The muskrat is found in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats. It has important effects on the ecology of wetlands, and is a resource of food, the muskrat is the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae, which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings. Muskrats are referred to as rats in a sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle. They are not, members of the genus Rattus, the muskrats name probably comes from a word of Algonquian origin, muscascus, or from the Abenaki native word mòskwas, as seen in the archaic English name for the animal, musquash. Similarly, its specific name zibethicus means ‘musky’, being the adjective of zibethus ‘civet musk, the genus name comes from the Huron word for the animal and entered New Latin as Ondatra via French. An adult muskrat is about 40–70 cm long, half of that is the tail, Muskrats are much smaller than beavers, with which they often share their habitat. Muskrats are covered with short, thick fur which is medium to dark brown or black in color, with the belly a bit lighter, as the age increases, the fur has two layers, which helps protect them from the cold water.
They have long tails covered with rather than hair, and to aid them in swimming, are slightly flattened vertically. When they walk on land, their tails drag on the ground, Muskrats spend much of their time in the water and are well suited for their semiaquatic life. They can swim under water for 12 to 17 minutes and their bodies, like those of seals and whales, are less sensitive to the buildup of carbon dioxide than those of most other mammals. They can close off their ears to keep the water out and their hind feet are semiwebbed, although in swimming, their tails are their main means of propulsion. Muskrats are found over most of Canada and the United States and they were introduced to Europe in the beginning of the 20th century and have become an invasive species in northwestern Europe. They mostly inhabit wetlands, areas in or near saline and freshwater wetlands, rivers and they are not found in Florida, where the round-tailed muskrat, or Florida water rat, fills their niche. Their populations naturally cycle, in areas where they become abundant and they are thought to play a major role in determining the vegetation of prairie wetlands in particular.
They selectively remove preferred plant species, thereby changing the abundance of plant species in many kinds of wetlands, species commonly eaten include cattail and yellow water lily. Alligators are thought to be an important natural predator, and the absence of muskrats from Florida may in part be the result of alligator predation and they are able to live alongside streams which contain the sulfurous water that drains away from coal mines. Fish and frogs perish in such streams, yet muskrats may thrive, Muskrats benefit from human persecution of some of their predators. The muskrat is classed as a new organism under New Zealands Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a national park spanning portions of Tuolumne and Madera counties in Northern California. The park, which is managed by the National Park Service, on average, about 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. The park set a record in 2016, surpassing 5 million visitors for the first time in its history. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness, Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. First, Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has a range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet and contains five major vegetation zones, chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone. Of Californias 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada, there is suitable habitat for more than 160 rare plants in the park, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.
The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granitic rocks, about 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, about one million years ago and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet during the early glacial episode, the downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today. The name Yosemite originally referred to the name of a tribe which was driven out of the area by the Mariposa Battalion. Before the area was called Ahwahnee by indigenous people, as revealed by archeological finds, the Yosemite Valley has been inhabited for nearly 3,000 years, though humans may have first visited the area as long as 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.
The indigenous natives called themselves the Ahwahneechee, meaning dwellers in Ahwahnee and they are related to the Northern Paiute and Mono tribes. Many tribes visited the area to trade, including nearby Central Sierra Miwoks, a major trading route went over Mono Pass and through Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake, just to the east of the Yosemite area. Vegetation and game in the region were similar to that present today, acorns were a staple to their diet, as well as seeds and plants, salmon. In 1851 as part of the Mariposa Wars intended to suppress Native American resistance and he was pursuing forces of around 200 Ahwahneechee led by Chief Tenaya. Accounts from this battalion were the first well-documented reports of ethnic Europeans entering Yosemite Valley, attached to Savages unit was Dr. Lafayette Bunnell, the company physician, who wrote about his awestruck impressions of the valley in The Discovery of the Yosemite. Bunnell is credited with naming Yosemite Valley, based on his interviews with Chief Tenaya, Bunnell wrote that Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Pai-Ute Colony of Ah-wah-nee
Most species are known as willow, but some narrow-leaved shrub species are called osier, and some broader-leaved species are referred to as sallow. Some willows are low-growing or creeping shrubs, for example, the dwarf willow rarely exceeds 6 cm in height, though it spreads widely across the ground. Willows all have abundant watery bark sap, which is charged with salicylic acid, usually pliant, tough wood, slender branches. The roots are remarkable for their toughness and tenacity to life, the leaves are typically elongated, but may be round to oval, frequently with serrated edges. Most species are deciduous, semievergreen willows with coriaceous leaves are rare, e. g. Salix micans, all the buds are lateral, no absolutely terminal bud is ever formed. The buds are covered by a single scale, the bud scale is fused into a cap-like shape, but in some species it wraps around and the edges overlap. The leaves are simple, feather-veined, and typically linear-lanceolate, usually they are serrate, rounded at base, acute or acuminate.
