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81

Sonntag, 7. April 2019, 19:38

Scotty's Castle Projects Pass Environmental Assessment

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The National Park Service (NPS) has completed its final environmental reviews of proposed projects to repair flood damage at Scotty’s Castle. Meanwhile, work has already started on projects approved earlier. The popular historic site could be partially open by late 2020 and is expected to be fully open by late 2021.

A severe flash flood on the night of October 18, 2015 sent water, mud, and rocks rushing down Grapevine Canyon. The flood broke through the walls of the historic Garage, in use by the NPS as the site’s visitor center, and filled it with four feet of debris. Two other historic buildings were damaged by the flood. The main house escaped the path of the flood, but bore lesser damage from water intrusion from heavy rain.

The NPS prepared two environmental assessments (EAs), each of which addressed different proposed actions to repair flood-damaged infrastructure in Grapevine Canyon. The Bonnie Clare Road Reconstruction EA was finalized in May 2018, and approved proposals to reconstruct 7.6 miles of Bonnie Clare Road, install 4,000 feet of waterline under the road, reconstruct damaged portions of the historic concrete and wire fence, and stabilize the historic bridge and gatehouse.
Road and Highway Builders started work in December 2018 on all four of these projects under contract managed by Federal Highways Administration.

The Scotty’s Castle Flood Rehabilitation EA was finalized on March 12, 2019. Some proposed actions approved in this EA include repairing historic structures, replacing components utility systems, building a second public restroom, building flood control structures, and building a cooling tower for a replacement heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system. This EA completes the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but each project will need additional review to meet requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

“This is where things can get tricky,” said Abby Wines, spokesperson for Death Valley National Park. “Sometimes we have to make trade-offs. In a few cases, we are proposing significant changes to the historic district in order to protect the historic district. A purest might say that we shouldn’t build any berms, flood walls, or shallow channels because they weren’t in the historic district during the 1920s. But if we don’t build flood control structures, we risk losing a lot more in the next major flood. It would be great if we could magically protect the site without changing a thing, but it’s not possible.”

If things go smoothly, several major contracts should be awarded within the next 6 months.

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82

Mittwoch, 4. September 2019, 20:55

Tourist dies in Death Valley as temperatures soar above 120 degrees

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A tourist has died while visiting Death Valley National Park amid blazing summer heat.
The National Park Service says the visitor was reported to be non-responsive at 6 p.m. Tuesday and she died before emergency responders arrived at the location south of Badwater. Her name wasn't released.
The cause of death is being investigated by Inyo County authorities, but the Park Service notes Death Valley has been having temperatures above 120 degrees.
It was the second death in three days in the Mojave Desert park, where two of the most common reasons for emergency responses are single-vehicle accidents and heat illnesses.
Summer visitors are urged to drink at least one gallon of water per day and watch for trouble signs including dizziness, nausea and headaches.

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83

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2019, 18:56

Death Valley National Park Celebrates 25th Anniversary

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Death Valley National Park is hosting special programs and events in celebration of the park’s 25th birthday October 26 –November 2. On November 2, the park will waive entrance fees.

Death Valley was first protected as a national monument in 1933. On October 31, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the California Desert Protection Act, which created Death Valley National Park, designated over 90% of the park as wilderness, and added 1.3 million acres to the park. The Act also redesignated Joshua Tree as a national park and established Mojave National Preserve.

Geologists, biologists, astronomers, and other specialists will share their knowledge of desert ecology, dark skies, and natural history from October 26 through November 2.

A ranger-led sunrise hike will meet at Zabriskie Point at 7:00 a.m. on October 27. Astronomy programs will be offered at Harmony Borax Works from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on October 26 and 28.

Park entrance fees will be waived on Saturday, November 2. The public is invited to join Superintendent Mike Reynolds for a 5 kilometer fun run/walk at 8:00 a.m. at Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Wish the park happy birthday with cupcakes at noon in Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Neighboring organizations and partners will have exposition booths set up at the Visitor Center from 12:00-1:00 and 3:00-5:00. Former Death Valley superintendents will answer questions and speak about the California Desert Protection Act from 1:00-3:00 in the auditorium.


“This is one of the largest celebrations Death Valley National Park has hosted,” notes Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “We are fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable guest speakers who are coming to the park specifically for this series of events. It’s a unique opportunity for the public to learn about this incredible park.”

