Did You Hear the One About President Obama's Trip To Yellowstone National Park?

Judging from the president's frenetic schedule, it doesn't sound as if the First Family will have time to view the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River or enjoy a sunset over the Firehole River at the Upper Geyser Basin. Kurt Repanshek photos.

August, thanks to its hot and humid nature in the political capital of the universe, Washington, D.C., usually is the time politicians head to the hinterlands. Why else but the dreadful weather would Congress annually schedule its summer getaway not in June or July, but in August? And while most presidents see the month as their own opportunity to escape the bluster and fury of Washington, President Obama decided to take the opportunity not to flee the spotlight, but take it with him on his windshield tours of Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks.

Sadly, this is not a vacation for the First Family, not by any stretch of the political imagination. Rather, it's a shirt-sleeves photo op, an expensive one at that when you factor in all the jet fuel, motorcades, and security details. (I mean really, if you want to find a crowd in a national park, head to Old Faithful in August. I'm curious to see how they managed the crowds around the venerable geyser so the First Family could catch a glimpse.)

After appearing Friday night at a townhall meeting in Belgrade, Montana, to defend efforts to overhaul the country's health care system, President Obama and his family headed to Yellowstone today. After a whirlwind tour of the Upper Geyser Basin, the president was off again, this time to Grand Junction, Colorado, for another townhall meeting, then to Grand Canyon on Sunday for another windshield tour that will cause more congestion and security hassles for the folks who are really on vacation. Park officials say some areas of the South Rim could be closed for a couple of hours while the Obamas get a glimpse of the ruddy maw.

This click-and-dash trek to the parks by the First Family, understandably, is not being overlooked by those with grist to grind. For instance, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence took the opportunity of the Obamas' trip to argue once again against concealed weapons in national parks, a rule-change the administration wouldn't touch with a ten-foot-pole earlier this year after U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, used political sleight of hand to attach an amendment allowing such behavior to wildly popular legislation aimed at reining in credit card companies.

"Thanks to successful litigation by the Brady Campaign and major national parks organizations, the Obama family will be able to enjoy their upcoming visits to America's national parks protected, not only by Secret Service, but also by the Reagan Administration policy that keeps loaded guns in the hands of civilians out of national parklands," Paul Helmke, president of the organization, said in reference to a successful, though now meaningless, legal battle against the rule change the Bush administration pushed through back in December.

"Unfortunately, because Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation allowing weapons in national parks beginning in February (2010), other families will be unable to enjoy the same level of security next year when loaded firearms, including semi-automatics, will be permitted in most national parks across the country.

"There is still time for Congress and the President to take steps to keep loaded firearms away from the valleys of Yellowstone, the cliffs of Yosemite, and the Statue of Liberty, but they need to act quickly."

No response from the National Rifle Association. Yet.

Over at the National Parks Conservation Association, they saw the president's trip as the perfect opportunity to lobby for better funding of the National Park System.

“We are delighted that President Obama and his family, like thousands of others across the country, are taking advantage of the National Park Service’s free admission weekend to visit Yellowstone National Park. The President’s visit underscores the important role our national parks play as living classrooms, and the need for additional funding to ensure these educational opportunities remain available across the country," said Senior Vice President for Policy Ron Tipton.

“From the roaming bison at Yellowstone to the battlefields of Gettysburg, our national parks have tremendous potential for teaching and exciting children about our shared history as well as science, civics, and a variety of other topics. The upcoming centennial of the Park Service in 2016 gives us the opportunity to improve educational opportunities involving national parks to inspire and teach our future historians, educators, and scientists.

“There is an approximate $600-million annual operating shortfall and a backlog of maintenance projects that exceeds $8 billion, and more than $2 billion of private land to be acquired within park boundaries. We must ensure our national parks are well funded to address the parks’ crumbling historic buildings and trails, enhance the Park Service’s ability to protect wildlife, and provide needed public education and services. Further, as our nation becomes more diverse our national parks should fully represent our evolving history, culture, and diversifying population. By adding more park sites to the system we can make park visits more meaningful to all Americans.

