Recent comments

  • Traveler's View: Senate Should Either Fund New Parks In Defense Bill, Or Strip Them Out   3 min 4 sec ago

    I find part C of Sec. 3057 to be troubling for CHNS. These sections received much public comment and followed NEPA to the letter. If the final rule is modified recreational conflicts between ORV users and pedestrians will increase.


    (c) MODIFICATIONS TO FINAL RULE.—The Secretary shall undertake a public process to consider, consistent with management requirements at the National Seashore, the following changes to the Final Rule:(1) Opening beaches at the National Seashore that are closed to night driving restrictions, by opening beach segments each morning on a rolling basis as daily management reviews are completed.*(2) Extending seasonal off-road vehicle routes for additional periods in the Fall and Spring if offroad vehicle use would not create resource management problems at the National Seashore.*(3) Modifying the size and location of vehicle free areas. Part C, (2) Part 2 is inaccurate because extended seasonal off road vehicle routes were not established for resource management concerns. They were enacted because the conditions adjacent to village beaches have changed dramatically since CHNS opened. There are saftey concerns and recreational conflicts with ORV use and pedestrians accessing the much narrower beaches ( do to ocean beach erosion the last 50 years).Part C (3)ORV users could not accept any compromise to unfettered ORV access to the majority of the Park beaches. Many of the areas that were chosen to be vehicle free areas are narrow beaches put aside for wildlife resting and foraging areas and areas where visitors that choose to can recreate in a more "primitive wilderness", as was guaranteed in the Enabling Legislation of the Park. Most of these areas were chosen where visitation by pedestrians would be less because of the logistics of not being adjacent to the villages.
  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   3 hours 57 min ago

    I'd like to get back to the point of the article -- is the Park Service losing its very founding purpose by catering to fads. In the case of the Sleeping Bear paved bike trail, this certainly appears to be true. This Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is not a trail in the common understanding of the term but a superhighway for one user group -- those on wheels (bicyclists mainly, but also skaters, skateboarders, skate-skiers.) It is a 10 feet wide asphalt surface, with 5 or more feet of cleared shoulders, for a clearcut zone of 20 to 30 feet, and it goes (or will when it's finished) for 27 miles, from one end of the park to the other, through untouched forests, wetlands and fragile dune areas. This is causing unbelievable destruction to the environment that we thought would be protected forever by the NPS. Our confidence in the NPS as the protector of the environment is destroyed too. Sleeping Bear Naturally is a group formed in reaction to the paving of the forest. Our purpose is to encourage Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to adhere to its mission to preserve and protect the environment for future generations. Visit our website,, and our Facebook page for more information and to see before and after photos of the trail zone. Email us at

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 hours 59 min ago

    "Higher education is a mess."

    It would be easier to list what isn't in a mess nowadays, I believe. "It's all crap" would be a more truthful statement than "It's all wonderful." Probably a good thing that people are realizing it.

    Real Clear Politics Average of polls 12/03-12/14/2014:

    Direction of country:



    Despite Mr. Gruber and at least one contributor to this sight. We aren't stupid.

    Now, I do not know what the break down is for believers and deniers of man made climate change in the demographics of this poll but the direction of the country at this point is light years more important to life on the planet than whether or not man contributes enough CO2 to distract from the very real major problems that are being buried because of all the distractions of the issue.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   7 hours 53 min ago

    Wow is right. Sheer idiocy.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   7 hours 56 min ago

    Perhaps something like "political INcorrectness?"

    That is called free thought and speech as well as reality.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   8 hours 7 min ago

    I would say that gatekeeping is a form of censorship, and everyone can recite his or her anecdotes of startling anti-intellectualism in the university--this is a truism. But the university is also about the one site for exploring complexity and controversy in a culture whose popular discourse seems to be little more than a daily reproduction of nonsensical polemics. (In the Traveler comment sections, how often do we notice someone seemingly waiting around for a pretext to register some bizarre political resentment?) So, the university is very far from perfect and has never lived up to its mythology as a place of unfettered academic freedom, but at the end of the day, it nevertheless remains about the most useful place for advancing inquiry.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   8 hours 47 min ago

    Wow. It only takes one or two people posting here to make me want to abandon this site.