The leaf petioles are short, the often very conspicuous, resembling tiny, round leaves. On some species, they are small, inconspicuous, in color, the leaves show a great variety of greens, ranging from yellowish to bluish. Willows are dioecious, with male and female flowers appearing as catkins on separate plants and this scale is square and very hairy. The anthers are rose-colored in the bud, but orange or purple after the flower opens, they are two-celled, the filaments are threadlike, usually pale brown, and often bald. The ovary is one-celled, the style two-lobed, and the ovules numerous, almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings or where broken branches lie on the ground. The few exceptions include the willow and peachleaf willow. One famous example of such growth from cuttings involves the poet Alexander Pope and this twig was planted and thrived, and legend has it that all of Englands weeping willows are descended from this first one. Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots may protect the bank against the action of the water, the roots are much larger than the stem which grows from them.
Willows are very cross-compatible, and numerous hybrids occur, both naturally and in cultivation, a well-known ornamental example is the weeping willow, which is a hybrid of Peking willow from China and white willow from Europe. The hybrid cultivar Boydii has gained the Royal Horticultural Societys Award of Garden Merit, Willows are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as the mourning cloak butterfly. Ants, such as ants, are common on willows inhabited by aphids, coming to collect aphid honeydew
Walnut trees are any species of tree in the plant genus Juglans, the type genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are referred to as walnuts. The common name derives from Old English wealhhnutu, literally foreign nut, because it was introduced from Gaul. The Latin name for the walnut was nux Gallica, Gallic nut, the generic name comes from Latin jūglans, meaning walnut, walnut tree, jūglans in turn is a contraction of Jōvis glans, nut of Jupiter. Tradition has it that a tree should be beaten. The old saying runs, A woman, a dog and a tree, the harder theyre beaten. The saying is believed to originate from the mainland European practice of harvesting by beating with long poles and this would have the added benefits of removing dead wood and stimulating shoot formation. The two most commercially important species are J. regia for timber and nuts, and J. nigra for timber, both species have similar cultivation requirements and are widely grown in temperate zones. Walnuts are light-demanding species that benefit from protection from wind, walnuts are very hardy against drought.
Interplanting walnut plantations with a nitrogen fixing plant, such as Elaeagnus × ebbingei or Elaeagnus umbellata, many different cultivars are available for growers, and offer different growth habits and leafing, kernel flavours and shell thicknesses. A key trait for more northerly latitudes of North America and Europe is phenology, some cultivars have been developed for novel ‘hedge’ production systems developed in Europe and would not suit more traditional orchard systems. The leaves and blossoms of the walnut tree normally appear in spring, the male cylindrical catkins are developed from leafless shoots from the past year, they are about 10 cm in length and have a large number of little flowers. Female flowers appear in a cluster at the peak of the current year’s leafy shoots. The fruits of the walnut are a type of fruit known as a pseudodrupe. The nut kernels of all the species are edible, but the walnuts most commonly traded are from the J. regia, J. nigra kernels are produced commercially in the US.