“We hope Americans take this opportunity to visit a national park this weekend and reconnect with our national history, culture, and irreplaceable American treasures."

What follows guns and money when you're talking to politicians? Why, legislation of course! So, the president's trip presented Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. public lands program, the perfect opportunity to lobby for an overhaul of the 1872 Mining Law.

Unfortunately, an obsolete 19th century law that gives the mining industry the right of way at every turn is putting the popular and enduring program in jeopardy. In fact, it recently took emergency action to halt new claim-staking around Grand Canyon National Park to respond to the threat of uranium mining. But neither this treasure nor dozens like it will be safe until Congress intervenes," she wrote.

Signed by President Ulysses S. Grant with prospectors and pack mules in mind, the 1872 Mining Law allows gold, uranium and other hardrock metals to be mined from most western public lands almost for free and with few restrictions. Today, with global corporations dominating mining, this means roughly $1 billion worth of precious metals are removed from public land without compensation, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates -- a hefty sum for a federal government facing deep deficits.

Hopefully, Ms. Danowitz added, when the president and Congress return from their summer vacations they'll take the time to rewrite this law.

Many in Congress also believe it's time to act. The House of Representatives has previously passed a strong bipartisan reform bill, while a balanced package proposed by Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, is now gaining momentum. Perhaps the president will return from his vacation with a new resolve to protect what he and his family have enjoyed. If national parks are indeed America's best idea, we shouldn't let them be harmed by an outdated mining law.

Not to be overlooked in this political climate is the actual climate. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, saw an opening to urge President Obama to take note of the red and grey pine trees in Yellowstone, victims of bark beetles and evidence of climate change.

After anchoring the Rocky Mountain high country for thousands of years, the whitebark pine is threatened with extinction by a modern ill. The greenhouse gases that are heating our planet have warmed the northern Rockies just enough to allow the native mountain pine beetles to flourish at high elevations where few could thrive before now.

As a result, whitebark pine trees are under siege by these ravenous beetles. Right now as much as 70 percent of these ancient trees are already dead in parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The First Family will see this ongoing disaster in the form of lifeless trunks gone grey where green and healthy spires once reached for the skies.

With such an issue-laden laundry list, this trip to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon will not be relaxing for the First Family. Which is a shame. Doesn't sound like they'll have time to stroll down to Lone Star Geyser or stand nearby on the bridge over the Firehole River, to walk up to Observation Point for a panoramic view of the Upper Geyser Basin, or visit West Thumb. They won't spend a night in the grandest log cabin in the world (that'd be the Old Faithful Inn), or have a chance to catch the baleful howling of wolves hanging in the cool night air. And when they reach the Grand Canyon on Sunday, will there be time to hike a short distance down the South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge, or to climb to the top of the Watchtower at Desert View, or visit Hermit's Rest?

We cherish our national parks -- much hoopla surrounds Ken Burns' upcoming documentary on the history of the parks, the Obamas are visiting on an entrance-fee-free weekend designated by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar with hopes of luring more visitors to the parks -- and yet we rush the First Family through them. What Barack, Michelle, and the kids really need is a month to explore and enjoy the parks. Give them time away from photographers, correspondents, lobbyists, and angry Americans to reflect on the beauty of the country and deepen their appreciation for the national parks, to recharge their souls and start anew.

After all, all those other issues will be waiting when their vacation is over.

Comments

Just another example how the Obama family abuse their political power and the taxpayers money.
Is he ever going to stop campaigning??????

Very well said. I would like to read your opinion on last weeks " Take Back Utah" But 3000 outdoor enthusiast riding down state street of Salt Lake City, to the capital on four wheelers, horses, and jeeps to listen to Hatch and others speak about Washington closing Utah wasn't deemed by you of interest to the rest of your readers.
Perhaps everyone should take your advise to the Obamas and not just drive through the parks, but explore what will soon be closed to them.

