Recent comments

  • National Park Service Hopes To "Round Up" Geese On National Mall, Herd Them Elsewhere   3 days 9 hours ago

    This source says about 1.5 pounds per goose per day, and even that's a lot when multiplied by very many geese. Could be that there's so much fertilizer running downhill onto the mall from that building with a big dome nearby that the grass these geese eat is a lot lusher than average, and hence their exhaust emissions are increased as well :-)

  • UC Berkeley And The National Parks: A Centennial Retrospective   3 days 12 hours ago

    Agree, an excellent, well written story, Dr. Runte.

    Yes, Owen, I recall SEKI had a truly

    outstanding Chief Naturalist, Russ Grater, whom I had met when Russ was working

    out of Harpers Ferry, W Va., prior to arriving at SEKI. We witnessed the pioneering

    fire ecological contributions of Dick Hartesveldt and his research team from

    San Jose. State Univ. Ron Stecker was their entomologist who discovered the insect

    boring into the peduncle or stem of the green giant sequoia seed cone causing it to

    dry and shed seeds, hopefully on recently burned forest floor devoid of thick litter.

    Dick Hartesveldt realized that old sequoias were growing well following

    fire in Yosemite during his tree ring studies of Human Impacts on giant sequoia

    groves.

    Early in their field work, giant sequoia seedlings following prescribed

    research burns were actually numbered by stakes until the entire sunlit unit looked

    like a green lawn of thousands of seedlings.

    http://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/upload/hh_tt67.pdf

    http://www.bandbbooks.com/giant-sequoias-by-hartesveldt--harvey--shellhammer--stecker-%28softbound%29

    Dr. H. Biswell was with the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley,

    researching landscape visual effects of fire at Whitakers Forest. beyond the ridge

    of Redwood Mtn. Grove.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr158/psw_gtr158_01_vanwagtendonk.pdf

  • UC Berkeley And The National Parks: A Centennial Retrospective   3 days 14 hours ago

    Thank you Dr. Runte. Truly an outstanding article. However, I would say that science played a role much earlier in the NPS history than the 1990's. I think of George Wright's introduction of the idea of an ecoystem approach to park managment during the 1930's, the "Leopold Report" of the early 1960's, the introduction of fire as a management tool to protect seedling germination in groves of giant sequoia in Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks during the 1960's and 1970's with research of Drs. Hartesveldt, Shellhammer, Harvey, Briswell and others. In fact, there was a time when the Chief Naturalist was the second most important member of the NPS staff in a park, second only to the park superintendent.

  • National Park Service Hopes To "Round Up" Geese On National Mall, Herd Them Elsewhere   3 days 15 hours ago
    A goose poops 2-3 lbs of "you know what" a day?? Do these geese eat 20-30 lbs of feed a day?? I'd like to see the research to prove that!!LOL
  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   3 days 15 hours ago

    I guess in my opinion the intent of the dog getting loose has little to do with the situation-- I do agree it was no win situation though. People are responsible for their pets period. If your dog gets loose for any reason why should the native wildlife bear the brunt of it?? Its your responsibilty to be sure your dog does not get loose. If it had been secured correctly this would not have happened. The fact that the dog got lose unintentionlly has little to do with justifying the fact that the ranger shot the moutain lion-- one less lion that someone might have the chance to enjoy seeing-- sad all around.

  • National Park Service Hopes To "Round Up" Geese On National Mall, Herd Them Elsewhere   3 days 16 hours ago

    So dogs aren't fouling the National Mall? I'm not too sure about that one...

  • Appalachian Trail Hiking Death Prompts Call For Hikers To Be Safety-Minded On The Trail   3 days 20 hours ago

    Scariest hiking experience ever for me:

    Backpacking solo in a state park. New moon. Had had a really hard rain a few days before. I always check for dead trees/branches before setting up camp near a creek. Near dusk, I kept hearing a bb gun. Not an area where hunting permitted. I called out numerous times... nada. Settle in tent, sleeping away when a huge tree falls not 10 feet from my tent. The creek had eroded so much dirt, the "bb gun" I heard was the roots snapping. The tree looked totally fine... now even more to think about!

  • National Park Service Hopes To "Round Up" Geese On National Mall, Herd Them Elsewhere   3 days 22 hours ago

    The public has mixed feelings about resident flocks of Canada geese in public open spaces. Some people like to see them, others complain for the reasons described above. Finding solutions that will satisfy animal rights groups has been difficult. The dogs are certainly worth a try.

