Recent comments

  • Katmai National Park Snared Bear Saved By Park Rangers, Biologists   3 weeks 6 days ago

    Well done!

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   3 weeks 6 days ago

    tahoma,

    I'm not saying (and I doubt you are suggesting that I am) that pack paddling will lead to that. Obviously that situation deserves some more scrutiny.

    I am saying that discusion and rules need to be set up before not after the fact for pack paddling or what ever new recreation activity is around the corner. Any decision/rules about any recreation activities should be carefully crafted around the EL , Organic Act and pertinent federal, state and local laws, some activities for some parks won't pass.

    Personally pack paddling seems fine but I really don't understand the particulars of those parks.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   3 weeks 6 days ago

    "Someone sets up a business outside the Park to cater to a specific recreational activity that is conducted inside the Park. Clients come, more business follow, groups form and sometimes before the Park can get its ducks in a row with respect to the EL, ESA, Organic Act there is a group that wants to dominate the use of the Park to their own desires and goals."

    So there can be no limited paddling trial period on any Yellowstone or Grand Teton stream, or even a dialogue, because it might lead to this?

    http://www.adventure-journal.com/2011/10/former-rainier-park-chief-under...

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 14 hours ago

    Beachdumb,

    Well at the regneg the (ORV orgs) shot down every other potential alternative, water taxis, shuttles, foot routes to name a few. The only thing they were interested in is driving in their personal vehicle on the NP beach when and where they wanted to. Whenever any pedestrian access was proposed they immediately referenced some study that said birders in cars were less intrusive than birders out of their cars and if someone could walk there then they should be able to drive there, compromise over.

    I can see no reason why management could not have been made for pedestrian paths that followed the tide line when appropriate, temporary parking areas and or alternative ORV routes that got fishermen much closer to the Point. Sportfishing at the Point is a significant historical tradition that deserved better, unfortunately the ORV orgs took an all or nothing approach. I want us to be able to fish the Point but the NPS has to protect the resource. There is no way getting around that and to accomplish it will be inconvenient.

    Instead of continuing to hash CHNS let's talk about the responsibility of NPS to follow the ELs of specific Parks, the Organic Act and the ESA. How are they suppose to address those issues?

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 15 hours ago

    I have seen people do it in Zion on way down from the Narrows in the Virgin River.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 17 hours ago

    Thanks for pointing that out re Canyonlands, Laura. We'll fix the story to reflect that.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 17 hours ago

    Thanks, Laura. Good to know.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 18 hours ago

    IMBA needs to learn something. So, if a small association of 900 folks manages to get legislation going to go over the NPS bureaucracy, IMBA should be able to do the same for mountain bikers.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 18 hours ago

    @justinh:

    I was also surprised to read that packrafting is not allowing in Cayonlands because, in fact, it is allowed:

    "There is no vehicle access to the rivers near the Confluence or in Cataract Canyon. While hiking trails lead to the rivers from each of the districts, these trails are too long and rugged to be seriously considered for shuttles, unless groups use equipment designed for this purpose (e.g. pack rafts)."(http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/rivers.htm)

    The link in the article ("Canyonlands National Park in Utah specifically prohibits it on its website") is merely for the terms and conditions of Guided Still Photography.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 18 hours ago

    "But are then the pressures going to start coming for commercial opportunities on these rivers and streams? It doesn’t say anything in the legislation, but is the pressure going to come? And then what about the fact that Congress is trying to regulate uses within a national park? And taking it out of our hands."

    Superintendent Wenk makes a great point. Someone sets up a business outside the Park to cater to a specific recreational activity that is conducted inside the Park. Clients come, more business follow, groups form and sometimes before the Park can get its ducks in a row with respect to the EL, ESA, Organic Act there is a group that wants to dominate the use of the Park to their own desires and goals. Sometimes it is a big big problem: ORVs on beaches, snowmobiles in Yellowstone, mountain bikes somewhere else.Backpacking paddlers seems fine until they are everywhere where they shouldn't be. I think the NPS is learning from its mistakes and being cautious, as they should be.
  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 19 hours ago

    "If you don't like the way we do things, then go somewhere else."

    This seems to be a more common sentiment from the NPS these days and why we have to have Congress intervene. And they wonder why thier losing relevancy, here is your sign.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 1 day ago

    Why is it not allowed in Canyonlands NP? If I hike to one of the normal put-in spots, take-out at a similar spot, and then hike out from there, what's the harm if I acquire (a) river and backcountry permit(s) in advance? (I was planning such a trip; until reading this article, it never crossed my mind that it wouldn't be allowed.)