C'mon Country Girl, the Traveler can't be everywhere.

For those wondering what she's griping about, there was a rally in Salt Lake City last week in which some 3000 off-road vehicle enthusiasts rallied to complain about limits on where on the public landscape they can ride. The roots of the protest date to the Sagebrush Rebellion movement of the 1970s and 1980s during which local governments protested against how the federal government was managing public lands. In an extreme case, San Juan County (Utah) officials used a bulldozer to gouge roads into Wilderness Study Areas.

For the curious, an excellent book on the Sagebrush Rebellion is Federal Land, Western Anger, the Sagebrush Rebellion and Environmental Politics by R. McGreggor Cawley. Though first published 16 years ago, the book provides an exceptional history on the sagebrush rebels. But one of the book's conclusions likely won't sit well with Country Girl or those who attended the Salt Lake rally:

The Sagebrush Rebellion marked the beginning of a period in which virtually every assumption about federal land policy underwent challenge and reconsideration. To be sure, the major assumptions -- that public lands should remain in federal ownership and that they should be managed under the mandates enacted in the 1960s and 1970s -- were reaffirmed by this process. But other assumptions did not fair so well. It is no longer possible, for example, to talk about conservation as if it possessed a widely accepted meaning. In a similar fashion, references to environmentalism must take into account both the moderate/radical distinction, and the differentiation among radical environmental postures. And since these shifts in the dialogue represent arguments that will not be resolved in the near future, there is reason to suspect that the controversy surrounding the Sagebrush Rebellion transformed the structure of the policy dialogue.

Indeed, the debate over federal land management and ownership can be volatile, and those who wade in should be passingly familiar with the Tragedy of the Commons. A deeper discussion would be intriguing. However, the Traveler focuses on national park issues, and the parks were not a focal point of the rebellion nor of the rally in Salt Lake City.

And as for Anonymous, abuse political power and taxpayers' money? At least President Obama didn't land on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and announce "mission accomplished";-)

I thought this was a forum about National Parks? I thought it was non-partisan? I guess you are showing your true colors; why so much hate? Bush has been gone for months now, give it a rest.

Not sure what you're talking about when you mention "hate," Gary. But while President Bush might be retired, the impacts he's had on public lands policy, and on public lands themselves, didn't go away with the change in administrations. That's not a partisan comment, it's simply a fact of life. Just as many of those policies and decisions implemented by the Clinton administration didn't vanish overnight, either, nor those of the previous administrations. They're all part of history with ramifications that continue today.

As for President Obama and his administration, they're fair game, too. Their decision not to block the rule change for concealed weapons in the parks was disappointing, as was their decision to remove wolves in the Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list protection. And their most certainly will be decisions in the future that we disagree with. And we'll point them out.

Glad to see President Obama and the family hitting the national parks. A very nice introduction to the national parks as a family unit. Hopefully, the American public will give President Obama the same grace as they gave the Bush & Cheney administration (after eight years of ruinous and bitter rancor) to succeed in running the government. Welcome to the national parks Mr. President!

I hate to disabuse all us national park lovers, but this visit has nothing to do with the national parks. So don't get your hopes up.

In the middle of a recession, Obama is vacationing in a multi-million dollar mansion on a island of millionaires. He knew he'd take a lot of flak for that so he's getting some photo-ops in the national parks to try and blunt the criticism. He's not going to the national parks to help the national parks. He's going to try and help Obama.

Well Kathy, will see how the national parks fair in four years under President Obama's administrations. Lot of economic patch-up work to do after the Bush & Cheney administration debacle. Wouldn't you agree!? However, I believe that President Obama's heart is in the right place with the national parks...much, much more so then Bush or Cheney. See all the national parks well Mr. President!