Of the more than 30 varieties of J. regia grown there, however, trees grafted on these rootstocks often succumb to black line. In some countries, immature nuts in their husks are preserved in vinegar, in the UK, these are called pickled walnuts and this is one of the major uses for fresh nuts from the small scale plantings. In Armenian cuisine, unripe walnuts, including husks, are preserved in sugar syrup, in Italy, liqueurs called Nocino and Nocello are flavoured with walnuts, while Salsa di Noci is a pasta sauce originating from Liguria. In Georgia, walnuts are ground with other ingredients to make walnut sauce, walnuts are heavily used in India
North American river otter
The North American river otter, known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg, the river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. The river otter, a member of the subfamily Lutrinae in the family, is equally versatile in the water. It establishes a close to the waters edge in river, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat. The den typically has many openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter. Female otters give birth in these burrows, producing litters of one to six young. North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species, fish is a favored food among the otters, but they consume various amphibians, freshwater clams, snails, small turtles and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported as well, the range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America.
In some regions, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts, River otters are very susceptible to the effects of environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers. A number of projects have been initiated to help stabilize the reduction in the overall population. The North American river otter was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1777. The mammal was identified as a species of otter and has a variety of names, including North American river otter, northern river otter, common otter and, simply. Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, the river otter was first classified in the genus Lutra, Lutra was the early European name. The species name was Lutra canadensis, the species epithet canadensis means of Canada. In a new classification, the species is called Lontra canadensis, molecular biological techniques have been used to determine when the river otter and the giant otter of South America diverged.
These analyses suggest they diverged in the Miocene epoch 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago, which is much earlier than indicated in the fossil record. Fossils of a giant river otter dating back 3.5 Mya have been found in the US Midwest, the earliest known fossil of Lontra canadensis, found in the US Midwest, is from the Irvingtonian stage. The oldest fossil record of an Old World river otter comes from the late Pliocene epoch
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the sub-national level within those nations which use state as a political subdivision. State parks are established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest. There are state parks under the administration of the government of each U. S. state, some of the Mexican states, the term is used in the Australian state of Victoria. The equivalent term used in Canada, South Africa, similar systems of local government maintained parks exist in other countries, but the terminology varies. State parks are thus similar to parks, but under state rather than federal administration. Similarly, local government entities below state level may maintain parks, in general, state parks are smaller than national parks, with a few exceptions such as the Adirondack Park in New York and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California. As of 2014, there were 10,234 state park units in the United States, there are some 739 million annual visits to the countrys state parks.
The NASPD further counts over 43,000 miles of trail,217,367 campsites, many states include designations beyond state park in their state parks systems. Other designations might be state recreation areas, state beaches, some state park systems include long-distance trails and historic sites. The title of oldest state park in the United States is claimed by Niagara Falls State Park in New York, however several public parks previously or currently maintained at the state level pre-date it. Indian Springs State Park has been operated continuously by the state of Georgia as a park since 1825. In 1864 Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove were ceded by the government to California until Yosemite National Park was proclaimed in 1890. In 1878 Wisconsin set aside a vast swath of its forests as The State Park but, needing money. The first state park with the designation of state park was Mackinac Island State Park in 1895, list of U. S. state parks National Association of State Park Directors Wilderness preservation systems in the United States Ahlgren, Carol.
The Civilian Conservation Corps and Wisconsin State Park Development, the State Park Movement in America, A Critical Review excerpt and text search Larson, Zeb. Silver Falls State Park and the Early Environmental Movement, oregon Historical Quarterly 112#1 pp, 34-57 in JSTOR Newton, Norman T. When Forests Trumped Parks, The Maryland Experience, 1906-1950, Maryland Historical Magazine 101#2 pp, 203-224
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, in the United States. It was established on September 25,1890, the park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park, the two are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. They were designated the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976, the park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Parks General Grant Grove, the parks giant sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Indeed, the preserve a landscape that still resembles the southern Sierra Nevada before Euro-American settlement. Many park visitors enter Sequoia National Park through its entrance near the town of Three Rivers at Ash Mountain at 1,700 ft elevation.
