Tag Archives: preservation

State Park Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities are a great way to obtain marketable skills and expand one’s network reach in today’s ever-evolving society. It is also a great avenue to explore possible jobs that you hold an interest in and learn more about that position as well as the organization that you’re working for. Not only will you be gaining some experience, but you also gain a multitude of benefits, such as skills that can be used even after you stop volunteering.

In this sense, your state parks offer numerous volunteer opportunities. The opportunities are diverse and can range from acting as a public contact to becoming a part of the Cultural Resource Protection team to being an interpreter. The opportunities also offer a nice incentive, such as the possibility of earning a free campsite or a free park pass after a certain number of volunteer hours have been fulfilled. Check below for possible volunteer options that you can do in your local state parks!

Natural Resource Protection

habitat restoration

Volunteers happily participating in habitat restoration efforts. [Image: www.projects-abroad.org/]

The California State Parks offer their volunteers the opportunity to assist in critical resource protection for various aspects of their state parks. These can range from trail construction and maintenance to native plant enhancement and nurturing to habitat restoration and beach cleanup.

Adopt-A-Trail Program

trail clearing

Trail clearing is done in groups for it to be successful. Not only will you be helping your fellow state park enthusiasts clear their favorite trails, but you’re also becoming an expert in that trail and getting your dose of daily exercise—now that’s killing two birds with one stone! [Image: www.post-gazette.com/]

The Wisconsin State Parks system has a program called Adopt-A-Trail. What does that entail, you ask? It’s simple! You essentially “adopt” a trail and become a crucial member with a group of people who take care of the trails to ensure that they are clean and properly maintained for the thousands of visitors in the area annually. Your job responsibilities can be as simple as reporting any trail obstructions and hazards to acting as a handyman and providing assistance in trail reconstruction and renovation.

Group Volunteer Opportunities

group volunteer

Thought that group volunteering is only for young adults? Think again! Above, a group of enthusiastic senior citizens volunteer together as park rangers. [Image: www.prescot-az.gov/]

Don’t want to volunteer by yourself? Don’t worry! Florida State Parks has an option for friends, families, or you with other members of your community to do group volunteering in nearby state parks. Simply contact a park’s Coordinator of Volunteer Services for more information to begin organizing your own group today.

Youth Volunteers

youth volunteer

Joining youth volunteer groups is often a great way to boost your resume as well as meet new friends with the same interests. [Image: www.yvc.org/]

For parents with young children or students looking for volunteer/internship opportunities, these are for you. Most state park systems offer internship opportunities for you to be involved in. Simply check with the individual parks for more information regarding their policies, and for those under 18 who are interested in volunteering, be sure to acquire parental permission from your parent(s)/guardian(s) beforehand.

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, particularly with your local state parks. You can gain more knowledge about the importance of preservation within the state park systems and will have memories and skills that are transferrable to other areas in your life, be that now or later. If you wish to volunteer for your local state park, check out the individual park websites, your state’s state park website, or your Pocket Ranger® apps (downloadable in Google Play and Apple Stores) for important information on how to be more involved.

Wildlife Extinction and Endangerment

Since the rise of the Industrial Revolution, human advancements have been catapulted to undeniable heights. Renewable energy, dams, bridges, sky rises, and housing created and now dot the skyline. But with the rise of these developments came continuing damage to multiple wildlife ecosystems, causing wildlife extinction and endangerment. Many areas that were previously home to various wildlife were manipulated, condensed, or in certain circumstances even completely eliminated in order to accommodate the needs of the human population.

By the turn of the 21st century, thousands of animals have gone extinct and even more entered the status of critically endangered as identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Poaching and requisitions for believed, though often unfounded, medicinal effects or even just for internal decoration and clothing have caused an alarming degradation of these animals’ numbers, with some even going completely extinct. Below are a few of these animals that experienced a problematic decline.

Baiji Dolphin

baiji dolphin

A male baiji dolphin typically was around 7.5 feet long and 8.2 feet for females, with a record length of 8.1 feet. They had a bottle-nosed, slightly upturned beak and a bottle-shaped body.[Image: http://mnn.com/]

The baiji dolphin was native to the Yangtze River in China. It is currently declared extinct, with the last verified sighting reported way back in 2004. There was evidently a supposed sighting of a lone baiji back in 2007, but with no other sightings since and with no other known baiji in the area, it is said to not have any possible way of maintaining its population. Their extinction was due to massive pollution in the Yangtze River and the building of dams and land reclamation that illuminated their niche. The further industrialization of China has made the baiji a popular hunting target as its skin and eyes hold a high monetary value as well. Although hunting was not the most significant factor in the extinction of the baiji and it was instead caused by massive human industrial expansion, a lack of of knowledge and timely conservation ultimately led to the demise and extinction of the species.

