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Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

The Newsletter of Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

YOUR AMERICAN WEST PARKS Meet a Navajo Weaver Hurricane Harvey

EVENTS San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Tumacรกcori National Historical Park

PRODUCTS The National Park Express See America First

Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Fort Union National Monument (courtesy of Jeffrey M. Frank, Shutterstock)

Table of Contents Letter from the Executive Director.........................................................................3 Special Recognition & Community Partners.......................................................4

WNPA Wins “Outstanding Non-profit Award”..........................................4

A Look Back............................................................................................................5

Meet a Navajo Weaver.......................................................................................5

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site...........................................................6

Featured Events & Activities.....................................................................................7 People & Happenings..................................................................................................9 New & Notable Releases......................................................................................... 12 In the Parks................................................................................................................... 13 Social Media Corner.................................................................................................. 16 Membership Matters............................................................................................... 17 All photographs courtesy of WNPA unless otherwise credited

Cover image: Timpanogos Cave National Monument (courtesy of Johnny Adolphson, Shutterstock)


Board of Directors James E. Cook Executive Director Nancy R. Laney Chair Les Corey Vice Chair Linda Harvey Secretary-Treasurer Gerard Baker Laura Brown Gary Davis Dennis Hernandez Marco Hernandez Julia Jenness Tsianina Lomawaima

Letter from the Executive Director Western National Parks Association (WNPA) got its start on July 22, 1938 in Frank “Boss” Pinkley’s garden near Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. As we look forward to the future and celebrating our milestone 80th birthday, we are also taking time to reflect on our beginnings and how we have grown and changed over the years. More importantly, we are looking for new ways to serve our parks, park visitors, and supporters while working to ensure that national parks are a priority for everyone. As we consider where we have been and where we are going, I want to thank you for your support of the national parks and all that WNPA is about: preserving the beauty and cultural significance of our parks for current and future generations. Please celebrate with us by visiting a park, learning something new, and helping us continue the WNPA legacy for the next 80 years—and beyond.

James E. Cook

Executive Director

Ernest Quintana Carol Schwalbe Dr. William Shaw Robert Shopneck Kim Sikoryak May Tran Patel Dr. Beth Vershure

Details Western National Parks Association (WNPA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, serving more than 70 national parks in the western United States. The home office and The National Parks Store are located at 12880 N Vistoso Village Drive, Tucson, AZ 85755. Learn more by contacting or visiting


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Special Recognition & Community Partners

Community Partners

Bon Voyage Travel CliftonLarsonAllen The Mahoney Group

Special Recognition: The G2 Gallery


We are pleased to recognize community partner The G2 Gallery. Under the guidance of its founders, Dan and Susan Gottlieb, The G2 Gallery brings attention to environmental issues by showcasing the world’s most celebrated outdoor photographers and donating its net proceeds to environmental organizations. This awardwinning gallery carries its message to the public by presenting an illuminating range of exhibits along with informative lectures, film screenings, and special events held in partnership with organizations like WNPA. WNPA has been a beneficiary of The G2 Gallery’s generosity since 2014. “We have been so grateful to The G2 Gallery for all its support,” said WNPA Executive Director James Cook. This exceptional gallery has collaborated with WNPA on many projects, including Earth Month exhibits, National Park Service (NPS) Centennial exhibits, and a film festival.


Enchantment Resort Holualoa Companies Impact Photographics Sunday Afternoons

WNPA Wins “Outstanding Non-profit Award” We’re feeling proud! WNPA was given the Pinnacle award for Outstanding Non-profit by the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce in late August. Executive Director James Cook was present to accept the award on behalf of the entire organization. “All of us at WNPA are so honored by this award. We thank the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce for its recognition and for the great work they do in our community,” said Cook.

James Cook and Linda Harvey with award


A Look Back: WNPA’s Beginnings As WNPA prepares to celebrate its 80th birthday, let’s take a look back at how it got its start. In the 1930s, the National Park Service (NPS) was in its second decade. Visitation was increasing as more people understood the importance of national parks, but NPS realized that something was missing: there was a distinct lack of interpretive products (books, signage, and the like) to help visitors make lasting connections with the cultural and historical significance of the parks. During several after-work “garden sessions” in the garden of Frank “Boss” Pinkley, superintendent of the Southwest National Monuments Group, NPS employees from Casa Grande Ruins National Monument met to discuss this gap. Though Pinkley was initially reluctant to establish a cooperating association to assist parks of the area, Junior Park Naturalist Dale King persuaded him. In 1938, 34 contributors gave $234.50 to fund the creation of Southwest Monuments Association (SMA). At its inception, it served 18 park units. Over the years, SMA was renamed Southwest Parks & Monuments Association (SPMA), and in 2002 it became WNPA. We have grown to serve more than 70 parks in 12 states—lots of growth in the past eight decades!