  • Appalachian Trail Hiking Death Prompts Call For Hikers To Be Safety-Minded On The Trail   3 days 23 hours ago

    Thanks for sharing the many variables that go into hazardous tree removal. Even with more resources, not every tree that's potentially hazardous could be identified and removed since, as you point out, there's sometimes hidden rot.

    It's a reminder to all of us who traipse the woods to be careful. Minimize risk and avoid hiking during high winds, and take other precautionary steps.

  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   4 days 6 hours ago

    I second Rick's motion.

    Remember some years ago when a Glacier ranger shot a snowmobile? Now there was a case of taking exactly the right action. This one would have been a harder call.

  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   4 days 10 hours ago

    Thanks, Jim. It's nice to have a voice of reason here. You are correct--a classic "no win" situation.

    Rick

  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   4 days 11 hours ago

    I'd suggest this is a "classic example" of both a no-win situation for all involved, and of how easy it is to make harsh judgments, with limited facts, from the comfort of our living rooms.

    Should the dog in question have been off-leash? Of course not, but in the real world there are some degrees of error here. If the dog had been intentionally turned loose, the owner was absolutely at fault. If, as indicated above, the owner was caught off-guard when the dogs bolted when the car door opened, it shouldn't have happened ... but in real life, sometimes it does.

    One commenter says the solution was to shoot the dog, not the lion. If the dog had been intentionally turned loose to "sic the lion," that would have been justified ... but even in cases where rangers have shot hunting dogs observed dragging down deer and other wildlife, the criticism has been severe. Again, such scenarios are a no-win.

    Easy to say "Shoot the dog." What if this had been a family pet that bolted from a visitor's car when they arrived at a campground, and the dog got into a fight with a wild animal? If that ever occurred, the firestorm of criticism would register on seismographs nationwide, but, based on available information, the above scenario is not really much different.

    Finally, the previous comment uses a very broad brush to criticize ranger attitudes toward wildlife. Citing bad practices from decades ago is hardly reflective of current attitudes. The reality is in Glacier, and many other locations, visitors and employees do come into close contact with wildlife in developed areas, and those situations can sometimes have undesirable outcomes for both humans and wildlife...and it's easy to criticize if you're not there when the fur is literally flying.

    The few details above raise serious concerns that this lion that was strongly habituated to human contact. If people could get close enough to use a shovel to separate these animals, and the combination of a noisy humans throwing logs and rocks and using bear spray failed to get this lion to disengage and head for the hills, there may well have been a larger problem in this case that goes beyond a pet that got loose unintentionally.

    An unfortunate situation with lots of factors involved.

  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   4 days 13 hours ago

    This is another classic example of total disrespect for wildlife on the part of the

    older cadre of law enforcement rangers. The only way to attempt to protect

    natural landscapes and wildlife is through Wilderness Designnations with

    no hunting or poaching tolerated;

    national parks thrive on tourism at the expense of the biota it supposedly is

    protecting. Too many park superintendents have little respect for natural resource

    science projects attempting to provide wildlife ecological information and the

    means toward a more harmonious management of visitors in more natural

    landscapes. Remember the tolerance of food waste dumps in national parks at the

    expense of bears ? and the total war on all predators during the George Wright

    period ?

    It's truly best for visitors Not to Report unusual predator wildlife obervations

    since there is little tolerance of any predator whose presence is always interpreted

    by NPS rangers as a threat to visitors and may be hunted and killed.

    The same may be true for public hunting clubs known as tax-payer supported

    State Wildlife Departments whose staff is primarily biased for hunters, not wildlife

    ecologists protecting and managing wildlife through biological conservation

    knowledge.

  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   4 days 15 hours ago

    I agree, they should have killed the dog. It's sad to see park personnel act so irresponsible.

  • Glacier National Park Ranger Shoots Mountain Lion Tangling With Dog   4 days 19 hours ago

    So basically because her dogs were not under control a lion had to be put down?? Seems like a dang shame. In my opinion the ranger made the wrong decision.

  • Appalachian Trail Hiking Death Prompts Call For Hikers To Be Safety-Minded On The Trail   4 days 20 hours ago

    A tragic loss. Hazard tree programs have always been a big challenge. Some trees are pretty obvious (one that's dead and next to a structure), but I know of cases where trees that caused injury or death looked perfectly healthy ... until they fell and revealed hidden rot. There are clues to suggest "hidden" tree problems, but surveying even areas limited to developed sites, campgrounds, roads and major trails is very time-consuming.

