Hot Spot

Death Valley National Park 2019

Death Valley National Park, CA

Death Valley is the largest National Park within the continental United States and boasts over 3 million acres of designated wilderness. The landscape is one of extremes, being the lowest and driest place in North America and the hottest place on Earth. The park is 91% designated Wilderness and holds an International Dark Sky designation and includes salt flats, 11,000 foot peaks, winding canyons, sand dunes, historic mining sites, and cultural lands of the Timbisha Shoshone. Its remoteness presents both opportunities for unique experiences and challenges for park staff and visitors alike.  From 2017 to 2018 Death Valley experienced a 30% increase in yearly visitation. While some of this increase can be attributed to new counters being installed and more accurate numbers, it is clear that the park is gaining in popularity and attracting more people. In addition to this, some types of recreation are growing in popularity as well, mainly cycling, backcountry 4X4 camping, and backpacking. With these increases, the park has also seen an increase in impacts.

Solution

  • 19 National Park Staff Trained
  • 512 People Educated
  • 1 Educational Video Produced

Because of Death Valley National Park’s remote location, our typical goal of bringing together local stakeholders for educational and strategic planning was challenging.  Our time on-site was largely spent training and educating NPS staff on effective Leave No Trace communication and producing an educational video that can be played at visitor centers and online.  Of course, the park’s remoteness presents unique challenges and opportunities for implementing additional Leave No Trace education and building a supporting community of stewards.  Next steps, in the form of an action planning session, and future recommendations in our report were tailored for these unique constraints.

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