To protect the health of those who live, work and visit national parks and facilities, and in support of President Joe Biden’s executive order on protecting the federal workforce and requiring mask-wearing, the National Park Service last week implemented a mask requirement for employees, visitors, partners and contractors.
“Wearing a mask around others, physical distancing and washing your hands are the simplest and most effective public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” NPS Office of Public Health Director Captain Sara Newman said.
“Getting outside and enjoying our public lands is essential to improving mental and physical health, but we all need to work together to recreate responsibly.”
Face masks are now required in all NPS buildings and facilities. Masks are also required on NPS-managed lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks and historic homes. Additional public health measures are in place across the service, from capacity limits to one-way trails, or even temporary closures in response to local conditions.
“Working with public health officials and following the latest science and guidance, we can make national parks safer for employees, visitors and partners,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said.
“We will continue to evaluate operations and make appropriate modifications to visitor services as needed.”
Visitors should check individual park websites (nps.gov/findapark/index.htm) and social media channels for details on operations before they visit.
Mission Ridge adds extra night ski
Through the end of February, visitors to Mission Ridge can strap on their skis and snowboards Wednesday through Saturday nights from 4-9 .
Plans for the extra night were made before the pandemic hit, because of last season’s night skiing popularity. Despite this ski season’s uncertainty, Mission Ridge management decided to move forward with keeping the extra evening. With the expanded night lighting system from last season, night skiing at Mission Ridge has never been brighter.
Mission Ridge is taking all the necessary COVID-19 precautions and is part of the Ski Well, Be Well program – with masks required, social distancing in lift lines and limited capacity for indoor spaces.
Yellowstone bison transferred to Fort Peck Indian Reservation
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux leaders and Defenders of Wildlife transferred 50 bison on Friday from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Yellowstone National Park to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
Including Friday’s transfer, 154 bison have been successfully transferred to the reservation. This is the fifth relocation since April 2019 under a program that diverts disease-free Yellowstone bison from slaughter to tribal-led restoration efforts.
“We are grateful to our tribal partners for their collaboration as we help return these bison to tribal lands on the prairie,” said Chamois Andersen, senior Rockies and Plains representative at Defenders of Wildlife.
“As a keystone species, bison are critical to the health of the ecosystem as well as to other species that inhabit grasslands. Thanks to these efforts, more than 16 tribes have started cultural herds with animals from Yellowstone, descendants of the wild bison that once roamed the prairie in the millions.”
Forest Service waives fees on Presidents Day
The USDA Forest Service will waive fees at day-use recreation sites in Washington on Oregon on Feb. 15, in honor of Presidents Day.
With many recreation opportunities unavailable to the public during the global COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor recreation has become especially important to individuals and families in the Pacific Northwest this past year.
The Forest Service offers several fee-free days annually to encourage Americans to explore the outdoors and visit their public lands.
The Forest Service welcomes new visitors to its 17 national forests in Washington and Oregon and asks the public to recreate responsibly so they can maintain these opportunities for all.
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