Recent comments

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 3 days ago

    eric, infrastructure improvements that went to contractors so that they could build a new road, fix a road that was in disrepair that is used by millions of autos per year, and also fix numerous other infrastructure needs in National Parks doesn't help provide jobs? Ok.

    The parks overall budgets have been cut over the last few years. Don't you remember the sequester?

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 3 days ago

    gary, there may gave been only two major projects in GSMNP but the stimulus monies went well beyond that park. Not that they reallu stimulated anything.

    That said, I do believe the Parks should get more funding - but not until the rest of the budget is under control And the feds return to the Constitutionally granted responsibilities.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 3 days ago

    John, the stimulus money went to mostly two infrastructure improvements. I don't know if you've bothered to go up 441 lately, but they have done substantial road work along that road, they have vastly improved the drainage (go look at the new stone work and drainage pipes on the side of the roadway next to places like LeConte and down from the Chimeys), and they have reinforced the road on the Tennessee side by driving in large steel beams that aren't cheap to keep the road from falling off the side of the cliffs near NFG. It was actually considerable the work that they did, and it has gone on for about 2 years. Also, the foothills parkway was funded with that stimulus money, and that new road will be done by 2016.

    http://www.wate.com/story/10361395/great-smokies-to-receive-64m-in-stimu...

    This work has occurred because of that stimulus money. And considering the Smokies doesn't have a fee, like most national parks, tax dollars are what paid for it.

    So, the "smoky backrooms where they murder, lie and rape" actually seem quite visible to the public if you bother to open the blind old owls eyes and take a flight around the Smokies and see the work that has occurred over the last two years. I know i've sat in a lot of lines over the past two years while they did road work in the park. The foothhills parkway finally had funding to build the missing link bridge that is considered an engineering marvel.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 3 days ago

    And there is a system in place to fund those services and it is called taxes. I don't agree that the NPS is underfunded as many shout, especially when they got such a huge influx from stimulus monies recently and other federal agencies are reducing budgets.

    Now let's talk about responsible use of those funds in the NPS. Benzar is spot on. These things are decided in smoky back rooms. Why was Sally Jewell from REI placed at the helm? I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that she ran a company that provides concession services. Doesn't that say a ton about where the NPS priority is? Isn't that why Jarvis own brother is a concessionaire lobbyist? FLREA is garbage that allows the NPS to rape, murder and lie at their discretion with no oversight or incorporation of public input. It would jeopardize those who wish to profit from the NPS. Does the NPS exist for the concession crowd or the taxpaying public? In the Smokies they created a backcountry crisis to be solved by a miraculous software reservation system. When they received approval to charge fees and use recreation.gov, they decided they could pocket more money by eliminating rec.gov and did just that with no authorization whatsoever. Just like that they instituted a quarter million dollars per year in pure revenue. Simply by creating crises and formulating solutions.

    Under FLREA it gives the federal land mgrs that kind of license. Its time to take the car keys away and ground these fee drunken teenagers. Im sure they could use more money. So could I.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    No offense Alfred, but in 1959, 3.00 has the same inflation value as 25.00 today.

    Why would he be offended. That is exactly what he said.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    No offense Alfred, but in 1959, 3.00 has the same inflation value as 25.00 today.

    http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=3&year1=1959&year2=2014

    Taking into consideration, that the population of the United States has gone from about 180 to 330 million in that time period, there is a lot more pressure on the resources today, than there was back then too.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    They needed that part of society's support of the parks.

    Probably even more so today.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    Well, I think the luxury accommodations are there -- and Al can better answer this -- because there was a desire by Stephen Mather and Horace Albright to make Eastern bluebloods comfortable in the parks. They needed that part of society's support of the parks.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    but what ceiling should be kept within sight in a park?

    Kurt, if you are talking about basic access to the park then there may be some rationale for a "ceiling". Perhaps rates could be set as we do with public utilities, but then we probably would not have the most efficient of operations.