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 1 day ago

    Great article, Kurt. The NPS refusing to sit down with a group reminds me of a conversation the Smokies superintendent had after we badgered him to grant us an audience over proposed "backcountry restructuring". Dale Ditmanson said," We have all kinds of fringe groups that want to meet with me from segway riders to you backpackers."

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 1 day ago

    I'll have to confess my ignrance here, and admit that this is the first time I've ever heard the term "packrafting."

    But it certainly seems to be very low-impact activity. I think I'd like to try it someday.

    However, I'd also hate to see it simply unleashed to be allowed everywhere. Some places need to remain sacrosanct. One, for example, is the Yellowstone River as it passes through Hayden Valley. Another might be the Madison as it flows between Madison Junction and the park's western boundary. Shouldn't there be at least a few places where the scenic values should not be interrupted by humans any more than the already are?

    Again my old mantra: Proceed only with extreme caution.

  • "Paddling Protection Act" Raises Debate Over Wilderness Travel In Yellowstone National Park   4 weeks 1 day ago

    Thanks for this well-balanced article, Kurt!

    I'm not a paddler and can't afford to travel to Yellowstone anyway. But it's curious that most of the stream miles in question are open to fishing, which arguably causes more resource damage (trampling of riparian & spawning habitat, snagged hooks and lines, etc.) and whose more numerous practicioners probably impact wildlife and "opportunities for solitude" more than technical boating seemingly would. And what about taxpaying paddler's opportunities for solitude?

    As far as potential commercial use, this park seems to have been somehow able to tolerate the far greater resource impacts of as many as 9500 concession head of stock annually for decades:

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2013/11/yellowstone-national-park-p...

    The quoted $4M cost to survey the streams seems to me as exaggerated and self-serving as most of the NPS's visitation and economic benefit statistics. Yellowstone management somehow finds almost half a million dollars per year (not counting surveys ;o) for the benefit of a tiny number of snowmobilers crossing Sylvan Pass:

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/07/national-park-service-agree...

    Rather than waiting many years for the bureaucratic gears to slowly grind out another grand plan, the largest and/or most desirable streams could be surveyed first and opened or closed on a case by case basis. I'd bet many of those wishing to paddle in Yellowstone would be happy to reduce the park's costs by assisting management in such an effort. The current legislation does seem poorly written, but I suspect NPS management's attitude would be much harder to revise than the bill's language.

    Superintendent Wenk's statement that "visitors to the park haven't come specifically for transportation or recreational opportunities" seems contradicted by my examples above. The "traditional use" argument seems especially hollow from here at Mount Rainier. Paradise is one of the birthplaces of American skiing and one of the best and most beautiful places for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in our national parks, yet today's winter recreationists are increasingly locked out of a road the NPS has to plow and patrol daily anyway.

    Yellowstone management's refusal to engage seems to be sending paddlers the same message Rainier employees have told me in person: "If you don't like the way we do things, then go somewhere else."

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 2 days ago

    Buxton, you know that pedestrian access to the Point has been closed for 5 months now, this is not just about ORV access. Face it, it's not just the ORV orgs wanting access, state and local governments supporting all forms of access have been fighting the NPS on this problem as well. I think you give the ORV orgs too much credit, they have little influence as we have seen.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 2 days ago

    "So we agree economic engine provided by CHNSRA has slowed or reversed by the actions of the OBX Group NPS over the past decade."

    I don't know that to be the case at all.

    The Parks policy of letting nature take it course is not the problem with access. The problem is politicians and local leaders won't acknowledge modern scientific theories of barrier island dynamics and the immediate implications they are having.

    Birds and turtles have evolved to deal with adverse weather conditions (like a freak 100 MPH July hurricane this year) and bad nesting years but have not evolved to deal with year after year of bad resource protection measures.

    The fact that you can't meet at the Point and spring drum fish is because the only compromise(?) the ORV/ fishing organizations will entertain is unfettered 24/7 ORV access to Cape Point.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 3 days ago

    My family and I love Hatteras Island as much if not more than you do. It has sadden us that were unable to share the spring fishing with our newest and oldest family members as we had for decades.

    So we agree economic engine provided by CHNSRA has slowed or reversed by the actions of the OBX Group NPS over the past decade.

    Access to the island is becoming increasingly challenging by the NPS's new policy of let it be natural, further slowing the economic engine...

    I see excessive resource closures as a ruse, given the fact that since the new plan was put in place birds and turtles have had a sharp decline, this year being the worst so far.

    I am hoping that the new ESA reform act will allow some changes to restore some of the lost access and lost economic prosperity back to the island.

