The Dominican Republic is blessed to have a great deal of ecodiversity for such a small country, and the Parque Nacional Los Haitises (Land of the Mountains National Park) is one of the most distinctive of its national reserves, comprising nearly 160 kilometers of mangroves, estuaries, coves, and bays that together embrace the southwestern curve of the Bahía de Samaná.Destination:Activities:
Located 16 kilometers south of Constanza is Valle Nuevo National Park. The road to it is horrific, but beautiful views make it worth the work. The park covers an area of 657 square kilometers. This protected forest is 2,640 meters above sea level and the climate can be cool and wet with an annual average rainfall over 2,500 millimeters. It is excellent for bird-watching, with 65 species of birds in the park, including the blue-hooded euphonia, the pine warbler, and the white-winged warbler, which is endemic to Hispaniola.Destination:Activities:
At one time, the endangered native green ebony (ébano verde) tree faced extinction. It was threatened due to its coveted precious wood. But in 1989, the 23-square-kilometer Reserva Científica Ebano Verde was created by a nonprofit foundation to preserve it, and now 621 plant species are protected in its boundaries. This reserve is meant to represent the ecosystem that exists in the entire zone. It is made up of a central mountain range between La Vega, Jarabacoa, and Constanza.Destination:Activities:
Parque Nacional Jaragua (8 a.m.–5 p.m., US$1.50 entrance) is named after a Taíno chief and is the largest park in the nation. In it is a combination of terrestrial, coastal, and marine environments including two continental islands, Isla Beata and Alto Vela. Its 1,400-square-kilometer expanse includes scrub in a subtropical dry and a thorny forest. The high temperatures and low precipitation associated with that type of environment make the area dominated by different types of cactus. But in addition, you’ll see cedar, mahogany, oak, and even grapes.Destination:Activities:
El Hoyo de Pelempito is actually the greatest geologic depression in the whole country, over 1,000 meters in depth, which was brought about by the collapse of a huge coral shelf millions of years ago. Bird watchers will find a variety of a little over 100 species, five of which are in danger of extinction. Also on the endangered list living here are the solenodon and the hutia, both endemic to the island.
Even if hunting for a sighting of rare mammals is not top on your list of must-dos, the scenery alone will be satisfying enough. Take a walk through the pine forest. At 1,165 meters, there is a panoramic view on the edge of “the hole” from a lookout.Destination:Activities:
More than 300 bird species flock to the Verde Valley’s lush riparian areas and protected forests, making Sedona a prime spot for bird-watching. Throughout the year, it’s not uncommon to see a host of colorful birds perched on the ponderosa pine and cottonwood trees, including bald and golden eagles, herons, orioles, hawks, and even Canadian geese in the winter.Destination:Activities:
To catch a glimpse of what the Verde Valley looked like before the settlers and cattle herds arrived, head to Dead Horse Ranch State Park (675 Dead Horse Ranch Rd., 928/634-5283, www.azstateparks.com, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), a nearly pristine stretch of Verde River that offers camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and equestrian areas. Don’t let the name fool you. This is some of the most verdant land in the area.Destination:Activities:
As a political cartoonist in the early 1900s, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling’s primary interests were political corruption and environmental conservation; needless to say, the two often intermingled. As a hunter and fisherman, Darling was a fierce advocate for wise land use, and he understood that intelligent regulations could insure the viability of wildlife for generations to come.
His cartoons earned him three Pulitzer Prizes, but perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments was being tapped by Franklin Roosevelt to head up the U.S. Biological Survey, the predecessor of today’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In that position, Darling focused squarely on habitat preservation and restoration as well as game management, all of which led to the establishment of national game refuges throughout the United States.Destination:Activities:
Alton Baker Park, along the Willamette River, and the Millrace Canal, which parallels the river for three or four miles, provide escapes from Eugene’s main downtown thoroughfares. The canal is easily accessed from the University of Oregon campus by crossing Franklin Boulevard.Destination:Activities:
Bird-watchers gather at Necanicum Estuary Park, at the 1900 block of North Holladay Drive across the street from Seaside High School. Local students have built a viewing platform, stairs to the beach, a boardwalk, and interpretive signs. Great blue and green herons and numerous migratory bird species flock to the grassy marshes and slow tidal waters near the mouth of the Necanicum River.
During the fall and winter, buffleheads and mergansers shelter in the estuary, while in summer the waters are often thronged with pelicans. Occasionally, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, river otters, beavers, mink, and muskrats can also be sighted.Destination:Activities:
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