Recent comments

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   29 min 56 sec ago

    I think it's necessary to seperate the issues here. Is the hunt currently legal. Yes. Is there anything wrong with hunters participating in a legal hunt? No. As long as hunters follow the rules, rants about slaughtering elk and unethical hunters are just examples of people (probably anti-hunters at heart) shouting that their values are different than those of the hunters. It's OK for me to take photographs from the road, but it's wrong for you to hunt where I can see it from the road. National Parks aren't for hunting because I say so. It does not make a lick of sense to have elk feedlots to sustain high numbers of elk, then turn around and hunt elk in GTNP to reduce the population, but which agencies are responsible for those policies? Rage at them, not hunters.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   1 hour 13 min ago

    Deby--thank you for expressing what many of us have felt for a long time.

    Rick

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   4 hours 21 min ago

    My impression of what Scates was saying is that the mission of the national parks is to leave them as natural as possible and not interfere with the life and death of any of the wildlife. I doubt that Scates wants to see anything starve to death but the government has created an artificial situation and eventually it needs to be dealt with in some manner, whether that is reducing the amount of food that is given to the elk, a little at a time, giving them a chance to acclimate to living wild, or what, I do not know.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   4 hours 23 min ago

    I am not anti-hunting for food, just for trophies or in a national park. According to the documentation I have found about the GTNP elk reduction hunt, the issue has nothing to do with a right to hunt, but solely about elk management. At least that is what they have declared.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   5 hours 8 min ago

    In my experience most hunters, like most photographers, are ethical and obey the laws.. In any group of people there will be some who disobey those laws either intentionaly or out of ignorance (road hunting or harrassing hunters with their car horn). Hunters are given a short season to exercise their right to hunt while photographers have no such "season". I understand that many are put off by hunting in general and I certainly don't condone the type of hunt that was described nor would most hunters I know, but then given the authors anti hunting stance suspect the worst example that could be found was used to make a case against hunting. I'm not educated as to Wyoming's fiscal situation but know that in most other states where hunting is popular an enourmous ammount of money is spent by hunters. Money that goes right back into wildlife management and habitat. Photographers are not asked to buy a permit to shoot pictures, or pay a tax on every click of their shutter nor limited to a short season to take their pictures. Something to consider when proposing to take the rights of others away.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   5 hours 30 min ago

    Kurt as far as I can tell, Yellowstone is the only one that seems to be doing this. Many of the other parks still have their fee proposals open to electronic comments. I do think that when organizations spam the comments they are doing a disservice. Reminds me of the scene in Gangs of NY where Daniel Day Lewis's character is shaving people to get them to look different so they can return to the polls to "vote early, and often". And plus, it's not like these comments are a "vote". It's not like you are voting on a state constitutional ammendment, like some here tend to misconstrue this process. It's simply kicking ideas into the park service on a proposal. That's it.

    If that is the reason Yellowstone decided to pull this to having comments only sent via a letter mailed in to the park service, it would obviously cut down the chance of the NGO spammers trumping up their numbers. But, that is IF that is the reason.

    So, what is the solution? If one has had a website built, or has worked in software/web development, one would realize that having a user based system is not exactly cheap or easy to manage. Having a simple form generate an email response is rather simple (which is already being done on the NPS park planning sites from what I can tell), but once you have a user name login, with password, and trying to make sure that the person submitting the comments is legitimate so that they are not submitting comments multiple times under different accounts to trump up "opposition" - well that becomes a much bigger task to manage with the IT departments. That process also takes that thing called time and money, which then has to be a part of the park budgets, which of course is appropriated by congress. Or it has to be funded by other means. The parks seems to allow anonymous comments since you don't have to fill out your name, but I question if that is even effective. Having 9000 canned email responses on the server that were sent from one specific NGO website isn't exactly a scientific measurement of how the public truly feels about an issue in my opinion, because that can be very slanted, and "rigged".

    This is the problem I see with electronric voting too. There should be some sort of accountability with those that supply the comments. And that's if this process even matters like some state. But sometimes I do think the comments and public approval/disapproval does bare some teeth. I look at the fact that Bison in Yellowstone are now given to tribes as one of those small victories that many people wanted to see. They have had a comment period on this issue for some time now, and the park service seems to be more open to sending the bison to other places instead instead of doing a full on "cull". I do think public comments with opposition or approval holds some weight.