    There were some fine points made by many commenters but I still leave here with a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   9 hours 24 min ago

    The NPS is concerned about the New Generation of rapidly growing Hispanics that will be the majority in the USA and they do not visit or care about the National Parks. The NPS is reaching out to them. The White New Generation is of little concern as the White New Generation is going to be the minority and maybe extinct.. For example, Jackson, Wyoming is 30% Hispanic and only 9% of them have visited Grand Teton National Park. The NPS needs to change that if the Parks will survive as the US becomes a Hispanic country. White girls go hiking in the Parks instead of having babies; Hispanics girls work menial jobs and make babies White girls are not producing the New Generation; Hispanic girls are.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   11 hours 1 min ago

    Thanks, I also agree with your statement that trying to manage and educate visitors in high use areas is a daunting task. Thats an ongoing challenge, and I think social media can play a roll in doing that, especially if people are on a twitter/facebook feed and they do read the posts put out by the NPS.

    This year, many parks have had either record visititation or near record visitation, so I don't think there is some dangerous sink about to occur. In fact, I think if gas prices remain low, its going to cause a considerable uptick in visitation.. Like, many here, i'm more concerned that the parks remain protected and that many of the interests that Michael stated in his post are kept at bay. I also dont want to see the parks dropping fiberoptic lines through wild areas and key corridors so that visitors can feel like they are in the hilton. Nor do I want to see cell towers on mountaintops and ridglines.. I really think people should go to National Parks to have a more low key experience, and the hope is that these wild parts on the Earth remain that way a few hundred years from now. These areas shouldn't be "urbanized" in an attempt to appease just a certain % of people in a single generation. Whose to say the generation after them might want to disconnect more than their forefathers generations. Regardless, many kids are wowed with nature if they are exposed to it. I've seen many of kids capture their first salamander, or see a wild black bear and the only way I can term it is that it's an "etheral experience" for them.
  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   11 hours 43 min ago

    Thank you, and I appreciate it, but I am not looking to make friends or fans. I am rather speaking from 50 years of experience and research, none of which points to "gatekeepers" but rather flat out censorship in the university. Certainly you have heard of the latest: Trigger warnings. Warning: What I am about to say might be offensive. Translation: I had better not say it at all.

    Nor is it just limited to the Humanities and Social Sciences. I have found it in the so-called hard sciences, too. Twenty years ago, teaching conservation history at the University of Montana, I was personally attacked for even bringing up population in the biology department, lest I offend a student who came from an extended family of 47 people. She further reminded me of her religion. Can you guess, but again, what did that have to do with biology?

    I should think my argument is perfectly clear. If I cannot walk into a classroom and introduce my facts--what I believe to be important--how can anyone call that a university? Gatekeeping? Yes, and finally to the point where the gatekeepers make sure their "peers" are among the chosen few.

    This all started with that business about 98 percent of scientists agreeing with global warming. Perhaps they do. But a real university makes room for the two percent, or else it isn't a university. Back in the day, Rachel Carson was pilloried by the chemical industry, including a good many scientists working for universities. How dare she disagree with the use of a pesticide (DDT) then saving the lives of millions of people? Well, she did disagree, and we learned from it. I see little of that kind of learning now. In fact, I would hazard to guess that 98 percent of the scientists studying pesticides in 1962 wanted Rachel Carson's head.

    She persevered because she knew how to debate a complex and controversial issue. The moment Dan Botkin suggested any complexity on these pages, well, for many the classroom was closed. As a historian, I understand that reaction, but yes, I did earn my Ph.D. without insisting on any trigger warnings, which is why I stoop to say what I observe to be true. Higher education is a mess.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   12 hours 7 min ago

    Exactly, Gary, and that is why I asked the question above. Ron and Michael Kellett expand on that. The lack of environmental education for young people is a threat, however. Perhaps that is an area where electronic media might play an important role.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   12 hours 13 min ago

    I usually agree with much of what you write, Dr. Runte, but this last post makes me question whether or not you may have strayed into the realms of extremism of your own. I really don't think our universities have been "destroyed" by political correctness. Is it possible that there is some kind of opposite corrollary to PC thinking? Perhaps something like "political INcorrectness?"