    At $80 for unlimited access, $5 for a back country campground and $20 for an rv/tent site, I don't believe we are pricing anyone out of the Parks nor is anyone making unconscionable profits.

    When it comes to luxury accomodations in the park - the first question might be why are they there. After that, I would have to ask why should anyone have any more right to a luxury accomodation in a Park then in Hawaii or Martha's Vineyard or Vegas.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    But were national parks intended to operate as profit centers with no ceiling, or as a public commons? Companies shouldn't have to operate at a loss, but what ceiling should be kept within sight in a park?

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    So long as "someone" can afford to pay whatever I want to charge, I have the right to charge it.

    Alfred, that is the philosophy that made this the greatest country ever to exist on earth. And we are a republic, not a democracy. Will we fail some day - most likely - particularly as we get farther away from our founding principles.

    BTW - where is Lee with his entitlement jabs. If you can't pay $85 for a three night stay in the park then maybe you should be working rather than going on vacaton.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    Visiting Yosemite in 1959, my mother paid $3 to get in and zero to stake out a campsite. Today, she would pay $25 to get in (the equivalent, actually) and $60 for our three-night stay. In that case, she might not be able to afford it, since gasoline, car, tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, Colman stove, food, etc., etc., etc., would all start adding up. The point is: The more we argue these issues in terms of "costs," the more we forget the hidden cost of the argument itself. Eventually, no other argument is allowed. So long as "someone" can afford to pay whatever I want to charge, I have the right to charge it. We'll soon see whether we can preserve a democracy on that argument. History is still betting that we can't.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    You can even stay cheaper than $20. It's 5.00 for a permit processing, and 5.00 a night to stay in the backcountry per person. So, 10.00 for a trek into the very well preserved Sierra wilderness...And since there is limitations on the amount of people that can visit a zone, the solitude is unbridled compared to the front country areas.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    Every American should be able to stay in Yosemite at least once without having to take out a mortgage.

    And they can, unless you need a mortage for a $20 campsite.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 3 days ago

    The problem with Park Service "approved" rates is where the concessionaire gets to pick the "comparables." Historically, the Yosemite Park & Curry Company (MCA) and Delaware North have asked that their comparable properties be the most expensive resorts in California. Is that appropriate for the national parks? It certainly makes Yosemite the most profitable park in the system. Twenty-five years ago, I wrote Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness to ask that question--and many others. At the time, the franchise fee in Yosemite was a piddling three quarters of one percent. For a $100 million property, MCA paid just $750,000 a year. My book helped change that, and the reforms are noticeable, but not as noticeable as one would think. When last I checked, a night at the Ahwahnee was $499. I stayed there in 1982 for $75. Even adjusted for inflation, the rate should be $250 and not $500--which remains the top end of the luxury rate at most of our national parks, including Zion where I regularly lecture now. I want to see Xanterra bid on this one, because again, it is only competition that sets the proper rate. In Yosemite, the Park Service rolls over and plays dead. Carmel, California, should not be the comparable for any national park, at least, not if we believe in an American middle class. Every American should be able to stay in Yosemite at least once without having to take out a mortgage.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 3 days ago

    "The conflicts and controversy arise when people who only want to be able to take a stroll through the forest, sit watching a stream flow by, or watch the sunset over a lake are required to pay a fee to have those experiences." Kurt

    I think the problem comes with people believing this doesn't have any cost. There are roads that get one there, parking lots for one's cars, maintained trails to allow one to wander there, fire and rescue services that keep one safe there, rangers to keep out the poachers and squatters and neer-do-wells... and the list goes on.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 4 days ago

    incentive to try and leverage access to undeveloped areas (which they control) into a direct revenue stream (for which there is little accountability). The idea of citizen-owners is lost in the process and we become nothing more than customers.

    Exactly! At CHNSRA they have started with $120 ORV permits. This was free until 2 years ago.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 4 days ago

    Magaera,

    Over priced and lousy job? Is that why they are always sold out?

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 4 days ago

    Megaera,

    NPS approves all rates. Included in the Yosemite prospectus is a document with all the recently approved rates.

