Recent comments

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 4 days ago
  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Ok, folks, we're going to close this one down. We just don't have the time to police the bickering between local parties, and it's not benefiting the readership as a whole.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 4 days ago

    When the NPS removes and abandons trails and keeps some trails a secret from the public

    Could you give some examples?

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Quietly enjoy the scenery? When the NPS removes and abandons trails and keeps some trails a secret from the public it makes it kind of harder to enjoy the scenery. Quiety? Are you opposed to enjoying the scenery even with the noise of the hordes of common people that come to the Parks? Should the Parks just be for elite nature snobs?

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Public watchdog groups can perform an invaluable service in society, but their value depends in large measure upon their credibility. Unfortunately, as this discussion unfolds, SFW is increasingly falling short in that regard.

    I've watched the video cited above, and sadly, it's a great example of a reporter with little apparent knowledge about natural resources being given a heavy dose of misinformation. The post above says "the reporter clearly demonstrates that the private resort with ties to Sen Lamar Alexander have clear cut hundreds of trees within the GRSM."

    Well, no she didn't. Here's one of many very similar definitions of "clear cut": "Clearcutting means the felling and removal of all trees from a given tract of forest."

    When the average person – or a resource professional—hears the word "clearcutting" they have a mental picture of serious ecological changes - a sizeable piece of ground being stripped clean of every standing tree. No evidence in the news video or elsewhere that this has occurred, but that's the mental image SFW wants to leave with the public about this situation.

    Sorry folks, but that's a serious misrepresentation of the facts, and cutting some sections out of some dead and down trees that have fallen across a previously existing trail is NOT clear cutting by any reasonable definition. Were "hundreds" of such dead trees cut to allow hiker access? Sure couldn't tell that from the video. Even if they were cut over a length of trail, where's the ecological damage?

    The SFW spokesperson also continues to compare the Blackberry situation to someone going into totally undisturbed terrain in the park and "cutting a trail" where one never existed before. That wording, too, is intended to create a mental image of activity which would be absolutely wrong and would demand serious legal action.

    Again, that's not what happened here, and the court certainly didn't buy that claim in the recent case. I certainly couldn't see any "resource damage" from the trail work shown in the video. Should unauthorized maintenance of an abandoned trail be done by anyone in a park? No, but such work is light years away from the picture being painted by SFW – and the court was clearly satisfied that the park has taken appropriate action to deal with it.

    Just one more example of lack of accuracy by this group: Fluffybunny claims above that "Blackberry farms and Sundquist were not part of the suit." Sorry, not true. See page 54 of the court document which says " Count II of the Amended Complaint concerns the defendants’ alleged grant of a license to former Governor Sundquist by relocating a portion of the Ace Gap Trail from his property and the alleged grant of a license to Blackberry Farm which allows the exclusive use of Park trails by Blackberry Farm guests..."

    The court, incidentially, rejected those claims by SFW.

    Despite some great PR spin, statements by this group just don't pass any reasonable test of credibility.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    I didn't see anything in that video about clear cutting... or that the trail was "exclusive to the resort". Am I missing something? That journalist also never talked about the history of the trail and left out a lot of somewhat pertinent information (ie that this trail was created in the 1930's) and almost the entire thing borders BBF property. She obviously didn't do thorough research, kind of like SFW. But, I know you like to be in the media, Johnny. It helps boost that very fragile ego of yours.

    And seriously, you look a little foolish in that video now that all the information is out, but you obviously don't see it. Anyway, this circular logic cycle you like to get into is very old. You lost, your conspiracies are shot, and you just look a little insane the longer you keep running with this.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Well said, Alfred.

    Sometimes it's hard to hear around here over a phenomena we Southerners call a "red eyed hissy fit".

    It is interesting that other news outlets have deemed the Blackberry Farm private trail system as newsworthy enough to take a camera crew a do a lead video story of the event. (Of course that means they must not be credible news outlets as well:) If you watch this from WATE channel 6 in Knoxville, you can see that the reporter clearly demonstrates that the private resort with ties to Sen Lamar Alexander have clear cut hundreds of trees within the GRSM. What you won't see in the video is the GSMA refuting the obvious.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFIPDYW1ba0

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    To fee or not to fee? Ah, that is the question!

    Let's get some cultural perspective into this. Americans don't like fees. Our forebears threw tea in Boston Harbor, and you people are slinging mud about this "tax" with equal furor. You don't like the government (the fee collector) because you believe (know) that government is just about perpetuating itself.

    Here in Washington State, our gas tax is about to go up 12 cents a gallon, and the bars are filled with people protesting "government." Forget that those protesting the loudest own the heaviest vehicles in the neighborhood doing the greatest damage to our public roads. How do they think those roads get repaired? But of course, a previous generation sold those roads by calling them "freeways." Free? Then I want it free!