The last California grizzly was killed in this park in 1922, the California Black Oak is a key transition species between the chaparral and higher elevation conifer forest. At higher elevations in the front country, between 5,500 and 9,000 feet in elevation, the landscape becomes montane forest-dominated coniferous belt, found here are Ponderosa, Jeffrey and lodgepole pine trees, as well as abundant white and red fir. Found here too are the giant sequoia trees, the most massive living single-stem trees on earth, between the trees and summer snowmelts sometimes fan out to form lush, though delicate, meadows. In this region, visitors often see deer, Douglas squirrels, and American black bears. There are plans to reintroduce the bighorn sheep to this park, the vast majority of the park is roadless wilderness, no road crosses the Sierra Nevada within the parks boundaries. 84 percent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is designated wilderness and is only by foot or by horseback. Sequoias backcountry offers a vast expanse of high-alpine wonders, covering the highest-elevation region of the High Sierra, the backcountry includes Mount Whitney on the eastern border of the park, accessible from the Giant Forest via the High Sierra Trail.
On the floor of canyon, at least two days hike from the nearest road, is the Kern Canyon hot spring, a popular resting point for weary backpackers. From the floor of Kern Canyon, the trail ascends again over 8,000 ft to the summit of Mount Whitney, in the summertime, Native Americans would travel over the high mountain passes to trade with tribes to the East. By the time the first European settlers arrived in the area, smallpox had spread to the region. The first European settler to homestead in the area was Hale Tharp, Tharp allowed his cattle to graze the meadow, but at the same time had a respect for the grandeur of the forest and led early battles against logging in the area
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California. Declared a U. S. National Park in 1994 when the U. S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act and it is named for the Joshua trees native to the park. It covers a area of 790,636 acres —an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. A large part of the park, some 429,690 acres, is a wilderness area. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park, in 1950, the size of the park was reduced by about 265,000 acres to exclude some mining property. The park was elevated to a National Park on 31 October 1994 by the Desert Protection Act, the higher and cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of Yucca brevifolia, the Joshua tree for which the park is named. It occurs in patterns from dense forests to distantly spaced specimens, in addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in Californias deserts. The dominant geologic features of landscape are hills of bare rock.
These hills are popular amongst rock climbing and scrambling enthusiasts, the flatland between these hills is sparsely forested with Joshua trees. Together with the piles and Skull Rock, the trees make the landscape otherworldly. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high/low of 85 and 50 °F respectively, winter brings cooler days, around 60 °F, and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations, summers are hot, over 100 °F during the day and not cooling much below 75 °F until the early hours of the morning. Joshua trees dominate the open spaces of the park, but in among the outcroppings are piñon pine, California juniper, Quercus turbinella, Quercus john-tuckeri. These communities are under stress, however, as the climate was wetter until the 1930s, with the same hot. These cycles were nothing new, but the vegetation did not prosper when wetter cycles returned. The difference may have been human development, cattle grazing took out some of the natural cover and made it less resistant to the changes.
But the bigger problem seems to be invasive species, such as cheatgrass, in drier times, they die back, but do not quickly decompose. This makes wildfires hotter and more destructive, which some of the trees that would have otherwise survived
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is a 71, 028-acre park preserve located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, California. As a national seashore, it is maintained by the US National Park Service as an important nature preserve, some existing agricultural uses are allowed to continue within the park. All of the beaches were listed as the cleanest in the state in 2010. The fact that the peninsula is on a different tectonic plate than the east shore of Tomales Bay produces a difference in soils and therefore to some extent a noticeable difference in vegetation. The even smaller town of Olema, about 3 miles south of Point Reyes Station, serves as the gateway to the Seashore and its visitor center, the peninsula includes wild coastal beaches and headlands and uplands. The Seashore administers the parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation area, such as the Olema Valley, the northernmost part of the peninsula is maintained as a reserve for Tule Elk, which are readily seen there. The preserve is very rich in raptors and shorebirds.