Obama spent less than three hours in Yellowstone. He and his family spent it at the Black Sand Geyser Basin, watching an eruption of Old Faithful (Obama said it was "cool"), eating at the Snow Lodge, and getting ice cream at one of the general stores. He was accompanied by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, as well as Yellowstone superintendent Suzanne Lewis.

On my newspaper site, there is a blog from a chef who works at the Old Faithful Inn, a blog from an employee of Xanterra who works on environmental sustainability issues (talking about the menu - including of all things, Montana beef, which is a travesty if you know anything about their role in bison mismanagement), and some accounts from people on the road (either stuck in traffic because roads were closed) or who happened to see the motorcade go by.

I generally agree with Kurt; this cost a lot of money for almost no time or introduction to the park or its issues. For something that was supposed to be a photo op, there are a lot of pictures floating around (Obama did in fact allow a small pool of reporters access). Given that policy is more or less the same as it was at the end of the Bush Administration (there was an attempt to cut snowmobile numbers by the park even at the end of the Bush Administration; bison policy hasn't changed - there's just more money for road and sewage projects, but not real policy shifts), given that Yellowstone in particular is impossible to appreciate at all in under 3 hours, I'm not sure the trip was worth it. The spotlight on the press on parks issues as a result of the trip hasn't been terribly informative, generally couching stories in terms of economics and the parks (visitation being a common story; a couple others scattered - it did draw an editorial from The New York Times, which is a fierce critic of Superintendent Lewis - calling for her dismissal in the past - and Yellowstone policy).

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

There is more to this visit than meets the eye. A note about an off the record dinner with the President from the Washington Post:

Another Presidential Walk in the Park

Douglas Brinkley (David G. Spielman)

The Obama family heads to Yellowstone National Park on Saturday -- thanks, in part, to Douglas Brinkley.

The author was among nine historians -- including Garry Wills, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss -- invited to a private White House dinner with the president June 30. Each talked about the legacy of a past president; Brinkley discussed Theodore Roosevelt and his role in preserving America's natural resources -- the subject of Brinkley's new book, "The Wilderness Warrior."

The off-the-record dinner, reported Thursday by Vanity Fair, must have made an impression on the president. A few days later, Brinkley got a call from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar inviting him to drop by. The men spent two hours talking about conservation history, wildlife protection and where Obama should visit if he went to a national park.

"He was keenly interested in everything Roosevelt did," Brinkley told us. Salazar was especially intrigued by the 26th president's expansion of the national park system: In 1903, Roosevelt famously made a trip to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite that resulted in sweeping protection of the land from commercial interests. Brinkley recommended Obama create a caribou reserve in Alaska, something like the one
Roosevelt mandated in Oklahoma to save bison.

Brinkley walked away impressed: "I think Salazar is going to be one of the great secretaries of the interior, in the tradition of Harold Ickes and Stewart Udall."

Brinkley didn't discuss specific details of Obama's trip, but hoped the president would visit Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are national parks, but ANWR is not protected." He also lobbied for park status for Maine's North Woods, "where T.R. first fell in love with the raw wilderness of America."

But Brinkley said he's thrilled the first family is setting an example. "It sends the right message, that we need to treasure America's heirlooms. Yellowstone is our Louvre, the Grand Canyon our Westminster Abbey.

Nice pictures, Kurt.

I do wish fewer people were as cynical as some of those who left these posts. Even you, Kurt, have a hip tone of cynicism about how genuine the President's trip is.

Perhaps there is someone out there who understands that for ANY President of the United States, every thing is about symbolism. He did not need to come to a National Park, and surely there was little in his campaign that dealt with the core issues critical to the life support needed by our national parklands.

I am heartened because I understood from an earlier newspaper account of a meeting in June with 6 historians how impressed the President was with what Douglas Brinkley said about Theodore Roosevelt's conservation record. I think the President is now thinking about parks in ways he was not before. As a result, I think Sec. Salazar is now finally interested in parks as something special; up to recently, it appeared the Secretary thought he would extend the 2016 NPS Centennial to celebrate ALL Salazar's Department of Interior Agencies.