  • Around The Parks: Name Change Talk At Craters Of The Moon, New Visitor Center At Crater Lake, And Monitoring Station At Yellowstone   6 hours 17 min ago

    Dahkota, I don't think it would ever see over a million visitors a year. Even during some of the better economic years, the SNRA always topped Craters in terms of Visitation when you look at regional visitation statistics. Craters gets roughly 250,000 visitors per year. The SNRA gets about 350,000. The dirt roads leading out to the expanded part of the monument are well off most people's radar too. Not many trek deep into the backcountry per year, and literally during summer that's almost impossible unless one was willing to brave high heat on black lava, and hauling many gallons of water. Every time I did go into the backcountry, I had it to myself. There's also not enough front country camping spaces and hotels are all in either arco or carey, so I think it would be similar to what happened at places like Black Canyon of the Gunnison or Great Sand Dunes when they upgraded. There would be a small spike in visitation, but nothing like you see at Yellowstone, etc.

    And Orcabait, I don't disagree with you on your sentiments, but I do think there is a slight difference, although places like Cuyahoga and Hot Springs really distort the meaning when you compare them to the other spots. A lot of the National Monuments signed off on the antiquities act are definitely not as well protected as what you find in parks that were stamped with congressional approval. But Craters is one of the original National Monuments, and is deserving of the name change, especially when places like Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, and Congaree have been upgraded for similar purposes. It is a marketing trick, but it does put it on the international radar, especially in terms of potential visitionan, than if it was still labeled a National Monument.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   6 hours 19 min ago

    The irony that shouldn't be overlooked in how Yellowstone officials are soliciting comments is that their decision not to allow email or on-line comments comes as the National Park Service is trying to be "relevant" to younger generations and as park staff considers a $30 million fiber optic network to enhance connectivity in the park.

  • Around The Parks: Name Change Talk At Craters Of The Moon, New Visitor Center At Crater Lake, And Monitoring Station At Yellowstone   7 hours 1 min ago

    National Park unit names are not reflective of their quality. This is a myth that has no basis in law or spirit of the NPS. There is nothing at all that says, for example, that Cuyahoga Valley National Park is of a higher status or quality than, say Aniakchak National Monument or Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. This is an unfortunate stereotype that we should be educating against. Too many people think if it is "National Park" it has a higher "status". Only in the minds of some of the public it does. But not in any other real way. It is an illusion, a psychological marketing trick.

    I hasten to add, I do know the difference between those designated by Congress and those by Presidential Order, and yes, those designated by Congress have a higher degree of protection. BUT the focus should be on the legal means of protection not on the name.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   7 hours 7 min ago

    The refuge was ordered by the court to stop the winter feeding of elk. Unfortunately, the court didn't set a date by which the feeding must stop. Due to the feeding, there is a greater number of elk than the area can support. Also due to the feeding, there is a much greater chance of diseases being tranmitted from elk to elk (chronic wasting has been spreading). The state of Wyoming wants to continue to artificially feed the elk. My guess is so the herd stays unnaturally large, allowing for more hunting.

    But, if they stop the artificial feeding, more than half the elk will likely die due to starvation (it is estimated that the herd size is more than double the size that could actually be supported by the land). So, you have a yearly cull to keep the population down to sustainable levels while artificially feeding them or you stop feeding them and let 1/2 of them die slowly.

    While I do not agree with the methods the hunters used to 'bag their elk,' I do understand the need for hunting to keep the herd at a healthy size. It seems some hunters were cited, some were ticketed, and one or more lost their hunting priveleges. Maybe the hunt needs to be better managed and those that do not follow the rules or the law have their right to hunt stripped.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   7 hours 31 min ago

    Appalling. And a disgrace.

  • Around The Parks: Name Change Talk At Craters Of The Moon, New Visitor Center At Crater Lake, And Monitoring Station At Yellowstone   7 hours 47 min ago

    I hesitate when thinking of Craters of the Moon being a national park - that would make it more crowded and touristy. I like it the way it is, especially the blm area outside the monument border.

    I'm curious how a visitor center in Rim Village will alleviate crowding in Rim Village. I haven't been there yet (hope to in May). but typically, visitor centers bring crowds...

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   7 hours 58 min ago

    Don't quite understand how Scates would deem starving to death a more humane way to die than being shot.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   8 hours 36 min ago

    Kudos to Deby Dixon for writing this article and to NPT for posting it. This hunt is unnecessary and barbaric, and does not fit in any way with the purposes of Grand Teton National Park. I support putting intense pressure on the NPS to end it, once and for all.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   9 hours 35 min ago

    The real question here is why capture public comments at all. They obviously have no bearing on agency decisions. By only allowing snail mail comments, the NPS has further minimized the likelihood of folks paying to have their voice heard by the NPS. A deft manipulation by the NPS. Just another way of these bureaucrats saying, "Now go away, we know what is best for you, so quit bothering us."

    This is excerpted directly from the NPS response to a group challenging the backcountry fee in the Smokies.

