Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Three Rivers, CA, United States

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Three Rivers, CA, United States
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Mazur R.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks | Klimley A.P.,University of California at Davis | Folger K.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Animal Biotelemetry | Year: 2013

Background: Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) seeds and oak (Quercus spp.) acorns are both important fall food sources for a variety of wildlife in the Sierra Nevada, but both have variable mast production and are in decline. Sugar pines are in decline due to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) infection and oaks are in decline due to fire exclusion and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) predation. To examine how a change in availability of seed and acorn crops from these trees could have a cascading effect on associated wildlife, we studied their relationship to black bear (Ursus americanus) fall ranges in Sequoia National Park, California. The distribution of seed-bearing sugar pines overlaps with the bears' summer range, whereas acorn-bearing oaks occur at lower elevations. We used GPS collars and field observations to collect location data on ten wild, adult, female bears during the summer and fall of both 2005 and 2006, and then compared these data on habitat use with the Park's vegetation map of available habitat. Results: Our results indicate that the inter-annual variability in the availability of these natural foods is closely related to the seasonal ranges of black bears. In the fall of 2005, when blue and black oak acorns were scarce but other acorns were abundant, bears remained within their summer ranges to feed on sugar pine seeds. In the fall of 2006, when blue oak acorns were abundant, bears shifted out of their summer ranges to feed on acorns and forego sugar pine seeds, even though the seeds were more abundant than in 2005. Incidents between humans and black bears were highest in 2006 while bears were moving between their summer ranges and the oak belt. Conclusion: In the fall, black bears make heavy use of both sugar pines and oaks. Although they prefer acorns to sugar pine seeds, the loss of either food source would lead to an increased dependence on the other. When both are unavailable due to continued decline or simultaneously low mast crops, an increase in human-bear incidents is likely. © 2013 Mazur et al.

News Article | December 22, 2015

Though historically abundant, mountain yellow-legged frogs have been extirpated from more than 92 percent of their geographic ranges—high-elevation aquatic habitats—with many of the remaining populations depleted. Declines were first recognized during the 1970s and have accelerated markedly since the 1990s. Both species of mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa and Rana sierra) are listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. "The change in frog abundance over the course of the 25 years that I have been working on them is just incredible," said biologist Roland Knapp of UCSB's Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab, the campus-run natural reserve and research station in Mammoth Lakes. "Places that we've gone to for years and years and seen thousands of frogs are now completely without frogs. That's a dramatic change at every level—ecologically, in terms of people's interaction with that animal, the effect of that animal on the food web and the landscape. It's just an incredibly dramatic and challenging transformation of that landscape." A major culprit in the frogs' dwindling numbers is a deadly fungal disease called chytridiomycosis (chytrid). The highly infectious chytrid has caused more than 200 species of frogs and salamanders to become extinct within the last 15 years. "Every continent that has amphibians has the disease," Knapp said. "It has spread around the world very quickly." Concern about chytrid and its disturbing impact on the frogs sparked the unique collaboration between UCSB, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and San Francisco and Oakland zoos. "Mountain yellow-legged frogs are getting hammered by non-native trout and disease, and urgent intervention was needed to keep two populations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks from disappearing," said Danny Boiano, an aquatic ecologist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. "The National Park Service is fortunate to partner with Oakland and San Francisco zoos on this project; along with several agencies and universities, we are all striving to recover these iconic endangered species." National Park Service biologists in August collected and emergency evacuated critically endangered tadpoles from remote locations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the high Sierra. The tadpoles were airlifted out by helicopter and delivered to zoo biologists in Three Rivers, who made a four-hour drive with 270 tadpoles to the Bay Area, where the rare animals are now housed in quarantine at both Oakland Zoo and San Francisco Zoo. The tadpoles have successfully morphed into healthy mountain yellow-legged frogs. Now zookeepers are specially treating the amphibians for chytrid with a special type of bath that helps their bodies resist the deadly disease. "We have developed, in collaboration with UC Santa Barbara and researchers working on this project, an experiment to try and immunize these frogs," said Jessie Bushell, director of conservation at San Francisco Zoo. "The zoos re-infect the frogs short-term with chytrid, let them build up a minor infection, monitor them and then treat them aggressively. Over a course of several months of this treatment, the frogs appear to develop a resistance to chytrid. And that is key to making sure the populations we're putting back out in the wild have a chance at survival." In addition to the baths, San Francisco and Oakland zoos are "head-starting" the tiny juveniles, raising them into healthy frogs better-equipped to survive predators and chytrid when they are released back into the wild. "Head-starting allows us to introduce many more adult frogs that are disease-resistant," said Boiano. "Instead of 200 frogs in 20 years, we may give those populations 200 frogs in one year." Said Steven Detwiler, a senior scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sacramento Office, which helped coordinate the effort to save them: "If this emergency salvage hadn't occurred, considerably more than 90 percent of these individuals might not have survived, and we'd [potentially] lose both of these critical populations." The joint endeavor to save a native California species and give it legs to thrive and repopulate in the wild hopes ultimately to see flourishing frogs in healthy habitats. If program efforts continue as planned, the goal is to release the yellow-legged frogs in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the summer of 2016. "Oakland Zoo and San Francisco Zoo are committed to helping save these frogs, a California heritage species, a local animal that lives just a few hours away in the Sierra Nevada," said Victor Alm, zoological manager at Oakland Zoo. Mountain yellow-legged frogs in the Sierra Nevada occur between the headwaters of the Feather River and the headwaters of the Kern River. Rana sierrae occupies the northern and central Sierra Nevada south to the vicinity of Mather Pass (Fresno County), whereas Rana muscosa occupies the Sierra Nevada south of this area.

