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Devils Tower

Men Planning to Climb Devils Tower to Raise Awareness for ALS

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than five years after the ALS “ice bucket” challenge took over the Internet, two men are planning to climb Devils Tower to continue raising awareness about the disease.

Eric Gamble of New Orleans and his friend Chris Nolan are planning to climb Devils Tower in mid-July to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.

Gamble wants to climb the monument as a part of his “bucket list,” a concept taken from the film of the same name in which the main characters make a list of things to do before they die. But he also wants to use the opportunity to raise money for an ALS charity.

“We have chosen to support 2 organizations that help people living with ALS and countless others through advocacy, support and ultimately bringing an end to the disease,” Gamble wrote on the GoFundMe page he launched to raise $2,500 for two ALS charities.

The two chose the cause of fighting ALS due to the diagnosis of a relative with the disease in 2016.

“Of course this could have crushed him. But it didn’t,” Gamble wrote about the relative, Sean Nolan, on his website. “Instead, the United States Army Veteran took control by becoming an ALS Research Ambassador so he could educate others with ALS. Plus he wanted to teach the public about the importance of clinical trials and ALS research.”

Gamble and Nolan have raised $1,000 toward their goal.

Chris Nolan has climbed the tower before, but this will be Gamble’s first attempt. None of the money raised will go toward their climb, just the charities they designated.

Their climb will take place on July 17.

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Lummis Introduces Bill That Would Block Name Change of Devils Tower

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis introduced legislation, co-sponsored by colleague U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, that would block a potential name change of Devils Tower National Park.

Lummis submitted the bill on Jan. 22. It has been read twice and sent to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for further discussion.

“Devils Tower is one of the most iconic sights In Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “It’s the first national monument in the United States, and a place of significance for everyone who sees it, from the tourists who visit to the native peoples and Wyoming residents who live nearby.”

The legislation comes almost seven years after an attempt to change the name of the monument. In 2014, a proposal was submitted to the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) on behalf of a spiritual leader of the Lakota Nation to change the names of the geologic feature “Devils Tower” and the community of “Devils Tower, Wyoming.”

A few weeks later, the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe wrote to the Secretary of the Interior and others requesting the name “Devils Tower National Monument” be changed. In each instance the request is to change “Devils Tower” to “Bear Lodge.”

More than 20 tribes with close association to the tower hold it sacred, and find the application of the name “Devils” to be offensive.

However, Lummis said the monument’s name has been in place too long to be changed now.

“Devils Tower is well known across the country and around the world as a historical and cultural landmark, and it is critical that we maintain its legacy and its name,” Lummis said.

The names “Bear Lodge,” “Bears Lodge” and “Mato Teepee” were ascribed to the Tower on most maps between 1874 and 1901.

In 1875, Lt. Col. Richard Dodge escorted the scientific expedition of geologist Walter P. Jenney though the Black Hills to determine the truth of rumors of gold. Dodge wrote in his 1875 journal, “The Indians call this shaft ‘The Bad God’s Tower,’ a name adopted, with proper modifications, by our surveyors.”

It’s speculated that a guide for Dodge was the source of this translation, and “Bear Lodge” may have been mistakenly interpreted as “Bad God’s.” As a result, “Bad God’s Tower” then became “Devils Tower.”

The name “Devils Tower” was applied to maps of that era, and subsequently used as the name of the national monument when it was proclaimed in 1906.

The National Park Service has no authority to change the names of the geologic feature, the populated place or the national monument.

The name of the national monument may be changed by an act of Congress or by a presidential proclamation.

In 2019, former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation at Lummis and Barrasso’s, which would retain the name “Devils Tower” for both the feature and populated place.

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Devils Tower Sees Record Visitation Numbers This Year Despite Pandemic

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Devils Tower National Monument has seen record monthly visitation numbers this year despite being closed for nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Devils Tower hosted 9,005 recreation visits in November, up 110% from November 2019. This was the busiest November on record and the third month in row of record visitation at the Tower.

Through November, the park recorded 420,330 recreation visits for 2020, down just 7% from the same period in 2019 despite the fact the country’s first national monument was closed from March 25 through May 21 due to health and safety concerns related to the pandemic.

Beginning in August, park visitation increased rapidly, with September, October and November seeing record visitor numbers.

Early winter visitation has continued to follow the upward trend, even though the season is typically very quiet, monument officials said.

The list below shows month to month recreation visits for the period between August through November compared to the same time in 2019.

2019 – 100,207
2020 – 113,593

September – record visitation
2019 –62,469
2020 – 68,726

October – record visitation
2019 –17,290
2020 – 29,908

November – record visitation
2019 – 4,294
2020 – 9,005

Visitors are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for face coverings, physical distancing, and hand washing while visiting Devils Tower.

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Devils Tower To Experience Dramatic Increase in Traffic Due to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

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Heading for Devils Tower in the next week? Get ready for delays.

The National Park Service sent out a reminder Wednesday that because of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, traffic in the area will increase dramatically.

“Devils Tower will experience a dramatic increase in visitation over the next week during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. ALL visitors should expect limited services and parking during this time,” the Park Service said.

Even with the coronavirus pandemic, officials are still expecting more than 250,000 people to attend the rally and, as always, the surge affects northeast Wyoming.

The Wyoming Department of Health didn’t have any specific concern over the increase of traffic in Wyoming. A spokesperson said there is risk with any travel and/or event.

“At this point we would have the same concerns as we would for any gathering,” spokesperson Kim Deti said. “The larger the gathering, the greater the risk. Individual should think of their personal risk as well as the risk of spreading disease to others.”

“We recommend the same precautions for this event as we would for any: stay home if you are ill unless you need medical attention, keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet from other people who aren’t in your household, and if physical distancing isn’t reasonable, then wear a cloth face covering consistently over your nose and mouth,” she said.

The Park Service said to be prepared for:

-Long lines and wait times to enter the park.

-No RV parking or turn around space in the visitor center parking area; RVs will be directed to park near the picnic area.

-There will be no visitor shuttle in 2020.

-Limited facilities- bring everything you need with you. Visitor center and campground remain closed.

-No facilities to purchase water or food in the park.

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Devils Tower Shuts Down

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The National Park Service Announced late Wednesday that Devils Tower will be closed until further notice.

“Effective immediately, Devils Tower National Monument is closed to all park visitors until further notice,” the Park Service said in a release. “There will be no visitor access permitted. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.”

The Park Service said the closure is due to a request of local public health officers from Crook County, WY.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority,” the release reads. “The National Park Service (NPS) is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Park Service said they would notify the public when they resume full operations and will provide updates on their website and social media channels.

In the meantime, updates about NPS operations will be posted here: http://www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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