Western Black Rhinoceros

western black rhino

A western black rhino weighed as much as 1.5 tons in its prime. It primarily resided in Africa and was a kind, social animal. [Image: http://i.imgur.com/]

The western black rhinoceros was native to Africa and was rich in population up until around the 20th century when hunting for their horns became more common. Their decline was such that their numbers deteriorated to just 10 within a century, and just a year after that sharp decline, only five were left before their complete demise in 2004. The major cause of the western black rhino’s extinction was poaching and hunting for their horns. Some cultures held the belief that their horns contained medicinal attributes, and with a lack of conservation efforts and the demand of the horn and skin from the rhinos in the black market, they were hunted extensively to extinction.

As of now, other rhinos are also facing a critical endangered status, and preservation efforts are currently underway to keep them from following in the tracks of the western black rhino. Unfortunately, preserving them is proving to be difficult due to a lack of sufficient conservation efforts in place. Hopefully with more awareness, these ancient creatures can be saved and left to peacefully roam in the lands where they have thrived for millions of years.

Tiger

tigers

Tigers are probably one of the most elegant creatures in the wild, its white, gold, and black stripes a staple of the animal. Part of the charismatic megafauna, it is commonly the face of conservation advocacies. [Image: http://spiritanimals.wikia.com/]

While tigers are generally prohibited from being hunted and are well protected by conservationists, they are still subject to poaching, their continuously dwindling numbers a testament to this. Like rhinos, tigers are also subject to being sold in the black market as medicine, ornaments, and aphrodisiacs. While conservation efforts are strict, there is still a large case of tiger poaching and selling them within the black market.

Sumatran Elephant

sumatran elephant

Sumatran Elephants are social, gentle mammals. They have an average length of five to nine feet and can grow up to 20 feet and weigh approximately five tons. [Image: http://www.berdiri.org/]

Another critically endangered species is the Sumatran elephant. The decline in their numbers is primarily caused by poaching for their ivory tusks as well as an immense loss of habitat due to agricultural efforts. Found in the Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia, these elephants once roamed the island widely before poaching led to their sharp and continuous population regression; they lost 50 percent of their population in just 22 years due to poaching. In certain local places in Sumatra, they are now locally extinct where they once were widespread. A combination of these factors continues to threaten their existence even today.

These animals are only a few examples of those that were badly affected by the illegal poaching and industrialization efforts of mankind. It is important to be aware of the proper rules and regulations toward wildlife in order to continue the preservation methods currently in place. Head on over to our Rules & Regulations sections in our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to help you stay informed of the proper do’s and don’ts. With combined preservation efforts, we can still assist in keeping these beautiful creatures safe and sound.

Endangered Species: An In-Depth Look at Elephants

Elephants mean different things to various cultures, ranging from being seen as simply a gorgeous animal that lives in your country to a revered god-like symbol to a token of good luck. Unfortunately they are also often idolized for their thick, leathery hides and gorgeous ivory tusks, which has led them to be listed as an endangered species.

Differences between Asian and African elephants.

The difference between Asian and African elephants. [Image: http://www.thomsonsafaris.com/]

African elephants are the largest mammals walking the Earth today, growing up to 11-feet tall, between 19 and 24 feet long, and weighing usually around six tons. There are two types of African elephants, the Savanna (bush) elephant and the forest elephant. Savanna elephants are the larger of the two and have tusks that curve outward, while forest elephants are smaller, darker, and have straighter tusks that point downward. Asian elephants, on the other hand, are very different from African elephants. They are noticeably smaller and their ears don’t fan out at the bottom like an African elephant. And while all African elephants, male or female, have tusks, only some male Asian elephants do.

Elephants are social creatures, living in herds made up of mostly females and calves while the males opt for isolation, usually leaving the herd at around 13 years old. The calves live with their mothers for a large portion of their early lives and are cared for by many of the other females in their herd. The females have the longest gestation period of any animal, lasting 22 months from conception. Throughout those 22 months, other females help the laboring mothers up until birth, acting as midwives to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly. Calves weigh about 230 pounds when they’re born, and the females don’t usually have more than four babies.

Adult elephants with a baby.