All programs are free and open to the public. Close-toed shoes are recommended for hikes, which are on uneven terrain. Bring sun protection and water for daytime programs, and a headlamp, warm clothing, and a chair for evening programs.

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84

Sonntag, 13. Oktober 2019, 21:28

Scotty's Castle Flood - 4 Years Later

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Repairs at Scotty’s Castle are progressing as the four-year anniversary of the flood approaches. The National Park Service (NPS) plans to reopen the popular historic site in October 2021.

Scotty’s Castle received close to its annual average rainfall in five hours on October 18, 2015. The resulting flash flood caused an estimated $47 million in damages to roads, buildings, and utilities in the historic district. That much funding is not coming from a single source all at once. The park is receiving funds from park entrance fees, Federal Highways Administration, NPS deferred maintenance accounts, and donations spread over multiple years.

Once consequence of patching together funding is that Death Valley is managing the repairs of Scotty’s Castle as discrete projects, each focused on single buildings or utility systems with its own funding. There isn’t a single general contractor for all repairs at Scotty’s Castle. Designs are done by architecture and engineering firms. Other companies handle construction. Each project is progressing on its own schedule, depending on design complexity, potential impacts to natural or cultural resources, and unplanned issues.

Design is beginning now to repair the Chimes Tower, address potential fuel leaks from five underground storage tanks, and to repair the water distribution system.

Designs are nearly completed on two critical projects: replacing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and constructing berms and flood walls to direct future floods away from the historic buildings.

Each project’s next step is for specialists to review the design documents for impacts to the historic district. The Visitor Center project is under review currently. During the design phase, engineers determined that the only way to protect the historic Garage (which serves as the Visitor Center) from side drainage flooding is to build a 2-foot-high flood wall near the building’s northwest corner. Another planned change is to widen a 3-foot opening in a breezeway in the L-shaped building’s corner to allow future floods to pass through without getting forced through windows, doors, and walls into the building. The NPS and the California State Historic Preservation Officer are on the verge of signing an agreement on plans to mitigate these impacts.

Some projects were recently completed. Articulated concrete blocks and other erosion-control features were installed around the historic bridge. The surrounding landscape was scoured down eight feet, exposing the bridge’s foundation. This work will prevent damage from future floods at this pinch-point where flood speeds were fastest. About a mile of historic concrete fence posts were reconstructed and installed. Like the original posts, they are stamped with “S” and “J” for Scotty and Johnson. Unlike the historic posts, the reproductions are also stamped with “2019” to distinguish them from the intact original posts.

Construction began in September to replace destroyed components of the water system, install a new leach field and septic tank, and upgrade the electrical system.

Bonnie Clare Road reconstruction has been in progress for about a year. Federal Highway Administration designed “armor” for the road to protect it from future floods. For example, 3-foot-tall concrete barricades are buried under the pavement edge with large boulders backfilled against them. When water runs across the road in these locations, this will prevent the water from scouring down through the shoulder, undercutting the road, then washing away the road.

Bonnie Clare Road is closed from the park boundary (where it transitions to NV-267) through Grapevine Canyon to the junction with North Highway and Ubehebe Crater Road. The road will remain closed during other construction projects at Scotty’s Castle due to safety hazards.

During this continued closure, there are limited opportunities to visit Scotty’s Castle with a park ranger, learn about the site’s colorful history, and witness the work in progress to repair the historic district. Tours are offered on Sundays from December 8 through April 12. Reservations are required in advance at www.dvnha.org.

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85

Freitag, 3. Januar 2020, 19:47

Death Valley issues plea to park visitors after another major crash

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Death Vally National Park is asking visitors to exercise more caution on roadways in the wake of four serious car crashes in recent weeks.
The latest occurred last Monday, when a motorist drifted into oncoming traffic on CA-190 east of Stovepipe Wells, causing a head-on collision.

Two people were air-lifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Three others were transported by ambulance with moderate injuries.
The collision, involving a Kia Optima and Chevrolet Malibu, occurred in the evening.
According to a park news release issued Thursday, 11 visitors have been injured and one person was killed in recent traffic accidents inside the park.

Additionally, one motorist was killed and seven others were injured as a result of a head-on collision Dec. 20 on CA-190, just east of the park.
The park stated in the news release: “Winter is an exceptional time to visit Death Valley and the park received extremely high visitation over the Christmas and New Years weeks.
“Park staff remind visitors to wear their seat belts, drive within the speed limit, pass only when safe, and be courteous to other drivers on the road.”

