Recent comments

  • To Make “Glory,” Hollywood Moved the Atlantic Ocean   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Sorry, Bruce. I recommend that you do like I do -- just smile and enjoy the movie, inside joke and all. It's a pretty darn good flick, actually. Any time you get Morgan Freeman and Danzell Washington together, you've got the makings of a great movie. OK, OK; I'll throw in Mathew Broderick too.

  • To Make “Glory,” Hollywood Moved the Atlantic Ocean   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Ha! Bob, this is one of my all-time favorite movies and you are NOT going to ruin it for me by telling me the regiment was charging in the wrong direction and happened to assault the next fort down by mistake! Although, that will be my thought each time I see this movie from now on. "WRONG WAY, guys! Oh, OK, go ahead and take that fort instead!" ;-)

  • Interior Secretary Scales Back Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park, Calls for More Public Comment   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Jeez, I know I'm sounding like a broken record about the Bush administration, but here it is again:

    While the Clinton administration at the very end of its term in office moved to ban recreational snowmobile use in the park, the incoming Bush administration quickly blocked that ban and sent the issue down a prickly, and expensive, legal course. More than $10 million in environmental studies were conducted on the issue during the past decade, and all pointed to the phase-out of snowmobiles as the best environmental alternative for Yellowstone. Despite those studies and former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's pledge that science would rule the day in the National Park System, strings pulled from not just the Interior Department but as high up as former Vice President Cheney's office handcuffed the Park Service.

    Over and over again, no matter where you look, the same theme throughout. I hope even my conservative brethren are taking note as stuff like this continually surfaces (regarding this venue - forget about other social issues). If you're on this web site, you must care about the environment, correct?

    On the other hand, I'm really starting to like this Ken Salazar. Maybe eight years of him (or his similarly-minded successor) will get me to finally shut up about the Bush disaster!

    [Seriously, I will tone down the political comments from now on, I promise.]

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Kath:
    "Or are they just too remote and have so few visitors that any stats from those parks don't correlate to the parks in the other 49 states."

    This is close to the truth. Only six of the sixteen nps units in Alaska are accessible by road. They are extremely remote, and anyone visiting them from the lower states is not intested in rape/murder. At our particular park, Wrangell-St. Elias, guns are allowed because we have aproximately eighty-one hundred people who live inside the park year-round, winter months and all. ANILCA (legislation that established Alaska NPS units) allows "costumary and traditional subsistence" to continue inside the park, meaning that hunting/fishing/trapping/gathering is still allowed for all residents. WRST is also the largest park in the US, just a little over 13.2 million acres. Managing every acre of this land is impossible; aproximately 75% is wilderness, and there are only two roads.

    Here are a few facts...
    All homocides in our park have been the result of disputes/murder by the residents in the winter, when there are no visitors.
    There has never been a fatal bear-mauling in our park; our bears are not food-conditioned or habituated to humans, and they do not attack visitors. In Glacier Bay, however, there have been three or four bear-maulings. If a bear IS a problem, the rangers try to scare it off the area w/out shooting it; the problem with bears is that they are highly territorial and will comes back to the same place unless moved more than two-hundred miles away.
    In Denalie NP, most deaths are McKinley-climbing related.

    But, you are very correct in your final assumption. Most of what goes on in Alaska National Parks doesn't apply to the rest of the US Parks. Our high rate of residency inside the park and more dedicated travellers means that we almost never have problems with visitors. I myself was born and raised right outside Wrangell-St. Elias, and bear-spray makes more sense than guns.

  • Camping In The Parks: Don't Overlook the Greenbelt Park Campground In Washington, D.C.   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Considering its proximity to the city, this is an impressive park. Consequently (or perhaps because of), Greenbelt has a number of dedicated stewardship groups including Friends of Still Creek and the Invasive Plant Removal group. REI College Park also works extensively with the park.