Also, by bringing the Pew Charitable Trust with him the President is also sending an important message, at least to anyone savvy enough to know how influential and effective Pew is, both with other Foundations and with political agenda setting.

It should also impress people that the President is taking on Mining Law reform. If there was one politically thankless task, reforming the mining law is it, when you think of how many times over the last 40 years some of America's most respected Members of Congress have tried and failed.

On George Bush II, when motivated by First Lady Laura Bush, some good things were done for the parks, and some positive attention happened. Mr. Bush generally did not oppose a congressional initiative to support parks, but he usually allowed his henchmen in his Adminstration to do whatever was in their radical agenda. Laura Bush seemed to be smarter than the President about parks, except for her selection of Mary Bomar as Director. But even then, you can see how Mrs. Bush was trying to help by getting Fran Mainella out of there, when the President tended to leave incompetent appointees in place. But Mr. Bush, like Mr. Obama and all Presidents, always and only act symbolically, and it is astonishing so few of these comments seem to have a clue about how things MUST work with all Chief Executives of major countries, especially the USA.

Me, I thank God Mr. Obama choose to give this spotlight to the National Parks, and took the opportunity while he was at it to appear in some pretty conservative parts of America to discuss other issues on the agenda.

Americans were not always as rude and small minded as these comments indicate some Americans may be today.

If America can heal itself, it won't be through all the venom and cynicism.

Geesh, people, give Kurt a break here. This is a fine piece. He is aptly critical of the Obama administration's expensive photo op to meet with parasitic lobbyists.

I thought it was non-partisan?

Gary, have you just started reading NPT? Of course NPT is partisan, as are most journalistic publications. And that's ok. Everyone has a bias. While I don't agree with NPT's Democratic bias, I stand by the editor's right to express it, and in this piece, he's not toeing the party line.

People who truly love the parks, vacation in the parks. I know that Laura Bush did the Yosemite High Sierra Camp loop trip with her girlfriends. John McCain hiked down the Bright Angel Trail and up the Kaibab (?) trail to the North Rim. They did not take a phalanx of photographers with them. The trips weren't political. What's that expression. You are what you are when no one is looking.

Kurt
Great article. Although I could never imagine seeing Yellowstone in such a brief visit and would wish anyone could experience all the wonders I have enjoyed there. I must respect Obama for bringing notoriety to the parks and only messing up someones vacation for a short time. It must suck being president and knowing the effect you have on other peoples trips. The congestion, the presidents safety, logistics, etc... Imagine if the president spent a day or two touring the park. I do not think there are enough secret service men to place all over the park. This would ruin a lot of vacations. It is sad to say he may not be able to enjoy it like we do and we need to hope the funding follows.
Dave Crowl

Kathy, I'm sure President Obama would love to do it alone with his family and visit ALL the national parks. But, with all the hate climate in this country...I dare not!

Even more angry posts from people blogging posted today ... apparently, the entire trip cost over $400,000 ... which ticked off one blogger. I wonder how far Obama could have gone to appease it by at leastt acknowledging the problems he caused and perhaps thinking of ways in the future to deal with it ... you don't have to close down the road to Old Faithful; you don't even have to close off the area ... there are certainly other ways something like this can be handled. When Obama goes to Ben's Chili Bowl in the U Street area of DC, they don't shut the city down. So, it's a little silly. It would have helped if NPS had been honest about the disruption - I saw one article where Al Nash, the park spokesman, hoped to minimize the impact, but that said nothing to the traveler.

These things can be better handled by everyone involved.

I think people rightfully resent the undemocratic reality that we have a kind of aristocracy in this country, like every other. However, at the very least, these things can be mitigated tremendously.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

I don't think Obama was much of a national parks visitor BEFORE he became president either. Michelle takes the kids to Paris and London and Rome but not to any of the national parks. They just don't like the outdoors or the national parks and this trip was purely a photo op.