“Hey, I want to hug, too!” [Image: http://www.buzzfeed.com/]

They’re also incredibly sensitive animals. They have been known to express grief and sometimes cry, like in this heartbreaking video of a baby elephant crying after being rejected by its mother; show compassion, such as having a “greeting ceremony” for elephants they haven’t seen in awhile where they’ll “hug” by intertwining their trunks; and they also mourn the loss of fellow herd members. It’s true what they say—elephants have excellent memories, which is apparent in their varying emotional responses.

Elephants mourning.

When elephants come across the remains of a herd member, they’ll feel the crevices of each bone. [Image: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/]

These large creatures are also very resourceful. Although they’re the only mammal that can’t jump, they’re fantastic swimmers and can move swiftly and quietly, despite their enormity, due to soft pads protecting the bottoms of their feet. Their bodies have natural cooling methods as well, and they can sustain hot temperatures due to the many blood vessels coursing through their ears. On top of all this, elephants also use their tusks for many things, such as digging for water, finding food, defense, and lifting items. Similar to how humans are often left-or right-handed, elephants prefer using one tusk over the other.

Aside from utilizing their physical features in everyday life, both on a conscious and subconscious level, they’re also quite connected to their environment through the use of their senses. Their eyesight isn’t very strong, but their other senses make up for that. They have hearing capabilities that go far beyond a human’s limitations, opening them up to spatial experiences that we can’t quite begin to process. And they don’t just hear from their ears—elephants are able to pick up on sub-sonic sounds through their feet and can be found “listening” by pressing their trunks to the ground and positioning their feet in a certain way. Their trunks are also very fascinating and useful beyond its physical potentiality. Made up of more than 40,000 muscles, trunks can help elephants smell better, especially when waved from side to side, and can also help the creatures sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object.

Elephants hugging trunks.

Now don’t you wish you could get a hug from an elephant? [Image: https://www.pinterest.com/]

Although elephants don’t have any natural predators (aside from lions that sometimes prey on the weak or young), humans have led this amazing creature to become endangered. Asian elephants have been listed as endangered since 1975 and African elephants since 1989. Much of their population decline comes from poaching to support illegal ivory trading. Ivory trading was made illegal in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but there is still an unregulated market demanding it. Additionally, loss of habitat is also negatively affecting elephant populations. As humans expand further into their environments and practices like commercial logging continue, elephants end up on the losing side of the battle for more space.

Elephants.

Such a happy little family. [Image: https://iso.500px.com/]

Maintaining the areas that we visit and leaving the wildlife alone are the best ways we can help elephants and many other endangered species continue to thrive. Often we’ll see others partaking in experiences with these amazing creatures, such as viewing them in contained settings or riding on them—this is not the capacity that they were meant for, however, and we should do our best to let them live naturally. Wildlife viewing is an enjoyable part of any outdoor experience, and you can partake in it by using our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to explore parks that have diverse wildlife populations. And remember: The best approach when interacting with wildlife is to look and not touch.

California’s Most Beautiful State Reserves

California is home to some of the most iconic national parks in the United States. Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, and Death Valley are only a few of the more prominent parks of the state. Hailing thousands of visitors not only from the country but even internationally, it has made a name out of stunning geographical features and activities for outdoor enthusiasts. These parks have since heralded visitors due to their monumental beauty and careful preservation efforts.

But aside from its more acclaimed national parks, California also hosts some of the most breathtaking natural state reserves in the nation. Natural state reserves are dedicated preservation areas typically with historical, geological, or cultural significance to the state or country. Even when flanked with the impressive national and state parks in the state, these reserves can more than hold their own. Check out some of the most beautiful state reserves in California below!

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Ever wanted to feel like you’re being transported to another world entirely? If so, that’s just what you’ll experience when you visit Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve.

Mono Lake Tufa SNR [Image url: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/514/images/P0074810_Sunset.jpg]

Mono Lake Tufa SNR is dazzling in the early sunset. Towers of tufas are seen adorning the scenery while gorgeous colors can be seen reflecting in the surrounding waters. [Image: http://www.parks.ca.gov/]

Mono Lake Tufa is a state natural reservation located in eastern California. While this seemingly out-of-this-world natural reserve is relatively near its more iconic cousin, the grand Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake can nevertheless hold its own candle. Surrounded by towering tufas—columns of calcium carbonate formed in carbonate-rich saltwater lakes—Mono Lake provides a dreamy sight for every visitor to marvel at.