  • Reader Participation Day: How Has Your National Park Experience Changed In Today's Wired World?   4 weeks 3 days ago

    I took my kid to Yosemite for the first time about a month ago. We didn't end up connected to the internet at all times, but we did find that our portable electronic devices could be used to whittle away at the occasional boredome. And that did become an issue - trying to provide power to recharge batteries, whether it was a portable battery power source, the limited output of a car power supply, or finding an empty power plug at Yosemite Lodge or some other restaurant.

    I think it really helped because we brought a young child who certainly enjoyed the experience, but could get restless without something like an iPad loaded with a favorite movie. These devices are also the preferred means to take photos as they're less bulky than most real cameras and are already with us.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Beachdumb

    A lot of people now schedule their ORV fishing vacations in the fall when the fishing is better and resource protection measures are minimal. I know what the busness say about the resource closures but there is little to no substantial evidence to support it. My andotoyal observation says the resource closures have at best a minimal affect compared to weather events and highway 12 access on visitation or the local economy.

    The yearly economic result of resource closures is at most negligible, otherwise someone would have some hard facts to back it up with. Mostly I see the economic gambit as a ploy to relax ORV rules.

    Then again because I love Hatteras Island and the NPS even if it were proven that the ORV rules had a profound negative affect on the local economy the Organic Act, the EL for CHNS and the historic conditions of this place would dictate to me the management of CHNS.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Buxton, visitation was down before the issues with ferry started. Visitation dropped nearly million after 2002 and has yet to recover. I did not mean a 35% drop in visitation,which I clarified when Kurt questioned. Business owners on the island have said, and on the record, that they have seen up to a 35% decline economicly. This decline was directly correlated with the new resource closures in the shoulder season but the summer season drop was minimal. We used visit several times in the spring but no longer since most of the desirable locations are closed.

    You know that access on/off the island has always been an issue. I can remember always waiting on water/tide to recede in the 80s and 90s.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Beachdumb,

    Visitation is down (actually amazingly little) not because of resource restriction or the ORV rule but because of bad experiences with access on and off Hatteras Island resulting in disrupted vacations. It has happened with such regularity that some vacationers are choosing more reliable coastal areas to vacation in. A lot of the loss of visitation can actually be attributed to the weeks of ferry access that can only bring a fraction of the visitors that a highway can. The national geographic article expertly explains the serious problems facing Hatteras Island.

    There are no unbiased economic studies that even remotely suggest that a 35% drop in visitation is a result of NPS management. It is pure fantasy on your part intended to promote a personal agenda. June and July the traditional summer months that normally have no weather impacts on Hatteras Island are not down, even though resource closures are at there peak. I know because right now as I write the shops are full and there is road traffic everywhere on Hatters Island. If there were any smoking local economic guns aimed at access and visitation the ORV groups would have it out there.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Climbing back out of the rabbit hole.

    It is obvious that some things are just priceless. I believe that our National Parks (monuments, seashores etc) are.

    We will keep building and transforming the natural world right up to the boundaries of many NP. The more people the more restrictive the National Parks will have to become. The mountain bike trails will be so crowded that hikers will be blazing new trails to stay out of their way. Visitors bring their ORVs to Seashore beaches where there are so many vehicles that your car can be blocked in where you can't leave, flora is destroyed, sea turtles false crawls rise and colonial bird nesting is disrupted.

    I question if any National Parks, sporting events, concerts etc cause any economic value. The most they do is direct money from one geographic area to another. The National Parks should not concern themselves with local economic issues beyond the Organic Act and the Enabling Legislation of that Park. Those should be more than enough to stimulate the local economy (away from some other local economy). The exception I always encounter is the foreign tourists that come to US National Parks exactly for the attributes that the Organic Act seeks to protect. They are here spending their money and not in some other country because the Organic Act is protecting increasingly priceless attributes not because of local economic success. I assume 20% is a considerable sum and many of these tourists are going to spend money and take in other venues not related to the NP. Maybe they will stay in Vegas for 2 nights on their way to Zion like I did one time.

  • Rehydrate Your Hike With A National Parks Traveler Water Bottle   4 weeks 4 days ago

    These water bottles are really great!

    Besides keeping me hydrated, it also came in handy one day to keep things HOT.

    Really.

    Needed a way to keep some food warm while traveling. Since the bottle is metal (or at least feels like it) I simply filled it with hot water, plunked it and the chicken into an insulated lunch carrier and enjoyed still roasty chicken a couple of hours later.

    The bottle has also gotten some compliments from other folks and opened a nice seque to allow me to tell them all about Traveler.

  • Traveler's View: Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Backcountry Fee Debate Points To Larger Problem   4 weeks 4 days ago

    It would more than likely still be the most visited true National Park in the system, just by the population statistics that surround the park. While the casino and Dollywood are part of the draw to the region, those are just components to the overall regional tourist experience In the Smokies, not the entire makeup by any means.