Recent comments

  • Lava Beds National Monument is a Geologically and Historically Fascinating Place   5 days 17 hours ago

    Bill, the Park Service still lets folks wander whever they want with a few exceptions. Fern Cave is closed except for guided tours. Portions of the ice caves are closed to protect the ice. Sometimes burned areas are closed to foot traffic to allow the vegetation to recover.

    The Modoc War book mentioned in the article has been moved. Took awhile, but I found it at:

    http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/labe/

    For more on this great National Monument (people around here tell me it's more interesting than Crater Lake NP) see:

    http://explore.globalcreations.com/category/places/usa/california/lava-b...

  • Winter Lodging In The National Parks: The Choices Are Many And Intriguing   5 days 17 hours ago

    Pathfinder, if we have advertising programs at the Traveler, and discourage disguising ads in comments....don't hesitate to reach out to discuss our programs.

  • Crater Lake National Park: It's More Than Just Blue, Blue Water   5 days 17 hours ago

    Megaera - don't let the snow deter you. Crater Lake is a great place for skiing, snowshowing, sleding or just playing around in the snow. Winter or summer, there are a lot more things to do at Crater Lake than drive around the rim. See:

    http://explore.globalcreations.com/category/places/usa/oregon/crater-lak...

    for some of them.

  • Winter Lodging In The National Parks: The Choices Are Many And Intriguing   5 days 18 hours ago

    I agree with dburlison that the VI's would be great for the winter - Hawaii too. However, for those that want snow, don't forget Crater Lake National Park. See: http://explore.globalcreations.com/places/winter-at-crater-lake/ and for lodging, try: http://www.craterlakelodgingatcrystalwoodlodge.com/

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   5 days 18 hours ago

    Good lord, that sounds awful. I think it is a good example of how the dysfunction affects the public, and not just employees. I think the attitude of a lot of people in management is just "well, lots of people want to work for the NPS, if we have employees who are unhappy, we'll just get rid of them and find new ones." If it really didn't affect operations, they might have a point. This looks like a pretty over the top example, but visitor services are being damaged in less obvious ways every day.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   5 days 18 hours ago

    Well, Zeb, if that's the historical precedent, then they should indeed allow all the bicyclists who were there 14,000 years ago indeed.

  • Mammoth Cave National Park Proposing Higher Fees For Cave Tours   5 days 19 hours ago

    I'm so glad the NPS made that cave for us taxpayers to enjoy.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   5 days 20 hours ago

    Cyclists, that don't crap on the trail cannot be in Wilderness, but horses can mulch the trail, defecate all over it (always fun for users that are a lot closer to the ground...) and destroy high meadows. Horses disappeared from the Americas 13,000 or 14,000 years ago until their reintroduction by Europeans, but are considered part of Wilderness.

    Another example of how the Wilderness Act makes little sense...

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   5 days 21 hours ago

    The really BIG question is whether or not anything has been done to hold those accountable who need to be held accountable. It sounds as if some serious penalties should have been imposed on more than just one or two people.

    Does anyone know?

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   5 days 21 hours ago

    I've been to the USS Arizona NMEM at the end of September. Getting tickets in the first place was a hassle (early morning tickets were booked out a half year in advance) and my booked tour got finally canceled on site without explanation, but I was transferred to the next (the last of that day) group which was quite full then. So there IS definitively some problem with ticketing.

    I didn't experience any problems with cleanliness, though, and overall I had a good experience at the Memorial.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   5 days 22 hours ago

    How about we just become partners on the trail and not get to worked up over something that every living thing does in the wild. Plenty of infinitely more serious issues going on to ruin a day if one cares to allow it than green poo. Get along folks, riders and hikers, please. A very symbiotic relationship that can only make the wilderness experience better. That has been my experience.

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 2 min ago

    Going to the memorial in two weeks. Four months ago the only way to get tickets was through a tour company.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   6 days 5 min ago

    I think those "special diets" are just weed free certified grasses. Nothing "bad" in those.

    Poop bags sound like a good idea and work on the streets. Not being a horseman, I don't know that they would be practical on the trail.

    As a hiker, I agree the trail piles can be annoying. It would seem some kind of compromise that allocates horse only and hiker only trails would be the best. Obviously there will be fights over who gets the "best" trails but that is better than being banned outright.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   6 days 2 hours ago

    Thanks for the link.