  • Camping In The Parks: Don't Overlook the Greenbelt Park Campground In Washington, D.C.   5 years 17 weeks ago

    And if you are in town visiting Greenbelt Park, don't miss the Greenbelt Museum, located on 10-B Crescent Road. The Museum is open Sundays 1-5 and is filled with household artifacts from the 1930's, and is set up to look like 1938, when the first families moved into Greenbelt. The Museum also offers walking tours of the historic area.

  • Interior Secretary Scales Back Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park, Calls for More Public Comment   5 years 17 weeks ago

    J.D., it's hard to believe, but I've seen data that indicate snowmobiles are more polluting during the winter season than the greater volume of cars, trucks, and motorcycles during the summer. Hard to believe, but that's what they say.

    And the soundscape problems from snowmobiles have been well-documented. For instance, the groups that sued the Park Service over their last winter-use plan noted that the Park Service itself disclosed in a study accompanying its decision that allowing 540 snowmobiles into Yellowstone each day would dramatically expand-to 63 square miles-the portion of the park where visitors can expect to hear snowmobile noise during more than half of the visiting day. That would be a three-fold increase from the current portion of the park where noise intrudes on the visitor’s experience during at least half the day.

    And there also have been instances where supposedly "guided" snowmobile trips ran into problems. Such was the case a couple of years ago when one group of snowmobilers became so split up traveling from Norris Junction to Canyon that no one noticed when one snowmobile crashed, killing a woman. And then, of course, there are the annual stories of some snowmobilers racing off into the backcountry near West Yellowstone.

    All that said, there's no denying there are problems with vehicles during the rest of the year, ranging from speeding and accidents to fluid spills and wildlife issues. One solution would be public transportation, but with the park's five entrances it's not as easy to devise or operate a public transit option as the shuttle systems at Zion or Acadia or Bryce Canyon.

  • Interior Secretary Scales Back Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park, Calls for More Public Comment   5 years 17 weeks ago

    So has anyone spent millions on studies to see how the unrestricted flow of park visitors & their passenger cars impact the environment, wildlife, and soundscape during the rest of the year?

    My guess is that those low emissions snowmobiles are far better maintained than the average American's car. I doubt very few of them have mufflers tied up with bale'n wire, or have fluids leaking out of them. Not to mention they don't have blasting stereo systems, or windows to throw fast food containers, pop cans, and lit cigarette butts out of.

    From what I understand, the guided snowmobiles are limited to specific trailways and speeds throughout the park. I imagine the guides keep their groups in check, by not allowing them to willfully approach wildlife, or allow them into areas where they could damage other park resources and property.

    Seems to me that snowmobiles are a much more eco-friendly, respectful, and pleasant, way to visit the parks than by car.

  • Update: Search Under Way For One Overdue Hiker at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Bryce, I know the stars are beautiful but you have to come back. There are many that love you and would like to hear of your adventure.

  • Update: Search Under Way For One Overdue Hiker at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    AZ Hiker, thanks for the first-hand information. Definitely sounds like a foreboding journey early on.

  • Update: Search Under Way For One Overdue Hiker at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I hope all goes right for this young man. The Thunder River/ Tapeats Creek/ Deer Creek area is one of the absolute gems of the Grand Canyon, my personal favorite in the canyon. I've hiked the trail into Thunder River from the Bill Hall Trailhead. It's one of the harder trails in the canyon and it's very open with almost no shade. There are a couple of places on the hike out where you almost have to rock climb the slope is so steep. Because of poor winter/ spring road conditions getting to the trailhead is difficult. Summer is one of the only times you can hike in but it is brutally hot. You have to carry a LOT of water and hike really early in the morning, then find a shady spot to wait out the heat of the day, and then hike out to the trailhead in the early evening. It's recommended to cache at least a gallon of water at the halfway point (the Esplanade) so that you have an ample supply climbing out.