    Do better answers lie somewhere in the middle of all this? I hope so.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   12 hours 20 min ago

    Thank you justinh, I am in agreement with your post. I to am a fan of Dr. Runte's, I do read his posts. On the issue of population, Dr. Runte has a valid point. Recently I was supporting a candidate for the Calif. State Senate. A very good person. I asked him one day if it was OK to discuss populations issues. He replied say nothing about it until after the election. Another congressional candidate I supported, a high school science teacher , really smart guy, gave me the response, Ron, forget it, technology will solve everything. Even in our best environmental organizations, family planing and population control are discussed, but when the conversation enters the political arena, forget it. However, I am still with Dr. Lemons, we must try just as Rachel Carlson did in "Silent Spring". It simply cannot be just about us.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   12 hours 44 min ago

    Social media and cyber technology is certainly an issue that needs serious consideration. However, in terms of actual negative impact on our parks, intensive recreational and commercial development is a much bigger threat. Max Old Bear is sounding the alarm about a blacktop bike "trail" that is as wide as a country road, which Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is slashing through intact forests. This is bad news for that park and for a disturbing trend in national park management direction.

    Mountain bikers have created a powerful lobbying organization that is pressuring the National Park Service to greatly expand bike trails in our parks. A good example of the potential damage this can do to wildlands is the public land riders on the recent defense act. These riders included boundary changes in an existing New Mexico wilderness area and the downgrading of potential new wilderness areas in Montana to much weaker "special areas," to allow for expanded mountain bike trails that would not be allowed in wilderness.

    There are other serious threats to our parks and public lands from an array of industrial recreation and commercial interests. This includes efforts to expand off-road motorized vehicle access, predator hunting, drone use, and privatization of recreation facilities. The National Park Service needs to re-commit itself to its founding principles, and not be swayed by special interests that are willing to undermine these principles for their own benefit. Otherwise, the agency is on a slippery slope that will take it farther and farther away from the mandate of the 1916 Organic Act to keep our parks "unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   14 hours 14 min ago


    I don't think political correctness has destroyed the university. There was certainly some gatekeeping in the humanities and social sciences that reflected values of the New Left as some of its members began to occupy university positions in the 70s and 80s (as happens with every generation that holds institutional power) but that hardly destroyed the university. It's also possible to discuss an issue with respect to its scientific as well as its ethical dimensions, without blurring these disciplinary boundaries. I'm a big fan of yours, Alfred, but it's hard for me to track your argument here.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   14 hours 26 min ago

    We see in Dr. Hoffman’s [John Lemons's] response exactly what is wrong with this debate. There is no debate, in their opinion. We have to “do something” to halt global warming, and need to do it now.

    I may not be a card-carrying scientist, but the environmental history of science I know. So let’s go back and review. Much of this started in 1962 with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. It was a powerful reminder that, yes, what people do affects the earth. The problem today is that the environmental movement would like to leave it there, now to argue that the rest of the literature should be forgotten as offensive to the notion that people control their destiny.

    Dr. Botkin and I simply choose not to leave it there. It has nothing to do with morality; it has rather to do with scholarship. Of course we don’t want people to starve and live in poverty, and it is absurd to suggest that we do.

    But there it is—the Club of Political Correctness. Having destroyed our entire university system, it now threatens to destroy the dialogue period. If you can’t win a debate on the evidence, you can at least hit your opponent over the head. Don’t you know what you are doing to the poor? Have you no compassion for what global warming is doing to all of those “innocents” abroad?

    Compassion, yes. Guilt, no. Neither compassion nor guilt is science. The science is how people got here. Why the morality lesson? Because the 98 percent feel naked without it. Science today is all about making the sale.