    Park staff did not hide the fact that there was opposition to the

    BCF (backcountry fee) – the results of public scoping were described in the BCF implementation plan. SER and

    WASO decision-makers were aware of the opposition, but ultimately, they decided to approve the

    BCF.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   9 hours 58 min ago
    Park hunters herd elk into a hail of rifle fire

    By Mike Koshmrl Jackson Hole Daily Witnesses say hunters in Grand Teton National Park drove a herd of elk from a no-hunt zone and toward an awaiting firing line Wednesday.The scene at the sage flats north of Kelly was a surprise to Michigan resident and Jackson Hole visitor Joanna Childers, who was on a wildlife safari during her first visit to Teton park.“It looked like a bunch of hunters surrounded a pack of elk,” Childers said. “Hunters were staked out in the road and around the field.“You see these animals and they’re in a pack and there a bunch of rifles pointed at them from every direction,” she said. “Overall, it was kind of sad and pretty unfair.”Wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen — long an opponent of the park hunt — said hunter behavior Wednesday was as egregious as he’s seen.By Mangelsen’s account, around 11 a.m. a person pushed a herd of about 100 elk out of an area off limits to hunters near Kelly. Once the herd was on the move, chaos ensued, he said.“All the sudden somebody shot and they just opened fire on them,” Mangelsen said. “It’s really poor sportsmanship — it was illegal and it was just a display of totally barbaric hunting.”The photographer estimated that 30 people were involved in the drive, that 25 shots were fired and that eight to 10 elk were killed.Teton park officials did not corroborate many of the details described by Mangelsen and others, but said some hunters were ticketed Wednesday.“There was quite a bit of action as far as hunters go and the movement of elk near Kelly,” park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. “At least two citations have been issued.”Two hunters shot and killed bull elk Tuesday in the park, where harvest is restricted to cows and calves. The elk were confiscated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Skaggs said.One of those hunters was also cited for shooting at a running herd, she said.Rules unique to the park hunt prohibit firing more than one shot at a group of running animals.Seven park rangers were still in the field at the time Skaggs spoke with the Jackson Hole Daily, and she said it’s possible there were other violations.It’s legal for hunters to drive elk out of areas where hunting is prohibited in the park, Skaggs said.Mangelsen said some people were firing from the road, which is illegal. Photos he provided show hunters with rifles and shooting sticks setting up on the roadside.Jeff Soulliere, another local photographer, said the display left him speechless.“It absolutely was a mess,” Soulliere said. “This is a national park, and you’ve got tourists on the road right next to hunters with high-powered rifles.“It really struck me as, ‘you got to be kidding me,’ ” he said. “No one was taking safety into consideration because they were herding and surrounding them and they could have shot each other.”

    A crowd of hunters participating in theTeton park hunt herded elk from a no-hunting area into a barrage of bullets on Wednesday, upsetting nonhunting passersby. Thomas D. Mangelsen
  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   20 hours 16 min ago

    Not long ago, I was talking with a member of the Utah legislature who is one of the trustworthy ones. (I think -- or hope . . . .)

    He was telling of the problem caused by mass emailings drummed up by special interests of various kinds. All sorts of organizations from all sides of the political spectrum send emails to members asking them to "sign a petition" for or against whatever they are for or against.

    Dutiful members click their mice a few times and send off another signature to oppose or support whatever the cause may be. The problem is that probably 80% of the clickers have no real idea what they just clicked for or against.

    He told of a proposal for a new highway in Utah that launched online petition drives by two opposing groups. Those produced over 900,000 petition signatures both for and against. They came from all over the world -- including, he said, two from Tasmania.

    His point was that when things like that happen, any effort to actually discern public sentiments become totally meaningless. I'm thinking there may very well be some real wisdom behind the NPS turning off this kind of thing. If they do, and only people who really care and have made an effort to actually become informed respond, won't that be better?

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   1 day 2 hours ago

    Baring interference from some heavy hitters in Congress, this proposed fee increase is probably a done deal (and Congress, after all, seems to love these fees because fee revenue offers an excuse for politicians to avoid adquately funding the parks with tax dollars.)

    That said, I personally don't have any problem for any public review process with the requirement to send in comments via snail mail. As mentioned above, why is that such a burden? For anyone who truly cares about an issue, the 50 cents for postage shouldn't be a burden - unless you're an organization that is trying to flood the "system" with mass-produced, cut and paste pseudo-comments. There's probably even some minor cost savings for the agency in snail mail comments, since they don't have the staff time and expense of downloading and printing paper copies of electronic submissions.