    I say raise the price at the gate and collect no backcountry fees. After all, the people doing the greatest damage to the park are the people driving in. But yes, everyone using the backcountry would have to register so the Park Service would know where they are.

    No doubt, the Park Service spends the bulk of its budget maintaining and policing roads. Backcountry maintenance is in the toilet in the vast majority of our parks. Now, write that letter to your "Congressperson" and she what she has to say. In so many words, mine have told me to take a hike--and pay the fee. After all, the automobile is still KING. And no, Hillary Clinton will never change that. After all, she is hoping to be QUEEN.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    There's no kings involved, fluffer. If you guys are so concerned about manways, then why do so many of you hike them, or even go off trail? Most of us that use the backcountry do use older decommissioned trails (called manways in the south). Some people dedicate a lot of their hiking time doing just that. So let's cut to the chase - really this is just a diversionary tactic, because Lamar Alexander once was tied with BBF, and you folks see that as "pure evil" and so there has to be some sort of heinous conspiracy, right? Kind of ironic that Lamar supports wilderness in Tennessee, and has pushed another bill trying to get more wilderness in our state, but hey.

    Yet, you somehow think this was tied into the backcountry fee? How? I don't even see the connection. Can you explain what this has to do with anything related to the fee, fluffer? If anything, this is just a diversionary tactic on SFW part. This is a seperate issue altogether, and it's shown that the NPS has not allowed BBF to have their own 'private trails" in the park. In fact, that claim is almost laughable, and i'm sure the judge was like "seriously, I have to waste my time ruling on this". You guys are really backpeddling at this point. This issue has gone from Lamar Alexander demanding that BBF create new trails into the park that is exclusive only to their resort, to simply maintaing downed trees on an old manway trail. I could hear him now with the executive order, "DUDE, get some crews out there and cut me a new trail through MY park." to just someone, perhaps (but more than likely) at BBF mainting an older manway by cutting away downed trees that fell on the trail (and trust me, this isn't the only manway i've seen with downed trees cut or pushed aside). So, the goalposts have shifted a lot here. It's gone from Kings and Aristocrats riding ATV's (impossible to do by the way) along the newly cut trail that BBF supposedly recently cut through the park over the last few years (this was a NPT headline for an article, by the way, which will forever taint this site in my book), to just someone at BBF maintaining an old manway (called the Boundary trail in maps that predate 1940) that has bordered their property for almost a century, and was decommissioned sometime back in the late 70s to early 80s.

    And again, what does this have to do with the BCF? NOTHING! Not a single thing. It's just a diversionary tactic from SFW looking for any angle to somehow try and make Ditminson look heinous, when in reality, the SFW folks more than likely owe him an appology for all the false accusations and BS tactics that SFW threw at him over the years.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    So, I guess it is OK to"moderately maintain" old trails if you are a "property owner" aligned with a flannel shirt wearing senator. Who knew? I feel pretty sure I would be hauled into court if I had property adjacent to the park and started cutting blow downs on old trails. It's good to be/know the king.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Ohh back to the diversionary rhetoric, I see. Since you realize the backcountry permit system is here to stay, you have to resort to other tactics hoping it sticks. The boundary trail is an old park trail built by the CCC in the 30s. Maps showing the old trail are in existence. Trying to state an old trail that was cut by the CCC, and only moderately maintained by property owners bordering the park by calling it a "brand new trail blazed by blackberry farms so that they can run ATV's and horses through it making it exclusive to kings and artistocrats" was unfounded and untrue, just like the report stated. Good luck with that angle. I think the only ones that buy into that are SFW.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    For the continual "Blackberry Farms Deniers" out there. Here is a quote and newslink.

    In a letter dated June 13, 2014 from Chief Ranger Clayton Jordan to Blackberry Farm Executive Vice President Matt Alexander, it is clear the park service has been aware of trails maintained by Blackberry Farms since 2009.

    http://wate.membercenter.worldnow.com/story/26631327/watchdog-group-alleges-blackberry-farm-cutting-private-trails-into-smokies

    Having been there and seen it myself, I still anxiously await the oft touted scouting report we have all been hearing about for over a year now to prove it doesn't exist.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    There is no campsite, as far as I know no "well",and probably no credible claims of hikers cutting down trees on the former guvnah's property.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    So, am I allowed to say God bless America?

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Okay folks, we'll ask that you tone down the personal references, and stick to the primary subject at hand. Kurt has enlisted some volunteer help with moderation, so we'll do our best to keep things civil and focused. Several recent comments have been edited, and one unpublished. If you feel we're being too restrictive, our apologies, but we're doing our best to encourage a responsible conversation.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Whatever. What if someone came on your property started drinking all your well water, and cutting down your trees for firewood? Would you like it?