The Point Reyes Lighthouse attracts whale-watchers looking for the Gray Whale migrating south in mid-January, the Point Reyes Lifeboat Station is a National Historic Landmark. It is the last remaining example of a rail launched lifeboat station that was common on the Pacific coast and this encompasses 5,965 acres along the coast of Drakes Bay. Kule Loklo, a recreated Coast Miwok village, is a walk from the visitor center. The Point Reyes National Seashore attracts 2.5 million visitors annually, hostelling International USA maintains a 45-bed youth hostel at the Seashore. Point Reyes National Seashore Association, formed in 1964, collaborates with the Seashore on maintenance, like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems. A large shellfish farm raising Japanese oysters, Crassostrea gigas, was located in Drakes Estero until, under court order, Court appeals to keep the operation in place were dropped in December,2014. The farm was purchased by the National Park Service in 1972, a federal law enacted in 2009 authorized, but did not require, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to renew the permit.
The NPS and conservation groups viewed the farm as an inappropriate and environmentally-insensitive use of the estero, the farms supporters argued that it was not ecologically harmful and was important to the local economy. Salazar visited the farm the previous week and phoned the farms owner to give him the news. The oyster farm closure was challenged in U. S. District Court on January 25,2013, the challenge was rejected by a federal court judge, who ruled that the law gave Salazar unfettered discretion to approve or deny a renewal of the permit. The California Coastal Commission voted on February 7,2013 to unanimously approve cease and desist, an attempt to have the appeals court rehear the case was rejected on January 14,2014 and a petition to the United States Supreme Court was denied on June 30,2014
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a national park in the United States. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, located east of the Sierra Nevada, the park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, valleys and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has declared an International Biosphere Reserve. Approximately 91% of the park is a wilderness area. It is the hottest and lowest of the parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, the park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep and the Death Valley pupfish, several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams, the valley became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies.
Tourism blossomed in the 1920s, when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994. The natural environment of the area has been shaped largely by its geology, the valley itself is actually a graben. The oldest rocks are metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean, additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. This uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes, the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, in 2013, Death Valley National Park was designated as a dark sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association. There are two valleys in the park, Death Valley and Panamint Valley. Both of these valleys were formed within the last few million years, the result of this shearing action is additional extension in the central part of Death Valley which causes a slight widening and more subsidence there.
Uplift of surrounding mountain ranges and subsidence of the floor are both occurring. The uplift on the Black Mountains is so fast that the fans there are small
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California. The park was established in 1940 and covers 461,901 acres and it incorporated General Grant National Park, established in 1890 to protect the General Grant Grove of giant sequoias. The park is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park and they were designated the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976. Humans have inhabited the area for thousands of years, the first Native Americans in the area were Paiute peoples, who moved into the region from their ancestral home east of Mono Lake. The Paiute Nation people used deer and other animals for food. They created trade routes that extended down the slope of the Sierra into the Owens Valley. Kings Canyon had been known to white settlers since the mid-19th century, United States Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes fought to create the Kings Canyon National Park. He hired Ansel Adams to photograph and document this among other parks, the bill combined the General Grant Grove with the backcountry beyond Zumwalt Meadow.
Kings Canyons future was in doubt for nearly fifty years, some wanted to build a dam at the western end of the valley, while others wanted to preserve it as a park. The debate was settled in 1965, when the valley, along with Tehipite Valley, was added to the park, Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections. The parks Giant Sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and this section of the park is mostly mixed conifer forest, and is readily accessible via paved highways. Both the South and Middle Forks of the Kings Rivers have extensive glacial canyons, one portion of the South Fork canyon, known as the Kings Canyon, gives the entire park its name. Kings Canyon, with a depth of 8,200 feet, is one of the deepest canyons in the United States. The canyon was carved by glaciers out of granite, the Kings Canyon, and its developed area, Cedar Grove, is the only portion of the main part of the park that is accessible by motor vehicle. Both the Kings Canyon and its Middle Fork twin, Tehipite Valley, are deeply incised, U-shaped glacial gorges with relatively flat floors and towering granite cliffs thousands of feet high.
In addition, the canyon has several systems, one of which is Boyden Cave. To the east of the canyons are the peaks of the Sierra Crest, which attain an elevation of 14,248 feet NAVD88 at the summit of North Palisade. This is classic high Sierra country, barren ridges and glacially scoured lake-filled basins