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Why American national parks might be reservation-only in the future

Michael Childers is an assistant professor of History at Colorado State University. This story originally featured on The Conversation.

If you’re headed out into the wild this summer, you may need to jump online and book a reservation before you go. For the second consecutive year, reservations are required to visit Yosemite, Rocky Mountain and Glacier national parks. Other popular sites, including Maine’s Acadia National Park, encourage visitors to buy entrance passes in advance.

Limiting visitors has two purposes: reducing COVID-19 risks and allowing some parks to recover from recent wildfires. Rocky Mountain will allow 75 to 85 percent of capacity. Yosemite will again restrict the number of vehicles allowed in; last year, it hosted half of its average 4 million annual visitors.

Nationwide, some US parks were emptier than normal during the pandemic, while Yellowstone and others were near capacity. But the pandemic likely was a temporary pause in a rising tide of visitors.

America’s national parks face a popularity crisis. From 2010 to 2019, the number of national park visitors spiked from 281 million to 327 million, largely driven by social media, advertising and increasing foreign tourism.

This exponential growth is generating pollution and putting wildlife at risk to a degree that threatens the future of the park system. And with Americans eager to get back out into the world, the summer of 2021 promises to be one of the busiest domestic travel seasons in recent history. Reservations and other policies to manage visitor numbers could become features at many of the most popular parks. https://www.youtube.com/embed/O-wAQkYJ4Fk?wmode=transparent&start=0 Crowding in the national parks has been rising for years and has spiked since 2010.

Protecting treasured lands

In my work, I’ve explored the history of national parks and the factors that drive people to seek experiences outdoors. I’ve also studied the impacts of national park visitation and ways to keep the public from loving national parks to death.

Much of that research has focused on California’s Yosemite National Park, which contains nearly 1,200 square miles of wilderness, including iconic granite rock formations, deep valleys, waterfalls and ancient giant sequoias.

Its creation dates to the Civil War. In 1864, with this landscape threatened by an influx of settlers and visitors, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Act, which ceded the region to California for “public use, resort, and recreation.” This step set a precedent that parks were for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment. Congress made Yosemite a national park in 1890.

Teddy Roosevelt on a horse in Yellowstone National Park in black and white
President Theodore Roosevelt arriving at Yellowstone National Park in 1903. Photo: Library of Congress

Influenced by naturalist John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt established five new parks in the early 1900s, along with 16 national monuments that included the Grand Canyon. Roosevelt wanted to protect these natural treasures from hunting, mining, logging and other exploitation.

To coordinate management, Congress established the National Park Service and the National Park System in 1916. The National Park Service Organic Act directs the agency to protect the parks’ wildlife and natural and cultural heritage “in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations”—a mission that is becoming increasingly difficult today.

Loving the parks to death

Americans fell in love with their parks—and several waves of over popularity nearly destroyed the very experiences that drew people there.

The advent of automobile tourism in the 1920s opened national parks to hundreds of thousands of new visitors, who overwhelmed limited, aging roads, trails, restrooms, water treatment systems and visitor facilities. Ironically, relief came during the Great Depression. The New Deal funded massive construction projects in the parks, including campground comfort stations, museums and other structures. Hundreds of miles of roads and trails opened wild backcountry.

Between 1929 and 1941, the number of annual park visitors grew from 3 million to 20 million. This increasing torrent slowed only when the U.S. entered World War II.

In the postwar boom, people returned en masse. The National Park Service launched “Mission 66,” another flurry of construction that again expanded capacity.

Conservationists and others condemned the development, alarmed by its environmental impacts and the threat of overcrowding. By the mid-1960s, total yearly park visitation exceeded 100 million.

Riding the tourism wave

Today the national park system has grown to comprise 63 national parks, with ever more visitors, plus 360 sites with other designations, such as national seashores, monuments and battlefields. Some of these other sites, such as Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, also attract millions of visitors yearly.

In 2019, a record-setting 327 million people visited the national parks, with the heaviest impacts on parks located near cities, like Rocky Mountain National Park outside Denver. This crowding spotlighted problems that park officials had been raising concerns about for years: The parks are underfunded, overrun, overbuilt and threatened by air and water pollution in violation of the laws and executive orders that protected them.

Park horror stories have grown common in recent years. They include miles-long traffic jams in Yellowstone, three-hour waits to enter Yosemite, trails littered with trash, and confrontations between tourists and wildlife.