News Article | October 28, 2016

Splashes of autumn color dot the green forests of Sequoia and Kings Canyon in fall. The air cools, crowds retreat and bears venture out. These inspiring California National Parks are the perfect mid-week escape or weekend getaway for explorers seeking the best of the Golden State’s great outdoors this fall. Visitors are encouraged to put away their smartphones and commune with giants—trees that are thousands of years old and larger than any other living organism on the planet. The parks’ giant sequoias must be seen to be believed—and even then, their sheer size makes them as hard to comprehend as the vast star-filled night skies. Grant Grove is an excellent location to marvel at the mighty sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park. From Grant Grove, it’s a 45-minute drive into one of the deepest canyons in America where, at Road’s End, John Muir Rock calls out for a picnic lunch above the crystal-clear waters of the Kings River. Lodging in Grant Grove is within walking distance of its namesake sequoia forest, home to the majestic General Grant Tree. This includes the rustic Grant Grove cabins and the stone-and-timber John Muir Lodge, both a roughly one-hour drive from Fresno. Special fall packages help make the travel decision even easier. Book the Autumn Weekend Getaway Package starting from $215 per night at John Muir Lodge. This offer includes a $50 credit for use at any of the Grant Grove dining options and complimentary wine, cheese and crackers. Guests at John Muir Lodge this fall might expect to encounter the outlaw and accused train robber, Chris Evans, while the Sequoia Parks Conservancy’s living history program is in action on Wednesday nights. Pull up a chair next to the lodge’s crackling fireplace and listen to stories of mystery, hardship and adventure from a time when the parks were young. And on October 22, carve out a jack o’lantern while a storyteller carves up tales o’the season. Sequoia National Park is home to the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney, and the largest of all of the giant sequoias, the General Sherman Tree. Visitors entering the park from Three Rivers ascend from 1,500 to 7,200-feet in elevation and witness dramatic shifts in scenery including roadside fall color, an amazing diversity of plants and animals and breathtaking mountain and canyon vistas. The park is home to more than 300 species of wildlife with frequent marmot, deer and bear sightings. Fall brings out less common sightings as well. Between October 21-29, visitors can join experienced cave naturalists on Fridays and Saturdays at Crystal Cave for a spooky Halloween tour, and listen carefully for the spirits of native peoples and Civilian Conservation Corps workers who have traveled the Cave’s passageways over the past century. On select Thursday and Saturday evenings, Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia’s stone-and-cedar signature hotel, also hosts Ghosts of the Giants—tall tales of life under even taller trees. Sequoia National Park’s peacefulness and grandeur is difficult to imagine only three and a half hours’ drive from Los Angeles—and truly needs to be experienced to comprehend. For an autumn weekend getaway, the Wuksachi Lodge Package will get you on the path to understanding. It starts from $279 per night and includes lodging, breakfast for two, box lunches for two, a $60 dining credit for dinner in The Peaks Restaurant and a complimentary wine, cheese and cracker amenity. For fall foliage followers, the leaves are calling and both parks are among California’s best destinations for autumn color. A Fall Foliage Package includes overnight accommodations, box lunches for two, a Sequoia logo throw blanket, a field guide card, and a sequoia cone copper-dipped ornament as a souvenir at either the Wuksachi Lodge with rates starting from $199 or John Muir Lodge starting from $209 through mid-December. To learn more about fall lodging and activities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, please visit [ About Delaware North’s parks and resorts business Delaware North Parks and Resorts is a global leader in the hospitality industry, operating lodging, food and beverage and retail services, recreational activities, and educational programming at destinations throughout North America and Australia. Delaware North operates in many of the United States’ iconic national and state parks, including Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Niagara Falls State Park, as well as at cultural attractions such as Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. Its portfolio also includes The AAA Four-Diamond Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite and several luxury resorts in Australia, including Lizard Island, a highly acclaimed resort on the Great Barrier Reef. To learn more about Delaware North’s hospitality management expertise, visit About Delaware North Delaware North is one of the largest privately-held hospitality and food service companies in the world. Founded in 1915 and owned by the Jacobs family for 100 years, Delaware North has global operations at high-profile places such as sports and entertainment venues, national and state parks, destination resorts and restaurants, airports, and regional casinos. Our 60,000 employee associates are dedicated to creating special experiences one guest at a time in serving more than 500 million guests annually. Delaware North has annual revenue of about $3 billion in the sports, travel hospitality, restaurants and catering, parks, resorts, gaming, and specialty retail industries. Learn more about Delaware North at About Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks This press release is issued by Delaware North. For additional information on Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, please visit or contact Zach Behrens; Acting Public Affairs Specialist at zach_behrens(at)partner(dot) or 559-565-3131.

