Outdoor Updates: Special Algae Creates Pink Snow in Yosemite

Watermelon snow is a thing and it’s happening now in Yosemite National Park

Pink snow with an adorable name (watermelon snow!) is a somewhat common occurrence in Yosemite National Park and it’s happening now in parts of the park with elevations over 9,500 feet. The colorful snow is a natural phenomenon caused by Chlamydomonas nivalis algae that lives on the snow and thrives in freezing temperatures.

According to a Yosemite National Park Facebook post, Chlamydomonas nivalis algae is green but the snow appears pink or red because the algae contains a special pigment that shields its chlorophyll like a sunscreen to protect against too much heat and UV radiation. The pigment dyes the surrounding area a darker color, giving the effect of a pink or red snow field, allowing the snow to heat up faster and melt more quickly.

Blue Ridge Parkway tree killed by vandalism, such incidents are on the rise

The Asheville Citizen Times reports that a tulip poplar living along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Rattlesnake Lodge Trailhead has been cut down after vandals lethally damaged the tree by ripping large sheets of bark off of its trunk. When large amounts of bark are removed from a tree the tree often dies from damage to the tissue underneath that carries nutrients from the leaves to the roots, the Citizen Times reports. Because this tree was vandalized on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the vandalism is considered a federal crime.

In late July, a similar crime was committed when three tulip poplars at North Carolina’s Alexander River Park had large pieces of barked removed. The bark is often harvested for high-end furniture, design finishes and craft projects. Anyone witnessing vandalism of natural resources is encouraged to report the crime to park rangers or the Buncombe County Crime Stoppers. 

Poll shows most Americans want Congress to dedicate funding to national parks deferred maintenance

A recent poll commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trust shows that more than 4 out of 5 U.S. voters strongly support a proposal to dedicate oil and gas leasing fees on public lands to fund the backlog of repairs needed in national parks. Support for this proposal is higher than it was in a poll conducted last year (82% polled fully support the plan this year vs. 76% last year.)

The voters polled also overwhelmingly stated that addressing deferred maintenance projects in the national parks was important to them personally. This was true regardless of gender, political affiliation or demographics. Even voters who had never visited a national park site deemed these projects vitally important.

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