Boss Pinkley (far left) with Casa Grande Ruins National Monument staff, 1933 (courtesy of NPS)

Meet a Navajo Weaver: Tonita Yazzie The Navajo are known for their exquisite handwoven rugs. Tonita Yazzie, a Navajo weaver whose rugs are sold at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, has been practicing this craft since she was a young girl of seven, learning through observation. “I used to watch my mom and my sisters weave, and . . . got interested in it,” says Yazzie. Though she began with simple stripes, today Yazzie prefers the intricate Tree of Life Bird design for her rugs. “It has a lot of meaning to it,” she explains. “The colors and the design tell a story.”With a long and significant history, Navajo weaving is not only an art form, but also a way of life for many weavers. Weaving is passed down from family member to family member; Yazzie learned to weave from her mother, and she taught her 13-year-old daughter to weave as well. Yazzie’s daughter’s rugs are also sold at Hubbell. Yazzie says that weaving makes her think about her family and the tradition and culture involved, and she sometimes prays while weaving. When asked what she’d like people to know about Navajo weaving, Yazzie said, “It’s a heritage . . . and that’s something that’s valued, to hold on to.”


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Carlotta and Eugene O' Neill in France, circa 1928 (courtesy of Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site)

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site: Why the Mystery?

The exact address of Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site is not published by the National Park Service, but the former home of famed American playwright Eugene O’Neill lies somewhere on Kuss Road in Danville, California. This gated site is accessible only by a free shuttle from Danville, and reservations must be made in advance. But why all the secrecy? As a public land, why is it shrouded in mystery? To understand, a bit of background about its namesake is needed. Eugene O’Neill is considered by many to be the father of American drama, and is the only American playwright to receive a Nobel Prize for his work. Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site preserves a small fraction of the 158 acres that O’Neill and his wife Carlotta purchased in the mid-1930s. Today, it is a triangular tract of land encompassing 13 acres and the famed Tao (pronounced “dow”) House that was home to Eugene and Carlotta O’Neill from 1937 to 1944.

The O’Neills chose the site of the house specifically for the privacy and refuge it could offer; nestled in the hills of the San Francisco Bay Area, the land and Tao House were far from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was in Tao House that O’Neill wrote some of his most famous plays: The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (for which he posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957), Hughie, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. Today, the seclusion of the site—from the unpublished address to the use of shuttles—is a deliberate choice to keep the site as peaceful and serene as its former owners intended. Tao House was, and still is, a quiet place of escape for those wishing to leave behind the hectic pace of modern life. In partnership with the Eugene O’Neill Foundation, the site produces plays throughout the year, both to honor the famous playwright and to keep his legacy of creativity alive. Though some forethought and planning is required to visit Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, the peace and solitude one can find there surely makes this gem of the National Park Service well worth the effort.


Featured Events & Activities San Antonio Missions Mexican Art Show & Sale Friday, October 13–Sunday, October 15, 9 AM–5 PM each day San José Visitor Center 6701 San José Dr. San Antonio, TX 78210 San Antonio Missions National Historical Park will be hosting a Mexican art show and sale at the Mission San José visitor center. Browse the gorgeous works of art, purchase authentic handcrafted items, and see demonstrations of pottery forming, bead shaping, and painting. Acclaimed Mata Ortiz master potter Jorge Quintana will be in attendance and giving demonstrations of his intricate painting techniques. For more information, visit saan/planyourvisit/calendar.htm

Hubbell Trading Post at El Camino Real Trade Fair Saturday, October 14, 10 AM–4 PM Gutierrez-Hubbell House 6029 Isleta Blvd. SW Albuquerque, NM 87105 Experience life along El Camino Real at this trade fair event at Gutierrez-Hubbell House, the childhood home of John Lorenzo Hubbell. Activities include weaving demonstrations, historical reenactments, educational sessions, and more. Hubbell Trading Post trader Edison Eskeets will host a trunk show of rugs and jewelry from Hubbell and give a rug talk at 11 AM. For more information, visit www.bernco. gov/community-services/el-camino-real-trade-fair.aspx

