Plight of the Parks

National Park Service Open to Cutting Single-Track Bike Trails in the Parks

National Park Service officials say they are not averse to cutting single-track mountain bike trails in the park system, as long as "potential impacts" don't arise.

Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?

Who runs the National Park System? Is it the National Park Service, or communities that fuel their economies off the parks? That's a good question to consider in the wake of the moxie and clout that tiny Cody, Wyoming, summoned to turn the heat up on its golden goose, Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone's Latest Snowmobile Decision for Cody: Politically Motivated or Simply Neighborly?

Were Yellowstone National Park officials simply being neighborly when they reversed themselves recently on whether to keep Sylvan Pass open for snowmobile traffic during the winter months? Or were their feet being scorched by the political fires that too often seem to influence management decisions?

How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?

What draws people to national parks in general, and to national park issues specifically? Why is it that gun issues and deaths inevitably draw attention to the national parks, but stories of insufficient budgets and deteriorating infrastructure and harsh impacts on the "parkscape" draw comparatively scant notice?

How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow

We all love America's national park system, but we often have different expectations about local federal parks than about places farther away. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in arguments about Point Reyes National Seashore.

Yellowstone Officials Now Recommending that Sylvan Pass Remain Open For Snowmobiling

In a nearly complete reversal of their initial decision, Yellowstone National Park officials are now recommending that Sylvan Pass and the park's east entrance be kept open for winter use.

National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community

When the International Mountain Bicycling Association holds its 2008 World Summit in Utah later this month, it will have a very special guest. National Park Service Director Mary Bomar apparently has agreed to deliver a keynote address to the industry arm.

Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue

Congressman Raul Grijalva, who heads the House subcommittee on national parks, is accusing Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne of pandering to the National Rifle Association.
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Grijalva_Kempthorne_Letter_05_22_08.pdf54.49 KB

Development of Valley Forge National Historical Park Inholding Gets Green Light from Planners

Despite opposition from the National Park Service and park advocacy groups, a development proposed for land bounded on three sides by Valley Forge National Historic Park has been given the green light by community planners.

Is the National Park Service Obligated to Better Promote Proposed Change in Gun Regulations?

Does the National Park Service have an obligation -- before the public comment period closes -- to better inform the general public about proposed changes to the existing gun regulations? While those who closely follow national park issues and gun issues more than likely are aware of the proposal to allow park visitors to arm themselves, does the general park-going public?
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Ranger_Groups_letter_to_Park_Service.pdf48.79 KB

Is Your Backcountry Safety Net A Personal Locator Beacon or Cell Phone?

Do you skimp on backcountry preparations, figuring you've got your trusty personal locator beacon or cell phone to summon help at a moment's notice? It's tempting, no? Why prepare yourself equipment-wise and possibly skill-wise when help is just a push button away?

Coal-Fired Plants Obscuring National Park Vistas

On a clear day, you often can see for miles and miles. But as a report from the National Parks Conservation Association points out, clear days are harder and harder to find in our national parks under the Bush administration's relatively laissez-faire approach to coal-fired power plants.

National Park Service Sued Over Personal Watercraft at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Gulf Islands National Seashore

In an action sure to inflame some national park visitors, Friends of the Earth and The Wilderness Society have sued the National Park Service to reinstate bans against personal watercraft at Gulf Islands National Seashore and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
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Jet Ski Lawsuit.pdf1.07 MB

Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health

Visiting national parks could be hazardous to your health. That's the conclusion that can be drawn from a snapshot of health and safety conditions across the National Park System.

Congressman Calls for Full EIS of Proposal to Allow Concealed Carry in America's National Parks

Congressman Raul Grijalva, calling the Bush administration's efforts to allow national park visitors to arm themselves political pandering, wants a full Environmental Impact Statement, complete with public hearing, performed on the proposal.

Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks

Moving at a politically expedient speed, Interior Department officials are proposing to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons with them.
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DOI-Proposed Gun Reg.pdf28.75 KB

National Parks Week: Perfect Time to Assess the "State of the Parks"

Don't let the hoopla over National Parks Week and the launch of the Centennial Challenge fund-letting fool you: The state of the national park system is depressing. While recent visitation is up, staffing is down, and park budgets aren't keeping pace with inflation.