  • Cinema Series Stars Movies Made in Zion National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Sounds like a great film series. You might want to include "Smoky" if you offer this series again.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I agree completely. We live in a large Eastern city but are National Park junkies. We too have been to many NP's and have hiked and done many ranger activities but have been appalled at the disrespect people have for the parks. The park rules are really pretty simple. Stay on the trails, don't step on endangered plants, don't throw trash, don't touch endangered species. How hard is that.

    Most of the people that we saw only wanted to stay in their cars and see just a few sites and the gift shops. THe National Parks are extremely visitor friendly. All of the rangers I have met have been extremely helpful and gracious.

  • New Electronic Applications Aim to Enhance Your National Park Visit   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Saves paper and money. Doesn't replace people, only paper. A great example of how private, free-market companies provide an alternative to government-produced interpretive products.

  • California Man Becomes Second Yellowstone National Park Visitor To Be Gored By Bison This Year   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Dan P., well said.

    I'm sure we'll see this posted here on the snowmobile issue, but I wanted to alert people that the Interior Department has just announced their newest snowmobile and snowcoach proposal for Yellowstone.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gZpd4N1IAXu6B_2FSWUrGGIdgdCQD99KATKG1

    "318 snowmobiles and 78 multi-passenger snowcoaches daily" ... based on what we saw from the NGO environmental groups last year, it seems likely they will go for that number, though I think it would leave a system in place that leaves a lot to be desired.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • This Just In : Fort Hancock STILL a Mess   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I was stationed at Fort Hancock from August 1966 to July 1969. My family and I occupied the south half of the only duplex on officers row for the last two years of that time. I can tell you for fact that it took a ton of money and time for the post engineers to maintain all of these facilities. I was also stationed at Fort Sheridan just North of Chicago when that facility was deactivated in late 1990s and early 2000s. Some parts of Fort Sheridan have been turned into a gated community wherein their officers row and historic registry buildings have been restored and sold by developers. You need to look at Fort Sheridan as a model. I could see how the buildings at Fort Hancock could be restored with the housing and large buildings all being housing units in a gated community. People working in NYC would jump at the chance to own homes and condos while maintaining the historic requirements. There could also be both boat and helicopter shuttle service to NYC. Commute time would be cut to 15 - 30 minutes. I make this suggestion because to just restore and maintain even a few of the Fort Hancock buildings is beyond the combined resources of all of you with this most noble of ideas. Let a developer restore and sell the buildings as houses and condos. Please, do check out what was done at Fort Sheridan. Their plan was the only way to save that site.

  • New Electronic Applications Aim to Enhance Your National Park Visit   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Glad you caught that error. I run that Junior Ranger Program and I would hate for parents to start expecting a badger!

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • California Man Becomes Second Yellowstone National Park Visitor To Be Gored By Bison This Year   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Usage is king, Anon! Buffalo and bison are equally applicable to these shaggy, be-horned medium-duty trucks. Those prescriptivists who would correct anyone who says "buffalo" can have their way just as soon as they fix the elk/moose confusion, and get everyone saying "wapiti."

  • New Electronic Applications Aim to Enhance Your National Park Visit   5 years 17 weeks ago

    "Kids will earn a Junior Ranger Badger."

    Speaking as a parent, I'd really rather my kid earn a Junior Ranger badge. I hear badgers are messy, bite and generally do not make good pets. ;-)

    [Ed: Nice catch. We fixed it.]

  • Take Care if You're Visiting Alaska National Parks, As Bears Aren't Being Bashful   5 years 17 weeks ago

    well, obviously "cato54" didn't read the press release from katmai national park... clearly guns work pretty well in bear country! the archeologists shot and killed an attacking, aggressive bear. but cato54's right about one thing: guns are of little help in "normal outdoor visitor use." guns are useless unless you are properly trained, and more useless when they are insufficient for the job. because the archeologists are national park service employees, i strongly suspect they were well-trained to use the proper equipment.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    >>those who file lawsuits to get people out of the parks are the ENEMY and all those who enjoy steeping a foot, wheel, ski, raft, etc... in a park need to band together and insure we have access to these wonderful areas. We can deal with how and what we use for access later, but first we need to have access to discuss first.<<

    Matthew, can you point to a lawsuit "to get people out of the parks"? I'm familiar with lawsuits aimed at blocking specific uses that impact the environment and park resources, (ie ORVs, personal watercraft, snowmobiles) but can't recall any "to get people out of the parks."

