Recent comments

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    You are right Rick, must be time for bed, I see I double posted also.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Wasn't Olmsted actually 19th century, instead of 18th? Sorry to nitpick.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Frederick Law Olmsted, a distinguished conservationist and landscape architect, was very instrumental in getting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove set aside for future generations. He had a great deal of help from California Senator John Coness, whom Mount Coness is named after on the eastern boundary of the park. One of the concerns Mr. Olmsted had, in the context of his time, the 18th century, was how most of the worlds population lived in nations where only a few had title to the land, vested royalty, oligarchies, etc. He stated in his wonderful little book, that land should be set aside for its scenic and natural wonders, free and accessible to all citizens of the nation. This as opposed to most country's at the time where the land was privately owned by a small handful of people and access was limited.

    It is 150 years later, but Mr. Olmsted's point still needs to be considered. Privatization of the commons (you can find a good definition in the works of Adam Smith), concentration of wealth, policies governing the public land, others, are issues the next generation will have to deal with. I am in agreement Lee, taxes, fees are now part of it. Like you, I am happy to pay them ( I do want transparency and accountability), but I do think the NPS is losing sight of the importance of keeping entry to the parks affordable and equitable to all, as Mr. Olmsted intended. His book is worth the read even today, if just on this issue.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Frederick Law Olmsted, a distinguished conservationist and landscape architect, was very instrumental in getting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove set aside for future generations. He had a great deal of help from California Senator John Coness, whom Mount Coness is named after on the eastern boundary of the park. One of the concerns Mr. Olmsted had, in the context of his time, the 18th century, was how most of the worlds population lived in nations where only a few had title to the land, vested royalty, oligarchies, etc. He stated in his wonderful little book, that land should be set aside for its scenic and natural wonders, free and accessible to all citizens of the nation. This as opposed to most country's at the time where the land was privately owned by a small handful of people and access was limited.

    It is 150 years later, but Mr. Olmsted's point still needs to be considered. Privatization of the commons (you can find a good definition in the works of Adam Smith), concentration of wealth, policies governing the public land, others, are issues the next generation will have to deal with. I am in agreement Lee, taxes, fees are now part of it. Like you, I am happy to pay them ( I do want transparency and accountability), but I do think the NPS is losing sight of the importance of keeping entry to the parks affordable and equitable to all, as Mr. Olmsted intended. His book is worth the read even today, if just on this issue.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Uh, for the record, I am not an NPS employee. Nor am I a park service retiree.

    I am a taxpaying retired American who realizes that taxes -- and in lieu of taxes -- fees, are what make almost all the privileges you and I enjoy as citizens possible.

    If you want to see entitlement, I suggest you head for your bathroom and look into that big glass thing above the sink.

    If you are not willing to help pay for the services you demand, simply stop using them. Or find a realistic alternative way to fund them.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    I'm not a tea partier. And I'm not a government or NPS employee either. Talk about entitlement. "Fund my lifestyle with your tax dollars and quit complaining when we government employees ask for more" That's Ridiculous. Entrance fees on public lands, fees to sleep on unimproved ground where no amenities are provided. Only an NPS employee could justify that ridiculousness. You should be thanking the President for your NPS increase Lee, but like a spoiled government employee you thank us by asking for more money. Ingrates.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Right, Rick. I'd also love free license plates for my car and no taxes on my home.

    But then who would pay for the roads I drive on, the schools my grandchildren attend, police and fire protection, and onward in an endless list.

    When people whine about paying taxes and then whine about paying fees in lieu of taxes, the whining takes on a loud wail of hypocrisy.

    I don't like taxes and I don't like fees, but if I am going to use the services they provide, then I need to suck it up and pay them. If I don't want to pay them, then I'll need to decide which services I am willing to do without.

    But Tea Party types don't seem capable of making the connection.

    "Keep your dirty Federal hands off my Medicare" comes to mind.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    But in a time when Congress refuses to fund them, what alternative is there?

    This is self inflicted, the crippling beaurcracy, top heavy management, self strangling regulations and other stupid initiatives are why they get thier funding cut. The fix is a top down reorganization, from an outside party. Putting the people, the visitors, second is the thier problem. I think reasonable fees are a necessary evil these days because of the mess the NPS has created.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    It is simply childish and petulant to both curtail the budget and then to whine about fees charged

    And who has done that?

