Recent comments

  • House Of Representatives Votes To Gut Antiquities Act   3 weeks 1 day ago

    What a great idea by Rep. Bishop! NPS has a $5MM maintenance backlog on the lands they currently manage. Do they really need more lands, buildings, rivers, lakes cemeteries, etal that they cannot maintains, staff or otherwise manage with a declining budget?

    Or do we allow the supplementing of NPS budgets by special interests.......like Coca Cola in the Dasani bottled water wars in Grand Canyon? Toyota donations for special consideration along with many others?

    Maybe Bill Gates or Warren Buffett would like to have a treehouse built in Sequioa NP as an observation point to view the canopy of these majestic beauties. How much money would NPS require to make it happen?

    NPS is fleecing the off road permit money at Cape Hatteras to fund normal infrastructure needs because of budget cuts. Maybe some large corporate sponsor will step in and help NPS close the beach access to all Americans under the guise of helping NPS

  • Rebranding Logos For National Park Service Centennial Draw Criticisms   3 weeks 1 day ago

    I agree with all the comments on the poor 'rebranding' of the NPS logos.

    The emptiness inside the arrowhead is a reflection of the current NPS leadership. NPS and DOI top leaders have lost their focus on the reason for the Parks and Seashores.... America's recreational access to the beauty and splendor of what belongs to the American taxpayer.

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 1 day ago

    Discretionary budget authority increased by 26% from $849.5B in FY03 to $1.072T in FY07. However, the Interior Department's discretionary budget authority only increased by 4% from $10.6B in FY03 to $11.05B in FY07.

    NPS's total BA went from $2.52B in FY03 to $2.68B in FY07. The Congressional appropriation for NPS increased from $2.24B in FY03 to $2.3B in FY07.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2009/pdf/hist.pdf (pg 114 discretionary BA)

    http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/upload/FY_2009_greenbook.pdf (Overview-71)

    http://www.doi.gov/budget/appropriations/2005/upload/Appendix-A.pdf

    http://www.doi.gov/budget/appropriations/2009/upload/Appendix-A.pdf

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 1 day ago

    OK, you're quoting numbers from the Bush White House to me to support the Bush tax cuts. Apples and oranges here. I said that the primary beneficiaries of the tax cuts were the wealthy. Are you trying to tell me that these OMB tables helped the little guy? You'll have to draw me a little closer to the little guy picture of the benefits.

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 1 day ago

    EC, you're going to have to cite your claim.

    Kurt (and Rick) you have to stop listening to the spin misters and go to the facts.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/historicals

    Click Table1. The White House statistics show that receipts in 2003, the year the primary portion of the tax cuts were enacted were $1,782 billion. By 2007, the number had increased to $2,567 billion, an increase of 44%. Rick, you are wrong. But keep drinking the Kool Aid

  • House Of Representatives Votes To Gut Antiquities Act   3 weeks 1 day ago

    MarkK -

    Land acquired for any NPS area from private landowners can sometimes be a very emotional topic, but such land cannot be taken without fair compensation. If the owner disarees about what's fair, he has the right to have that value determined in court, not by the buyer. Will sellers of land included in a park sometimes not want to sell, or disagree with the eventual price? Yes. You may choose to classify that as "theft." I'm not aware of any land acquired from reluctant sellers that wasn't first authorized by congressional action - not a Presidential declaration.

    Unless there is some pressing circumstance, such as a piece of land being absolutely essential for park operations or land which is threatened by development or other activities that would reduce or destroy its value to a park, the NPS approach is to wait for a willing seller rather than get into condemnation proceedings.

    As to land included in new national monuments designated under the law in question (the Antiquities Act), I posted the following information on a separate thread, but since your comment is posted here, it seems to bear repeating.

    Land included in a new national monument established under the Antiquities Act must either already be in federal ownership (which covers the vast majority of designations) or transfered with the consent of the owner. In all cases that I'm aware of, this has been by donation, or as Kurt explains above, acquired from a non-profit group that is holding it in trust until the monument is established.

    Private land cannot be forcibly "taken" from private landowners to create a new monument under this Act. Here's the pertinent language from Act.(Emphasis added below is mine.)

    The monument can include landmarks, structures or ojbects "that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States...When such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

    I believe you'll find from a legal standpoint, the word "may" above indicates that the transfer of ownership is optional.

  • Reader Participation Day: Should Congress Restrict The President's Ability To Use The Antiquities Act To Create National Monuments?   3 weeks 1 day ago

    Kurt. You are correct. Land included in a new national monument established under the Antiquities Act must either already be in federal ownership (which covers the vast majority of designations) or transfered with the consent of the owner. In all cases that I'm aware of, this has been by donation, or as Kurt explains above, acquired from a non-profit group that is holding it in trust until the monument is established.