    This is to remind us of that “other” book in the 1960s that everyone wants to forget. Say the title quietly now, lest the thought police come a-knocking. The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich. You know, he was that rogue scientist from Stanford University that Johnny Carson invited to appear on The Tonight Show. Everyone in universities across the country watched Ehrlich’s appearances, including me, then at Illinois State. I happened to read the book just after its publication in 1968. I recall Dr. Ehrlich thanking David Brower of the Sierra Club for urging him to write it. The book was assigned repeatedly in college courses throughout the 1970s, until suddenly all mention of it fell silent.

    Why? Because it was no longer politically correct to suggest that poorer countries were growing far too rapidly. The new mantra in the debate was guilt. Those countries consuming more were the guilty party, not population growth per se. Everyone else was just a victim of a system beyond their control.

    Even my friend Dan Botkin has little use for Paul Ehrlich. Dan rather believes that if we find the right technology population will take care of itself.

    You see the point I are making here. There is a debate to all of these issues. Debating them is right and proper no matter what the “majority” thinks.

    As a historian, I happen to believe from my research that no one is “serious” about global warming, including the 98 percent. Because if they had been serious, they would not have blacklisted Paul Ehrlich for having expounded on an uncomfortable issue. He may have been wrong to talk about famine and pestilence, and yes, wrong to say that forced birth control was perhaps the only way out of the mess. But he nailed why human beings are forever in denial of what it is they need to admit. If the human race keeps growing, and by growing changes the planet, how can anyone pretend to say they have the solution to change? Growth itself will undo every “solution” so long as growth remains the problem.

    As it stands, no one is giving up on fossil fuels—including the “greenies” here in Washington State. They are just readjusting the “mix.” Whom are they trying to kid? They hope the voters. A little wind, a little solar, a little natural gas to “back them up,” and suddenly you have green energy. Right? No, you have the burning of fossil fuels again. Well, we’re working on it, they say. Meanwhile, just to make sure everyone complies, we will impose a carbon tax on the “guilty” parties, to be used for what—expanding and building roads! [Seattle Times, December 17, 2014]

    All of you intent on “doing something,” give yourselves a break. Until the human race gives up on the notion that growth is inevitable, no technological fix will lead to a recipe for “progress” that the earth can ever sustain. In the end, if so-called renewable energy simply allows more growth (gosh, look at all of the power we have to spare!) it won’t “solve” a blessed thing.

    Now you know how to read Alfred Runte. And, just for the record, my wife Christine and I have no children. We did not add to the four billion people now here since we were in college, still to wonder just who did.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   14 hours 30 min ago

    those selfish few who callously deny any responsibility

    Oh, you mean 53% of the US population? The other 47% are just Gruber fodder.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   15 hours 6 min ago

    Thank you, Dr. Lemons, for emphasizing the moral and ethical considerations. These are foreign concepts to those selfish few who callously deny any responsibility for contributing to the changes. Adamantly stating "we didn't cause this" doesn't lesson the burden of responsibility for having caused it. It is just the 4 year old denying that he knocked the lamp over.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   15 hours 44 min ago

    Gary, I am inclined to agree with your post. Your experience mirrors my own in my emergency hire FIO position. In iconic parks like Yosemite, the real issue is the demand exceeds the facilities available during the peak visitor season, particularly in Yosemite Valley, but also Glacier Point and Tuolumne Meadows. There is no shortage of demand by some demographic groups as well as visitors from other countries. Also costs for young people and some demographic groups is a factor. I do think opportunities for environmental education in our schools is an issue, many visitors that come are uneducated to some of the ecological concerns park employees face (as well as the nation generally), but that is another issue.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   15 hours 44 min ago

    Ask yourself Lee.. When you are out in the wilds of Salt Lake, is there any shortage of youths that are not recreating in the backcountry of the wasatch! Heck, the olympics sure did spur that "youth movement" and brought in quite a bit of ski resort traffic.

    Here is another article about how a movie is causing people to think "hey, let's go hike the PCT!"