    For best use of manpower and dollars, it's most efficient to identify multiple trees to be cut in a given area and then schedule a tree crew to deal with them all at once. That approach especially makes sense where trees are scattered in remote locations, but it can also lead to situations where a "marked tree" can result in an incident before it's taken down .

    Cutting hazard trees is in itself very dangerous work. I know of at least one employee death from such work, and this isn't a job you can just assign to any employee who knows how to start a chainsaw. For some parks, that means contracting out the work (and therefore more expense and more lag time between marking and cutting); for others, it means only a limited number of employees are available to do the work. Either way, it's a no-win situation for managers with too few dollars and employees go around.

  • National Park Service Maintenance Backlog Approaching $11.5 Billion   4 days 21 hours ago

    From the Salt Lake Tribune this morning. Be sure to read some of the comments from readers at the far bottom of the page.

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/2324422-155/national-park-backlog-totals-1149...

  • Appalachian Trail Hiking Death Prompts Call For Hikers To Be Safety-Minded On The Trail   4 days 23 hours ago

    Other news reports indicated the tree that fell on this unfortunate hiker had been slated to be taken down by the National Park Service. An example of the potential impact of deferred maintenance?

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 12 hours ago

    The press in turn did their usual trick, and made the story into a big propaganda lie – saying the ice was “shrinking” at -30C.

    If the experts at NSIDC actually paid attention to what was going on in the Arctic, they would have known that ice is growing rapidly and is past 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011 levels – and headed towards the middle of the pack for the last decade.

    icecover_current (12)Ocean and Ice Services | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 13 hours ago

    Head of the Episcopal Church says denial of human-caused climate change is immoral:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/24/climate-change-denial...

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 16 hours ago

    http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2256/

    <<The sea ice cap of the Arctic appeared to reach its annual maximum winter extent on Feb. 25, according to data from the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. At 5.61 million square miles (14.54 million square kilometers), this year’s maximum extent was the smallest on the satellite record and also one of the earliest.

    Arctic sea ice, frozen seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, is in constant change: it grows in the fall and winter, reaching its annual maximum between late February and early April, and then it shrinks in the spring and summer until it hits its annual minimum extent in September. The past decades have seen a downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent during both the growing and melting season, though the decline is steeper in the latter.

    This year’s maximum was reached 15 days earlier than the 1981 to 2010 average date of March 12, according to NSIDC. Only in 1996 did it occur earlier, on Feb. 24. However, the sun is just beginning to rise on the Arctic Ocean and a late spurt of ice growth is still possible, though unlikely.>>

  • Birding In The National Parks: New Festivals For Birders In National Park Settings   5 days 22 hours ago

    The neat combination of birdwatching and flora gazing that you mention is something that can be readily done by visitors to the Acadia Birding Festival. Late May, when the festival is going on, is also a great time to see the Wild Gardens of Acadia and other area gardens - including one designed to attract butterflies. And this is a less crowded time to visit. Here’s a link to our blog post of some of these springtime activities: http://www.acadiaonmymind.com/2015/03/hope-springs-eternal-for-springtim...

  • Opening Roads In Mount Rainier National Park: The Good And The Bad   6 days 7 hours ago

    The 2015 Rainier road openings have been announced:

    http://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/news/opening-schedules-2015.htm

    Note that the Cayuse Pass date has been pushed back to April 3rd. Unfortunately Megaera, Sunrise is not 'projected' to open until June 5th, which might be past peak flower season this dry year.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   6 days 9 hours ago

    and bias

    Everyone is bias. That doesn't make their facts wrong.

    You would be skeptical of anything from Reed College or Evergreen in a similar manner.

    I might be skeptical, but my rebuttal wouldn't be an attack on the college. It would be based on an understanding of their position and a reasoned response to their arguments.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   6 days 9 hours ago

    One thing the extreme right wing has gotten good at is selective editing.

    You quoted me as saying "Noticing a level of quality" when what I actually said was "Noticing a level of quality and bias". Not that you, being 47 degrees off center, would notice an institution which was also 47 degrees off center as being out of balance.

    It is a conservative bastion. You would be skeptical of anything from Reed College or Evergreen in a similar manner.

    By the way - US News & World Report was a money losing magazine, but has been documented and noted to turn a profit now that they are selling college rankings.