Death Valley Natural History Association May 2023 Newsletter
Salt Creek Updates
Following the unfortunate destruction of the Salt Creek boardwalk in last August’s floods, we are pleased to announce that the Federal Highway Administration has stepped in to fund its replacement. This, despite the boardwalk not being a traditional roadway, emphasizes the boardwalk’s importance. In March, the National Park Service opened a public comment period. All ideas and concerns were taken into account during a design charette meeting in April. Our Executive Director, David Blacker, played a key role in these discussions, which focused on the boardwalk’s layout and materials. We are truly grateful to our DVNHA members whose generous donations will be utilized to replace the interpretive panels, an essential part of the project not covered by the Federal Highway Administration funding.
Death Valley NP Updates
Park Rangers Warn About Interacting With Wildlife
Park rangers emphasize the importance of keeping a safe distance from wildlife, following two noteworthy incidents. In the first, a woman was bitten by an unusually behaving bat, which was later confirmed to be rabid. The bat bit her even though she wore gloves while moving it away from a public area. The woman is now undergoing treatment, and anyone who might have been in contact with this bat should seek immediate medical advice.
In another incident, a coyote was hit by a vehicle, likely because some people have been feeding them illegally. Visitors are strongly advised to appreciate wildlife from a distance and report any unusual animal behavior to park authorities. If exposure to a potentially rabid animal is suspected, immediate consultation with a doctor is recommended.
Read the full NPS Release.
Public Comment Sought on Proposed Utility Improvements
Death Valley NP’s maintenance team has experienced a surge in water and wastewater system failures, with 45 water system failures and five major sewer leaks within a year. Thanks to funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, the NPS plans to refurbish the water and wastewater systems at Furnace Creek and Cow Creek in 2024. These systems, which serve 1.7 million visitors annually, as well as NPS employees, Timbisha Village, and The Oasis at Death Valley, have exceeded their lifespan and need to be rehabilitated and replaced.
The NPS is currently seeking public feedback on this project. The proposed upgrades will not only enhance the experience of employees and visitors by providing more reliable service, but will also protect natural resources by reducing sewage spills and water loss due to pipe leaks. Additionally, the systems will be brought up to regulatory codes, benefitting NPS utility operators and reducing the frequency of emergency repairs. Comments will be accepted until June 16, 2023. Review and comment on the proposal here.
Ash Meadows NWR Updates
Planning a trip to Ash Meadows NWR!
The Longstreet Boardwalk, the most compact boardwalk at Ash Meadow NWR, offers a concise yet enriching 525 feet (160 meters) loop leading to the Longstreet Spring and Jack Longstreet’s Cabin. The boardwalk is named after Jack Longstreet, remembered as the Last of the Desert Frontiersmen. A notorious prospector, gunman, and horse breeder, Longstreet, who was married to Paiute Fannie Black, was also known for his advocacy for Indigenous people. He moved to the area in 1889 and constructed his stone cabin near the spring. This cabin, built around the time of Longstreet’s settlement in the area, is a key attraction of the boardwalk, and visitors are welcome to explore its interior.
Read more about Ash Meadows by visiting our Ash Meadows NWR Trip Planning webpage!
Product of the Month: Adopt a Bighorn Sheep
Death Valley National Park is a vast expanse filled with mysteries. From determining the bighorn sheep population to understanding the impact of geologic faults on spring water levels, there is still much to uncover. Join us in revealing the hidden wonders of Death Valley by adopting a bighorn sheep! All proceeds from this initiative will support the Death Valley Science Fund, aiding scientific research and monitoring efforts. Cherish the positive impact you’ve made in the Park each time you glance at your adopted friend or present them as a gift, and help share our incredible story!
David Blacker – Executive Director
[email protected] or 800-478-8564 ext. 11
Danielle Wood – Development Director
[email protected] or 775-764-0727
Renee Rusler – DV Institute Director
[email protected] or 775-764-0726
Sandy Andrus-Scheet – Office Manager
[email protected] or 800-478-8564 ext. 10
(From Death Valley Natural History Association)