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   15 hours 53 min ago

    There is no shortage of people of all ages (and all walks of life) posting photos from the National Parks on facebook, instagram, and using twitter. I know for a fact through social media statistics, that boomers (55 and older) only make up around a 1/5th of the social media traffic on one of the smokies social media pages. The younger generations comprise most of the traffic, and a lot of likes, and shares are from people of all ages, not just baby boomers. On popular trails in a majority of our bigger National Parks, one can find people of all ages hiking them. Almost every shelter or campsite i've been at this year had teens, college aged kids, and younger people camped out enjoying the backcountry, and that's from not only trekking in the Smokies, but in 4 other National parks. I almost always spot a diverse group in almost all of the parks. In a few parks, like Bryce Canyon and Arches, i've had experiences where I didn't even feel like I was in my own country.

    Most boomers gave up backpacking a long time ago, but on the AT, Pacific Crest trail, etc there's no shortage of youth seeking out and using the trails. In fact, now the "fear" is that movies like "Wild" and "A Walk in the Woods" are going to create a "youth boom" on these trails as these films popularize them. Ohh gosh forbid!! I don't get where this "only boomers" use the park mentality derives from, and it drives a lot of us nuts when this is stated constantly. It's like the rest of us don't matter. There was an article recently written here from a millenial that lived in Montana trying to dispell this myth, and I agreed with almost all I saw in her article... I get that the retirees have more time, but back in the 1970s and 80s, was it that vastly different when the WW2 generation had time on their hands to travel, while the boomers worked full time? I'm sure back then, the same could have been stated about the WW2 generation and that the boomer generation was neglecting the parks, and that if something didn't change, all would fall by the wayside and the National Parks would cease to exist. I'm willing to bet that if anyone took a camera along popular trails like Half Dome in Yosemite, Chimneys in the Smokies, Bright Angel in the GC, and Angels Landing in Zion that one would find that baby boomers are outnumbered by at least 3 to 1 on these trails (and in some cases more). In fact, they might be suprised to find how many "millenials" and "gen xers" are in the park.

    I follow a lot of the facebook, and instagram feeds from the NPS, and there seems to be no shortage of people posting pictures from their recent excursions. People don't need to be instantly wired to still use these services along the way during a vacation. In fact, many post to them a few days after their trip, and it seems to still generate likes and engagement.

    Social media is changing the landscape too. Back in the 80s and 90s the best chance to find up to date information on a park was by calling the parks visitor center. Today, just by having millions of people reached by a single post on facebook, twitter or instagram, anyone instantly knows what is occuring in the parks. Whether it's saguaros in bloom in arizona, leafs at peak in the appalachian mountains, or if the Grand Tetons is recieving a 4 foot snow storm. It's only been about 3 years that many of the major parks have been using social media too. But, now their posts reach out to millions (and site traffic continues to grow upward daily), and baby boomers are just a % of those millions. Social media is educating end exposing the parks to a large and diverse group of people that could never have been achieved decades ago.

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   15 hours 55 min ago

    I'm wondering if this is REALLY a valid issue or not?

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   16 hours 52 min ago

    Think the historic and cultural roots of these Parks have it all over today's "virtual" approach as far as really connecting on a transformational level. The virtual is a distant, well, I don't know how far down the line it is. Some would say you have to be relevant, like leading tours of the Park dumps to see the bears?

  • Reader Survey Day: Should The National Park Service Angle For "A New Generation," Or "Go Back To Its Roots"?   16 hours 59 min ago

    Boomers are the ones who hike in parks week after week, volunteer week after week, donate to parks and join Friends groups.

    Boomers bring their children and grandchildren to parks. Children can only go to parks if adults are willing to take them.

    We want to see and talk to rangers face to face, not on a screen.

    Danny Bernstein

  • Unknowns In Terms Of Funding And Personnel Await New Units Of National Park System   17 hours 51 min ago

    News article today has some local perspective on one of these new sites: "Coltsville faces hurdles before official national park status".

    This local story notes, "There are several conditions included in the legislation creating the Coltsville National Historical Park that will take some time to meet before the site that includes the home and factories of Elizabeth and Sam Colt can be honored with that designation."

    "And it’s likely to take years more before Coltsville bustles with visitors who flock to see the old factories and a new museum in the East Armory, a vision promoted by Coltsville supporters who say the park will be an economic boon to the city and the state."

    A good summary in the above link of the long-term challenges ahead before this park becomes a reality.