    Yeah, horse poop is better because it is fertilizer. But, many areas will only allow horses on specific diets - an effort to curb invasive grasses and weeds. So it isn't all good. In cities with horse drawn carriages, the drivers are typically required to use poop bags - why can't those be required on multi-use trails? Then the poop could be dumped off trail...

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 8 hours ago

    That's horrible. Hopefully Kurt will be able to expand on this initial release when more info is available.

    The Arizona Memorial is a sacred site, and an overwhelming experience to visit. Rotting wood in the attic must be dealt with.

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 10 hours ago

    Will, I subscribe to emails from PEER. This one turned up today. I can't figure out how to run a link to this, so I'll just post the text here. It contains some links you can access yourself. Be sure you look up the report written by Maxi Hamilton from the regional office. Again, I'd suggest that if you're not at the Arizona Memorial, you might have some success contactin PEER for help. I don't know if anything positive has come from this, and hope someone who knows will tell us.

    To say the least, this is mighty interesting:

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    For Immediate Release: Monday, November 17, 2014 Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

    USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL MIRED IN DISPIRITED MESS Shoddy Conditions and Manager Absenteeism Compound Illegal Ticket Diversion

    Washington, DC — Employees portray the USS Arizona Memorial as a leaderless, rundown and deeply demoralized institution controlled by commercial tour companies, according to two internal reports posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Released over the objections of the National Park Service (NPS), the reports charge that top park managers knew or were complicit in tour companies siphoning off most tickets which are by law supposed to be available free to the public. The USS Arizona Memorial is Hawaii’s most visited tourist site. Nearly 1.8 million people a year visit the park in order to see the sunken battleship in Pearl Harbor holding remains of nearly 1,000 sailors who perished on December 7, 1941. Earlier this year, PEER unearthed an internal report finding that most all of the free first-come, first served Memorial passes were snapped up by commercial tour operators before visitors can obtain them. In response to the release of the report, the Park agreed to make 300 “next day” tickets (less than 10% of the Memorial’s 4,350 per day capacity) “available to visitors daily.” Two more newly uncovered reports indicate these problems go much deeper. One is a September 25, 2013 NPS law enforcement “Briefing Statement” describing tour company representatives given stacks of tickets and concluding “The NPS is aware of what is happening.” It ends with the statement “We are requesting consultation and investigatory assistance due to the sensitive nature of the case.” The other is a summary of interviews with 38 Memorial employees and others by NPS Regional Equal Opportunity Manager Maxie Hamilton. It quotes employees as saying that “Ticketing is a big problem here” with “tour companies grabbing all” desirable tickets. It also records widely held concerns about –

    • Poor Maintenance. “The monument is not being cleaned as it should.” There is no maintenance budget or plan. The “grounds were an embarrassment.” The USS Arizona bell was encrusted with bird droppings and cleaned only due to a visit by the Secretary of Interior. The report includes photographs of deteriorating or poorly maintained areas in the Park;
    • Chronic Absenteeism. “Employees almost universally reported that the Superintendent is never on site at the visitor center or even the Park.” And “the biggest problem employees reported is they cannot reach” Superintendent Paul DePrey. Indeed, even the NPS “Regional Office reports having received numerous calls from the Park looking for him”; and
    • Cripplingly Low Morale. Employees reported morale as “very low” in “an adversarial atmosphere” compounded by a widespread “fear of reprisal.” Unsurprisingly, “employees are not optimistic that things will improve.”

    “These reports show that the USS Arizona Memorial is adrift and has lost its sense of mission,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who obtained redacted versions of the reports under orders from Interior’s Office of Solicitor which upheld his appeal of the NPS decision to deny their release under the Freedom of Information Act. “No wonder the Park Service resisted letting these reports see the light of day. They describe a deeply dysfunctional organization suffering a leadership deficit.” Following all three reports, NPS did not conduct an investigation into any individual’s role in the systemic ticket diversion or verify accounts of officials receiving gifts and other amenities from tour companies. Nor did NPS remove DePrey or change any of the park’s management personnel. The agency earlier released an undated “Corrective Action Plan” but it is not clear what, if any, changes in park maintenance, employee relations or ticket distribution have actually occurred. “It appears the Memorial is long overdue for a good literal as well as figurative housecleaning,” added Ruch, noting that it took whistleblower disclosures to bring these conditions to the surface. “Despite an appalling ticket scam at one of the most hallowed places in America, it remains business as usual in the Park Service.”

