Finally something the Senate agrees on: billions for federal lands

National Park Foundation photo contest grand prize winner for 2019
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times illustration)

Finally something we can all agree on: loving up our national parks and forests. In June, the Senate — yes, that Senate — quietly passed the Great American Outdoors Act. Outside magazine calls it the stimulus bill for outdoor recreation.

Republicans and Democrats came together for the bill that would give billions of dollars to carry out much-needed deferred maintenance to spruce up federal public lands and sink money into the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which in turn funds outdoor recreation. And it would create jobs too. “Public lands and waters are one of the things that are capable of bringing all Americans together,” says Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who worked to pass the bill. I couldn’t agree more.


It next heads to the House, where it’s expected to pass, and President Trump has indicated that he will sign it.

Speaking of parks, California’s 11 national parks and recreation areas are open, sort of. Most had shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a roundup of what you can expect to be open and closed.

And then there’s Yosemite. The park reopened June 11, as did some lodgings and one campground, at half capacity. The number of visitors is limited, so you can’t show up and expect to get in. Campers holding reservations may be eager to go, but read our story about why that may not happen until August at the earliest.

3 ways to get outside this week

Mt. Lukens in the San Gabriel Mountains
There are several routes up L.A.’s high point, Mt. Lukens.
(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times illustration)

June gloom is your friend right now as overcast skies keep temps perfectly cool for early morning runs, hikes and other outdoor pursuits. Here are three things to do:

1. Hike to L.A.’s high point. C’mon, you can’t claim to be a bona-fide Angeleno until you’ve trekked to Mt. Lukens, the city’s high point at 5,066 feet. The top is cluttered with ugly radio towers, but I can forgive that for stellar views of the Pacific on one side and the bony ribs of the San Gabriel Mountains on the other. Take the Rim of the World Trail from Deukmejian Wilderness Park in Glendale along a steepish route that logs about 9 or so miles round-trip, depending on whether you come down the same way. Check out different routes to the top at Modern Hiker.

Grand prize winner in the Share the Experience photo contest.
(Sam Jezak)

2. Point, snap, share. Love taking your camera on the trail? Your photo could be on the America the Beautiful pass to national parks and forests. Take you best shot on any of the 500 million acres of federal public lands and submit it before Dec. 31 to the 2020 Share the Experience contest. Sam Jezak of Redwood City, Calif., submitted 2019’s grand prize-winning photo of Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, which also comes with a $10,000 award. Check out the rules, categories and other winners at Share the Experience.

3. Run with a (virtual) coach: Your favorite race was canceled or postponed because of the pandemic, but that’s no reason to slack off. Pasadena Pacers hosts free training programs you can follow on your own, including one for newbies and a 10-mile challenge for folks who want to go farther. Eventually, the group will resume in-person runs, so stay tuned. And there’s still time to take up the Runner’s World challenge to run at least a mile a day through the Fourth of July. The point: Keep running.

Cool gear alert

Ancient armor inspires designs for workout clothes at Lorica.
(Lorica; Los Angeles Times illustration)

Weekend warriors, time to armor up. A small startup called Lorica offers a line of workout clothes “inspired by armor, history, and geekery.” For example, infantry capri leggings ($74) are based on armor made for front-line soldiers in 16th century Nuremberg, Germany. My fave is the long-sleeved rash guard with a chain mail design. It works as a wicking hiking top ($74) too. The clothes, which came to life through Kickstarter, are made in Oregon from fabric derived from plastic bottles. Orders, which include XS to plus sizes, take three weeks to arrive. That’s because creator Elie Hutchinson personally ships every item. “I’m a one-woman team,” she says.

Wild things

Great horned owl in Chatsworth
Chatsworth is great horned owl country.
(Dara and Dana Blumfield)

You can find baby owls in the city, if you know where to look. Bennett Mintz is one of those people who does. He recently shared photos of a great horned owl chick that was born near his Chatsworth condo in April. Mintz and neighbors Dara and Dana Blumfield have been keeping an eye on mother and child; they’ve been watching owls in their neighborhood for at least two decades. By the way, great horned owls can be found in every U.S. state. So start looking.

A social moment

We’re right at the end of jacaranda season, when the city’s purple glow is starting to fade. But there’s always something blooming in Southern California. Check out our Instagram account that’s all about plants. Follow @latimesplants for expert advice and tips on keeping it all green. Tag us using #latimesplants, and we’ll feature your plant photos.

Insider tip

Social distancing
Social distancing, from humans and animals.
(National Park Service)

In these days of social distancing, everyone knows that 6 feet between humans is now the rule. But what about wildlife? If you’re less than 75 feet from a bison in the wild, you’re way too close. The National Park Service created some pretty funny graphics to remind us to back off — from people and wildlife. The petting guide to bison (remember, they’re kidding) displays what happens when you touch various parts of the beast: “vacation over” or just plain old “ouch.” And speaking of bison, the Catalina Island Conservancy increases that distance — stay at least 125 feet from its herd of about 150, descendants of those used in a movie production in the 1920s. Check out more wildlife watching tips to keep you safe.

Send us your thoughts

What do you think? Share anything that’s on your mind, including how nature and being outdoors are helping you get through the pandemic. The Wild is written for you and delivered to your inbox for free. Drop us a line at

Mary Forgione