Recent comments

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 4 days ago

    Thanks for the reply SmokiesBackpacker. That at least clarifies that your complaints about the park "cooking the books" for visitation numbers applies to your ongoing project about backcountry reservations and fees. The story above deals primarily with the "bigger picture" of park visitation; as you yourself have indicated, backcountry use by overnight campers is such a tiny fraction of total use at the Smokies that those numbers, whether high or low, aren't really a factor in total park visitation numbers.

    If your group can prove that the park's numbers for backcountry use are wrong, more power to you.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 4 days ago

    rick, I just explained how we ARE doing it better, rather than armchair sniping at folks that are actually doing something for parks why don't you get out and make some kind of effort? You are a great sidelines critic but all you NPS folks take things personally. It is the high level bureaucrats that we are calling to task. Not low level NPS folk. You should be ashamed of your wife's agency instead of chairing the "NPS can do no wrong" brigade.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 4 days ago

    Not an answer, backpacker. He asked you how you would propose to do it better and all you did was again describe the alleged deceit of the NPS and your confrontational situation.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 4 days ago

    Well, I'll tell you one thing we are doing and it is quite laborious and time intensive. We are checking the numbers of alleged backcountry reservations in the Smokies through their reservations system comparing them with purported revenue from the overnight stay. And of course, the NPS is trying not to give us that information(on the revenue). We are also tallying the data from their own system and comparing it with the actual numbers they show on the IRMA website. Again, they don't match. When we sued them over the backcountry tax (because that is what it is when you charge a taxpayer to use public land and provide no amenities) they changed their justifications for the tax multiple times. We have learned that you have to listen with careful ears to see through the manipulation of data. When you call them out, they just change the assertions. This is John Jarvis NPS at work. You know, the guy whose brother lobbied the NPS?

    And the sad part is, many of our group, like myself, are park volunteers. When we are not doing trail maintenance or stream counts or trail reports, we do this. Something is wrong with the NPS culture and the change needs to come from within.

  • Is Anybody Alive Out There?!? A Private Float Through Grand Canyon National Park   1 week 4 days ago

    This brings back many fond memories. It is truly a great experience.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 4 days ago

    Didn't say there was any justification for your claims of inflated numbers, if they prove to be confirmed. All well and good to be watchdogs, but you didn't answer my question: Given the fact that the politicians want to see visitation numbers as part of their "results-driven" budget process, how would your group (or anyone else) propose to collect those numbers more accurately - and what would that improved system cost? That process is not as easy as it sounds in a park that's open 24-7 and has no entrance stations and multiple entrances.

  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   1 week 4 days ago

    Buxton, I mostly agree with you. I have never understood the idea to put wind turbines off the NC coast. That environment is very hostile with strong storms, high salinity, and shipping traffic. It's likely this will be another green movement failure but could create some good fishing structure after they are abandoned.

    The extra 0.0001 mole fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't seem to be making any difference.

  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   1 week 4 days ago

    I don't know much about desert ecosystems. It seems to me if it is federally designated desert and solar panels could be put somewhere else first, then they should.

    Off the coast of NC wind leases are going up for sale soon. I have no aesthetic objections to wind turbines and would gladly have them in my view scape (reminding me of co2 reductions). However in this case the lease is in an area where there are large, sometimes massive, numbers of migratory seabirds. There will be bird strikes.I can't imagine how many solar panels could be erected on private and public roofs for the cost of buying, erecting and maintaining one wind turbine in the middle of hurricane central 20 miles off the coast.Shouldn't we be picking the low hanging fruit first?
  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   1 week 5 days ago

    Alfred - was on a plane for a couple of hours yesterday and got deeper into your book. The fight over the valley floor is quite enlightening. Neither side was fighting for preservation of the natural it was only a fight over how to manipulate the environment and which "man" made version would previal - the Indians' or the White mans'. Doesn't seem too far from the arguments we see today.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    So that justifies cooking the books, JThomas? Sure seems to be the NPS mindset.

    And for the record, I am part of an organization that acts as a watchdog in these type of situations, specifically in the south. It is a 150 member group called the Southern Forest Watch. We have busted the NPS in multiple data manufacturing scenarious. We are accumulating data in refutation of NPS assertions about visitation. And it "aint' adding up".

  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   1 week 5 days ago

    Here is a link to a fascinating idea I just found in today's Gizmag.

    A good example of what creative minds can do. Will be interesting to see if it works.

    http://www.gizmag.com/portland-lucidpipe-power-system/36130/?utm_source=...

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    No question visitation numbers are an estimate, but they are at least based on a system instead of a complete guess. However, for all who are so quick to toss more stones, what are your suggestions for better methods that won't cost a lot more money?

    I'd bet parks would be happy to quit collecting such numbers at all, but the politicians who make budget decisions have a bean-counter mentality, and insist on such figures as one way to quantify "results" for apporpriated dollars.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where Are The Best National Park Campgrounds?   1 week 5 days ago

    What happened to comments from this morning?

    Devil's Garden is great, but you have to be lucky enough to be able to get a reservation. Hovenweep is wonderful. Then there's A-Loop at Norris in Yellowstone. Natural Bridges is a gem. The high camp at Great Basin is absolutely terrific. Watchman at Zion with its electric hookups on broiling days in summer or freezing nights in winter. Devil's Tower's campground is a delight.

