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No more grass lawn - fewer elk

Silver Spring...
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No more grass lawn - fewer elk

As soon as tomorrow (Sept 17), the NPS will begin removing grass lawns around El Tovar. Apparently this stuff attracts elk, which are felt to be a danger to unwary tourists. See nps.gov/grca/parknews/national-park-service-… for details.

Roswell, Georgia
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1. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

Bummer...I had hoped to see the elk next month!

York, Pennsylvania
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2. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

On our trip last month, I was out very late at night (2 a.m.) shooting photos. A herd of elk decided it was dinner time (on that patch of lawn in front of El Tovar) while I was shooting Hopi House. It was in fact scary. They were totally unconcerned with my presence and would have surrounded me if I hadn't grabbed my tripod and gotten out. They were bugling to each other to come. By the time I exited in my car, I counted 26 elk with more crossing the road and parking lot.

Now that I'm not surrounded by elk and am safe at home, I can say it was an interesting experience and an amazing sight.

But at the time, yeah, a bit... disconcerting.

Tucson, Arizona
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3. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

People don't appreciate how dangerous those huge beasts can be. You definitely need to keep your distance. Sorry to see the grass go. But you can still see the elk by just going down the road a bit.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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4. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

This wasn't just an arbitrary decision based on visitor safety. The park has what they call an "Exotic Plant Management" plan in place and the Kentucky Bluegrass was identified among something like 150 non-native plant species found in the park. The plants were catagorized into high/medium/low priorities for removal, based on an impact assessment conducted a few years ago. My understanding is that the grass lawns were considered "low" impact until they realized that the elk were actively migrating to the South Rim Village because of the readily available food source.

The National Parks' first mandate is to protect the wilderness and its inhabitants (not the human visitors)and if the South Rim Village was the natural habitat for the elk, it would probably have just moved to limit interaction but since the elk were moving in because of an attraction to the man-made lawn, the appropriate action is to remove the grass. Makes sense to me.

Btw, based on the management plan, a lot of the tamarisk along the Colorado River have been cleared. The pictures I've seen of some of the cleared river camps look great.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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5. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

Double-posted for some reason!

Edited: 17 September 2013, 15:37
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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6. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

" Let them eat cake"... carracar

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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7. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

Deb, you'll see elk, just not at El Tovar. Walk the rim path to the east, late in the day.

Phoenix, Arizona
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8. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

Personally, I'm sorry to see the grass go. I always loved looking out our El Tovar window and seeing elk. Yes, I know you can see them elsewhere, but it was still a fantastic sight viewing them on the lawn. It's not the elks' fault that humans aren't smart about it and get too close...

Edited: 17 September 2013, 17:01
Ann Arbor, Michigan
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9. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

>> It's not the elks' fault that humans aren't smart about it and get too close...

Yes but that's not really the issue. The park has essentially been "feeding" the elk... which we know is ultimately harmful to the wildlife, something they didn't realize when they first put in the lawns.

Phoenix, Arizona
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10. Re: No more grass lawn - fewer elk

DTF - yes, I know what the "real" issue is. But the article also stated that one of the major concerns was visitors getting too close to the elk, which seems to be one of the reasons they're removing the grass sooner, rather than later.

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