In 2020, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will provide up to US$ 1.9 billion a year for five years to address the park system’s nearly $ 12 billion maintenance backlog. This long list of postponed projects reflects Congress’ reluctance to adequately fund the national park system over many years.

But as the New Deal and Mission 66 demonstrated, increased infrastructure spending often boosts visitation. The Great American Outdoors Act doesn’t cover conservation efforts or significant personnel needs, which will require increased federal funding. Many repairs are needed throughout the parks, but the system’s future sustainability relies more on staffing than infrastructure.

Cruise ship, crowds lining the railings.
A cruise ship approaches Margerie Glacier in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park in 2018. Photo: National Park Service

And neither more money nor additional park rangers will solve the overcrowding crisis. I believe the most popular national parks need a reservation system to save these protected lands from further damage.

This won’t be a popular solution, since it contradicts the founding premise that national parks were built for public benefit and enjoyment. Critics have already created a petition opposing Rocky Mountain National Park’s timed entry permits as unnecessary, unfair, undemocratic, and discriminatory.

But the parks’ unrelenting popularity is making it impossible to preserve them “unimpaired.” In my view, crowd control has become essential in the most popular parks.

While there is only one Yosemite Valley, the national park system offers many less crowded destinations. Sites such as Hovenweep National Monument in Colorado and Utah and the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Kansas deserve attention for their natural beauty and the depth they add to Americans’ shared heritage.

The Conversation

Author: Purbita Saha
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

With Google Photos now charging, you might want to make a big change before Prime Day

Google Photos this month ditched its free unlimited storage option for all users …except those who own a Google Pixel. For the rest of us, Google is imposing a 15GB storage allowance to upload images and videos. After you’ve filled that, you’ll need to cough up for additional storage – setting you back as much as £7.99 a month for the 2TB storage allocation.

Google Photos users can still use the “High Quality” Storage” format, which uses compression algorithms to crunch down anything larger than a 16-megapixel snap, to eke the most out of their allowance. It’s possible to upload uncompressed photos, but that’ll eat through your storage faster.

If you’re a keen photographer, or have a huge backlog of family photos or videos that you haven’t backed up for a while… Google Photos’ new policy could be pretty costly. So, what has this got to do with Prime Day?

Every year, Amazon holds a blockbuster sales event, dubbed Prime Day, which is only accessible for Amazon Prime members. Prime, which costs £79 a year, unlocks next-day delivery on millions of Amazon items, movie and boxset streaming on Prime Video, Kindle books to borrow for free via Kindle Unlimited and unlimited photo back-up. Yes, that’s right.

If you’re currently considering ditching Google Photos and looking to treat yourself to some bargains when Amazon kickstarts its Prime Day sales on June 21, 2021, then you can achieve both by buying an annual membership to Amazon Prime.

Unlike Google Photos, which only offered unlimited photo storage to those who used its “High Quality” Storage” format to compress larger images, Amazon Photos uploads everything in the original full-resolution format. Of course, you’ll need to keep paying for a Prime membership each year to keep adding to your photo backup, but that’s the same with all of these solutions, including Google Photos.

Amazon Photos doesn’t quite have the same bells and whistles as you’ll find on Google Photos or Apple Photos, which offer some pretty sophisticated editing tools within the app and leverage AI to generate albums and short movies based on particular events, locations or people. Amazon offers some of this, but it’s not quite as complete.

However, if you have a Fire TV or Amazon Echo Show in your home, you’ll be able to use albums from your Amazon Photos vault for slideshows or screensavers on these gadgets – turning your Alexa or telly into a digital photo frame when it’s not in-use.

If you’re thinking about turning your back on Google Photos, you’ll need to use the Google Takeout service to download high-quality versions of your images. Unfortunately, that’s not available inside the Android or iOS app right now, so you’ll need to fire-up a desktop PC or laptop. From there, head directly to Google Takeout at takeout.google.com.

From there, you’ll need to select Google Photos library from the list of Google services that support Takeout, then choose the file format, maximum size, and a range of other options – and wait. When it’s finished exporting your images, videos and albums in the format requested, Google will send over an email invite to download the entire backup.

Next up, head to the Amazon Photos site – or app – and import everything in one fell swoop. Depending on the size of your library, that could take some time, so maybe avoid uploading every image you’ve ever taken just before a crucial Zoom call with work or a boxset binge on Netflix as your internet speed is likely to suffer a little.