    Hmmm. I guess, to tell the truth, just about any campground I happen to be in is my favorite. At least for the moment.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where Are The Best National Park Campgrounds?   1 week 5 days ago

    I agree with Dahkota on Devil's Garden and Fruita -- I have tremendously enjoyed camping in both.

    I'll add some gems in more out-of-the-way units: Chaco Culture, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, and Navajo all have quiet, relaxing campgrounds that I've really enjoyed, especially the night spent at Hovenweep where I was the only camper (besides the host). And kudos to the ranger who still carried on with the evening program for his audience of two!

    If we're sticking only to national parks, I've really enjoyed staying in both campgrounds in Great Basin over the years.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where Are The Best National Park Campgrounds?   1 week 5 days ago

    Devils Garden is really nice especially because it is a relief from the crowds. But I wouldn't spend a day in the summer there - October and November are great.

    Fruita in Capitol Reef is wonderful. The shade is welcome and the views are stunning. Plus, in the fall, you can pick and eat apples from the orchard.

    Cataloochee is a great place in Greater Smoky Mountains National Park but I wouldn't take a particularly large RV there - the roads to get in are a little difficult in anything long or tall.

    Sage Creek Campground in Badlands National Park is worth a visit. The scenery and wildlife are the draw but if you need electricity or running water, best not stay here. Cedar Pass is okay and in a great location but can seem very crowded and hot at times.

    Fort Pickens in Gulf Islands National Seashore would probably win my vote for best year-round location. Loop A is within walking distance to the beautiful beaches and the sites are a little more spread out than the rest of the loops.

    Probably my all time favorite site in the entire park system, of places I have visited, is site 180 in Big Meadows at Shenandoah National Park. It will hold anything from a tent to a moderately sized RV, has wonderful mountain and valley views, and is right on the Appalachian Trail. Unfortunately, it is a lot of people's favorite and can be hard to book, particularly in the fall during leaf peeping season.

    Honestly, the best campsites are usually just outside the national parks in the national forests or BLM land.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    As expected park visitation continues to fall at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area since the unreasonable management plan was implemented. I am sure the folks at the SELC and NPCA are so proud.

    This comment was edited to remove gratuitous wording.--Ed.

    I didn't use the word "folks" by the way and it was replaced by the Ed. It was not profanity but was negative.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    Is there counts for just campgrounds?

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    For instance, the Cape Hatteras count no doubt was down because the seashore was closed by a hurricane over the typically busy July 4th holiday weekend, and at least two of the ramps' counters failed to record numbers because the batteries had died. How might those actual numbers affected the overall count?

    These ramp counters are only a recent new data point, so I have no idea how one could actually compare year to year visitation. They used to use traffic counters on highway 12 and some formula. Regardless, visitation continues to fall based on observations of businesses on the island.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    Too much emphasis, frankly, is put into the numbers. They are too soft to give anything more than a ballpark estimate.

    For instance, the Cape Hatteras count no doubt was down because the seashore was closed by a hurricane over the typically busy July 4th holiday weekend, and at least two of the ramps' counters failed to record numbers because the batteries had died. How might those actual numbers affected the overall count?

    At Great Smoky, how do they adjust their tally for commercial traffic crossing the park? In August 2013 eight of the park's counters were inoperable, so how was that taken into account when comparing 2014 to 2013, or 2013 to 2012?

    At Shenandoah, backcountry use is counted on a four-year average.

    Many other parks also use estimates in their tallies.

    It's nice to know hundreds of millions of people are visiting the parks, but to make a big deal out of an estimate...well, let's not get too excited. If campgrounds were empty in July and August, if Everglades was a ghost town in December and January, if Yosemite had plenty of elbow room in May and June after a heavy snow year, those would be instances to get concerned about.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    Do you also suggest that we call ourselves an unidentified 'we'?

    You sound a bit like McCarthy waving a piece of paper around with a list of names on it.

  • Official Numbers Point To 2014 As Record-Setting Year For National Park Attendance   1 week 5 days ago

    Jarvis attempts to "pad his numbers" in advance of congressional legislation regarding FLREA is laughable. We have documented proof that they have fudged visitation numbers in the Great Smoky Mtns National Park so I have little doubt that he has exerted pressure to manufacture the same bloated stats elsewhere. Just more manipulation in order to cry for more money from taxpayers. Unless people question the veracity of this data, it goes unchecked. We have been conducting a detailed analysis of numbers in the Smokies backcountry, for example and guess what? Yep, major discrepancies. We have asked the NPS for revenue related to the increase in numbers and they have been unable to produce that information. Convenient, huh? I advise folks in other regions to dig through the NPS spin and start asking questions about your local units.

  • Meteorological Whimsy In The Tetons   1 week 5 days ago
    What a cool picture--- thats why we love that place. You are lucky to live there.
  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   1 week 5 days ago

    From this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL. I couldn't say it better myself. Note especially his comments about the billionaires and big corporations behind the so-called "green" energy movement. What do they have in store for our public lands? Take a look at Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/holman-jenkins-oregon-is-greener-than-thou-1424218950

  • Construction Starts In March To Expand Delicate Arch Parking Lot At Arches National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    And there wasn't a big profit motive for some in reaching the moon

    Oh, there was plenty of profit incentive in that project. We spent over $20 billion in 1969 dollars ($130 billion in today's dollars) just on the Apollo missions. That's 45 years of NPS spending.

  • That Million-Dollar Privy   1 week 5 days ago

    Quarter million dollar bureaucrats? You must be talking about Congresscritters.