Holmquist J.G.,University of California at San Diego | Holmquist J.G.,University of California at Los Angeles | Schmidt-Gengenbach J.,University of California at San Diego | Schmidt-Gengenbach J.,University of California at Los Angeles | Haultain S.A.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Conclusions regarding disturbance effects in high elevation or high latitude ecosystems based solely on infrequent, long-term sampling may be misleading, because the long winters may erase severe, short-term impacts at the height of the abbreviated growing season. We separated a) long-term effects of pack stock grazing, manifested in early season prior to stock arrival, from b) additional pack stock grazing effects that might become apparent during annual stock grazing, by use of paired grazed and control wet meadows that we sampled at the beginning and end of subalpine growing seasons. Control meadows had been closed to grazing for at least two decades, and meadow pairs were distributed across Sequoia National Park, California, USA. The study was thus effectively a landscape-scale, long-term manipulation of wetland grazing. We sampled arthropods at these remote sites and collected data on associated vegetation structure. Litter cover and depth, percent bare ground, and soil strength had negative responses to grazing. In contrast, fauna showed little response to grazing, and there were overall negative effects for only three arthropod families. Mid-season and long-term results were generally congruent, and the only indications of lower faunal diversity on mid-season grazed wetlands were trends of lower abundance across morphospecies and lower diversity for canopy fauna across assemblage metrics. Treatment x Season interactions almost absent. Thus impacts on vegetation structure only minimally cascaded into the arthropod assemblage and were not greatly intensified during the annual growing season. Differences between years, which were likely a response to divergent snowfall patterns, were more important than differences between early and mid-season. Reliance on either vegetation or faunal metrics exclusively would have yielded different conclusions; using both flora and fauna served to provide a more integrative view of ecosystem response.

