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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, July 30, 2012

Capitol Reef Celebrates 75th Anniversary, Offers Fresh Fruit, Works To Protect Rare Cacti

Capitol Reef was proclaimed a national park by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on August 2, 1937. Anniversary activities will take place during the next few days. This park news release has details. Here's a quote:
The park and Capitol Reef Natural History Association are teaming up to celebrate this noteworthy milestone August 2-4, 2012 with special events and activities including cultural demonstrations, interpretive programs, live music and a cowboy cookout. A complete schedule of events will be available two weeks prior. Scheduled activities include:

Fruit Harvest
The historic orchards in Capitol Reef produce many kinds of fruit, which is available for public consumption. Summer apples are now in season and peaches will soon be coming on. The fruit is available for purchase at $1 per pound.

Current information about the fruit harvest is available on a recorded Fruit Hotline, updated as specific harvest start dates are determined or orchards are close. The fruit hotline may be reached by calling (435) 425-3791.

See this news release for more information about the fruit harvest.

Rare Plants
Several species of rare and endangered plants live within the boundaries of Capitol Reef National Park. The park is working to formulate reasonable regulations to protect the plants while also allowing public recreation and other activities.

The two efforts sometimes produce conflicts. The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about efforts to protect endangered cacti while also stopping some visitors who want to dig up plants or harvest seeds. Here are excerpts from the article.

Capitol Reef is a unique north-south twist of sandstone uplifts that catch varied amounts of sunlight and moisture to create microhabitats for dozens of rare plants. The Winkler cactus, like the similar-looking Wright fish hook cactus that also is poached from the park, is one of seven park plants protected under the Endangered Species Act.

...That first dilemma, about public enjoyment, pains the park staff. Occasionally somebody in the know will approach a ranger asking help locating a cactus in flower season. They generally won’t help. "It bums me out," Worthington said, because displaying unique natural phenomena is what national parks are all about.

"It’s too bad," park biologist Sandy Borthwick said, "because they would love to see them. If they stumble on them by themselves, that’s great. But we don’t really want to direct them."

Rangers have positioned remote motion detectors, automatic cameras and highly sensitive seismic detectors in the brush around some cactus beds. Even with that help, it’s tough duty for five rangers policing a 70-mile-long backcountry park with 670,000 annual visitors. "I just don’t have the resources," Brown said.

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