Recent comments

  • Ten Top Geologic Parks In The National Park System   4 days 17 hours ago

    Maybe Carlsbad Caverns and Mammoth Cave in the top twelve.

  • Railfest 2014 Coming To Steamtown National Historic Site This Weekend   4 days 17 hours ago

    A unit that sees less than 250 visitors a day. Does that meet the requirement of:

    offers superlative opportunitiesfor recreation for public use and enjoyment, or for scientific study.

    ??

    Well, I guess it's better than Golden Spikes 111 per day.

    Admittedly, visitation numbers shouldn't be the only criteria for NPS status but as an adjunt to the "catch-all" discussion on another thread, is the NPS really following its designation guidelines when 40% of its units are seeing less than 300 visitors a day?

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   4 days 17 hours ago

    It's too bad that Congress countermands recommendations of NPS.

    Generally I would agree with that. How often does it happen?

  • Railfest 2014 Coming To Steamtown National Historic Site This Weekend   4 days 18 hours ago

    Wish I could be there! I saw my first steam locomotive at Golden Spike this summer, and have since ridden in a steamboat (think African Queen) at the Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma, Washington, and now I'm hooked on steam engines!

  • Old Report Describes Photographer W. H. Jackson's Return To Yellowstone National Park At The Age Of 94   4 days 18 hours ago

    Thank you for posting this! As a fan of Yellowstone's history, this was well worth reading.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   4 days 20 hours ago

    It's too bad that Congress countermands recommendations of NPS.

  • Ten Top Geologic Parks In The National Park System   4 days 20 hours ago

    Perhaps Acadia doesn't have the grand geological scale as the western parks. But Bubble Rock and other evidence in the first national park east of the Mississippi helped 19th century scientist Louis Agassiz conclude it was glaciers that moved huge boulders around, not floods of biblical proportions, as had been previously thought.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   4 days 20 hours ago

    In Northern California, Rosie the Riveter National Park has recast Richmond’s waterfront."

    With only a little over 30,000 in attendance last year its doubtful the park itself has had meaningful impact. The creation may have motivated the area's constituants to do what they should have done in the first place - but then that is their job, not the Federal governments.

    That siren song of more dollars in local cash registers holds potential pitfalls for the NPS going forward if the quality of new additions suffers as a result.

    Anything that dilutes the quality is likely to have pitfalls for the NPS.

  • Ten Top Geologic Parks In The National Park System   4 days 21 hours ago

    Big Bend NP should have been on the list for geology plus it is a great wildlife park.I would rank it ahead of Badlands, Bryce, Crater Lake and Lassen Volcanic for variety of geologic features and varied scenery. Plus it has more variety in both plant and animal life than all of them.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   4 days 22 hours ago

    I don't know anything about the organization, but an article today on the website nextcity.org illustrates the potential risk of political pressure to establish new NPS areas based more and more on the hope of a boost to local economies. The article, "14 Billion Reasons to Support the National Park Service" begins as follows:

    "Across America, communities look to tourism to boost their economies, and when it comes to attracting more visitors, many cities are looking to the National Park Service (NPS). Some in Chicago are aiming to revitalize a poor, historic neighborhood with the help of an NPS designation. In Northern California, Rosie the Riveter National Park has recast Richmond’s waterfront."

    Whether it's always true or not, there's a perception that the NPS designation has a Midas touch for local economies, and that message is getting a good bit of media attention. That siren song of more dollars in local cash registers holds potential pitfalls for the NPS going forward if the quality of new additions suffers as a result.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   4 days 23 hours ago

    Jim,

    Thanks for the link. It is nice to know that some of us can civily share information so that all of us can expand our knowledge base and gain further appreiciation for differing perspectives.

    Per the link, it would appear to me that many units would fall short of these criteria:

    A proposed unit will be considerednationally significant if it meets all four of the followingstandards:it is an outstanding example of aparticular type of resource.it possesses exceptional value of quality illustrating or interpreting the natural or culturalthemes of our Nation’s heritage.it offers superlative opportunitiesfor recreation for public use andenjoyment, or for scientificstudy.it retains a high degree of integrity as a true, accurate, and relatively unspoiled example of theresource.
  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 49 min ago

    You have not proven that the NPS didn't reject those sites and Congress went ahead and included them anyway.