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86

Montag, 17. August 2020, 20:45

Wetterstation im Death Valley in Kalifornien misst 54,4 Grad

Es ist noch nicht offiziell, aber laut einem Bericht könnte es einen neuen Hitze-Rekord geben. Eine Wetterstation im Death Valley hat das Temperatur-Extrem aufgezeichnet.

Zitat

In Deutschland klettert die Anzeige des Thermometers in diesen Tagen über die 30 Grad. Wem das heiß vorkommt, war noch nicht im Death Valley im US-Bundesstaat Kalifornien. Dort hatte es am Sonntag 54,4 Grad (130 Grad Fahrenheit). Das berichtet die englische Zeitung "The Guardian". Demnach glauben Experten, dass es sich dabei um den höchsten Wert handeln könnte, der jemals auf der Welt aufgezeichnet wurde.
Gemessen hat dieses Temperatur-Extrem dem Bericht zufolge der Nationale Wetterdienst der USA (NWS) am Sonntagnachmittag um 15.41 Uhr an der Grenze zum Bundesstaat Nevada. Der Wert, den die Wetterstation automatisch aufzeichne, müsse allerdings noch überprüft und offiziell bestätigt werden, teilte der NWS Las Vegas mit.
Zum letzten Mal wurde ein annähernd so hoher Wert im Juli 1913, ebenfalls im Death Valley, aufgezeichnet. Damals zeigte die Temperaturanzeige 129 Grad Fahrenheit an.

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87

Freitag, 16. Oktober 2020, 21:31

Scotty's Castle Update

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It has been five years since a flash flood devastated historic structures and utilities at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park. The National Park Service (NPS) has completed several projects, but reopening is still about two years away.

Scotty’s Castle and the adjacent road are closed to the public until repairs are complete, likely December 2022. Death Valley Natural History Association will offer a limited number of tours this winter to see Scotty’s Castle, learn about the flood and the recovery effort. Once the schedule is finalized, information will be posted at dvnha.org.

A massive flash flood on October 19, 2015 tore through Death Valley Scotty Historic District, damaging historic structures, ripping out 8 miles of road, and destroying essential utilities.

270 NPS employees from across the country assisted Death Valley’s staff in the first year. They focused on digging out flood debris, emergency short-term stabilization, and moving the museum collection to temporary storage off-site.

Projects status:
Scotty’s Castle Road – completed Jan. 2020. The road is remaining closed until other projects are completed for visitor safety and protection of historic district.

Water – The water main replaced in 2019/2020. Distribution lines to be replaced in 2021.

Wastewater – Sewage treatment was replaced in 2019/2020. Collection lines will be replaced in 2021.

Electrical – Southern California Edison installed the powerline in 2016. Electrical distribution in the campus was repaired in 2019/2020. Further work is planned for 2021.

Visitor center – The historic Garage is now used as the visitor center. It was the most heavily damaged building, with extensive structural damage. The construction contract will begin next month and should be completed by November 2021. The adjoining historic Long Shed, which is used for back-of-the house support for the visitor center, is just entering design phase, with construction likely in 2022.

Hacienda – The historic building is used for staff housing and offices. This building had interior damage from mud and water. Construction will start next month and be completed by November 2021.

Flood control structures – This project will build a 600-foot-long gabion-lined berm and four smaller flood walls and ditches. Design has been completed recently and consultation with the California State Historic Preservation Office will start soon. Construction is tentatively planned for July 2021-July 2022.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) – This will construct a climate control plant with a boiler, chiller, and cooling tower. The design was completed recently and consultation with the California State Historic Preservation Office will start soon. Construction is tentatively planned for September 2021-September 2022.

Historic furnishings – The furniture, dishes, carpets, and clothing that belonged to Scotty and the Johnsons were moved off-site for protection. The Death Valley Natural History Association funded about $100,000 in conservation work on the pipe organ, curtains, and silver. The museum collection will be returned to the Castle for the public to enjoy after all the other projects are complete.

Scotty’s Castle was constructed in the 1920s as a vacation home for Albert and Bessie Johnson, millionaires from Chicago. The (untrue) claim that it was built on top of Walter “Scotty” Scott’s gold mine fueled public interest at the time, and still does.

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