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Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial

May 7th - 19:03pm | ecbuck

Michael -Two big differences between us.  First, I don't share your pessimism.  I think man can exploit the earth for his own good without long term negative impacts.  As you yourself noted several of today's parks are "restoration" parks.  Parks that in a hundred years or less have erased the "scars" of man.

May 7th - 11:26am | Alfred Runte

Some really good comments here, some of them even worthy of an article or two. First, about Yosemite. Once the federal government had completed the surveys of the high country, the handwriting was on the wall. Settlement claims under the Homestead Act, etc., then proliferated, culminating in the late 1880s. The park of 1890 was already hamstrung by 65,000 acres of private inholdings--or more.

May 7th - 10:26am | Michael Kellett

EC and beachdumb,No use in arguing about climate change. Reality will prevail, regardless of what we say.EC,

May 7th - 09:10am | beachdumb

has reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in recorded history

May 7th - 08:43am | ecbuck

The global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – the primary driver of recent climate change – has reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in recorded history, according to data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

May 7th - 08:26am | Michael Kellett

EC,1. Regarding your denial of climate change, It is ironic that you made it the day after this announcement.

May 7th - 01:24am | Rick B.

Thanks, Michael Kellett. Be warned there are a handful of climate change deniers here that make a lot of noise, and try to make it look like they're the only ones in the room.Most of us have just decided not to wrestle in the mud with them any more.

May 6th - 22:40pm | rmackie

Thank you Michael Kellett and thanks for E.O. Lewis quote. 

May 6th - 18:36pm | ecbuck

We should think about the use of national parks in mitigating the effects of climate change, promoting science and science education,.....An oxymoron in the first sentence.

May 6th - 17:38pm | Michael Kellett

To quote E.O. Wilson, the eminent biologist and membert of the National Parks Second Century Commission:

May 6th - 16:09pm | beachdumb

CHNSRA used to be a state park, no one with a grasp of reality is happy with the way it is being managed recently. Many are calling for it to be returned to state control, I can only hope that it does. 

May 6th - 15:31pm | Owen Hoffman

I have been in communication concerning Harry Butowsky's recent op-ed article in National Parks Traveler with a few NPS'ers who are still in the field.  In general, most agree with Harry's point of view.

May 6th - 15:00pm | Scott Merritt

Ok I will accept the dunce cap.  So now that I have it on, I am going back through the article carefully.  I can't respond to it all at once, so in pieces:

May 6th - 02:12am | Argle Bargle

The park service  now has an "Office of Relevancy, Diversity and Inclusion." It is busy issuing memos, training and goals for, well, relevancy. I'm not sure what relevancy is. Probably something like relevance but squishier.  As in "No, it's not actually relevant, but it has the aroma of relevancy."

May 5th - 11:39am | Harryb3570

Thank you for your thoughtful reply rmackie. I agree with what you have to say and you have given us all material to consider. 

May 5th - 11:33am | Harryb3570

OK  JEMiculka lets cut the sarcasm. We need some positive suggestions here. Do you have one? If so I would like to hear it. You do not like what I have to say then tell me what you think would be a better solution.

May 5th - 11:26am | rmackie

Nice post Harry, and it has led to an interesting discussion. I do not have the answers. When I first started working in Yosemite on a trail crew in 1960, park visitation was roughly 500,000. Upon my retirement in 1997, it was in excess of 4 million, all rough figures. In 1960, visitation to Tuolumne Meadows via the old  Tioga Road was 25,000. Now it exceeds a million and half.

May 5th - 11:13am | JEMiculka

Perhaps we should see about creating a National Parks Lend - Lease Act.  We can loan Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Grand Canyon to their respective states or counties or other interested organizations and let them manage them.

May 5th - 10:15am | Alfred Runte

To sum up so far:If the Park Service saves money, Congress will just reduce the budget again. A+ fpr that insight. That's exactly what Congress will do. Then will we let them?

May 5th - 09:07am | tahoma

During my career in the Maintenance Division, I would say about a third of the work we did was not maintenance, but new construction and elaborate upgrades.  This development work was always a higher priority and the most certain path to managerial promotion.