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Agreed, Lee. You have to have funding one way or the other. It is simply childish and petulant to both curtail the budget and then to whine about fees charged to make up the difference.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    I really wonder how many of those who push the Tea Party agenda also complain about fees.

    Certainly not me. I (and likely Tea Party members) believe that those who use the services should pay for them rather than looking for someone else to carry their load.

    And perhaps I am remembering wrong, but didn't you come out in support of the fees in the past? I guess you are back to your "entitlement mentality."

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Believe me, Ron, I would love to see free parks. But as long as we have Tea Party influencing Congress, it's unlikely to happen.

    I really wonder how many of those who push the Tea Party agenda also complain about fees. Their goals are simply not realistic at all.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   3 weeks 5 days ago

    I helped start a jr. ranger program in Nicaragua. It differs a bit from the US version primarily because of the distances involved in the US. Every potential jr, ranger goes through an extensive training course, Upon graduation, often attended by the dignitaries in town, they receive their hat, vest, and the emblems they have earned during the training. Then, they have to volunteer once a month for some kind of environmental work--cleaning beaches, protecting turtle nests, etc. I recommended to the NGO who was running the program that they start small. Instead, the demand was so great that they graduated more than 200 jr. rangers in the first class.

    Another great idea from this NGO, Paso Pacifico, is the following. They got a donation from Bushnell. Every youngster who took a basic bird identification course and then turned in his/her slinghot--usually used to kill birds--received a pair of binoculars. Over 200 have been distributed.

    Look up Paso Pacifico's website. It is the most grass roots organization with which I have ever been connected. I wrote a story for NPT regarding their turtle egg protection program.

    Rick

  • Maple Sugar Time Coming To Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore   3 weeks 5 days ago

    We're slowly using the syrup we got from a friend-of-a-friend whose family has done it for decades. It sure beats anything you could pick up at the local Safeway. I'd love to see the Maple Sugar Time festival.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Don’t Forget Those National Park Lodge Photos   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Nice shots. Good memories of the Paradise lodge, and longing to see the Denali. I suppose those two feelings are what you would want to gen with your photos.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   3 weeks 5 days ago

    I agree, MM. It's a cheap investment in the future.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Good point Lee, I am not opposed to all fees, entrance and camping fees seem appropriate if kept at reasonable levels. I do think many of the new fee increases are out of reach for many including sliding scale charges, ie the prime season costs more, charging for hiking and backpacking, the list goes on, sets economic barriers to many citizens. California State Parks are charging 50,00 a night for a prime campsite, that is where this NPS fee authority is headed. Basically, the congress needs to fund the core operational needs of our public lands, I think that is Kitty Benzar's point. How that is to be done is a contentious political debate of this era, it is an interesting issue.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   3 weeks 5 days ago

    MM, nice post, I have observed the Junior Ranger programs for many years, they have an impact, the kids and parents both enjoy them. One contributor made the point that empowering employees, communications from the bottom up as well as the top down are common sense, I agree. However in all large organizations, the tendency is top down, Harry's points are well taken in my view (Lee's as well), there should be a strong reminder of the above in the context of the 100 year celebration of the NPS.

  • Maple Sugar Time Coming To Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Ah, how I remember sugaring in the woods of northeastern Ohio! One of my first real jobs was helping an old German farmer gather sap from his sugar bush.

    I'm afraid that more and more development might endanger syrup making in the U.S. as more woods are turned into housing developments and shopping malls.

    I really hope that never happens.

    It's great that Indiana Dunes is trying to keep this tradition alive and kicking. But I hope they are using the old fashioned spiles and buckets and not the newfangled system of plastic tubing. Driving the tractor or team to pull the gathering sled was a highlight of my job back when I was 14 or so. (I was much more successful driving the tractor. It usually did what I wanted it to do. But those big draft horses were another matter.)

    To my way of thinking, it's things like this that make the NPS such an important part of America. Not only do we need to preserve an ever vanishing natural world, there are historic places and cultural heritages that also need to be protected before they are gone forever.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Don’t Forget Those National Park Lodge Photos   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Thanks for sharing these tips Rebecca! There is a special feel to these older stone and log hotels, and I've experienced the challenges you mention with the limited light. Your story reminds me that I need to be more willing to try higher ISO settings at times. (My reluctance to do so is probably an indication of which generation I'm in, and all those bygone years when everything was limited by the film in my camera!)