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Blackberry farms and Sundquist were not part of the suit. They were only examples of the gross mismanagement of the administration. I am no lawyer, but it is my understanding that if someone uses a road,path or highway across your property, and you do not object to it in a certain period of time then it is an acknowledged route. Of course in the case of the imperial feral government,and the former guvnah, what does the law have to do with anything? (This comment has been edited slightly to remove language intended to bait other participants. Ed. staff.)

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Blackberry Farms, as well as the trail relocation off of private property were either mere diversions to skirt from the main issue, or these guys are very lost in delusions of grandeur .... It's funny listening to these guys though. They lost the suit, and in the judges ruling they labeled in black and white that most of these falsehoods were inaccurate, and they still go on like their word is gospel.... [perhaps] they are just trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes to divert attention to their organization by pretending they have some vast understanding of the "wrongdoings between Superintendents and the kings and aristocrats" when it's evident it's just a bunch of powder puff fluff. (This comment has been edited slightly to remove disparaging language. Ed. staff)

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    The only information I have about the Blackberry Farms question is what's in the court document, and the judge didn't identify any lingering issues. You're correct, private parties should never have the right to "cut their own trail" in a park. Yes, it sounds like the resort did some unauthorized maintenance on a previously existing trail - which is much different from "cutting their own trails on NPS land" - and they put up some signs on NPS property that should not have been there. Should not have happened, but ironically, park visitors seem to have benefitted from a trail that was in better condition that it was under park maintenance. I believe some SFW folks are the same ones who complain about the park not getting trails reopened fast enough after storm damage :-)

    It seems significant even the NPS staff wasn't sure exactly where the park boundary was in this area as it affects this trail until the ranger got a top quality GPS from the lands office. In heavily wooded and mountainout terrain, such boundary questions don't seem to be uncommon. The court did not find, as the SFW claimed, that the resort gave any impression they treated the trail as their "private" route.

    The court seems satisfied the park staff resolved this issue by working with the adjacent landowner, which is how such problems should be handled if at all possible. It's interesting that some who criticize the park for not taking a heavier-handed approach in this situation have also been quick to criticize the staff as being too focused on "law enforcement" when it comes to other activities.

  • Opening Of Glacier Point Road At Yosemite National Park Earliest In Recent Memory   2 weeks 4 days ago

    And Californians would perhaps have welcomed some of the East's snows, to help ease the drought....

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    It's ok JThomas that you ignore the public comments, though. Best to try and attack something else. Like Blackberry Farms, those kinds of elephants in the room are quite glaring. I suppose there are two types of people in the world. Folks who are concerned that a private resort can cut their own trails on NPS land, and those who don't.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    [AR 257]. Although there are no written notes or other documentation of these contacts, the presumption of regularity afforded to agencies leads the Court to conclude that defendants did what they claim to have done.

    A federal judge trusts the NPS, a federal bureaucrat. RAT is the key word here.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Reading the court document left the clear impression the judge was seriously underwhelmed about trail issues at Blackberry Farms or the Ace Gap Trail. If there was a smoking gun at Blackberry Farms, it was a BB gun, and the issues seem to have been resolved.

    Information on pages 14 - 16 of the court document about the relocation of a section of the Ace Gap Trail leaves me wondering why this was an issue at all as part of this lawsuit. According to that document, a section of the trail left park land and crossed private property for about 500 feet, then returned to park land. The landowner, not unreasonably, requested that it be relocated off of his property, and the park hired a surveyor to determine where the boundary was located. The subsequent trail relocation first went through the standard NEPA review.

    It doesn't matter who the landowner is in such cases. If it had been my property, I'd likely have had the same request. The park's approach, cited in the testimony, seems very reasonable: "...it has been the practice of the Park to voluntarily relocate sections of a trail from private land to Park land when a landowner requests such action and when there is reasonable evidence that the trail is indeed on private land ....this practice is based on a respect for private property and a landowner’s legitimate concerns about trespass, privacy, liability, and potential vandalism."

    If the park had ignored any such request from an adjoining landowner to correct what amounted to trespass on private property, then there would be ample cause for complaint about the feds co-opting private land for public use. Sounds like the NPS did the right thing in this case, so where's the beef?

    I don't believe the judge used the word "frivolous" to describe the Blackberry Farms and Ace Gap Trail "complaints," but that word sure came to my mind after reading the above document.

  • Effort To Overturn Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fails   2 weeks 5 days ago

    The Great American Entitlement Syndrome is on full display here.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 5 days ago

    Owen is right. Encourage people to get OUT into the park. I'm always amazed by the pitiful people parked in a campground like Norris watching satellite TV while just a few feet away trumpeter swans and otters swim in the Gibbon River and a herd of elk is venturing into the meadow. Pitiful people only because they have no idea what they are missing.

    Then again, while they stay indoors other folks may quietly enjoy the scenery without a lot of noise from other people.

    But still . . . .