February 2021

Lead the Pack and "Bag and Bin It" with New Dog Waste Bins 

Three million people visit the CRNRA every year, and many of them are dog-walkers. The volume and distribution of dog waste and bags left on the ground has increased as more people seek to spend time outdoors in the CRNRA during the COVID pandemic. To address this problem, 37 new dog waste bins funded by CNPC and the National Park Service (NPS) were installed throughout the CRNRA, including free waste bags and disposal bins to encourage visitors to properly dispose of their dog’s waste at the park.  

70% of the Atlanta metro area’s drinking water comes from the Chattahoochee River. Dog waste contains deadly bacteria that enters the ecosystem and the water supply. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NPS and the U.S. EPA conducted a multi-year study to investigate patterns in microbial source tracking within the CRNRA, finding that dogs are a primary contributor of fecal contamination in the Chattahoochee River within the national park.

The “Lead the Pack – Bag and Bin It” campaign is the culmination of three years of work by CNPC, CRNRA, and students from Atlanta’s Miami Ad School studying how to reduce inappropriate dog waste in the park and river and to encourage dog owners to pick up and properly dispose of their dogs’ waste. The partnership led to a creative campaign to educate visitors about the ecological importance of proper waste disposal and a goal to make dog waste bins more accessible in areas of high visitation throughout the CRNRA. The new waste bins include signage using a design created by Miami Ad School students. Educating visitors about the environmental impacts of dog waste and promoting its proper disposal throughout all park units will create a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors along the Chattahoochee River.

For more information on the “Bag and Bin It” program, go to www.chattahoocheeparks.org/dog_waste_program. To learn more about the Miami Ad School, go to https://miamiadschool.com/advertising-school/atlanta/

Photo by Evan Barnard

“Text to Ride” System Provides Information on Current Trail Conditions

Mountain bikers will appreciate the new "Text to Ride" system at the Cochran Shoals Multiuse Trail. To avoid trail damage, bikers know not to ride on wet trails, but they cannot always know if it rained the previous day in the area of the trail. This new system allows riders to text for the status of the trail before they go to the park. To access the system, text "Ride" to 770-727-5061. The system will respond whether the trail is "Dry" or "Wet," or if there is "Freeze Thaw." To learn more about the negative effects of Freeze Thaw, go to www.combomtb.com/blog/2014/12/5/freezethaw-cycles-explained. There is also a QR Code that when scanned will auto populate the text message for you - all you have to do is click OK and hit send.  

CNPC board member Alex Hinerfeld is a regular NPS trail volunteer and trail maintainer at Cochran Shoals. "Riding muddy trails causes trail damage," said Alex. "This new system allows mountain bikers to know the trail conditions before they come to the park."  

The next time you are ready to bike the trail, check on the trail status through Text to Ride. If the trails are muddy, do not ride!  

Exploring the National Park System in Georgia: The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park

February is Black History Month, and Georgia is home to a national park celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the nation’s top civil rights leaders. Located in downtown Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park preserves important places in Dr. King’s life such as the Birth Home, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, The King Center, and more. The park is the city’s top tourist destination and hosts a variety of public exhibits and outdoor features, such as the “I Have a Dream World Peace Rose Garden,” which is one of five major World Peace Rose Gardens in the world. All buildings within the park are temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic; however, visitors can still take a self-guided tour of campus to enjoy its historic buildings and campus, including the Peace Plaza and the Behold Monument created by sculptor Patrick Morelli. Learn more and plan your visit at www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm

The Martin Luther King Memorial Mural by Louis Delsarte, photo by wallyg

NPS Explores 400 years of the African American Experience with "Twenty & Odd"

To commemorate Black History Month, NPS staff and interns developed “Twenty & Odd,” a short film highlighting African American history as American history. Narrated by Maya Angelou, the film showcases African American resilience and empowerment, set against federally managed lands such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Monocacy National Battlefield, and other culturally significant locations. To watch and learn more about the film, go to www.nps.gov/subjects/africanamericanheritage/twenty-and-odd.htm. A companion article on the relationship between the film’s symbolism, visuals, and Maya Angelou’s poem “We Rise” can be found at www.nps.gov/subjects/africanamericanheritage/twenty-and-odd-reference-guide.htm.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge, part of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, photo by DXR

Park News: The Power of Parks for Health – Celebrating 100 Years

To honor 2021 as the 100th anniversary of an agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) to protect and promote health in the parks, NPS has organized a year-long series of educational and celebratory events themed “The Power of Parks for Health.”

Many have realized during the coronavirus pandemic that time spent outside is restorative and beneficial for one’s mind, body, and spirit. However, the powerful relationship between parks and public health has been recognized since 370 BC when Hippocrates said, “nature itself is the best physician.”

In 1921, following the second industrial revolution, the NPS and USPHS forged a partnership to deem parks as a resource for public health and leverage public health officers to assist with sanitation in the parks. In the early days, public health officers included sanitary engineers, physicians, and nurses. These groups visited parks across the United States to work on sanitation problems such as the inspection of campgrounds, sewage treatment plants, food service venues, and mosquito control. One century later, these public health teams persist, albeit with an expanded scope of work including epidemiology, veterinary medicine, environmental heath, and administrative tasks. To learn more about the history of the relationship between the parks and public health, explore ”100 Years of Health in the National Parks.”

Celebrating 2021’s milestone achievement, NPS will showcase this special partnership with monthly themed efforts to plan for a health focused future. February's theme, “Making Space for Every Face,” celebrates Black culture and heritage through virtual discussions, film, and other programs. For more information on this month's events, go to www.nps.gov/subjects/healthandsafety/february-communications.htm.

