with top-notch restaurants, a cooking school and outdoor events throughout the year, helping to make San Antonio the Lone Star State’s most compelling, culturally eclectic city right now.

9.       Southern New Mexico – “If it’s Southwestern wilderness you’re after, head toward the border.

Santa Fe and Taos usually get the spotlight, but go south to truly experience the Wild West by visiting the recently established Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and the strange scenery continues at White Sands National Monument, where you’ll find alien landscapes far more out-of-this-world than anything in Roswell.

10.   Milwaukee, Wisconsin  “The city’s beery side still bubbles strong.”

Chicago may cast a big shadow, but the city is enjoying its moment in the sun, with attractions like beer-tasting tours at both household name brands and new craft breweries, the stunning Quadracci Pavilion and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2016 goes beyond the locations featured in its annual Best in Travel 2016 book, in stores now, which includes the company’s picks for where to visit in the coming year, all over the globe. Best in Travel 2016 features Nashville, Hawaii and the USA as national destinations among the global selections for 2016.

Media opportunities and notes: 

·         Landing page live: www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us

 Secret US ebook available to download

– New video on Philadelphia

– ‘Which Destination Should You Visit in 2016?’ quiz

·         Images on each destination available to download here

·         US Lonely Planet spokespeople available for interviews

·         Best in the US 2016 is sponsored by Turkish Airlines

About Lonely Planet:

Lonely Planet is the world’s leading travel media company, providing inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveler since 1973. Over the past four decades, Lonely Planet has cultivated a dedicated traveler community and printed more than 130 million books in 13 different languages to most destinations on the planet. The Lonely Planet ecosystem also includes digital and mobile apps including like the all-new Guides app, a comprehensive ebook portfolio, 12 international magazines including a US edition launched in 2015, an award-winning website and over 8.5 million followers on social media. Visit us at lonelyplanet.com, and join us on Facebook (facebook.com/lonelyplanet), Twitter (@lonelyplanet and #lp) and Instagram (instagram.com/lonelyplanet).

President Obama to Designate Three New National Monuments in the California Desert

President Obama will designate three new national monuments in the California desert that will safeguard nationally significant historical, cultural, geological and ecological resources. The new monuments – Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains – include Southern California’s highest peak (Mount San Gorgonio), the headwaters of its longest river (the Santa Ana), the longest intact stretch of the iconic Route 66, and many other important resources.

“We are extremely grateful to President Obama for his foresight and leadership to protect these remarkable and fragile places in the California desert,” said Dan Smuts, The Wilderness Society’s California Senior Regional Director. “These national monuments not only protect important natural and cultural resources, but will also bring more visitors to hike, camp, and explore – which is great for the local economy. Moreover, they protect critical migration corridors that are essential for desert wildlife to adapt to a changing climate.”

This historic presidential action is welcomed by a broad coalition of local residents and elected officials, community leaders and business owners, veterans, tribes, outdoor recreation advocates, faith leaders, historians, conservationists, and others who have worked for nearly a decade, with leadership from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, to achieve permanent protection for these important desert areas.

Mojave Trails National Monument:

  • A critical linkage between Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park
  • Refuge for bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and fringe-toed lizards.
  • Sensitive underground springs
  • Amboy Crater – one of North America’s youngest volcanoes
  • 550 million-year-old fossil beds of the Marble Mountains
  • World War II desert training center, Iron Mountain
  • Largest intact, open stretch of historic Route 66

 

Castle Mountains National Monument:

  • Critical pathways for endangered wildlife
  • Native American archaeological sites
  • Historic gold mining ghost town of Hart
  • Native desert grasslands and Joshua tree, pinion pine and juniper forests
  • Target area for reintroduction of pronghorn, the second fastest species of land mammal in the world
  • Spectacular views of California and Nevada peaks, including Nevada’s Spirit Mountain

Sand to Snow National Monument:

  • Headwaters of the Whitewater and Santa Ana Rivers
  • Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa Native American cultural sites
  • Home to more than 240 types of migrating birds, including yellow chat and vermilion flycatchers
  • Wildlife paths for mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, bighorn sheep, and desert tortoise
  • 25 miles of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail
  • Home to one of the most botanically diverse mountains in the United States

The Wilderness Society is proud to have participated in the campaign to safeguard the California desert. We thank President Obama for having the wisdom and conviction to protect these irreplaceable national treasures, and we are grateful to Senator Dianne Feinstein for her steadfast efforts on behalf of the rich heritage and natural resources within California’s public lands.

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The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.