    ### Read the law enforcement briefing statement View summary of employee interviews Look at 2014 report on USS Arizona ticket diversion See the Interior Solicitor decision releasing redacted reports to PEER

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  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   6 days 12 hours ago

    Dahkota - here is a partial - if not impartial - answer.

    http://www.garlic.com/~lbha/TheRealPoop.pdf

    Interestingly, this claims horse manure doesn't spread E-Coli which I think was one of the major claims and complaints in some other threads by a supposed healthcare professional like the discussion of a new plan for Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 14 hours ago

    Thanks, Lee. I always enjoy PJ's writings.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   6 days 14 hours ago

    I will admit that I am always irritated when encountering horse crap on a trail. I have to pack out both mine and my dog's; I don't understand why horse owners don't have to do the same.

  • National Park Service Plans To Enlarge Parking Area For Delicate Arch At Arches National Park   6 days 15 hours ago

    But Sparky, shouldn't that be a two-way street?

    That's why I suggested perhaps reserving some times when closely approaching the arch could be restricted. Two or three hours a day during the Times of Golden Light near sunrise and again at sunset?

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 15 hours ago

    PJ has a new issue of Thunderbear with another article that is probably germaine to this topc.

    http://www.workingnet.com/thunderbear/293.html

    A Home for Endangered Rangers is the bear's usual thoughtful wit.

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 16 hours ago

    Lee and willj, after re-reading the main article and following the subsequent discussion thread, I am reminded of two previous NPT articles by PJ Ryan of "Thunderbear" fame (and another former NPS'er):

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2014/01/view-overlook-%E2%80%9Chow-do-you-get-permanent-job-nps%E2%80%9D24585

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2014/02/view-overlook-peter-and-paul24649

    I highly recommend that these two articles be consulted for their possible relevance to the current series of questions about the deterioration of staff morale within the rank and file of National Park Service employees, permanent as well as seasonal.

  • National Park Service Plans To Enlarge Parking Area For Delicate Arch At Arches National Park   6 days 18 hours ago

    Let me preface by saying that I for one have committed to increasing my visitation to the parks to demonstrate their necessary place in our culture. However, on my first visit to Arches and Canyonlands in 2012, it was disappointing to witness photographers themselves in both parks crowd shoulder-to-shoulder onto a specific area (such as the small terrace in front of Mesa Arch) and proceed to jeer and catcall at fellow visitors to "get out of their picture." Has it been forgotten that these resources are preserved for enjoyment by all taxpayers equally, and not simply to be a photographic subject of which the same is already widely available on the Internet? At what point do we take a step back and commit to remembering that founding principal relative to our fellow visitors?

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 21 hours ago

    Will and Wild -- both offer some fine comments.

    Perhaps someone can answer a few questions for me. Back in the "good ol' days," advancement came not because anyone sought it, but through a system that looked first at what specific skills a particular position required and then searched for people within the NPS who filled those needs. Qualified people then received an "offer" to accept the position as a lateral or promotion.

    Am I correct in thinking that now anyone may "bid" for an open position? Does that increase politicking within the service? It would seem logical that it would.

    Also, am I correct in thinking that virtually any Federal employee from any agency may also bid for jobs in NPS? Has that watered down or degraded the skill sets, morale, and (what's the right word . . . . ) heritage or tradition of the NPS or whatever word I'm searching for here?

    One theme I've often heard as I have talked with current field level rangers is a feeling of frustration that there is so much competition from people who may never have "paid their dues" as NPS employees. I think I've noticed a lot of items in the NPS Morning Reports that so-and-so was just selected as superintendent of such-and-such park -- but that the person came from another agency. Am I right or wrong in that observation?

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   6 days 22 hours ago

    It's an issue in the private sector too. Lack of accountability at the higher levels and managers giving and taking direction without understanding what they are asking or signing up for. It's always been my view that before you are put in charge of a team tasked with cleaning toilets then you had better have cleaned a few somewhere along the way.