    Private land cannot be forcibly "taken" from private landowners to create a new monument under this Act. Here's the pertinent language from Act.(Emphasis added below is mine.)

    The monument can include landmarks, structures or ojbects "that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States...When such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States."

  • Reader Participation Day: Should Congress Restrict The President's Ability To Use The Antiquities Act To Create National Monuments?   3 weeks 1 day ago

    Mark, I can't recall any case where private land was "taken" for a national monument.

    Most cases I can recall involved designations on federal land (ie, owned by the Bureau of Land Management) or donations of land, such as in the case of First State National Monument, in which a non-profit trust held the land until it could be transferred to the Park Service.

  • Reader Participation Day: Should Congress Restrict The President's Ability To Use The Antiquities Act To Create National Monuments?   3 weeks 1 day ago

    Isn't this bill about naming NEW National Monuments? Seems in that case, it's more a matter of transferring PRIVATE property to public, possibly by force, rather than the other way around.

  • House Of Representatives Votes To Gut Antiquities Act   3 weeks 1 day ago

    The actions of the current administration re: National Parks during the government shutdown pretty much ensured that "national parks and monuments are being treated as a political football" and will continue to be. Never again will I believe the BS line that these are "my" national parks when a government shutdown results in large scale security to keep me out.

    Presidents have been claiming more and more power for themselves for years and it's time for it to stop.

    Also, I frequently hear and read that many National parks need money to meet what are considered essential maintenance items? Seems absurd to add more when we can't afford to maintain what we have.

    Lastly, taking private property from someone against their will is theft. Paying them what the buyer says it's worth when the owner disagrees is still theft.

    I haven't read the bill other than what is excerpted above, but those points make a lot of sense to me, especially, given our financial situation, "Require within one year of a declaration, a feasibility study and an estimated cost to taxpayers associated with managing the monument in perpetuity, including any loss of federal and state revenue."

  • House Of Representatives Asked To Dilute Antiquities Act   3 weeks 1 day ago

    Presidents, both Democrat and Republican, seem to be thinking of themselves and behaving as Kings, rather than being responsible to the people. Less power for them (and for the federal government as a whole), regardless whether Democrat or Republican, is a good thing.

  • House Of Representatives Votes To Gut Antiquities Act   3 weeks 1 day ago

    Thankfully, it's DOA in the Senate.

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    Nice documentation, Kurt.

    And ec old buddy, I'm comfortable enough with myself that somehow a person shilling for the dark side online telling me that they think I'm 'wrong' doesn't really rock my ego much. Especially in cases like this where there is no uncertainty at all about my opinion.

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    EC, you're going to have to cite your claim. Here's how the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution casts the impact of the Bush cuts:

    The Bush tax cuts contributed, along with underlying economic conditions, to a historic decline in federal tax revenue. In 2000 total federal tax revenue was as high in proportion to the U.S. economy as it had ever been. By 2004 federal tax revenue in proportion to the economy had fallen to its lowest level in almost fifty years.

    In recent decades the federal tax take has generally fluctuated between 17 and 19 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). By 2000, however, total federal tax receipts had reached 20.9 percent of GDP, their highest level since 1970 and matched only in 1944, when the federal government collected 20.9 percent of GDP in taxes at the height of fighting World War II. By 2004, however, federal tax receipts had fallen to 16.3 percent of GDP, which is not only the lowest level since 1970, but the lowest since 1959.

    Most of the decline in the ratio of federal tax revenue to GDP can be traced to the individual income tax. From 1970 to 2000 these taxes were typically in the range of 8 to 9 percent of GDP. In 2000 individual income taxes were 10.3 percent of GDP, their highest level ever. By 2004 individual income taxes had dropped to 7.0 percent of GDP, their lowest level since 1951. Total federal tax revenue declined by 4.6 percent of GDP from 2000 to 2004; of that total, 3.3 percentage points, or almost three-quarters, was due to the decline in individual income tax revenue.

    Most of the remaining decline in the revenue-to-GDP ratio resulted from a drop in the share in total revenue coming from corporate income taxes, which fell by 0.5 percent of GDP from 2000 to 2004, and a drop in the share coming from the payroll taxes that finance Social Security and Medicare, which declined by 0.4 percent of GDP over that period.

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/bush-tax-cuts/re...

    And then there's this:

    Economic Downturn and Legacy of Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Deficits

    Federal deficits and debt have been sharply higher under President Obama, but the evidence continues to show that the Great Recession, President Bush’s tax cuts, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain most of the deficits that have occurred on Obama’s watch — based on the latest Congressional Budget Office projections as well as legislation enacted since we last issued this analysis of what lies behind current deficits and debt.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3849

    And this:

    The legacy of the Bush tax cuts, in four charts

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/02/the-legacy-of...