I think you're crawling out on a limb, Kathy. Do you know what the Obamas did for vacations before he became president? Before he became U.S. senator?

I'm not saying he is a strong parks advocate or not (although he picked a pretty good candidate for NPS director, and that says something), but I think it's a stretch to say "they just don't like the outdoors or the national parks...."

Kathy, I truly hope we can inspire more black families to visit the national parks instead of it being a white dominated phenomenon. Perhaps we can also recruit more black rangers into the national parks as well. With President Obama visiting the national parks this past weekend is a very good start. By the way, after seeing a few news clips on the Obama girls visiting Yellowstone National Parks, it appears they were throughly enjoying themselves.

Obama claimed that he had visited the Grand Canyon as a youth with his family. Last year before he entered the office he visited the USS Arizona Memorial and visited Hanauma Bay (not a national park but could have easily been an NPS unit).

All US Presidents choose their photo ops. If this visit helps increase awareness of our national parks, I think it's a welcome photo op. I think credit should be given for someone who goes into places where he may not be popular and faces his critics, compared to a previous POTUS (who I won't name) who would carefully choose where he went in order to face friendly audiences.

Obama visited the USS Arizona Memorial last Dec. Being from Hawaii I'd think he's probably been to Hawai'i Volcanoes NP and perhaps Haleakala. He said that he'd been to the Grand Canyon in his younger years.

The President of the US always shows up with a phalanx of reporters. I'd prefer not to get too political, but sheesh - Ronald Reagan wanted to be seen chopping wood every chance he got, and W bought a ranch in Texas and seemingly spent more time there than the White House. Every president is well aware of his image and will plan time off with a mind to protecting it.

That dog and pony show goes with him no matter where he goes, from Broadway to Sunset Blvd, from Glacier to Okeefenokee. Once you're in the office you can't get away. You either stay in the White House and isolate or you go out, impose on the people around you, and chose those things you highlight.

If you don't like the guy, no matter what he does it can't be right. The New England frat boy masquerading as a brush clearing cowboy in Texas was like that for me. I still wouldn't cross the road to get out of his way.

Obama has a lot of people inflamed about him. It's six months in. He's trying hard. If you don't like him, for his politics, for his race, for his age, or whatever, no matter what he does he'll give you something to complain about.

As far as I'm concerned, he spent some days putting attention on the parks. It was superficial, but I don't really think the Secret Service will let him hike into the back country for a couple of weeks. I like him, I like his nominating Jon Jarvis, and I like him vacationing in the parks.

Why in the world does the right-wing continue to realize that you lost. We won. And to whine about Obama visiting our national parks and other treasures of the west tells thinking Americans that you were sound asleep during the eight years of the worst presidency in the history of this country. The bumbling failures are so obvious I don't need to list them. And what about Georgie Porgie spending a huge amount of time, spending a huge amount of OUR money, jetting back and forth between DC and Texas, or even DC and the family compound in the ultra, ultra community of Kennebunkport Maine. Fair is fair. You are not.

He said he hadn't been to the Grand Canyon since he was 11. I am his age and I've been there something like 6 or 7 times and I've never lived close by.

He's into basketball as his sport, rather than hiking. It's not a bad thing. But national parks are not his thing.

I just wanted to clarify that I didn't notice my username after I tried posting (it was the anonymous post earlier) and I posted again after I was logged in. There was a certain similarity since I was trying to recreate the same line of thinking. I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm using sock puppets to bolster my own posts.


Kathy & Jim McDonald, come on. You both ARE out on a limb.

Especially you, Mr. McDonald, who should know better. The Secret Service dominates these trips, and unless the President goes out of the way to curtail what they say they must do -- and just the time involved to micro-manage the Secret Service makes that kind of forcing changes in things like road closings -- REALLY impractical. If any of Mr. Obama's staff were to try to intervene, you can bet the Secret Service would tell them they would be responsible if something happened to the President.

