Outdoor News: hiking area in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is on fire—again

Delaware Water Gap as seen from Mt. Tammany, New Jersey side – Photo from Getty Images

A popular hiking area in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is on fire—again

A forest fire erupted on Sunday on Mt. Tammany in Hardwick Township, New Jersey, near the Pennsylvania border, in the same area where 80 acres burned in February. “We have a reported fire at the intersection of the Pahaquarry (formerly Blue Dot) and Mt. Tammany trails,” Worthington State Forest said in a Facebook post. “At this time these trails are CLOSED to allow emergency services to investigate.” 

By 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, the fire on Mt. Tammany had burned about 1 acre and was considered 90% contained. Hiking trails are expected to remain closed through Monday and the public is asked to avoid the area. Eleven firefighters from the National Park Service and the New Jersey State Forest Fire Service responded to the blaze. 

Trails and dispersed camping reopens in Pisgah National Forest

After a month-long closure, many trails and roads in Pisgah National Forest reopened last week. Restrictions on dispersed camping have also been lifted on a site-by-site approach, which includes assessment of facility cleanliness, maintenance status, and health and safety of recreation areas, the U.S. Forest Service said in a press release

Restrictions on dispersed camping for the entire Appalachian Ranger District are lifted, as are restrictions for the Grandfather Ranger District, with the exception of overnight camping within Linville Gorge Wilderness Areas on the weekends. 

Popular recreation areas that are now reopen include Catawba Falls, Brown Mountain Off Highway Vehicle Area, Black Balsam Road and trails and Bent Creek Road and most trails and trailheads. Restrooms will remain closed and trash service is still suspended. Visitors are asked to pack out their garbage. 

Need a laugh? Check out the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Nature provides us with endless benefits—and sometimes that includes a good chuckle. Case in point: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, which are open for submission through June 30. “There are two important parts to this competition,” the founders of the awards say on the competition’s website. “Firstly, it exists to recognize great photography, and more importantly great photography that has captured a wild animal doing something so funny that makes us snort into our cup of tea.” The competition is trying to raise the issue of conservation, “through humorous, upbeat and positive association with these animals,” the website says. 

The overall winner of the comedy wildlife photography competition receives a trophy, a one-week safari in Kenya and a Nikon camera. Category winners are also awarded prizes. If you’ve got a great shot you can enter it into the competition, or just sit tight and wait to see what this year’s winning snap will be. 

Georgia needs help tracking invasive 4-foot long lizards

Georgia officials are asking for the public’s help to track an invasive lizard that threatens some of the state’s native wildlife. The Argentine black and white tegus can grow up to 4 feet long and feasts on the eggs of ground-nesting birds and other reptiles, like the protected American alligator and gopher tortoise.

Biologists believe the lizards are in Toombs and Tattnall counties. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation department is asking the public to report any sightings of the reptile to assist efforts to track and eradicate it. For more information about the lizard and ways to report sightings, visit the Georgia DNR website

Yellowstone was closed, but a woman fell into a thermal feature there anyway

A woman illegally visiting Yellowstone National Park while it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic fell into a thermal feature and suffered burns, officials said Tuesday. Park spokesperson Linda Veress told ABC News in an email that the woman was backing up while taking photos and fell into a hot spring or hole where hot gases emerge near Old Faithful geyser. 

Despite her injuries, the woman drove for 50 miles before she was pulled over by park rangers. She was then flown to a hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Yellowstone has been closed since March 24, but a phased reopening will begin on May 18. At that time, the park will be limited to day-use only.

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