Of course, if you’re not all that interested in Amazon Prime and want to continue using the excellent Google Photos app, prices for its monthly storage options are pretty reasonable. You’ll need to pay £1.59 per month for a 100GB allowance. Better yet, Google offers a 16 percent saving if you pay for a year upfront (£15.99 a year).

For those who take a lot of photos and videos, there’s also a 200GB (£2.49 a month) and 2TB option (£7.99 a month). It’s also worth mentioning that Google throws in a few extra goodies for subscribers, including access to Google experts, exclusive features like advanced photo editing tools, and shared family plans.

For comparison, Apple offers its users 5GB of free cloud storage for Apple Photos, before charging £0.79 a month for 50GB, £2.49 a month for 200GB, and £6.99 for 2TB. Those who want to use Dropbox to store their images can also get 2TB of cloud storage for £7.99 a month – if you pay annually, or £9.99 a month if you want to pay on a month-by-month basis.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Sky Q users might want to try these 25 new TV remote control tricks this week

It’s half-term for millions of kids across the UK and, if you’re looking for things to keep them entertained then grabbing your Sky Q remote and trying out these tricks could be a good idea. If you weren’t already aware, Sky Q’s remote features a button that makes it easy to find TV shows, sports and films via simple voice searches.
In fact, searching for things to watch isn’t the only thing you can do by talking into the remote with users able to switch channels, fast forward/rewind content and even turn off the set-top box just by asking.

Sky continues to improve its voice technology with upgrades being brought to this platform on a regular basis and right before the children break up from school they have added a swathe of fun new things to try and stay entertained during the June holidays.

For example, you can sing “Let it Go” to find the Frozen movie or shout “Yabba Dabba Doo” to watch some classic episodes of The Flintstones.

If you fancy giving it a try here are 25 voice command quotes that have been added to Sky Q.

Hit the voice button and say “Let it Go” for Frozen

or “Scooby-Dooby-Doo” for Scooby Doo

“To infinity and beyond” for Toy Story

“Can we fix it? Yes we can” for Bob the Builder

“What’s up Doc?” for Looney Tunes

“Yabba Dabba Doo” for The Flintstones

“Hakuna Matata” for Lion King

“Paw Patrol is on a roll” for Paw Patrol

“Oh George” for Peppa Pig

“Chase is on the case” for Paw Patrol

“Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La, Po” for Teletubbies

“That’s all folks” for Looney Tunes

“Tweety Pie” for Looney Tunes

“I love muddy puddles” for Peppa Pig

“Great fires of London” for Fireman Sam

“Octonauts to the HQ” for Octonauts

“Zoinks!” for Scooby Doo

“Aye aye captain” for SpongeBob Squarepants

“Go ninja Go!” for Lego Ninjago

“Magic always leads to trouble” for Ben and Holly

“Buzz Lightyear and Woody” for Toy Story

“Let’s Blaze” for Blaze and the monster machines

“Let’s hop to it” for Peter Rabbit

“It’s a bing thing” for Bing

“Come on Flop” for Bing

According to new research from Sky, “Let it Go”, “Scooby-Dooby-Doo” and “To Infinity and Beyond” have been revealed as the UK’s most memorable kids’ TV and film catchphrases.

“Paw Patrol is on a roll”, Bob the Builder’s “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” and “Yabba Dabba Doo” from The Flintstones also feature in the top 50 iconic phrases.

The research found that more than two-thirds of children use phrases from their favourite films and TV shows every day, with over half of parents resorting to saying quotes to work out what their kids want to watch on TV.

Fraser Stirling, Group Chief Product Officer, Sky, said: “It’s natural to talk to your TV, which is why kids love using voice search on Sky Q, and by adding their favourite catchphrases we’re making finding what they want to watch fun, easy and quick!”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

You might want to ditch Chrome after seeing this update from Microsoft

Google’s Chrome still reigns supreme when it comes to the world of web browsers. This hugely successful way of accessing the internet remains the most popular by a country mile with a market share of well over 60 percent. However, despite a monumental gap to close, Microsoft is pushing ahead with its plans to get users to make the switch to its latest Edge browser and another new upgrade to this software could convince some to finally take the plunge and ditch Chrome.
Microsoft has just announced the release of its latest Edge build which gets two very useful new features that should make surfing the web a lot faster and much more efficient.

The first upgrade, called Startup boost, launches Edge far more quickly by running a set of core Microsoft Edge processes in the background, all without adding additional resources when Microsoft Edge browser windows are open. This should mean users are able to boot up their PCs and get online without any lag.