Mr. Obama's trip was not that disruptive. Now, when President Clinton visited Baltimore to watch an Orioles baseball game, now THAT was disruptive to a national park! The Secret Service had him land his helicopter right in the middle of Fort McHenry. The helicopter stayed there the entire time of the game. Unlike Yellowstone, McHenry is small, and that meant the entire park took no visitors whatever during any of these surprise trips. So, get a grip and compare this trip to other Presidential Trips. How about a G-8 conference?

It is important that a President visit National Parks. The disruption will be momentary. Even if Kathy is right -- brushing aside the obvious bias -- and the President knows nothing about Parks, it is great that he now is learning something. Does ANYONE on this blog realize a trip like this means the President gets briefed in advance? That means pro-park people get a chance to give him the basics facing the NPS, something that almost never happens. Do you realize how difficult it is, with so many things going on, for any US agency to get a moment to raise the President's awareness of its issues?

Please, people, get a grip!

I will go along with Rick B. comments. Geez, this President is walking on egg shells, every move, word or deed is under a severe microscope by a element of people that must be purely jealous of clear academic frame of mind...most rational and pragmatic then most U.S. Presidents we had in the past...especially after the last one. His pick for the next National Parks Director (Jon Jarvis) was a brilliant move. Kathy, most basketball junkies also hike, bike and climb mountains and I'm one of them.

Anybody complaining about him halting traffic should pull their head out of where ever they hide it. This was announced way ahead of time. Either you were in a jam because you wanted to be close to our president or you are an idiot for not altering your to do list for the great Yellowstone-Grand Teton area. There is so much you could have been doing not far away. So if your an idiot get over it and don't blame the president for your poor planning. You can't see the park in 1/2 a day anyway, so just needed to plan that part of the day elsewhere. As I said in my other post. I am glad he went to my favorite Park and hope good comes of it. I also agree with d-2 post; Obama gets briefed before hand and that is very important to we who hold the park dear.
Dave Crowl

FYI, his trip was not announced way ahead of time ... (it just seems like it in today's ever shorter news cycle)

DC does not shut down for presidential motorcades or visits (though there can be some really bizarre perimeters for the right sort of hairtrigger event -- you can get close to a hotel when the Pres speaks at it, but when the World Bank and IMF are in town, you can't get within 500 yards sometimes); I've gotten close to several in my times ... even was able to protest W's motorcade multiple times and Cheney another time ...

On a lot of the posts about people complaining, it was clear that they were right wing; nevertheless, I can't imagine being too happy about it (no matter how far I swing the opposite direction).

My own political preferences (or perhaps lack thereof) are well known; I'm not terribly impressed by anyone in power - left or right or dead center. I was much more interested reading the account of the chef in the Old Faithful Inn, the accounts of travelers, of a cyclist who was outside the park and saw something go by, and of the general reaction to it. In our upstairs/downstairs world, I guess I'm a downstairs kind of guy.

There's a lot of important Yellowstone news in recent days, a lot of interesting accounts by travelers, a lot of people sharing the well of ideas. In the small matter of Obama's visit, I think it could have been mitigated and that at least in the couple days of warning on the itinerary, that people could have been better alerted as to road closings and such. That kind of information would have been far more useful than what we got out of media reports. And, it couldn't have really been a security issue--one newspaper even reported the plane departure time from West Yellowstone.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Well Jim, depends on your idea of way ahead of time. It was posted on this web site 8 days before he came and was in the national news as well. His order of travel was posted with a full day traveling from park to park which meant he could only be in Yellowstone in the morning. We are a world of complainers and some complain louder than others. I agree that the road closer would have sucked and the National Park Service should have warned travelers up on entrance during the week leading up to the visit that they could expect long delays on that morning in that area of the park. I bet it would of happened any way.