Looking for ways to access the parks as a health resource? Check out CNPC’s HikeCRNRA program at https://www.chattahoocheeparks.org/hikecrnra and REI’s Hikes for Health Challenge at www.rei.com/events/96767/hikes-for-health-challenge.

Couple on bicycles under oaks in Yosemite Valley in 1946, Yosemite Historic Photo Collection, photo by Ralph H. Anderson

Flora and Fauna in the Park - White Tailed Deer

Many animals call the parks of CRNRA “home,” including one of North America’s most beloved mammals, the white-tailed deer. With an average height of 6.5 feet, these animals can sometimes be hard to spot because of their ability to blend in with their surroundings. During summer months, their coats are reddish brown, but their color fades to grayish brown as the weather turns cold. A large white patch on the underside of the tail, rear, and belly give the species its name.

From an identification standpoint, it is relatively easy to differentiate between adult male and female deer. Male deer, known as bucks, can be identified by their antlers during the summer and fall months; antlers fall off in the winter. Female deer, or does, lack antlers. Deer mate in November and December and have a gestation period of seven months. Baby deer are known as fawns and are recognizable by their white spots, which fade as the deer mature.

White-tailed deer are herbivores and enjoy eating a variety of foods including leaves, nuts, grasses, twigs, fruits, lichens, and, to many a gardener’s disappointment, landscaped plants like hostas, roses, and clematis. White-tailed deer are quick and nimble creatures – they can run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour and jump 10 feet high. If you encounter a deer while hiking in the CRNRA, chances are it will turn and run. However, if you encounter a deer stomping its front hoof against the ground, it views you (or perhaps if you are hiking, your dog) as a threat; in this instance, you should turn around and walk away. Coyotes, bobcats, and wolves prey on deer in the wild; however, humans pose the biggest threat in metropolitan areas. Drivers should know that white-tailed deer are frequently active in the low lighting of dawn and dusk, so take extra caution when driving during these hours.

Photo by Glenn Bosio

Updates and Opportunities

    Birds in the Park – Considerations for Buying Binoculars

    Binoculars can greatly enhance the park experience. Choosing a pair of binoculars can be one of the more complicated outdoor gear purchases that you will make. With a variety of factors to consider, there is a difference between simply purchasing a pair of binoculars and finding the best pair of binoculars to augment your choice of activities outdoors. Here are four helpful tips to guide your purchase.

    1.    Understand your needs: Since binoculars can be used in many different ways, having an understanding upfront of your viewing interests is important. Birding, backpacking, hunting, wildlife viewing, and paddling can all benefit from a good pair of binoculars, but what constitutes “good” varies by activity. Weight and size are key considerations if you plan to bring binoculars on a hiking trip. If you will be using binoculars for wildlife viewing like whale watching or safaris, you might want to invest in a higher magnification since you will be further away from the animals. If you are taking binoculars on a paddling trip, waterproofing is a must-have feature.

    2.    Decide on a price range: Buying binoculars is a lot like buying a car – you can get from Point A to Point B in a junker or a Ferrari. Recent advances in technology have helped to improve the quality and performance of binoculars at the lower end of the price spectrum. Depending on features, binoculars can range in cost from under $100 to many thousands of dollars. Common advice is to purchase the best pair of binoculars that you can afford.

    3.    Familiarize yourself with the basics: Magnification, lens diameter, and field of view are primary considerations. Magnification can be thought of as the “zoom” or “power” factor – 8x and 10x are common magnifications and will make things look 8 times closer or 10 times closer, respectively. Lens diameter refers to the size of the large lenses on the front of the binoculars, known as the objective lens. Larger objective lenses let in more light and result in brighter images. Field of view refers to the width of the area that you can see through the binoculars from 1,000 yards. Wider fields of view can make it easier to track movement of birds and animals.

    4.    Ask questions before buying: Ask others you see using binoculars what brand and features they have, as most people enjoy sharing their experiences and tips on what they have found works best or what they wish they had known before buying their own. Purchase new binoculars from a business that is knowledgeable in the features of the binoculars they carry, and a warranty is recommended. Some owners will sell a good used pair when they choose to upgrade, so sometimes excellent used binoculars are available at a great discount.

    Book of the Month - Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationships of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney

    While Mother Nature creates incredibly diverse natural landscapes, there is often a lack of diversity in the population that visits parks and natural areas on a regular basis. February’s Book of the Month offers a deep dive into why black Americans have a different relationship with the outdoors than many white Americans. Drawing upon her background as a professor of geography, Carolyn Finney explores the intersection of environmental history, culture, geography, and race studies in Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationships of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. With many accolades from academic institutions and national publications, this book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to experience nature.

    For more information on diversity, check out these related articles: National Geographic, National Parks Traveler, or Resources magazine.

    Family Fun – NPS Junior Ranger Program

    Many parents will attest that spending time outside is good for children’s health – it lowers stress levels, promotes creativity, encourages awareness and interaction with the natural world, satisfies innate childhood curiosity, and provides a wide space to move around freely and burn off excess energy.

    One great way to get children involved and interested in the outdoors from an early age is through the NPS’s Junior Ranger Program. Available in almost all national parks, including CRNRA’s Island Ford Unit, this activity-based program guides participants through a unique set of activities before sharing their answers and experiences with a park ranger and earning a Junior Ranger certificate and patch.

    Children who love science and exploring the natural world may also be interested in some of the Junior Ranger specialized programming including Junior Paleontologists, Junior Archaeologists, and Junior Cave Scientist. These special interest books make a great addition to STEM education, are available for download, and can be completed at home or at a local park! 

    Learn more about how to become a Junior Ranger, discover online activities, and download an activity book at www.nps.gov/kids/become-a-junior-ranger.htm.

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    CNPC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are proud to support our Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a unit of the national park system managed by the National Park Service.

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