Recent comments

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    Here is a link to the article. Read it please.

    http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/if-elected-hay...

    To make it a bit easier for you, here is the story's lead paragraph: "If elected Wyoming governor, Republican Taylor Haynes intends to take back federal lands and could open Yellowstone National Park to drilling, grazing and mining, he said."

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    The article clearly states all federal lands "would be up for lease for mining, drilling and grazing," so that would indicate Yellowstone would be included. Whether he would do it today or 10 years from now, Haynes did not say park lands would be off-limits.

    Whether they're first on the list, or last, they would be open to mining.

    And judging from the furor over fracking in the name of national defense and security....it could be a short list.

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    And of course that story says no such thing. The closest you get is:

    “It depends on the need and the national defense situation,” he said. “Those (parks) would be last on the list.”

    That is a far cry from "would open Yellowstone National Park to Grazing and Mining" which implies that is his primary intention.

    Its interesting that the assumption of Federal Lands isn't even an issue on his website's list of issues.

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    Read the Casper Star-Tribune story that's linked to.

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago
  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    Kurt,

    Do you have a source for where Haynes said he wants to open up Yellowstone to grazing and mining or is that your inference from his stated desire to turn federal lands over to the state? (BTW - I disagree with his Constitutional argument)

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    Well, to be fair, most of California, and large metro regions like Denver, Seattle, and Portland do put money into the federal coffers, so they are helping support public lands. Although, I believe places like Yellowstone and the Tetons are pretty much solvent and don't need too much additional federal funds to run, especially when they require ...ahem FEES to enter. They are self-sustaining. You never see this sort of rhetoric being yelled in the Washington Cascades or at the national parks in California. Wyoming ranks 47th in GDP, even with all the mininig and ranching that goes on there, so obviously that's not the true golden ticket to economic prosperity, unless you're one of a handful of feudalists, which of course this guy sounds like he is one..

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    Welcome to the wild insanity of the Sagebrushers.

    Wyoming, like Utah, Idaho, Nevada and a host of other states (most of them bright red on the maps) are very heavily subsidized by Eastern taxpayers. (To say nothing of donations to local economies by travelers.)

    C'mon Eastern taxpayers. Wise up and take back your tax dollars that support the silliness of politicians like this one. What a rude shock it would be to the citizens of those states who actually vote for clowns if they suddenly had to support all their infrastructure and government operations without those Eastern dollars.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 1 day ago

    Thank you for a memory jog, Sara. It was Taiwan.

    And ec, what would you call this:

    Alternate Text

    Gouging or "nice profit?"

  • GOP Gubernatorial Candidate In Wyoming Would Open Yellowstone National Park To Grazing, Mining   1 week 1 day ago

    These sort of Yosemite Sam politicians are a dime a dozen in places like Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, and they can dream of privitizing places like Yellowstone and putting it into the hands of their ranching constituents all they want, but in the end, it's just empty rhetoric. Yellowstone is too globally significant for the wanton desires of a handful of blowhards.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 1 day ago

    With all the palpatations about the concessionaires gouging their customers, noone has produced any actual P&L to show that is truly the case. While the rates at the Alwahnee would seem to provide a nice profit, how about the other operations that are part of the concession package. Could in fact the Alwahnee be subsidizing the other operations making them more affordable than they otherwise would be?

    If in fact the consessionaire was making outrageous profits, the rebidding of the franchise would remove those "excess" profits, assuming the bidding process was open and fair. I don't buy the notion the parks have been priced out of the average persons budget nor that the concessionaires are gouging the public.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 1 day ago

    Lee,

    The Asian students you encountered at Canyon were most likely from China or Taiwan. Students from South Korea are only eligible for the J-1 Visa program between mid-December and the end of February.

    http://j1visa.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/FINAL-PUBLISHED-Dec-2...

    Starting wages for employers in the Greater Yellowstone area appear to be between $7.80-8.80, so not minimum wage. I know that Xanterra is paying a starting wage of $8.20. The weekly room and board charge is $99+tax(Wyoming taxes concessionaire's room and board).The housing costs outside the Park vary, but most seem to be charging between $50-80/week and I doubt those include meals.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    there are plenty of state universities that provide much better educations at a far lower cost than their private counterparts.-

    It would be interesting to see that documented, especially after the tax payers subsidies are included in the cost.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    Agreed, Zebulon. (The parallel to the parks is indeed getting a bit obscure here. But fortunately, there are plenty of state universities that provide much better educations at a far lower cost than their private counterparts.--Not sure how that situation translates analogously to the parks.)