And that’s not all as there’s also the introduction of something called “sleeping tabs.”

This feature gives Microsoft Edge a performance boost when using multiple browser tabs simultaneously.

Explaining more about the Sleeping tabs update, the Redmond firm said ” Sleeping tabs helps optimize the performance of your Microsoft Edge browser by freeing up system resources from unused tabs. This month, sleeping tabs is further improved and with up to 82% memory savings based upon internal data collected on our preview builds. It does so by immediately putting ads to sleep when you put tabs in the background for instant resource savings.”

Both of these upgrades should not only make Edge much faster but also less of a battery hog when using it on your laptop. Poor battery life is still something that plagues Chrome users when using this software on portable PCs with Google’s browser renowned for draining juice at record speeds.

We’ll have to wait and see what difference this update from Microsoft really makes but, if you want a more efficient way of accessing the web, Edge could be the way to go.

If you’re not planning on making the switch and still use Chrome on your Windows 10 PC then you might want to follow Google’s latest advice.

Late last week, a large number of Chrome users were hit by a hugely irritating glitch that saw the popular web software constantly crash on Microsoft-powered PCs. 

If your PC has been hit by the glitch then the US tech firm has now issued full advice on how to get things running normally again.

In a post on its Chrome page, Google said: “On May 21, we began to receive reports that Chrome would crash unexpectedly for some Windows and Linux users. After conducting an investigation, we’ve identified the root cause and have released an update which resolves the behaviour.”

You can find full details on how to stop the bug here.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Konami Might Have Plans To Outsource More Classic IP Following The GetsuFumaDen Revival

Konami© Konami

Konami is reportedly open to outsourcing more of the company’s gaming brands in the future, following on from GuruGuru’s announcement of GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon. The original game, Getsu Fūma Den, was released in 1987 as a Famicom exclusive.

According to Konami’s Shin Murato, who is also the producer of Undying Moon, there’s more to come. Here’s what he had to say to JPGames when asked if the Japanese company was planning to outsource its IP to other companies.

“We are continually inspired by various indie titles, and how they innovate and produce exciting games. We felt that GetsuFumaDen would be an interesting IP to bring back to follow this indie approach, and so we decided to contact GuruGuru as we know the team well.

“They had been exploring new approaches for graphical design and thought they would be a great fit for this IP. It also helped that there were fans of the original GetsuFumaDen game within the GuruGuru team. In terms of other collaborations, please wait for future projects like this!”

Although there probably won’t be much information about these “future projects” any time soon, last month it was discovered Konami had renewed trademarks for Castlevania and Metal Gear Rising in Japan. It’s also apparently got some new projects to reveal in the coming months.

GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon
GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon (Image: Konami)

The remake of Getsu Fūma Den will be released on the Nintendo Switch in 2022. Until then, tell us what other Konami IP you would like to see make a return. Leave a comment down below.

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Rumour: It Sounds Like A New Tony Hawk Game Might Be Happening

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3

Before Activision’s announcement of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, a number of musicians spilled the beans ahead of schedule.

Now it seems history could be repeating itself. On an episode of The Behind Closed Doors Podcast last month, the drummer of the band CKY, Jess Magera, mentioned how they would be featured in a new Tony Hawk game.

“Yeah, I believe we’re doing the new one coming out too”

The drummer follows up the conversation noting how his “son just got a PS5 and got the remaster of one and two” – which further clarifies his previous comment.

So, what might the new game be? As highlighted by our friends over at PushSquare, CKY’s song ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ previously featured in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 soundtrack…

One burning question is who would develop this game, as Vicarious Visions was merged with Blizzard earlier this year and has now been assigned to Diablo II: Resurrected.

Could you see Activision doing another Tony Hawk game? Would you be up for the return of the third and maybe even fourth game? Leave a comment down below.

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

SnowRunner For Nintendo Switch Might Include Mod Support

If you needed one extra reason to dive into Focus Home Interactive’s SnowRunner when it arrives on the Nintendo Switch later this month, then this might just be it…

In an April Community Update, Saber and Focus have shared a little bit extra about the Switch release. While there’s no confirmation just yet, it’s sounding like there are at least plans to implement mod support into the Nintendo version at a later date. Here’s exactly what Saber Interactive and co had to say:

“Please note that mods will not be available on the Switch at launch, but we will share more info on this topic at a later date.”