May 5th - 08:58am | Scott Merritt

Travis - thank you for taking the time to provide solid responses to this incredibly weak article and incoherent stream of comments.  

May 5th - 08:49am | Harryb3570

I agree with you trail advocate. The reality of our maintenance backlog, lack of staffing, poor quality or outdated administrative histories is there and if we continue on our present course I see disaster looming. There is no perfect or ideal solution but we do need a plan. I do not see a plan by the NPS to deal with our looming problems.

May 5th - 01:07am | trailadvocate

Yep, there is reality out there to truly cope with.  The fantasy is what it is. The sooner it's recognized as such,  the better. Only getting worse  and in a hurry!

May 4th - 23:44pm | Travis Mason-Bushman

But yes, interpreation had already fallen from a staff of 75 to a staff of 36. I believe now it is just 18. How do you make the parks more relevant by cutting job holders off at the knees? In Zion, another wonderful couple just left the park, knowing they would never achieve permanent status.

May 4th - 23:11pm | Perpetual Seasonal

I wish Mr. Smith could please point out where this "rule" about each generation is written? Maybe we should think about about the future generations that a have to pay for and administer these parks. Past generations can and have made mistakes and put places under NPS management that don't belong there. And as we've mentioned before sites have been removed from the system.

May 4th - 22:02pm | ecbuck

I generally agree with Mr Butowsky.  My one addition would be to examine if we really have a 11.5 billion backlog or a 10 billion wish list and 1.5mil of actual necessary repairs. 

May 4th - 21:37pm | rmackie

 Travis Mason Rushman, thank you for your posts. I enjoy both Harry's and Alfred Runte's posts and usually find I am in agreement with them, but on this issue, I am with you. I understand Mr. Runte's concern about the "population bomb' and in the larger context he maybe right. But I did find Harry's suggestions on this issue not to my own way of thinking.

May 4th - 21:09pm | Alfred Runte

What do you mean by a national standard, Travis? Do you have one? All too often, the "standard" is what local interests make of it. After that, should their congressional delegation have the power, they get it pushed through Congress. The same applies to the truly NATIONAL parks. From snowmobiling to overflights, the locals get far more say than they deserve. Or am I wrong?

May 4th - 20:39pm | Travis Mason-Bushman

Who gets to keep "their" national park? Those who are willing to staff it properly and pay for it. Will some fight the process? But of course. They don't want to pay for it; they want someone else to pay for it.

May 4th - 19:58pm | Alfred Runte

What do I want for my country, Travis? I would start my wish list with common sense. In the 1960s, my student colleagues trashed the State University of New York at Binghamton to make their statement about "The War." Trouble was: Those jets you mention were their future paycheck, too. When they started work for General Electric and IBM, the love beads came off and the suits went on.

May 4th - 17:37pm | Rick B.

Sorry, Ghost, but I instinctively distrust any comment that begins with the sweeping "as we all know". It is a mathematical certainty that that statement will always be a self-serving and inaccurate generalization. Next time you might want to check with some of us before including us in your generalization used to support your position. 

May 4th - 17:08pm | Travis Mason-Bushman

The money is certainly there. We spend uncounted billions and trillions on unnecessary jet fighters and pointless foreign wars. For the price of a single F-35, we would pay for the entire Tongass National Forest operating budget for a decade. Spending on land management agencies is barely a rounding error on the federal budget as a whole. The United States is not poor, let alone broke.

May 4th - 16:13pm | Alfred Runte

Sorry, Travis, this is not a plan. It is your opinion of what would happen "if" someone else's plan were followed. Your "solution," as you call it, is undefined. The national parks already have "a broad constituency." Are you saying that the constituency is too "white" and affluent? Then say so.

May 4th - 15:33pm | Ghost of Steven...

As we all know, the NPS backlog is exaggerated and untrustworthy.  That's how we operate; we tend to blame everthing on a lack of funds, so we embelish.  Those that have been around awhile know that our budget has increased nearly every year, and for decades, often coming at the expense of other Interior agency's.