    The current debate hinges exactly on dealing with "how and what we use for access," not providing access.

  • Civil War Battlefield Preservationists Looking For Your Help to Keep Wal-Mart At Bay   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I just went to visit this past summer and I was shocked at the developement. My grandparents lived in Fredericksburg and I remembered it being just a small little town. It only took 20 years for it to grow that much. Driving through I found 4 Starbucks in a 1 1/2 mile stretch of road!
    It really took away from the feel of the battlefield to hear traffic during the entire ranger talk.

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    You people really amaze me. Mr. Gray was simply stating if you were to apply more restrictions to certain specific park areas that visitation would go down. This little comment created the Poke your chest out and fight in lots of people including the author who states "As for Devil's Tower, true, it's off-limits to climbers for a short period in summer to pay reverence to Native American beliefs. And there has been more than a little pressure to limit snowmobile access to Yellowstone due to resource damage, and off-road-vehicle access to Cape Hatteras and even Cape Cod national seashores during certain seasons to protect nesting shorebirds and sea turtles. But really, the number of climbers, snowmobilers, and ORV enthusiasts who look to the national parks for recreation are minuscule, and lifting these restrictions won't send park visitation skyrocketing." I too have visited several National Parks and that is exactly what they were designed for "Visiting". There will never be a total agreement between any large group of people on how to handle the management of our national parks. You have the groups who only want you to walk in and walk out, some want to drive through on their way to somewhere else, some want to enjoy alternative transportation to get aroung the parks, and then there are groups who want to see people completely banned all together. The differences in these groups is that they really do not have any care about learning about other groups thoughts. Well that is too bad, because the person who started this thing said it all and placed his statement on a sign at the entrance to Yellowstone "FOR THE BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE." Many will argue and launch lawsuits to announce this means that this group or that are meant to only enjoy the park. What it really means is that any group can enjoy the park and if you wish not to be around the other groups then join in with the Special Interest groups and file a lawsuit against the park to insure you further limit the funding for management of the same areas you claim to want to enjoy.

    On a personal note those who file lawsuits to get people out of the parks are the ENEMY and all those who enjoy steeping a foot, wheel, ski, raft, etc... in a park need to band together and insure we have access to these wonderful areas. We can deal with how and what we use for access later, but first we need to have access to discuss first.

  • Civil War Battlefield Preservationists Looking For Your Help to Keep Wal-Mart At Bay   5 years 17 weeks ago

    The Wilderness Battlefield itself is remarkably pristine, just fields and woodlands, and a nice old farmhouse with Jackson's arm buried nearby (Who knows where the rest of him is buried). Unfortunately the spread-out Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefield complex is being defeated by aggressive and cancerous outer-suburban sprawl. You will never see more fast food franchises, mega gas stations, super strip malls, mammoth traffic intersections, and total lack of planning or care in these communities. The outer suburbs of Washington D.C. have swallowed up all of Loudoun County (with almost no parkland preserved), Prince William County, and much of Spotsylvania County. No sidewalks, no parks, no vision of anything, just mile after mile of quick-construction.

    Ben Lord

  • Have You Ever Sneaked Into Shiloh National Military Park?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    If you have to wait for seasonofthecrab to finish his book, it might be a tad to late to include his information in your paper. :0) Perhaps he'd be willing to chat with you about his interesting documents and your mutual interests in Lew Wallace and his actions at Shiloh.