    Since I didn't make the claim, I don't know why I would have to prove anything. I am sorry it offends you when I ask for assistance.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 55 min ago

    Apparently I was logged off so I got to read a posters comments I have on ignore. So I'll comment. Instead of asking others to produce information why don't you go lookup the SRS documents for the homes for which you have an axe to grind with their inclusion in the NPS. You have not proven that the NPS didn't reject those sites and Congress went ahead and included them anyway. It was tempting to give you a lmgtfy.com link to help you out. It was nice of Jim to provide what he did. Now back to the ignore feature.... Thank you Kurt.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 1 hour ago

    Re: the question from ec about criteria for proposed new units for the NPS. I'd suspect there are documents with more details, but a summary of those criteria is found at this link.

    What appears to be the same or a very similar document is found here in a plain text layout (a .pdf file) that may be easier to read than the brochure cited above.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 1 hour ago

    Thank you Kurt for offering this article as a "Reader Participation Day" topic. The discussion of the evolving mission of the NPS is many decades old, with Horace Albright requesting upon his retirement as the agency's second director that the NPS not evolve into yet another government bureaucracy.

    All too often from where I sit, I see the NPS succumbing to the economic and political pressures of industrial tourism, with every community, Chamber of Commerce, and special interest group desiring it's own green spot on the map designated with an NPS arrowhead and local visitor center.

    The argument made for keeping the catchall system as it is and thus avoiding duplication of staff expertise, seems sound. This duplication of expertise would certainly occur if the NPS were given a more restricted focus on the management of natural areas of national and international ecological and scenic significance, with other entities given responsibility for areas significant to our nation's history, culture, military achievements, and to urban and suburban outdoor recreation.

    On the other hand, such an argument can also be made for consolidating all federal agencies that utilize employees having similar expertise in law enforement, administration, education, science, interpretation, etc., in their management of large or small areas of national and cultural significance. Perhaps this logic was what was in the minds of Clinton/Gore administrators when they "reinvented" government and removed staff scientists from the NPS and transferred them into the now defunct U.S. Biological Survey (since absorbed by the USGS)?

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 2 hours ago

    ethelred,

    Do you have a link to these stringent historical crieteria the NPS uses. I would like to know how common homes occupied for a few years by people who became president 40 years later can meet such thorough vetting.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 3 hours ago

    Agree ethelred, on the whole, the NPS effort and policies addressing listing new areas set a high standard. Thank you.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 7 hours ago

    "I am mostly in agreement with your comment, however, I do think it is well documented that some areas are absorbed into the NPS pretty much for a political payoff, the NPS criteria being set aside to do so."

    That is correct. A more recent example is Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. The NPS conducted a special resource study and determined the area was not something that should be included in the National Park System. But ultimately these decisions are made by Congress, so it got included anyway.

    I merely pointed out the NPS's strict criteria to refute the idea that they'll add any ol' place just because it's old. Not so. If you read through their criteria for national significance, for suitability, and for feasibility, they're sensible criteria and they're fairly strict. And if you read through a lot of the SRSes they conduct, in plenty of instances they decide an area is lacking in one or more of these criteria and recommend against inclusion. Usually Congress heeds that.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 15 hours ago

    ethelred, I am mostly in agreement with your comment, however, I do think it is well documented that some areas are absorbed into the NPS pretty much for a political payoff, the NPS criteria being set aside to do so. A very interesting book on the issue is Dwight Rettie, "Our National Park System". Two glaring examples were Mar-A-Largo (Florida) and currently Steamtown, USA. At least Steamtown is an interesting place to visit. Mar-A-Largo was de-listed, but it took much to get it done. Mar-A-Largo was justified by the Senators of Florida at the time as a classic example of the lifestyle of the extremely wealthy (over consumption at its height). It was the Post family and the widow was trying to get the three daughters interested in taking it over, but they all declined saying it was to expensive to maintain. In any case, a fascinating read. I do think that when you get into de-listing, it is a a very complicated issue and can be quite polarizing. But the general state of our current political process truly is corrupted by the huge of amounts of money necessary to get anyone elected or get through the army of well heeled lobbyists at every door. It is quite polarized in my view.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 16 hours ago

    Simply due to providing the eastern US with a few more National Parks

    Why? Just to say we have more National Parks?

