LUNACY AT JOSHUA TREE – ONS – Matthews – 18 July 2020

LUNACY AT JOSHUA TREE – ONS – Matthews – 18 July 2020

LUNACY AT JOSHUA TREE — ONS-matthews – 18 july 2020 Compiled by Jim Matthews

Bees ‘force’ Joshua Tree officials to close two campgrounds and a visitor center

The CNN headline droned “Aggressive honey bees at Joshua Tree National Park force multiple campgrounds to close.”

The bees were apparently so aggressive that no one – not one person – was stung. Yet, the National Park Service decided to close two campgrounds – the Jumbo Rock Campground was closed on July 9 and Cottonwood on July 13 – along with the visitor center at Cottonwood.

The CNN story quoted Hannah Schwalbe, a Joshua Tree National Park employee, as saying “It is really intimidating when you get out of your car and there’s a huge swarm of bees that are looking for the water.”

Apparently people are so stupid that they believe that since humans are about 60 percent water, the bees will sting them to death and then suck all that fluid out of their dead bodies. So the park service decided to keep the people out and leave the place to the bees for at least a couple of weeks.

No, it’s not a big deal. It’s the “off” season at Joshua Tree, and there are other nearby campgrounds and visitor centers open, but this is so symptomatic of the kind of thinking we have today with public land managers.
We have turned national parks, forest, and other public lands into safe spaces.

Our public lands are no longer places to go and learn how nature works and where we fit into this process any longer. It’s a nature television show where you can smell the flowers and feel the summer heat (but not too much heat, or we’ll close the park for your safety). How long before Joshua Tree staff hands out parasols and misting bottles at the park entrance during the summer. How long before they make sure everyone has the required two quarts of water per person per vehicle, and doesn’t hike off the designated and patrolled trails. It is apparently what this generation of visitors wants, or at least this is what the park service staff believes. The public wants a packaged experience with predictable results. Or does it?

A lot of us have always loved going outdoors because it was not packaged or predictable. We didn’t demand groomed hiking trails, and we would scramble up unnamed peaks with binoculars to look for wildlife at dusk from a high vantage point, often returning to our camp or vehicle in the dark on some faint game trail. We didn’t worry about getting lost or falling and breaking a leg. We knew that mountain lions might be watching us and licking their chops. All of those things are part of why we went. We were prepared with gear and knowledge that would assure our survival in almost any circumstance. Almost. There have been three verified mountain lion-caused deaths in California in recent years (and likely at least that many more others that could not be verified). In all three cases, the lion was eating the body.

In the NPS view, adventure isn’t part of the package, and they manage for the lowest common denominator of incompetent outdoor enthusiast. The management fear this pampered generation would sue the NPS if they were stung by “one of the parks’ bees.” They close off vast areas if grizzly bears or mountain lions are seen on “human” trails or bike ways. Staff and rangers have to reassure campers that the coyotes they hear yipping will not be eating them before dawn. The NPS assumes – and sadly it may be right – that we want armchair nature with a tan.
What have we come to when we close campgrounds because of bees?

Bacteria outbreak in DFW hatcheries does not appear to be spreading yet

The bacterial outbreak at the Mojave River Hatchery in Victorville and two Eastern Sierra Nevada hatchery has note spread, according to Jay Rowan, the environmental program manager with the DFW’s hatchery program in Sacramento. The agency received good news this week, when it was confirmed that Southern California’s only other DFW fish hatchery – the Fillmore Hatchery – did not test positive for the bacteria.

So far the bacteria has killed more than 1/10th of the 650,000 trout at Mojave River, as warm weather and warming water in the facility increases the death toll. None of the trout still alive will be planted for anglers because the DFW does not want to spread the bacteria into wild populations.

The Fillmore Hatchery, which had been shut down for repairs, has just recently come back on line, and Rowan said all of its different lots of fish were tested for the bacteria and none tested positive. This means that at least some of Southern California’s trout planting will come back on line this fall and winter as these trout mature into catchable-sized fish.

“We’re not going to be able to make up what Mojave and Fillmore would have planted out with both operating, but at least Southern California waters will get a portion of the allocated trout plants, probably starting in the fall,” said Rowan.

It was originally announced that no plants in the region were likely through the fall and winter.

Testing shows the genetic strain of bacteria the DFW has discovered in its three hatcheries and Jess Ranch Hatchery, a private hatchery in Hesperia, is from Washington state. The DFW’s working theory is the bacteria arrived in birds’ fecal matter because the agency has not received any shipments of trout from this region.

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