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    Complaining about the cost of Yosemite accomodations is a bit ironic, when a few months ago, we had an article on the NPT complaining about the overcrowding of Yosemite. :) Apparently, campsites get all booked in a matter of days, it not hours (I would not know, I can't stand camping). The Ahwanee is exhorbitantly priced, but then again, there's only one, and they don't seem to have any issue selling out. For fun, I just tried to make a reservation. Well, there's a room available this w-e and then there are only 3 nights (on separate days) available for all of August.

    The above is telling me that the Awhanee could probably charge even more, and that camping is totally underpriced based on current demand.

    Frankly, I'd rather see the parks charge prices that reflect the seasonal demand. Use the extra funds to take care of the maintenance backlog.

    As for the cost of higher education, I agree that this has become completely ridiculous. If we start pricing the middle class out of the one great equalizer in our society, we're in for a lot of trouble, but this is no longer about the parks. :)

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    I have never seen the football program fund a history position

    And I have never seen a history department fund the football team. So what. Your initial suggestion was that the football coach was getting paid so much money and drawing it away from educational expenditures. The fact is, its not. It is self funded and funds many other sports activities as well. If you have a lousy coach because you don't pay him enough, you won't fund those other activities and the football program may be a drain rather than a contributor.

    The day when the football program starts funding any faculty position is the day when I will sit down and shut up.

    Then you should be silent. How many of your history students that DO pay for the history department come to your school, at least partially, because it has a strong football team. The number isn't zero.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    A very good dialogue, but I think we have exhausted it. Oh, heck, why shouldn't I get the last word? Yes, the university football program is a net contributor--to itself and other sports. I have never seen the football program fund a history position, or for that matter someone in the medical school right across the street. The day when the football program starts funding any faculty position is the day when I will sit down and shut up. Then it will indeed be a net contributor to the university instead of the monopoly it is now. Finally, I like the foreign kids in our national parks--always have and always will. I just don't like the assertion that American kids are substandard hires because they need to return to school. That is where they should be--and the foreign kids, as well, if not at a university then in a first-class trade school that will teach them productive lifetime skills.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    their "slave labor" status

    M13- Please report the names of these people to the Justice department. I am sure they would like to know that people are being forced to work against their will.

    Kind of interesting the complaints here about aliens that have come into the country legally through our visa system. I'd wager many of those complaining are giddy over our open borders and potential amnesty for criminal aliens.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    How do 18,000 administrators "improve" higher education at the University of Washington.

    Never said they improve education. I just made the point that if the money isn't coming out of the students' pockets, they have no incentive to resist rising costs. Its that indifference that lets this public entity pad its payroll and bloat its bureaucracy. The removal of market forces is precisely what is causing the balooning cost. Its the same factor that will doom Obamacare.

    BTW - The football program - even after paying the coach - is a net contributor.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    When I worked for Xanterra in 2003 at Yellowstone, my roomate was a university student from Bulgaria. The internationals that work for Xanterra in Yellowstone(there were over 500 from 27 countries in 2013) are students with J-1 or F-1 visas.

    The Girl Scout camp I worked at one summer during college also used one of these J-1 visa companies to hire international staff. About 20% of the staff that summer(1992) were from half a dozen foreign countries.

    http://www.yellowstonejobs.com/international-j-1-visas-7591.html

    http://www.yellowstonejobs.com/UserFiles/October%20Grizzly%20Gazette.pdf

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    Dr. Runte,

    Your point about the rising costs for a basic university education creating

    sizeable student loan debts is well taken since "student debtors' prison" prevents

    many young couples from qualifying for a house mortgage, not to mention a

    family visit to a national park especially those where the NPS has allowed Xanterra

    to upscale the entire experience for the "high end" earners. When we use to visit

    Crater Lake Lodge with an elderhostel group, lodge management became furious

    that these elders dare sit inside the Great Hall (out of the cold wind) with their box

    lunches. Many of these elders could easily afford the high priced dining room, but

    they had learned frugality long ago and managed their assets well to avoid debt.