    For those of us who primarily "shoot for fun," digital has offered the chance to enjoy photography without the limits of film and processing costs.

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   3 weeks 5 days ago

    It would be wonderful to have free parks.

    But in a time when Congress refuses to fund them, what alternative is there?

    How about showing us a way to drop fees and still operate and protect our parks?

    Complaining about a problem is easy. Solving it is usually isn't quite that simple.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Don’t Forget Those National Park Lodge Photos   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Another morning brightened by some great photos and tips. Thanks, Rebecca.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   3 weeks 6 days ago

    Hello:

    My suggestion is to make all Junior Ranger programs free of charge. No kid should have to buy a booklet to earn their badge. I believe one goal of the centennial is to "create" a new generation of park stewards. Making Junior Ranger programs free would be a good investment.

    If a park couldn't fund this from their current interpretation budget, let the Associations fund the program. Associations already donate money to help fund interpretive programs. I suspect that some parks are already using money from an association to fund their Junior Ranger program. To me, this doesn't involve any "new" money.

    Mike

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   3 weeks 6 days ago

    It doesn't

    My point exactly. You claimed the Cruz amendment put the parks on the chopping block. Thank you for admitting that isn't true. .

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   3 weeks 6 days ago

    Alfred, i've been through the publications approval process a few times, and it's always to be blunt - a stress inducing process. I've had to edit and remove segments in films, and have script rewrites after my first edits were already in the can, recorded and complete. It's a process. I have a unique position in that I not only work on the organizational website, but I also make films about the park. Sometimes, the requested changes are necessary, especially when you have experts in thier fields making sure that the information in the publications has a high level of accuracy. There are standards that the committees strive to meet, many of which are based on protecting the NPS resources, and keeping within its mission. Many publications that stray off this course don't end up on shelves and for good reason. I'm not saying your book is one such case. But, if it's a book on Yosemite, I can see where it might be a challenge to get it placed on shelves in Yellowstone. I can see where the managers would have a hard time trying to get that approved. Now, if it's a standard book about the NPS and resource management, then that might be easier.

    I'm not involved with the physical side of stores, and that's not my expertise, nor realm. My realm is and mostly will always be online. With that, I think there are more options to have books like yours available and accessible online. Add in things like store kiosks, and digital downloading, and there is a greater potential for bringing that "library" of information you wish to see available to the masses right at the store level.

    Trust me, I love going to the park archives and doing research, and part of the fun is digging up old out of print books and publications on various subjects related to the NPs. I also have a library of old park related films, many of which haven't aired in decades, but contain interesting tidbits and materials related to that time period. Edward Abbey and Elliott Porter did a great book on the Smokies, and its out of print, but there are a few copies still around out there.. In fact, its perhaps my favorite book on this place, and Abbey's view on the region's tourism economy cracks me up everytime I read it, because it's so spot on. Granted, as time goes on, it become a bit more dated. I'd love to see something like this publication brought back to life and given to the masses again. The GSMA just published a book called "Mountains for the Masses". It's very much a book, you might like, and seek. It's a book based on the political battles and challenges the park has faced during it's brief (yes, brief) history. Granted, it's one of those books that your average tourist wont care to read. Most tourists gravitate to books and souveniers that will be tokens from their vacation. This book is considered an invaluable reference tool for libraries, agencies and citizens with an interest in how their public land is managed and protected and will more than likely remain on the shelves for a few years. These type of books are always available. And like I said, I think the online realm can make the scholarly publications available to the masses at a greater level. I'm sure eventually you will see the "library kiosk" containing books and videos that might not be available in print, but be available digitally. Type in a few words, and books associated with the keywords pop up on the kiosk, and you can browse through the publication, and if you like what you see, you purchase it and have a download link sent to your phone/ipad device. This is a natural evolution of how things will go. And if only 12 copies a year are sold? Who cares, it's just taking up a few megs on a server. Granted there are a lot of books, and films like the Ken Burns NP series that are hard to stock at high volume, because Amazon and other retail outlets will beat the associations in price every time.

    The goal of the associations should be to provide materials that are special and specific to the place that it is protecting. I was in Yellowstone last year, and felt they do an exellent job there.