In the study, published online in the journal Chemosphere, scientists sampled for 57 compounds, including pesticides, in turtles, invertebrates, and sediments from three sites: Sequoia National Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and Six Rivers National Forest. None of the turtles at any of the sites carried pesticides currently in use, only those used in previous decades. However, both current pesticides and those used in the past were prominent in sediments and in the insects, snails and mollusks that turtles eat at Sequoia National Park, which is immediately downwind of Central Valley agriculture. Previous studies have linked pesticide use upwind of Sequoia National Park to the disappearance of a rare frog species, the foothill yellow-legged frog. Also, a 2013 study by this study's lead author Erik Meyer, a scientist with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, found that turtles in Sequoia National Park had signs of physiological impairment consistent with pesticide exposure. "Pesticides don't recognize boundaries," said co-author Brian Todd, a UC Davis associate professor of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. "Even though we think of National Parks as being protected from conservation threats like development, they're not immune from pesticides and global contaminants that cross park borders." Western pond turtles can be key indicators of exposure to environmental contaminants. They tend to acculumate contaminants due to their long life spans—they can live 50 years or more—and their generalist diets, making it easier for scientists to track a lifetime of exposure. Todd noted that while the research team studied nine common pesticides, there were nearly 900 active ingredients applied to agricultural lands in California during the study. The interactions of those ingredients are not well understood. "We need more information on how these compounds interact and how they affect non-target organisms," Todd said. "Then we can continue to refine the types of pesticides used so they have fewer and fewer unintended consequences." More information: Erik Meyer et al. Organic contaminants in western pond turtles in remote habitat in California, Chemosphere (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.03.128

Meyer E.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks | Meyer E.,California State University, Fresno | Sparling D.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | Blumenshine S.,California State University, Fresno
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2013

The present study investigated the potential effects of cholinesterase (ChE)-inhibiting pesticides on western pond turtles (Emys marmorata) occupying streams in two regions of California, USA. The southern region was suspected of having increased exposure to atmospheric deposition of contaminants originating from Central Valley agriculture. The northern region represented reference ChE activities because this area was located outside of the prominent wind patterns that deposit pesticides into the southern region. Total ChE activity was measured in plasma from a total of 81 turtles from both regions. Cholinesterase activity of turtles was significantly depressed by 31% (p=0.005) in the southern region after accounting for additional sources of variation in ChE activity. Male turtles had significantly increased ChE activity compared with females (p=0.054). Cloaca temperature, length, mass, handling time, body condition, and lymph presence were not significant predictors of turtle ChE activity. In the southern region, 6.3% of the turtles were below the diagnostic threshold of two standard deviations less than the reference site mean ChE activity. Another diagnostic threshold determined that 75% of the turtles from the southern region had ChE activities depressed by 20% of the reference mean. The decrease in ChE activity in the southern region suggests sublethal effects of pesticide exposure, potentially altering neurotransmission, which can result in various deleterious behaviors. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:692-698. © 2012 SETAC Copyright © 2012 SETAC.

Mazur R.L.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

Aversive conditioning (AC) has the potential to temporarily reduce conflicts between humans and black bears (Ursus americanus). From 2002 to 2005, I evaluated the effectiveness of projectiles with varying impact intensities, pepper spray, and chasing on approximately 150 bears in Sequoia National Park. Aversive conditioning was successful in keeping bears that were not food-conditioned from becoming food-conditioned. For the bears that were already food-conditioned, 17 of 29 bears subjected to AC abandoned unwanted behaviors, 6 required continual treatments, and 6 were killed or relocated. Success with food-conditioned bears was highest when AC was applied soon after bears obtained human food. Aversive conditioning was less successful on yearlings than adults. Rubber slugs were slightly more effective than lower impact projectiles. © 2010 The Wildlife Society.