    At times, one even had to bring their own toilet paper for use in the Lodge public

    restrooms because Xanterra maintenance was poor at best. The young people

    serving guests in the dining room often are from other countries and just beginning to

    understand American Cultures, so they would not dare provide any negative input about

    Xanterra in their "slave labor" status. The original Crater Lake Lodge with all its

    maintenance issues did weather 75 winters with little maintenance, but was far

    more affordable for families. So, by rebuilding the Lodge, the historians who

    "saved the lodge" from upper NPS management (NPS decided to remove it in 1989)

    allowed the "high end" to gain entry vs the middle class. Rebuilding was accomplished

    through Oregon's Senior Senator Mark Hatfield. So, when the Pacific Crest Trail Hikers

    arrive this month from their trek beginning near the Mexican border, some lodge guests

    perceive these visitors arriving on foot to be "homeless tramps" invading their "Private

    Reserve." Again, on the issues of rising university expenses driving

    student debt burden, one University of Idaho Administration priority is focused on

    spending a few million dollars from the University Foundation to rebuild a mansion

    for the next University President who will probably be treated like royality with little

    effective concern about rising student debt. So, the future dwindling middle class

    families will not be able to afford visits to national parks, and given their children focused

    on digital devices indoors will not be learning and discovering the Beauty of the Creation

    found in the parks' forests and wildlife.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    I talked with some young ladies from Russia, Korea(?), and Ukraine(?) in Yellowstone a couple of years ago. There are some companies in those countries that work like temp hiring companies in the U.S. Those companies make travel arrangements, obtain visas and whatever else is needed to get them over here. I didn't ask who pays for that.

    Companies of various kinds in the U.S. then may contract for employees through them. The McDonalds in West Yellowstain was almost completely staffed by Russians. Canyon's snack bar was full of Koreans (Asians of some sort, if not Korean). Every one I talked to was thrilled to be here. It was the experience of a lifetime for them. All had been learning English since they started primary school, and now they had a chance to actually use it and to experience the nation everyone in the world looks to as either the Greatest Place or the Greatest Satan depending . . . .

    One store owner in West commented that these foreign kids are "not as particular as Americans" and so don't expect wages or working conditions to be as good as their American counterparts have come to expect. (Translated into English that means: "We can work these kids six days a week at minimum wage, charge them a bundle for board and room, and the won't complain -- at least not very loudly.)

    But another thing that struck me was the fact that these young kids, who apparently were having some mighty good experiences among us, were going to go home in the fall. What kind of stories would they tell friends, family and neighbors? Is this international exchange an opportunity to develop some good friends who might be willing to try to stand with us when we need it some day in the future? Or will they realize that they have been used as cheap labor and have simply been taken as suckers?

    Is this another aspect of the Great American Entitlement Mentaility at work? Are employers entitled to use and abuse their workers, regardless of where they may have come from? Are we not only cheating American young people, but perhaps risking loss of a chance to make friends from abroad?

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    Okay, EC. Then tell me this. How do 18,000 administrators "improve" higher education at the University of Washington. That is 400 for every 1,000 students. At that ratio, the students should be taking a cruise. The increasing cost of higher education is explained by those bureaucrats--all of whom draw above $50,000 a year. The highest paid, our new football coach, makes $6.5 million a year. The university protests that is the "market price" for football coaches, then makes the faculty 37 percent part-time. Part-time faculty and full-time salary pigs explain the demise of higher education in the United States. Scholarships? Yes, we have them, but they pay barely 20 percent of the costs. Who gets the full-time scholarships? Of course, the football players. Another market-driven cost, as we say. I know young people and I know universities, and I know how many students are struggling just to get by. I struggled some in the 1960s, but not like these kids have to struggle if one of their parents has died.

    Rick brings up another good point. The concessionaires are increasly hiring abroad. Why? Because the park seasons have lengthened into shoulder seasons that summertime vacations can no longer supply. Often when the job holder is needed most, he or she needs to return to college. More than one lodge manager has asked me not to "recommend" a student unless that student can drop out for at least six months. Some do, taking six or seven years to finish college, when most of us easily finished in the standard four.

    It's a mess, and the mess could easily be solved, again, if we would stop arguing that everything must serve "the market." I love it when Bill Gates says we need better college graduates, then asks to hire what he needs abroad. Get a good education and go to the back of the line. Why? Because he wants to pay his employees less. It's a scam, and we need to end it. Now, where were we on the national parks?

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    Dr. Runte--

    Have you noticed what I have in my last couple visits to parks? Many of the concession employees come from other countries. I am not sure how visas etc. are arranged by companies such as Delaware North, but they must have a good friend at the State Department. It certainly is a lot different than when I worked. Most concession employees then were, as you point out, college students.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 2 days ago

    Why should the National Park Service "farm out" any of its mission to others, thereby escalating the going price?

    Because if they didn't, the price would likely escalate more. The private sector has consistently provided cheaper and higher quality services than the government.

    BTW - You do realize the reason that the cost of college has gone up is because many don't pay at all (scholarships) or get access to "cheap" loans which some now want to be totally forgiven. The further you remove the recipient of education from the funder - the more the demand - and price - will go up.

    Oh and while I could afford the suite, I much prefer the tent.