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 17 hours ago

    Simply due to providing the eastern US with a few more National Parks on par with Shenandoah, Smokies, and the Everglades. Maine Woods, the Allegheny Highlands in northeaster WV, and the Presidentials would fit the bill for the next best places, IMO.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 17 hours ago

    I do hope Maine Woods occurs in my life time. I also like your idea of upgrading the Presedential range.

    Given these are already well managed and protected, what would be accomplished? I have hiked the 100 mile Wilderness a couple of times. I can't see how upgrading it to NPS status would improve the experience in any way.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 17 hours ago

    The alternatives to this would be either the government jettisoning these historic sites, which I feel would be a colossal loss for our country and our national heritage

    Disagree on two levels. First, many of these sites really have no historical significance and dropping them from the NPS would do nothing to diminish our national heritage. Second, jettisoning even the significant ones would not necessarily result in a loss. Take Presidential homes. Which are the most historically significant and most visited? Hoover birth place? Truman's home? Reagan's birthplace? Carter's peanut farm? No. Its Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier. None of which are in the park system. It didn't take the NPS to preserve these truly historically significant properties.

    Its the National Park System. Not the National Historic Society or the National Cheerleader for Social Causes. If there is a truly historic site that is threatened or can't be privately maintained then NPS status might be warranted. But when the NPS has to search for a cite to honor politically correct cause A, B, or C, then it is nothing but a waste of taxpayer money.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 17 hours ago

    "I saw a comment a while back, and I think it was on this forum, that the NPS should maybe be broken up into 3 units. One should be for historic, another for military, and a unit for the nature parks. I think this is a better approach."

    I really don't. Many of the historic sites also contain areas of natural beauty that need to be preserved along the same lines as places like Glacier National Park. And many of the grand natural areas have historic sites within them that require the appropriate preservation and interpretation.

    So you'd create three different agencies. And then, in order to properly do their jobs, these agencies would either need to co-manage virtually every site in the system, or they'd end up employing people with the same professional skills. It'd create new inefficiencies and bureaucracies that would not actually help in the management of these places in any way. You're the supposed expert on Great Smoky Mountains here. Well, Great Smoky has the appropriate staff to maintain its trails and vistas, but it also has people with historical expertise who maintain its historic structures. So would the new Historic Park Service need to co-manage Great Smoky with the Natural Park Service in order to ensure the sites are cared for appropriately? Or would the Natural Park Service keep employing historians and archaeologists, the same sort of people getting hired by the Historic Park Service? Then we'd have two duplicative agencies hiring the same sort of people. It makes absolutely no sense.

    The National Park Service is staffed to properly manage each aspect of its mission.

    " It can get pretty sketchy when it comes to historic sites, because just about anything can be declared historic if it's somewhat aged."

    That's not really true. The National Park Service has clear guidelines for determining national significance, along with suitability and feasibility for inclusion in the park system, for historic sites. If you think their analysis goes no deeper than "yep, that building is old," that's really silly. Their criteria is solid, they do great historic analysis, and I've read plenty of SRSes where they've dismissed sites as lacking national historic significance.

    "I think the original National Park idea was created to preserve landscapes."

    That was the original idea, but the idea changed a long time ago. When the oldest historic sites under the Park Service's purview are almost as old (81 years) as the Park Service itself (98 years), it's kind of pointless to change things back to the way they used to be. The service has long since adapted to its expanded mission of preserving historic and culturally significant sites.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?   5 days 18 hours ago

    I do hope Maine Woods occurs in my life time. I also like your idea of upgrading the Presedential range. Also, the adirondacks are a pretty well preserved place too. Even though it's not a National Park, it feels like it in many areas.