While this wouldn’t be the first time a console release has received mod support – it would be exciting news if this feature was to come to the Nintendo Switch version of SnowRunner. There’s also the question of how extensive mod support would be on Switch compared to other versions.

Would you buy SnowRunner on Switch if it included community mod support? And would you like to see more console games implement this feature? Leave a comment below.

[source forums.focus-home.com, via nintendoenthusiast.com]

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Stimulus checks – Your $1,400 payment might still be in the post… here’s how to spot them

Author: Alice Peacock
This post originally appeared on World News – breaking international headlines and exclusives | The Sun

THOUSANDS of Americans are still reportedly waiting to receive the latest stimulus check from the federal government.

While millions of the checks have reportedly been dispatched to Covid-hit Americans, those who haven’t yet received them may be wondering what the much-anticipated envelopes look like.

Thousands of Americans are reportedly still waiting to receive their stimulus checks in the mail


Thousands of Americans are reportedly still waiting to receive their stimulus checks in the mailCredit: Getty
For those receiving their payments via pigeon post, checks will arrive by mail in a white envelope from the U.S. Department of the Treasury


For those receiving their payments via pigeon post, checks will arrive by mail in a white envelope from the U.S. Department of the TreasuryCredit: Getty

While some Americans are receiving direct stimulus deposits to their bank accounts, a significant number of Americans are getting their payments in the mail, either as a paper check or as a prepaid EIP card.

The IRS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury are therefore urging people who are eligible for the stimulus payments and have not received a direct deposit, to watch their mail carefully.

The federal government has also shared sample images of what the envelopes, checks and EIP cards look like.

“Paper checks will arrive by mail in a white envelope from the U.S. Department of the Treasury,” the IRS said. 

“For those taxpayers who received their tax refund by mail, this paper check will look similar, but will be labeled as an ‘Economic Impact Payment’ in the memo field.”

Meanwhile, the IRS is urging taxpayers who have not received the cash, or who got a less-than-expected amount, to file a federal tax return in order to claim it. 

Essentially, Americans who saw their income reduced or lost their job, or who had a child, got married or could no longer be claimed as a dependent last year, should file one as soon as possible.

This will guarantee a stimulus payment or a “plus-up” payment which is for those who did not get their entire payments from the three rounds of federal stimulus checks.

This is worth $ 1,200, $ 600 and $ 1,400.

Americans who are owed more money have two ways to claim the funds.

One is you can get a recovery rebate worksheet to calculate how much you should receive from the original two checks.

Then, you claim that amount on Line 30 of Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR when filing your tax returns. 

And that money will arrive as part of your refund check.

If you are owed more based on your 2020 tax returns, the IRS will automatically adjust the payment after you file your returns with a “plus-up” check.

The IRS extended the traditional tax-filing deadline from April 15 to May 17 earlier this year.

This was to process a slew of pandemic-related changes to the tax code.

Before Austin shooting, suspect’s family pleaded for more protection: “I’m afraid he might hurt me”

Author: Reis Thebault and Brittany Shammas, The Washington Post
This post originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

Random: This Might Just Be The Longest Title We've Ever Seen For A Nintendo Switch Game

Mon Yu

Japanese game company Experience has revealed the box art for an upcoming Nintendo Switch title and according to Gematsu, it’s made the name of it even longer.

The original title was the following:

“Monster wo Taoshite Tsuyoi Ken ya Yoroi wo Te ni Shinasai. Yuusha Tai ga Maou wo Taosu Sono Hi wo Shinjiteimasu”

And now, based on the updated box art, it’s been extended to:

“Monster wo Taoshite Tsuyoi Ken ya Yoroi wo Te ni Shinasai. Shindemo Akiramezu ni Tsuyoku Narinasai. Yuusha Tai ga Maou wo Taosu Sono Hi wo Shinjiteimasu”

Got all that? The short title for it is simply Mon-Yu. Gematsu also provides the translations of the title before and after it changed:

“The original title translates to “Defeat Monsters to Get Strong Swords and Armor. We Believe in the Day the Heroes will Defeat the Demon Lord.” The new title translates to “Defeat Monsters to Get Strong Swords and Armor. Even If You Die, Fight and Become Stronger. We Believe in the Day the Heroes will Defeat the Demon Lord.

The box art doesn’t seem to have any issues incorporating the title, but the text and font is admittedly a bit small:

Mon Yu

Mon-Yu is a dungeon RPG due out this summer in Japan, and more details about it will apparently be shared on 23rd April.

This article originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News