Happy New Year from the Traveler!

All the best to you in 2009! Glacier goat photo by Kurt Repanshek.

We at the Traveler would like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year! May 2009 bring you many adventures in the National Park System.

The past year has been an interesting one across the system, to say the least. We saw much vitriol over the prospect of concealed weapons in national parks, sadness over tragedies that claimed the lives of park visitors, the joy of lost hikers being found OK despite what seemed like staggering odds. There have been fights over inholdings and how they might be developed, over access to lands that by their very definition are public lands.

Through the past 364 days, the Traveler has tried to cover as many of the issues and news events surrounding the national parks as possible. Salted among these posts have been stories about how best to visit the parks and other "soft" travel pieces that seem to be in demand. Our hope is to offer folks "one-stop shopping" when it comes to following news and life in the parks. By rough estimate, these pages have carried 887 park-related stories since 2008 arrived a year ago. It's a remarkable number when you consider the Traveler runs on 100% volunteer sweat.

The core mission of the Traveler remains the same since day one: Our goal is to follow news events around the system, watch how the National Park Service carries out its mission, and, at times, express our opinions on those actions. We hope that along the way we're able to nurture a few more advocates for this incredible park system. It surely needs as many as it can get. To that extent, we encourage constructive debate about these issues, for only through such debate can we possibly come to see another side to the issue at hand or, perhaps, even find common ground.

When I launched this site three-and-a-half years ago, it was built solely around my voice. Since then I've been pleased and honored to be joined by Dr. Robert Janiskee, who many know as the site's quiz-meister. Of course, he's much more than that, as one of his joys and talents is to ferret out the obscure and overlooked of the park system and bring it home to you. This past summer Jim Burnett, a veteran ranger with three decades (and two books) under his belt, agreed to lend his voice to the Traveler. And, judging by the reads his posts receive, it's a much-loved voice. His tales of life in the national parks provide much depth and color to the site, and his overall perspective is invaluable. While you haven't seen much of Chance Finegan's words in recent months, that's only because he's grappling with life as a college freshman. His passion for the parks hasn't waned, and we expect to see much more of him in the months ahead.

We've also been fortunate throughout the year to bring you other voices and perspectives from guest columnists and guest writers scattered around the country. There have been at least 13 guest writers, including: John Adornato III, Brett Gross, Owen Hoffman, Randy Johnson, Jim McDonald, Amy McNamara, Sabattis, Richard West Sellars, Rick Smith, Jim Stratton, Ann Torrance, Claire Walter, Ann Mitchell Whisnant, and David E. Whisnant. (Our sincere apologies if we’ve left anyone out.) We look forward to more of their thoughts in the months to come, and hope to add to their ranks. Let us know if you're interested.

Not to be overlooked at all are all the National Park Service employees -- from seasonals all the way up to superintendents and even NPS Director Mary Bomar -- who have taken time to speak with us so we might better understand what's going on in the parks. It's a cliche, but they are the ones on the front lines whose perspectives are necessary to convey. Not everyone will agree with those perspectives 100 percent of the time -- maybe not even 25 percent of the time -- but those views are still valuable to relay for they help the rest of us better understand what's going on and why.

Of course, the Traveler would be little without its readers. Your ranks have grown substantially since August 2005, and your voices are a vital part of this site. Stick with us as we move forward into 2009, bear with us as we tinker at times with hopes of improving the site, and invite your friends to try us out. Also, don't be timid about suggesting story ideas or asking questions. While we likely can't tackle them all, we'll certainly consider them.

Here's hoping that we'll cross paths in the parks in 2009.

Comments

Kurt, Bob, Jim, et al-

Thanks for all your hard work! I'm in awe of the steady stream of well-written articles on this site. Thanks also to those readers who take time to comment. Whether I agree or not, the various posts are usually informative & sometimes challenging. Happy New Year to all!

I echo the sentiments: thanks for all the work around Traveler. You do a great job with the site, it's definitely on my own "most viewed" list. Have a happy New Year. :-)

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My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

Kurt, Bob, Jim, Chance, etc--

Thanks for all you do to keep us up-to-date on NPS issues. NPT is a "must visit" when I open my conputer. It is a fascinating mix of points of view on how best to preserve and protect the areas of the National Park System. Happy New Year to you guys and the readers of this site.

Rick Smith

Thank you all for providing a great site! It's the first thing I read every day.
May 2009 bring health and prosperity to us all!

Happy 2009 to Traveler.
I don't get to travel much these days, but I've spent time in many of the Parks from coast to coast in the past, and I still try to keep up with the goings-on, especially in the one's that have always been my favorites.
I appreciate all the time and hard work you put into this site, and am grateful.

To all of you who make Traveler exist and endure. Thanks for this site. People who care about our parks like we do need a site like this to make sure everyone else out there knows where we stand. Thanks for all your hard and dedicated work to bring us the issues that matter, and those that are just plain interesting. No doubt, the next year will be full of issues for us to discuss (and I use that word loosely!), so bring on '09 and keep up the awesome work you all do at Traveler.