President Obama announced last week that he will use his executive powers to designate 350,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument. The San Gabriel Mountains provide Los Angeles County with 70% of its open space and 35% of its fresh water. The announcement follows what was an 11-year campaign by local environmentalists groups including the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club.
The U.S. Forest Service allocates nearly 40% of its annual budget to fighting forest fires. However, in active fire seasons such as the one that hit the U.S. West this summer, the outlay may be insufficient. When that happens, the Forest Service has to use funds that would otherwise be slated for other purposes at the agency such as restoration and fire mitigation. The result is a likely increase in forest fires, as we've seen happen since the 1970s.
With the removal of dams happening on numerous rivers, researchers are getting a chance to study how quickly river ecosystems are recovering. Surprisingly, they recover much faster than originally anticipated. According to the study by Oregon State University researchers, storms washed away the sand and gravel bars that built up behind the dams.
The National Park Service, under a directive by its director Jon Jarvis, is looking into increasing fees at all National Parks. Fees have not been raised since 2006. Appropriations by Congress have not kept pace by park service needs, and the parks currently have a long backlog of maintenance projects.