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    That economic bounty from Bush's tax cuts was only a bounty for the wealthy to whom he is beholding.

    Wrong. Tax receipts went up 50% in the years immediately following the Bush tax rate cuts giving room for substantial increases in expenditures. Libs just can't get the concept that lower tax rates stimulate business activity, raise tax collections and make funding of things like the parks more possible.

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    Luckily the national forests don't charge yet so there is a place folks can still go and experience the freedom of the woods and not have to pay others to enjoy it but I expect that will someday change as well.

    HikerBA I don't know where you live, but it must be in La La Land. Since 1996 the National Forests have been charging fees just to go for a walk in the woods in hundreds of places. Just google Adventure Pass, Northwest Forest Pass, Red Rock Pass, White Mountains Parking Pass, for a taste. And the BLM is charging a per-night, per-person (sometimes also per-night, per-dog) fee for permits to take a private, non-commercial hike or horseback ride in designated Wilderness areas at Paria Canyon, Aravaipa Canyon, and Gunnison Gorge (at least) and is trying to get a Wilderness access fee imposed in the King Range Wilderness on the Lost Coast of California.

    Congratulations to Southern Forest Watch, and good luck on your lawsuit!

    www.WesternSlopeNoFee.org

  • House Of Representatives Asked To Dilute Antiquities Act   3 weeks 2 days ago

    "In this case, some current Republicans are trying to change a law that was passed under a previous Republican administration."

    Republicans also held nearly 2 to 1 majorities in both the House and the Senate at the time of its passage. Times change.

  • You Can Ride Your Own Horse At Bryce Canyon National Park, But You Have To Hire A Guide   3 weeks 2 days ago

    As a private horse owner and avid trail rider. I just spent 6 weeks in Big Bend State park, Texas, where you don't have to stay on trails. My 6 weeks were fine without the help of a guide. If horses why not bikes, hikers and 4 wheelers all cause the same threats. As one of the posts put it education is best tool not another way to baby sit or make something harder. I for one pack out more garbage than I take in. I think a lot of people do. Let's keep the parks for the people not just the wealthy.

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    The public comments opposing the backcountry fee in the Smokies were 18-1 AGAINST it. And that fact is well documented in this magazine. So your assertion that folks are in favor of it is just like the NPS justifications used to push it by Dale Ditmanson. Lies. And this fee is characterized by lies, like Tom mentioned, at every turn. I am thrilled that this lawsuit will expose the NPS culture of deceit. I'm most excited about seeing the ways in which they used concessionaires to promote false information about the backcountry. These concessionaires had a vested interest in doing so in the form of renewed concession contracts. It is about to get real interesting around here and I'll bet some moustaches are seriously twitching up in DC because they never expected this to see the light of day.

  • House Of Representatives Asked To Dilute Antiquities Act   3 weeks 2 days ago

    I think that some of you will be interested to know that the Congress itself created 25 national monuments legislatively. So, it's not always the President.

    Rick

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    That economic bounty from Bush's tax cuts was only a bounty for the wealthy to whom he is beholding.

    Lee's point was simple. It is nuts to expect to both say "cut the taxes that fund the government" and "but of course I want what I want from that government".

    I hate paying taxes. I hate even more not having parks or having uneducated kids or having unfunded road repair crews or fire departments. I grumble about the taxes but pay them. And I tend to vote for education bond issues or parks funding programs or such.

    Please feel free to take your tea party stuff and give it the additional dietary fiber that it so badly needs.

  • House Of Representatives Asked To Dilute Antiquities Act   3 weeks 2 days ago

    re: "Congress also has the power to change the law itself... which is exactly what they are trying to do."

    In this case, some current Republicans are trying to change a law that was passed under a previous Republican administration; it's a law that seems to have worked pretty well.

    Doing so requires enough votes in both the House and Senate and the signature of the President.

    It's called "checks and balances." :-)

  • Lawsuit Against Backcountry User Fee At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Can Proceed   3 weeks 2 days ago

    insist on Tea Party taxation, what will happen to the things and services

    If by "Tea Party taxation" you mean a cut in the tax rates, what will happen is an economic bounty just as happened after Kennedy, Reagan and Bush cut taxes rates.

  • Reader Participation Day: Should Congress Restrict The President's Ability To Use The Antiquities Act To Create National Monuments?   3 weeks 2 days ago

    Wrong thread

  • House Of Representatives Asked To Dilute Antiquities Act   3 weeks 2 days ago

    Jim Burnett put it best above. Checks and balances are there...it does not need to change. I am sure it will be vetoed if it makes it past the Senate. Plus the acre size rules and number per state seem pointless in my opinion.