    I doubt the NPS or many other organizations has reached the point where paperless review of such comments would pass muster by groups who want to challenge the "results," as evidenced by the above comment complaining about a lack of proper compilation or recording of comments on another issue.

    If this increase is likely a done deal, the public comment process becomes one of those politically-correct steps that serves little purpose, so the park might as well make it as easy as possible from their standpoint to "receive, record and document."

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   1 day 2 hours ago

    If what the naysayers allude is true, it is far from unique to the NPS, and doesn't make the NPS in more general a nefarious super villain.

    My first ever encounter with political involvement was in the late 1970's at a county council meeting arguing against their proposal to short cut the process for eminent domain to support some development projects the council members were invested in. Right now here in Alaska we have the outgoing Republican governor trying to shove through a road to nowhere [except for being close to mines operated by moneyed interests] where the public meetings have been nearly universally against the road project.

    This is one of the common ways that these bureaucratic systems works. I don't endorse it being that way, I argue against it being that way, but it happens all over the place. What has to happen is to dismantle it each and every time. Laborious, exhausting, frustrating, but it is what you have to do, more than just rail against the overwhelming evil of it all.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   1 day 3 hours ago

    Requiring snail mail comments is just another way of saying "we don't want to go to the trouble of reviewing a lot of feedback". This is 2014 and I don't know of another organization that refuses to consider feedback submitted electronically.

    Maybe with a portion of the fee increment they can fund a new online electronic feedback evaluation system.

  • Washington Monument To Reopen Today After Being Closed Nearly Three Years   1 day 6 hours ago

    I have a plan to visit the Washington Monument in my next Boston New York Washington dc tour but I am little confused about where should I stay during my tour there. Can you suggest me about any affordable hotel to stay Washington with family?

  • Around The Parks: Name Change Talk At Craters Of The Moon, New Visitor Center At Crater Lake, And Monitoring Station At Yellowstone   1 day 9 hours ago

    I do think Craters of the Moon is of park quality. There's two seasons I think worth witnessing - in spring time when the oddly shaped monkeyflowers bloom all over the black desert, while the sage brush is a vibrant green tinge from soaking up the snowmelt. And of course winter, when the snowpack is at least chest deep, and the air is a crisp and dry. It's a black and white paradise under a blue bird sky, most of the time. I also think Craters should be part of a larger protected park and preserve that includes the pioneers, up into the boulder-white clouds and SNRA, but that's a fight for another day.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   1 day 10 hours ago

    I'm not shocked to see the local papers outside of Yellowstone in favor of the increase. When I was there in August, all the front country campgrounds had a "full" sign on it. Yellowstone and the Tetons have seen a steady increase in visitation over the years, and I doubt 5.00 even puts a dent in that. Obviously the small local media markets realize tourism is their main bread and butter in that region.

    I think I have my own theory on why they are asking for an old school approach. I could see how making people go the old fashioned route eliminates those electronic letter responses from NGO's. It also lessons the chance of the "vote early, vote often" phenomenon which can occur with electronic commenting, as one person can submit 50 different comments under a fake pseudonym. Not a single day goes by where some organization is asking people on social media to submit a canned electronic comment through a link on their NGO website to senators or organizations like the NPS. All one has to do is sumbit a canned response with just their name attached and I'm sure YNP has recieved those comments in mass while dealing wih the wolf and buffalo issues. Weeding through that probably wastes a lot of time and money. I'm not saying this is perfect either because paper has it's own issues.

    NPS commenting periods aren't always about "popular vote" either, as some people here tend to misconstrue this process in their misinterpretation of the organic act.

    And Mr Casada, be a man this time if you wish to respond to what I say and do it here on this page, instead of running to one of your blogs and misconstruing what I say. May want to re-read what I said here two or three times, before you misinterpret it this time.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   1 day 11 hours ago

    If the NPS follows the same approach with Yellowstone that they did in the Smokies, the public meeting comments will be absolutely meaningless. They kept no record of comments, and arguably worse, they did not allow those in attendance to share their thoughts with the assembled individuals. Instead, attendees were met by NPS personnel and sort of shuttled or cordoned off in small groups and given the impression their voices meant something.

    However, subsequent FOIA requests revealed that there was no formal compilation or recording of public input whatsoever. In other words, the "hearings" were a sham because nobody from the NPS truly listened or heeded what attendees had to say.

    Jim Casada.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   1 day 21 hours ago

    There's been some criticism for the park's approach for collecting public feedback—no comments are being accepted via e-mail, fax or an NPS website, although they can be submitted via U. S. Mail, or in person at a series of public meetings that have now been completed

    That's because the NPS doesn't care about your opinion. The fees are predetermined. They are just checking a bs box for public and civic engagement. Another sham from the scandal ridden NPS.