The reserve’s preservation committee typically holds tours every weekend throughout the winter months for those interested in visiting this breathtaking place. Check their calendar of events for more information as inclement weather can effect the routine tour schedules. The best time to visit? Sunset. The clear waters and panoramic background paint a palate of dazzling brilliance over the scenery.

For adventure enthusiasts, you’ll find that the Mono Lake has quite an ecosystem. Multiple avian species like the mountain quail, calliope hummingbird, and American wigeon have been sighted in the vicinity. Canada geese, mallards, and other ducks are also frequent visitors during migration periods.

Canada Goose in Mono Lake

Canada geese can be seen flocking in Mono Lake during their migration months. [Image: http://static-myyosemitepark.s3.amazonaws.com/]

Hiking, photography, swimming, and boating are only a few of the activities offered in this area. For those that want to spend a night within its majestic grounds, be sure to read up on the rules and regulations regarding camping permits.

Mono Lake Tufa at night

Tufa can be seen standing regally against a backdrop of the Milky Way at night. During the spring and summer months, a stunning view of the stars make quite a memorable camping environment. [Image: http://goldpaintphotography.com/]

For more information regarding Mono Lake, please visit their park website.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

With views sweeping over deep blue ocean, impressive rocky montages, noble trees, and crashing ocean foam, Point Lobos is a picturesque paradise located in the central coast of Monterey County. Flanked by rolling meadows of green, a thriving ecosystem, and ethereal scenery, this natural reserve is an ideal place to simply get lost in nature’s astounding beauty.

Point Lobos China Cove

One of Point Lobos’ celebrated sights is China Cove. It is a popular tourist sight due to its crystal clear waters along the shorelines. [Image: http://www.montereybayinsider.com/]

The reserve hosts an outdoor program for children and families, tours, diving excursions, hiking, and easy access to adventures all amidst its tranquil atmosphere. Volunteers are available throughout the area to provide information regarding the rich history of Point Lobos.

A section of Point Lobos where waves can be seen crashing in the inland shores. [Image: http://icons.wunderground.com/data/wximagenew/j/jimkv/460-800.jpg]

A section of Point Lobos where waves can be seen crashing on the inland shores. [Image: http://icons.wunderground.com/

If you intend to visit Point Lobos, layers of clothing are suggested due to the distance between the waters. The chilly ocean breeze is quick and eager to drive the heat away from your body, so it is best to bring extra clothing. Other suggested items include a camera to remember the stunning views with, as well as sunscreen and water.

Take a peek at the Point Lobos page for more information.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

On the southern side of California, between La Jolla and Del Mar and north of San Diego, lies Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This state reserve is one of the last two abodes of the rarest pine treePinus torreyana.

Pinus torreyana

One of the rarest pine trees in the nation—Pinus torreyana—can only be found thriving in two locations: Torrey Pines SNR and in Santa Rosa, California. [Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/]

Torrey Pines is considered a fragile ecosystem. Rigorous preservation efforts have been expended to conserve this natural habitat. It is a popular place of refuge to a large waterfowl population as well as the mule and black-tailed deer. As it is an undeveloped area, it is privy to erosion. An example of this can seen through the Broken Hill, a huge, rugged geological wonder overlooking the ocean.

Broken Hill

Broken Hill provides an ideal place to hike for outdoor enthusiasts. Its impressive location offers an outstanding view of the ocean and lower La Jolla. [Image: http://media.sdreader.com/]

Crags of rock interlock to create a geologic sight prime for sightseeing within the park. For adventurers, Torrey Pines is a small trip to the wildness away from urban life. Its sensitive ecosystem that’s being carefully reserved features cliffs and ravines overlooking the seas. Activities available within the park include swimming at the beach, hiking, interpretive programs, and wildlife watching.

Torrey Pines overlooking the sea

Torrey Pines towering over the sea. It is easy to see how it stirs wanderlust among adventurers. [Image: http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/]

It is highly encouraged to check with Torrey Pines SNR website regarding the rules and regulations applicable within the area. As it is a natural area, regulations are carefully placed to avoid any unnecessary disruptions to its ecological system.

California is one of the most urbanized cities in the United States, so state natural reserves are carefully cherished and taken care of to preserve the natural beauty that’s in danger of ever-expanding civilization. It is a great place to relax, think, and be away from the hustle and bustle of the city as well as get in touch with nature and its profound views.

If you’re thinking of visiting one of these SNR’s, let us help you! Our California State Parks app contains the most updated information for this park and can be found in the Apple and Google Play stores. Download now, and take advantage of the warm winter days this December to observe nature at its best in one of these parks!