  • The Impact of Olaus, Mardy and Adolph Murie Can Still Be Felt Today in Our National Parks   1 week 4 days ago

    Does anyone have any historical insight as to why the GRTE Superintendent asked

    The Murie Center staff to leave in 2007 ? We are curious what skullduggery

    may have been occurring for this "revolting development" to occur ?

    http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/top_stories/murie-center-gets-boot/article_3c893e39-c5af-5afd-8d4c-a738b4c3f86b.html

    and

    http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/top_stories/executive-director-at-murie-center-resigns/article_e3bd7f42-9931-5473-a586-0aba92963f

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   1 week 4 days ago

    *Anything* would be an improvement over Yosemite's current concessioner, which overcharges ridiculously ($110 a night for an unkempt, dirty tent cabin???) and does a lousy job.

    But given Xanterra's track record of increasing prices to the point where the average Joe can't afford to stay in Yellowstone, I'm not all that enthusiastic about them, either.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   1 week 4 days ago

    Editor's note: The following comment is from Kitty Benzar.

    “We want services. We demand services.”

    That's simply not true of everyone. When I visit public lands I want to be left alone and get as far away from "services" and other people as I can. Nothing ruins my visit more than becoming another "visitor contact" for a ranger or concessionaire employee to log on their clipboard. Those who want services - developed campgrounds, picnic grounds, interpretive centers, guided outings, cabin rentals etc - should indeed have to pay extra for those, and FLREA allows the agencies to charge those kind of fees. Those have never been the issue.

    The conflicts and controversy arise when people who only want to be able to take a stroll through the forest, sit watching a stream flow by, or watch the sunset over a lake are required to pay a fee to have those experiences.

    Congress used to have a commitment to giving the public that kind of general access to undeveloped, dispersed recreation (at least on National Forests and BLM lands) in return for our tax dollars. Whether they still have that commitment or not is an open question.

    FLREA prohibited fees for the kind of undeveloped recreation I describe, but the Forest Service and BLM have spent the last 10 years seeking ways to ignore or evade those prohibitions. Why? Because surprise, surprise, undeveloped recreation - by people who are NOT demanding services - is pretty popular. Since FLREA allows them to retain recreation fees without going through Congress and the Treasury, there is a huge incentive to try and leverage access to undeveloped areas (which they control) into a direct revenue stream (for which there is little accountability). The idea of citizen-owners is lost in the process and we become nothing more than customers.

    Legislation to replace FLREA is being drafted in smoky back rooms by people with insider access as I write this. Will Congress re-commit to a robust system of public lands? Or sell them off, one nickel and dime at a time, to the forces of privatization? Will they write a stronger law that can't be twisted to mean the opposite of what it says, or one that legalizes the currently-illegal implementations? Word just in today that, whatever they're writing, the language will be posted on Monday July 14 and considered in the full House Natural Resources Committee two days later, July 16. No public input is scheduled.

    As to the question What To Do? as always the answer is: contact Congress; contact Congress; contact Congress. It may not be sexy but unless you do it they think nobody cares.

  • Geothermal Heat Melting Road Surface Of Firehole Lake Drive In Yellowstone National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    Gary, I think you have a valid point on the the Firehole Drive issue. I have also thought how important it was for so many people, beginning with president Lincoln in 1864, to be looking ahead on the positive things that can be done not only for the environment but on so many other issues as well. We cannot change whatever natural processes might occur, but we can make a huge difference in our daily lives on those issues that we have some control over. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the parks.

  • Geothermal Heat Melting Road Surface Of Firehole Lake Drive In Yellowstone National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    Wow, someone is putting words in my mouth. Coorelating removing a road that is being disintegrated in a well known geothermal hot spot to wishing for mankind to be wiped off the planet is a bit of a stretch. I do have many friends in Idaho, and Montana, and dont want to see them perish in a catastrophic explosion..

  • National Park Service Moves To Ban Public's Use Of Drones In The Parks   1 week 5 days ago