Holmquist J.G.,University of California White Mountain Research Station | Schmidt-Gengenbach J.,University of California White Mountain Research Station | Haultain S.A.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Wetlands | Year: 2010

Pack stock are often used in mountain environments and are grazed in uplands and wetlands, particularly subalpine wet meadows. Effects of pack stock on wetland invertebrates are unknown. Sequoia National Park, (Sierra Nevada, USA), was an ideal location for the study of lasting stock impacts on fauna, because a) there was an 18- year database of stock usage, b) there were meadows with little grazing that could be contrasted with grazed meadows, c) there is a long winter with no stock use, and d) the start of grazing for each meadow is controlled, so we could sample after greenup but just before stock arrived. We could thus address persistent conditions produced by many years of stock use in isolation from any potential short term impacts. We sampled terrestrial arthropods in paired "grazed" and "ungrazed" meadows across the Park and collected associated vegetation data. We found some negative effects of grazing on vegetation structure, but few lasting negative or positive effects of long-term stock grazing on arthropods in these wetlands. Although it appears that pack stock do not cause lasting damage to this arthropod assemblage, the extent of impact at the height of the grazing season remains unknown. © Society of Wetland Scientists 2010.

Nesmith J.C.B.,University of California at Berkeley | Caprio A.C.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks | Pfaff A.H.,U.S. Geological Survey | McGinnis T.W.,U.S. Geological Survey | Keeley J.E.,U.S. Geological Survey
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2011

Current goals for prescription burning are focused on measures of fuel consumption and changes in forest density. These benchmarks, however, do not address the extent to which prescription burning meets perceived ecosystem needs of heterogeneity in burning, both for overstory trees and understory herbs and shrubs. There are still questions about how closely prescribed fires mimic these patterns compared to natural wildfires. This study compared burn patterns of prescribed fires and managed unplanned wildfires to understand how the differing burning regimes affect ecosystem properties. Measures of forest structure and fire severity were sampled in three recent prescribed fires and three wildfires managed for resource objectives in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Fine scale patterns of fire severity and heterogeneity were compared between fire types using ground-based measures of fire effects on fuels and overstory and understory vegetation. Prescribed fires and wildfires managed for resource objectives displayed similar patterns of overstory and understory fire severity, heterogeneity, and seedling and sapling survival. Variation among plots within the same fire was always greater than between fire types. Prescribed fires can provide burned landscapes that approximate natural fires in many ways. It is recognized that constraints placed on when wildfires managed for resource objectives are allowed to burn freely may bias the range of conditions that might have been experienced under more natural conditions. Therefore they may not exactly mimic natural wildfires. Overall, the similarity in fire effects that we observed between prescribed fires and managed wildfires indicate that despite the restrictions that are often placed on prescribed fires, they appear to be creating post-fire conditions that approximate natural fires when assessed on a fine spatial scale. © 2011.

Schwilk D.W.,Texas Tech University | Caprio A.C.,Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2011

1.Although species differ in flammability, identifying the traits that influence flammability and linking them to other axes of trait variation has yet to be accomplished. Leaf length may be a key trait influencing the flammability of leaf litter. 2.Differences in species composition across a landscape or changes in composition through time may alter fire behaviour. Forests in the Sierra Nevada of CA, USA, have experienced changes in species composition that have modified the distribution of leaf litter traits. 3.Across three independent data sets, at scales from a single watershed to multiple watersheds and elevations, we tested if mean community leaf length in patterns of fire severity. We used structural equation models to disentangle direct effects of site characteristics from the contribution of species composition. 4.Fire severity was greater at sites inhabited by species with longer leaves than at sites containing short-leaved species, probably as a result of lower litter density. The effect cannot be explained merely by the joint influence of site characteristics on both fire behaviour and species composition. 5.A significant portion of this pattern is driven by shifts in the abundance of Pinus species. In this system, pines are among the longest-leaved species and this makes it difficult to separate leaf-length effects from other possible flammability-enhancing characteristics of pines. Evidence from one data set, however, suggests that the pattern cannot be entirely explained by proportion of pines alone. 6.Synthesis. We demonstrate that a simple integration of a species trait predicts fire severity at landscape scales. This provides a link between the two scales at which most previous work has occurred: species-specific measurements of traits and landscape-level characterisation of fuel loads. Investigations of trait effects on fire behaviour are important because climate change may lead to novel climates and no-analogue species assemblages. In this ecosystem, shorter-leaved species, which have increased in density during the period of fire exclusion, may act as a positive feedback by reducing fire severity and thereby favouring their own establishment. Conversely, restoration of fire to these forests, by increasing the dominance of long-leaved species, may increase flammable fuels. © 2011 British Ecological Society. No claim to original US government works.

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