Celebración de la Cosecha (Harvest Party) Sunday, October 22, 11 AM–1 PM Tumacácori National Historical Park 1891 East Frontage Rd. Tumacácori, AZ 85640 Celebrate the harvesting of fruits cultivated within the mission garden and orchard at Tumacácori National Historical Park. Walk the grounds, visit the garden and orchard, enjoy presentations and demonstrations, and sample foods during your visit. Normal park entrance fee applies ($5 per person for ages 16 and up). For more information, call 520-377-5060 or visit


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Thursday, November 2, 4 PM–8 PM Tumacácori National Historical Park 1891 East Frontage Rd. Tumacácori, AZ 85640 Celebrate Day of the Dead with traditional festivities, including music, food, games, and treats for kids. Leave an offering on the community ofrenda (altar) to honor those who have died. Entrance to the park is free for this event. For more information, call 520-377-5060 or visit www.

Giving Tuesday Tuesday, November 28 This holiday season, give a child the gift of discovery. On November 28, WNPA will participate in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving following Black Friday. WNPA’s goal is to raise $8,000 to help 8,000 children become Junior Rangers! Stay tuned to WNPA’s social media channels for more details.

Bird Fest of the Santa Monica Mountains Saturday, November 4, 9 AM–2:30 PM Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center 26876 Mulholland Hwy. Calabasas, CA 91302 A day to celebrate the bird! See live birds, attend talks by local experts, take a guided bird walk, and meet representatives from bird-friendly agencies, including Conejo Valley Audubon Society and California Wildlife Center. For a full schedule and more information, visit http://www.wnpa. org/event/bird-fest-santa-monica-mountains

La Fiesta de Tumacácori Saturday, December 2, 10 AM–5 PM and Sunday, December 3, 10 AM–4 PM Tumacácori National Historical Park 1891 East Frontage Rd. Tumacácori, AZ 85640 La Fiesta de Tumacácori celebrates traditional cultures native to the Santa Cruz Valley and features 50 food and craft booths, live entertainment, and children’s activities on both days. On Sunday there will be a traditional procession at 10 AM followed by a multicultural Mass at 10:30 AM. Entrance to the park is free for this event. For more information, call 520-377-5060 or visit tuma/planyourvisit/calendar.htm


People & Happenings Meet Aida Frey, Junior Ranger Extraordinaire Aida Frey hadn’t heard of the Junior Ranger program when she first went to Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa, but after completing the Junior Ranger program there and receiving her first badge, she was hooked. Today, she has visited 299 National Park Service units and has more than 600 badges, pins, medals, and awards displayed on her six Girl Scout sachets and vest. When asked what her favorite park is, Frey replied, “I don’t have a favorite [n]ational [p]ark because they’re all my favorites! They [each] gave me a different memory and taught me something unique [about] the park. I could never choose just ONE.”

Frey has recently returned from visiting parks in the West, including WNPA partner parks Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site (see cover story on page 6 for more about this site), Great Basin National Park, and John Muir National Historic Site. Frey also co-authored a book about her travels, America, Can I Have Your Autograph?: The Story of Junior Ranger Aida Frey. If you want to know more about Frey’s adventures, you can stay informed by liking her Facebook page.

Aida Frey (courtesy of Aida Frey)


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Doing Our Part Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on southeastern Texas, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, August 25 before downgrading to a tropical storm days later. Houston suffered devastating flooding, as did many other areas in Texas and Louisiana. WNPA partnered with Tucson-based World Care, a nonprofit organization that recycles surplus supplies to create resources for humanitarian aid, to collect much-needed donations for flood relief efforts. Tucson and Oro Valley residents showed support for those in need in Texas, donating paper towels, bleach, sponges, hygiene supplies, non-perishable food items, and more. World Care Executive Director Courtney Slanaker said, “We are amazed at how much Western National Parks Association was able to collect and donate! We are so appreciative of your partnership and hard work during this disaster collection.” Collections continued through September 19, and World Care took the supplies to Houston on September 25. Soon after Hurricane Harvey, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico City and Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands. WNPA and World Care have joined forces again to collect supplies and monetary donations for those affected by these natural disasters. Check WNPA’s social media for more information on how you can donate.

More Than Just a Library The Rocky Mountain Land Library (the Land Library) near Fairplay, Colorado isn’t a typical library; it’s so much more. Located at the partially restored Buffalo Peak Ranch, a former sheep and cattle operation, this future live-in library is decades in the making. Jeff Lee and Ann Martin dreamed up the idea of a live-in library —“a place where books and nature and history come together”—after visiting a residential library in Wales in the 1990s. Lee and Martin hope the Land Library will be an immersive experience for guests—a place to stay in nature and read books about the surroundings while experiencing them firsthand. Now they are working to make their dream a reality. This past spring the Land Library raised enough money for the first round of necessary renovations, which they hope to complete by summer 2018. To contribute, WNPA recently gifted several publications, including general interpretation and trail guides for WNPA parks and books about American/western history, flora and fauna, and American Indian studies. We look forward to seeing how the Land Library grows and develops in years to come.


Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer badge (courtesy of Connar L'Ecuyer/NPS)

Solar Eclipse Viewings at the Parks The solar eclipse on August 21 was a big event, and though no WNPA parks were in the path of totality, many hosted viewing events for all to enjoy. In Nevada, Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Boulder City held an event that included a livestream of the NASA feed for those who wanted to see totality. In New Mexico, El Malpais National Monument in Grants and El Morro National Monument in Ramah held viewing parties with solar telescopes available for use by visitors. These parks also offered a speciallydesigned wooden Junior Ranger badge to kids who completed a solar eclipse activity booklet. California parks Whiskeytown

National Recreation Area in Whiskeytown and Gateway to Nature: Western National Parks Center, Los Angeles hosted events as well. Visitors at Whiskeytown went on a “solar system walk� to learn about the scale of the solar system, while Gateway to Nature staff, NPS rangers, and USDA Forest Service rangers led visitors on tours to nearby Los Angeles State Historic Park for their viewing event. In Nebraska, Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail in Omaha provided viewers with solar eclipse glasses and pin hole projectors to view the 98% totality, and children made solar eclipse bracelets with UV beads that change color when exposed to sunlight.


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

New & Notable Releases The National Park Express All aboard—the National Park Express is here! WNPA has partnered with family-run business Maple Landmark to create another great park collectible you’re sure to love: the National Park Express train set. The starter set comes with the Express engine, a “See America First” car, and a bright red caboose. Collect cars from your favorite parks, like Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Saguaro National Park, and more. These train cars are crafted from locally sourced, sustainably harvested hard maple and feature a bright, non-toxic finish. They are available for purchase at and at participating WNPA park stores.

See America First Tumbler See America—but first, coffee. Keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold in this insulated, BPA-free 22-ounce tumbler featuring WNPA’s exclusive “See America First” design. This collection pays homage to a historical advertising campaign from over 100 years ago, encouraging citizens to visit America’s national parks. The modern connection to WNPA’s national heritage will make this tumbler an eye-catching and meaningful piece to add to your collection. It is available for purchase at and at participating WNPA park stores.


Little Free Library at Big Thicket National Preserve (courtesy of NPS)

In the Parks There’s a New Library at Big Thicket!

Big Thicket National Preserve joined the Little Free Library movement! With a “take a book, leave a book” model, these libraries are popping up all over the country. Located in the parking lot of the visitor center, Big Thicket’s library is stocked with educational and entertaining books for people in the park to peruse and enjoy—and direct aid from WNPA made it possible. When Hurricane Harvey threatened the area (see story on page 14 for more), site staff “evacuated” the books to the visitor center and bagged the Little Free Library for protection. Happily, the library survived the storm, and according to Senior Field Operations Manager Valerie Schafer, “‘bagging the Little Library’ [is now] in the plan for any future hurricane evacuations. It is something worth protecting!”


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Texas Parks Recovering After Harvey Texas parks Padre Island National Seashore and Big Thicket National Preserve felt the effects of Hurricane Harvey. In the days leading up to Harvey, which made landfall on August 25 as a Category 4 hurricane, these parks carefully monitored the storm and took precautions. Padre Island, located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of South Texas, closed on August 24 and reopened August 30 after cleanup efforts were completed. There was erosional damage to dunes along the beaches, but the park weathered the storm very well. Park staff were happy to announce that wildlife in the area, including the sea turtles that populate the shores, were doing fine. The Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island reported there was no surge of stranded sea turtles at the national seashore, as can happen after large storms. Bird Island Basin Campground remained closed to visitors after the park reopened, though the boat ramp and day use area were still accessible. Big Thicket National Preserve in Kountze, Texas—about 90 miles northeast of Houston—was hit hard, but NPS staff and Texas Parks and Wildlife

Hurricane lily (courtesy of NPS/Big Thicket National Preserve Facebook page)

officers worked together to clear debris from trails. The park closed on August 24 to prepare for the storm and was reopened September 5. Several trails experienced widespread and persistent flooding, and only five of the 40 miles of trail in the preserve were cleared by the time the preserve reopened. The preserve invited volunteers to celebrate Public Lands Day on September 30 by helping out with “Hurricane Harvey recovery work day.” Though the preserve and the surrounding area were ravaged by the flooding, there was a ray of light after the storm: on the preserve’s Facebook page, preserve staff shared a picture of a blooming hurricane lily (Lycoris radiata), a flower that sprouts suddenly after heavy rainfall. Park Ranger Mike Hughes completes an airboat rescue at Big Thicket National Preserve (courtesy of NPS)


Smokey Bear Visits Gateway to Nature for LA’s Birthday Bash Happy birthday, Los Angeles! On August 26, the city of Los Angeles celebrated its 236th birthday with a day of fun and festivities. Gateway to Nature: Western National Parks Center, Los Angeles, WNPA’s first major urban location, joined in the fun with activities for kids, a meet and greet with artist Jackie Hadnot, and special guest Smokey Bear. Smokey took plenty of selfies with revelers and helped unveil the new Smokey Bear statue at Gateway to Nature. Only 85 of these statues were made, and Gateway to Nature is now home to number 85. Smokey Bear statue at Gateway to Nature (courtesy of Lauren Mooney, WNPA)

A “Senior Moment” at Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Courtesy of Mary Palensky, NPS

August 27 was a not-so-ordinary day at Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters Visitor Center in Omaha, Nebraska: the day before the mandated fee increase for senior lifetime passes to national parks went into effect, the line at the store to purchase passes went out the door and wrapped around the building! If you missed out on getting a lifetime pass before the price increase, don’t worry— annual passes are available for $20, and four of these passes may be traded for a lifetime pass at no additional charge. More information about passes, including where to purchase them, is available at


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017

Meow Rangers The Bark Ranger program for dogs is fairly well known, but did you know that cats are welcome in some parks, too? Cees and Madison of made headlines for bringing their cat, Vladimir Kitten, along on an epic journey to visit 59 national parks. Karlie Klaws (@karlieklaws on Instagram), a St. Louisbased cat, also enjoys time on her leash in pet-friendly parks. She loved sniffing around Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma on a recent trip.

Vladimir Kitten (courtesy of

Karlie Klaws (courtesy of @karlieklaws)

Social Media Corner Are you following WNPA on social media? You should be! WNPA’s Facebook page has information about upcoming events and news from parks, and the Instagram features hundreds of gorgeous photos from partner parks and park-lovers like you.

Courtesy of @mark_oconell

Courtesy of @arizonahighways

Courtesy of @lincolnjuniorrangers

Follow WNPA on

Courtesy of @danielgross


Membership Matters

Middle school students helped bring the stories of Fort Davis National Historic Site to life for thousands of Dallas-area residents. During Earth Day Texas, a three-day event held in April, the students provided outreach to about 3,000 people. Under the direction of history teacher Elizabeth Sharp, they engaged the public in making park-related crafts like rag dolls, egg carton covered wagons, and "Find Your Park" pencil brooms with tags that said "Take Me to Fort Davis—Please." To prepare for Earth Day Texas, the students learned about westward expansion and Buffalo Soldiers, developing a deeper understanding of the relevance of Fort Davis. They also visited underserved schools in the Dallas area costumed in historical clothes from the park’s collection. They shared stories with other children who do not have the means to see or experience Fort Davis on their own.

“We feel grateful on a weekly basis when a visitor tells us they learned about our park through these students’s and Elizabeth’s efforts.” —Bill Manhart, park ranger, Fort Davis National Historic Site Your support of WNPA helped provide 1880s period clothing for this program. For more information about membership and charitable giving, visit or contact Development Manager Amy Reichgott at 520-789-7406 or Courtesy of NPS/Fort Davis National Historic Site


Western National Parks Association | Fall 2017


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WNPA Fall 2017 Newsletter  

This is the Fall 2017 issue of Your American West, the newsletter of Western National Parks Association.