Railroad's Tweaking Delays Glacier National Park's Decision Against Bombing Avalanche Chutes

Long after the public comment period closed on Glacier National Park's draft environmental impact statement regarding a railroad's request to bomb avalanche chutes on the park's southern boundary, the railroad apparently has succeeded in tweaking that document.

Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?

If the winter of 2008-09 is as severe as this slowly retreating winter, will it matter that 25 Yellowstone National Park bison have been saved from slaughter while another 1,200 or so are trucked to their death? Those paying $2.8 million to gain grazing rights to a ranch just north of Yellowstone think so.

Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?

America's national park system is interwoven with more than 4 million acres of private lands, nearly half of which the National Park Service would love to own, but can't afford. Does Congress, or the American people, care?

A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers

Is it just me, or is it really a sad sign of the times when the National Park Service is promoting "factory direct" body armor to its rangers, body armor that not only stops most bullets but which is "a great choice for active rangers"?

Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks

If you were Interior secretary, how would you respond if seven former National Park Service directors lobbied you on an issue? In the case at hand, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is being urged not to allow national park visitors to carry weapons.
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NPS Directors-Guns.pdf93.94 KB
Bomar-Guns.pdf41.22 KB

GAO Finds Fault With Management Plan For Yellowstone National Park Bison

The other shoe has dropped in the Government Accountability Office's investigation into the management plan for Yellowstone National Park bison. In a biting report the GAO says the plan has been a failure on numerous fronts and the involved agencies need to come up with a better solution.

Antietam, Monocacy Battlefields on 2008 "Most Endangered" List

Development pressures, cellphone towers, and mining threats are among the concerns that landed the Antietam and Monocacy national battlefields, a portion of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, and seven other battlefields on the 2008 list of "Most Endangered" Civil War battlefields.
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2008 Endangered Battlefields.pdf1.53 MB

Congress Authorized Expansion of Petrified Forest National Park, But Forgot to Fund It

I've told you about private development and Valley Forge National Historical Park, and about private development and Acadia National Park, and about the National Park Service being so poor it has to turn to commercial interests to preserve history. So does it come as any surprise that Congress approved, but failed to fund, expansion of Petrified Forest National Park?

Our Endangered National Parks

At Yosemite National Park, concern for a river led to a staggering court ruling against the National Park Service. At Grand Canyon National Park, fears of radiation have led to congressional action to protect the park. At Yellowstone National Park, the buzzing of snowmobiles has caused science to be overlooked.

FY2008 Budget Provides Seasonal Increases At Glacier National Park, But Hamstrings Other Operations

Siwftcurrent Lake, Glacier National Park. Kurt Repanshek photo
The good news from Glacier National Park is that there will be more seasonal employees on the ground this year. The bad news is that cyclic maintenance projects will continue to suffer.

Decommissioning National Parks: Some History, And Some Ominous Clouds

My recent post on decommissioned national parks drew fairly good readership on the Traveler, but it garnered much more outcry on a private listserv delivered to retired National Park Service employees. Which spurs a number of questions, foremost among them being the obvious "Why?"

Virgin Islands National Park: Another Park Threatened By Inbounds Development

Valley Forge National Historical Park isn't the only unit of the national park system threatened by development on private lands that fall within its borders. Far from it. The latest case involves Virgin Islands National Park, where development on roughly 1,400 privately owned acres within the park's borders is harming the park's resources.

Valley Forge: Once Again A Battleground, This Time Pitting History Against Development

More than two centuries after General George Washington and his Continental Army somehow endured a bitterly cold and exacting winter at Valley Forge, the landscape is again in turmoil. On one side is a national historical park, one that helps preserve the memory of America's birth. On the other, an organization whose questionable motives could sully that landscape.
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VAFO-ARC Briefing Statement.pdf16.75 KB
VAFO-ARC Implications.doc134.5 KB
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