Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Great American Eclipse on Public Lands

Hi stranger. It's been awhile. I've missed you.

I'm not going to bother with introductions about the solar eclipse about to take over the country (except that all of North and Central America will witness portions of the eclipse).

If you are planning on making the trip to totality in a couple weeks, no doubt you probably have your preferred spot picked out. A lot - a LOT - of travelers are intending on making the trek to some of our public lands. Here's the thing, though. We're all probably thinking of National Parks and Monuments right? So if we're all headed to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sea of humanity will be unbearable. Meanwhile Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge is teeming with birds along the river with no one to take in the view. (I'm posing hypotheticals here - both might have a lot of visitors on the 21st.)

Federal Lands in the Path of Totality (NASA)

The National Park Service did a really nice job with an interactive map for the eclipse. But what about our National Forests? Bureau of Land Management? National Wildlife Refuges? Each unit has also put together some pretty comprehensive sites with their respective lists within the path of totality. You should check them out, and maybe add some to your backup list. I mean, we all need options B and C (sometimes even D) in case A doesn't pan out.

Woodsy Owl had better put on those solar glasses (photo: USFS)

The Bureau of Land Management will host totality across Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming lands.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, with 19 sites in the path, will start and end the eclipse in the contiguous US with refuges on both coasts, including Middle Mississippi River and Crab Orchard Lake NWRs, which will be in greatest duration (2:40).

The US Forestry Service are clearly the overachievers of the public lands group with 28 separate sites (National Forests, National Grasslands, National Recreation Areas), sprawling from (almost) coast to coast, with many forests hosting activities and official watch locations.

You're going to pay a fee to get access into any of these places, unless you have that handy-dandy America the Beautiful Pass, which will get you in. It costs $80 for the Average Jody (that's right - JODY), so if you don't intend on visiting many public places with entrance fees in the next year, it's not really worth it.

And I haven't even gone into all the state forests, state parks, county parks, city parks, state wildlife management areas that you could also detour to instead of the almost certain-to-be overcrowded NPS areas. Please don't randomly stop on a road. That's not safe.

Only YOU can keep your eyes safe during a solar eclipse (photo: NWCC)