Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a journalist and photographer based in Port Jervis, NY and Alexandria, Va.

Filtering by Tag: National Park Service

Cutting (Gutting?) the Caretakers of Canyon Country

I just ran across this story from Channel 8 in Grand Junction which speculates about how federal budget cutting will force Colorado National Monument to cut costs and possibly reduce services. Of course, nobody knows just yet specifically how any National Park Service budget cuts would impact the NPS's ability to manage national parks and provide services to visitors.

The KJCT story reminded me that the National Parks Conservation Association just released a report about how gutting the NPS budget will impact your local national parks. The NPCA speculates that science programs forming the backbone of the park service's conservation efforts could be gutted or eliminated; visitor centers could reduce hours or close altogether and a slew of other changes could drive tourists away from parks. The report is well worth a read.

That report and the Utah-based film, "Plan 10 from Outer Space" ("Rocky Horror meets the Mormons!"), which a friend of mine showed us last night, got me thinking about canyon country. November is a fine time to visit Canyonlands National Park and Colorado National Monument, though I'd avoid Moab over Thanksgiving because on the lonely Thanksgiving evening I spent there a few years ago, I discovered the only available food was at the local Denny's, where the line was 50 people deep.

It was about this time four years ago when my friend Chas and I hiked the Rattlesnake Arches in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness west of Grand Junction. It's a mighty fine hike through the highest concentration of natural arches in the world outside of Arches National Park, which is just down the highway.

But my favorite hike in the region is Mee Canyon, where you will find yourself suddenly in the giant Mee Canyon Alcove, where the wash at the bottom of the canyon inserts itself 300 into the canyon wall, creating a cave-like alcove said to be the largest or, at least, one of the largest anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. November is an excellent month to visit. Check out my photo album of my 2007 hike into Mee Canyon here.

A surprise encounter with wild turkeys and bark beetles at Rocky Mountain National Park

The bark beetles marcheth east. I took an early morning drive to Rocky Mountain National Park today (exactly one hour from my Fort Collins front doorstep) to catch what turned out to be a cloudy and unremarkable sunrise. It's been a few months since I've been to Rocky, and while I've been aware for some time that the bark beetles began their descent down the east slope of the Continental Divide a couple of years ago, the swathes of dead trees above Moraine Park really surprised me today.

The west side of the park along the Colorado River has been beetle-ravaged for many years — an area thought by many to be ground zero for northern Colorado's bark beetle outbreak. It's a bit depressing to drive over there with entire hillsides glowing deathly copper at sundown. Yes, the forest is growing anew even as I write this, but it's still not a happy experience to hike through woods with more trees dead than alive.

Here's what Trail Ridge Road looked like this morning just up the road from Hidden Valley:

I've been to Rocky Mountain National Park probably 30 or 40 times, but these are the first wild turkeys I've ever seen there: