My thoughts about “Treasured Lands” by Q.T. Luong


When I learned that Q.T. Luong was publishing a landscape photography book of his work in America’s National Parks, I was filled with envy. Ever since I can remember my life has been dedicated to visiting and photographing National Park Service sites, and this man’s work has always been then looming large over my journeys. He’s the first man to visit and photograph all 59 National Parks in large format film. He is featured in Ken Burns’ 2009 park documentary, and even had his photo of Yosemite featured on the cover of the associated book and DVD. His website is my gold-standard for landscape photography, and although he isn’t aware of it I’m happy now to declare that we’ve been in a silent competition for some time (at least in my head). In fact, my Undiscovered America project was in part a reaction to his extensive work. I asked myself what I could do to distance myself from his overwhelming shadow… so I set off to photograph potential National Parks because he hadn’t photographed them yet.

In October 2016 Luong’s book “Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks” released and became a one-stop-shop for planning your adventures into our public lands. In it’s 454 pages it details, with photography examples, the defining features of each park and the best methods of visiting the locations. Text excerpts provide personal stories, maps, stats, and photographic advice for maximizing your time in the parks. Each entry carries images for a variety of seasons, times of day, and hiking abilities so you can tailor your visits. Many landscape photography books have been published since the invention of the camera, and possibly even more travel guides have been produced, but no other book seems to have grasped the experience of actually visiting our natural wonders by combining these aspects. The book is the ideal companion for the park-minded traveler, however the author would be the first to point that while his book is a significant recourse few people would be willing to carry it around on trips due to it’s size and weight. An optimized digital version is also available, although owners of the print book will find a link on page 13 to buy the discounted digital companion, enabling you to bring the work and recommendations with you on your travels.

Treasured Lands is a book we’ve desperately been needing, and the one man best qualified to lead us visually into the parks has finally done us the honor of creating it.

-Zack Frank

Indiana Dunes would become Indiana’s first National Park under new legislation

West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, IN, USA (J. Crocker [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, IN, USA (J. Crocker [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and Congressman Pete Visclosky, along with the support of the entire Indiana Congressional delegation, have introduced respective legislation in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park.

Specifically, the legislation would retitle the “Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore” as the “Indiana Dunes National Park”. The designation would create the first National Park in Indiana and the 60th National Park in the United States, which would give greater recognition to the natural beauty of the dunes and potentially draw more visitors and boost the local economy.

Due to the vast biological diversity and geological features of the Northwest Indiana lakeshore, the first Director of the National Park Service, Mr. Stephen Mather, proposed designating the southern shore of Lake Michigan as the “Sand Dunes National Park” in 1916. Unfortunately, this proposal was abandoned at the onset of World War I, but the Indiana Congressional delegation is again pushing for that designation.

Idaho Senate Approves Memorial Asking for National Park Designation for Craters of the Moon


Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

By  via Boise Weekly

Despite pushback from the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Senate on Monday approved a measure calling for the state’s congressional delegation to press for national park status for the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

“Our congressional delegation told us, ‘Before we go forward with this, we want to make sure that the state is behind this.’ They don’t need our approval; they could take this and go with it. But they really want to make sure there’s local support,” said Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), sponsor of Senate Joint Memorial 101. “We’ve got some communities over there that are struggling and the water concerns are a nightmare. Some of the local folks are trying everything possible to help their community.”

The Farm Bureau argued that re-designating the Craters to a national park might restrict area farmers from hauling hay, cattle or sheep on highways that run through the monument.

Siddoway reminded his fellow lawmakers that, in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the title of U.S. Highway 20/26 to the state of Idaho.

“The highway belongs to the state, not the Park Service and that’s the way it would stay,” he said, adding that some businesses had already expressed interest in building new campgrounds, hotels or restaurants in the area if there were to be a national park designation.

“It’s not a panacea, but it would bring some economic stability to the area,” Siddoway said.

The bill passed on a 20-13 vote and moves to the Idaho House for its consideration.

The state of Undiscovered America and the future of conservation in the United States

The Undiscovered America project was created with the optimism that American environmental conservation would continue with the establishment of new National Parks and National Monuments for generations to come. As I’m sure you know this election has elevated us to a much more complicated situation. For the first time since the establishment of Yellowstone the federal government is considering revoking monuments created through the executive powers bestowed by the Antiquities Act. In this new reality where new lands are unlikely to be established and existing lands could be nullified, I’ve gone fairly silent. I regret this and will not allow this to happen again. Conservation and public lands should not be allowed to become political issues. Protected nature is good for humanity, and that is not controversial. I will not allow it to be. There are natural landscapes accross this country that are in danger of disappearing or being altered, and once they are gone they are gone forever. We must protect them, we will protect them. Expect to hear more about attempts to create new public lands, as well as efforts to take them away.

Lastly, the service I was using to sell advanced copies of the Undiscovered America book, Shopstarter, has gone under. If anyone knows another good pro-order site I’d love to hear about it.

Thank you for your support and passion for new National Parks!

-Zack Frank


Obama Names New National Monuments in the West

by Charley Lanyon

(via New York Magazine)

On Tuesday, President Obama created two new national monuments out of sacred tribal lands in Utah and large tracts of desert in Nevada. The move, which puts an end to years of wrangling over the spaces, seems likely to further inflame passions in the West, where opinions over the federal government’s management of public lands has become something of a flashpoint.

Obama’s creation of Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah is especially history-making. The federal government already owns about two thirds of the land in Utah, and the new monument will put another 1.35 million acres under its care.