May 4th - 15:31pm | Rick Smith

While I admired Harry's professionalism as a NPS historian, I think he is forgetting one point when he starts talking about reducing the System or giving park areas to states.  One of the enduring virtures of the National Park System is that each generation of Americans, speaking through their elected representatives, gets to add the to the System those areas that they believe merit protection

May 4th - 14:49pm | Travis Mason-Bushman

I can tell you where my solution starts: Building a broad constituency in support of a strengthened, representative and relevant National Park System.

May 4th - 14:18pm | Alfred Runte

So, Travis, what's your plan? Write it up and present it to us. And one more thing. Tell us where you will find the money.

Traveler's View: Really, Aren't The National Parks Worth More Than $2.5 Million?

May 7th - 15:04pm | rmackie

Dr. Runte, this is one of your finest posts, exactly the issue here. Thank you. I also appreciated the post of M. Kellett and yourself on "addressing the backlog". It is stretch to me that we cannot find common ground on "man" contributing to  climate change.

May 7th - 14:11pm | Alfred Runte

I don't think "price" is the point being made here at all. Sometimes, a writer has to resort to irony or sarcasm before anyone can see the point. And the point is: The government, having presented the national parks as a gold mine, turns around and sells them as if they were tin.

May 7th - 08:55am | Harryb3570

Well said Kurt. This partnership with Budweiser is just not right for the NPS. The whole deal cries out for a congressional investigation. Even if the amount of money was $25 million it would still  be wrong. Dan Wenk and Jarvis need to face reality. They made a mistake and just say no to Budweiser. 

May 7th - 08:52am | ecbuck

I agree with you Kurt, the price seems low.  But I find it funny after all the indignation about the arrangement in the first place, now we are talking price.   Reminds me of a joke that ends with the women asking "what do you think I am" and the man responds, "we have already established that, now we are just negotiating the price". 

May 7th - 07:26am | Perpetual Seasonal

One thing I don't get about this is they say the partnership with Budweiser will attract more of the kinds of people they want to come to NPS sites. But as far as I know Budweiser isn't exactly the brand of "millennials" or most minorities.

Acadia Then And Now: 40 Years Is Too Long Between Visits

May 7th - 13:07pm | JeanBjerke

Happy birthday, Acadia NP! It has been about 20 years since I last visited, and this article reminds me I shouldn't let too many more years go by. Acadia is an enchanting park, and I loved my first few visits, then moved from New Englad so it is not as easy to get back! I have some very fond memories of times in Acadia with several different family members.

Critics Say Legislation Penned In The Name Of Homeland Security Could Trample National Parks, Other Federal Lands

May 7th - 12:39pm | argalite

So they can use motorized vehicles in wilderness.  That will be great for cryptogramic soils.

May 5th - 19:56pm | ecbuck

Unreasonable? No more unreasonable than Bishop's bulloney.The siesure of private land is no more unreasonable than asking the feds to use their own to protect the county?  Certainly not in my world, nor in that of Jefferson, Madison et al.

May 5th - 09:58am | Lee Dalton

This is pure balderdash on the part of Rob Bishop.  It's part of his continuing anti-environmental and Federal lands management agenda. 

Girl Scouts Getting More Involved With National Parks

May 7th - 12:30pm | Rick B.

Agreed, Jim. Programs to get more girls, more boys, more kids in general, as well as any other demographic. Getting them hooked young, on something healthy, is a Good Thing.

May 7th - 12:04pm | Jim Burnett

Absolutely an example of a much better way to introduce young people to our parks - as opposed to Anheuser-Busch's goal of "introducing a new generation of beer drinkers" to those areas!

Glacier National Park Officials Working To Craft Going-To-The-Sun Road Plan To Ease Congestion

May 7th - 12:28pm | Jim Burnett

I was there last summer at the start of the season. Opening of the "Sun Road" to private vehicles was delayed due to a late snowstorm, but we were able to ride the free shuttle from the west side most of the way to Logan Pass, and then walk along the road for several miles. It was a great way to enjoy the area without traffic.

Savings On Zion Maps, National Park Posters Await Traveler Members

May 4th - 21:51pm | ecbuck

Alas, too late.  Already bought my map and finished my Zion hikes today. 

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide