Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Survey: Let's Build A Top 10 Most-Endangered Park List   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Organ Pipe Cactus - it's just too dangerous to risk hiking there.

  • New Book Explores Evolution of "Wilderness" In National Parks   5 years 23 weeks ago

    You're absolutely right, HH, that most of these lands are "managed" as wilderness. But that doesn't mean they have the protections of officially designated wilderness, not by a longshot. There's a very big difference.

  • Winter, A Season of Discontent When It Comes to Travel in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I never considered the Act of 1916, what you refer to as the 'Organic Act,' to contain opposing ideas.

    It always seemed the point of the Act was to preserve the area, and to enjoy the preserved area, AS a preserved area.

    In our litigious times, we try to cut corners on everything, to sneak in exceptions or qualifications when we can. But the law clearly directed the NP Service to identify the manner and means for the park to be protected, and enjoyed, BOTH. These are not objectives in conflict, this is just management and judgement.

    I agree of course with your point that some are colorblind, and we never know if the color we see is exactly the same as the color seen by another. But that misses the point about whose opinion matters. Your point, as I understood it, seemed to be saying that the opinions of some are less valuable than those of others.

    I believe in an educated electorate, as you obviously do. But I also believe there are different kinds of experience, and many things that are worth knowing. But even more important than superior knowledge is the critical importance of the civic Responsibility of the electorate, and the only way we get that is if we say we are all (except should we except the special interests?) fully responsible for our civic life. The Nation decided to set Yellowstone aside, and the decisions about protecting it rests with the whole people, with particular responsibility of the agents of the people in Congress or in the NPS. Yes, the superior knowledge of the NPS on the right way to manage a park is very important, but more important is the responsibility of the NPS: they are accountable to the people for implementing the laws. NPS needs public support for that part of its job, or bit by bit we will lose what, originally, made the park so valuable in the first place, that Americans decided to preserve it.

    Yes, I think there is a danger that some NPS official can go overboard. Several people have posted to this website to say that, in effect, the NPS is "anti-people." Some rigid or unimaginative people exist everywhere, but for the most part it is my experience that most people in the NPS like people, want people to enjoy 'their' park, and sometimes bend over backwards to permit uses when a more conservative approach would be wiser. Even worse is the way Republican congressional staffers drove the NPS to adopt a system to limit all advance planning and studies for a new park development to only 17% of the cost of the project.

    So, if you have a $100,000 sewer-line project through a potential archeological zone, you have only $17,000 to design the project and to study the potential of the destruction of valuable archeological resources. That is ridiculous; NPS should not develop a new use unless it understands the impact of that use FIRST. Nor should NPS have approved the vast amount of snowmachine use in Yellowstone BEFORE it fully evaluated it, nor should the NPS have permitted it to continue while studies finally were started (after danger signs were observed, not before). In Alaska, a pretty convincing rumor alleged that the reason Senator Stevens cut the funding for researchers in Gates of the Arctic was because he didn't want the NPS to get the data it needed to identify the level of poaching going on.

    New technologies that change use, change the time of the year when use happens, or change the volume or frequency of use should not get the benefit of the doubt.

    These new technologies should first be conservatively evaluated to determine if any impairment of the park character or resources may happen if the use is permitted. Not that you are saying this, Rod Schobert, but it is a race to the bottom if we point to ONE example of excessive use to justify the expanded use of ANOTHER kind.

    I personally love and find it exhilarating to race snowmachines in the snow, but that is not enough of a reason to let me do it in a place set aside for its natural values before the invention of the internal combustion engine. It is a big country. There are lots of other places to run machines.

    I remember when you could hear the opinion in many parts of Alaska, especially among White people, that people Outside Alaska should bug out, stop trying to set up parks, refuges and wilderness areas, and leave such decisions (on federal, public land !) to these Alaskans. The phrase: "let the bastards freeze in the dark" was on a lot of bumper stickers. The fact that most of these White Alaskan residents had only moved up to Alaska as adults, or pretty recently, and seemed to want to aggregate all decisions to themselves, this fact did not seem to be a opportunity for self-reflection.

    My ideal, which I have seen only rarely, is when with different experience realize all kinds of experience has something to contribute to the conversation to develop good policy. And Raven, speaking of extremists (you don't sound like an extremist) the very large problem in America right now is we are being polarized into such extremes, that one side not only does not listen to the other side, but is completely suspicious of the other side. We don't even have a common vocabulary of facts as a basis of evaluation. I would like a little more trust, and wider latitude for decision by park officials of appropriate levels of use, and less of the kind of political showdowns by local politicos and by Washington. There is no doubt that a selection factor, maybe a litmus test, in the choices for superintendent of Yellowstone was cooperating with the Washington politicos working to expand snowmachine use, and that is wrong.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Right you are on all counts, tomp. OK, time to stop beating around the bush (or the F. vulgare, as it were). The Mystery Spot is the sled dog kennel(s) at Denali National Park & Preserve. Kudos to MRC, terry, and tomp (in that order) for supplying the correct answer. Be sure to visit Traveler tomorrow and read Mystery Spot 6 Revealed for a full explanation of the clues.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    If I were a betting man (which of course I'm not), I'd bet a good beer that the photo wasn't taken at the mystery spot. The relevant state (bigger as well as colder than Texas) is 1 of only 14 states where F. vulgare is not reported.

    I believe that there was a job posting for this mystery spot a couple of months ago that required some very specific skills and experience.

  • Reader Participation Survey: Let's Build A Top 10 Most-Endangered Park List   5 years 23 weeks ago

    The Pine Barrens ecosystem deserves better protection alright, Lawrence, but the Pinelands National Reserve isn't part of the National Park System. It's an Affiliated Area operated in connection with the National Park System. The gist of the legalese is this:

    In 1970, Congress enacted legislation defining the National Park System as “any area of land and water now or hereafter administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service for park, monument, historic, parkway, recreational or other purposes.” That piece of legislation specifically excludes 'miscellaneous areas administered in connection therewith,' that is, those properties that are neither federally owned nor directly administered by the National Park Service but that the National Park Service assists." [National Park Index: 2009-2011; italics are mine]

  • Reader Participation Survey: Let's Build A Top 10 Most-Endangered Park List   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Well, Yosemite certainly gets my vote for the most "loved to death" national park in the "lower 48". At one time I remember talk about closing Yosemite for 20 years to allow it to recover from over-use. I still think idea merits serious consideration for Yosemite and other parks suffering the effects of high visitor use.

    In Alaska I am concerned about Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks due to the purposed Pebble Mine (the largest open pit mine in the world) which could permanently alter the surrounding ecosystems of Katmai and Lake Clark National Park and Preserves.. Can you imagine going to Brooks falls in Katmai and not seeing bears catching salmon? It could happen, because of pollutants from the mining operation could (most likely will) kill the salmon.. In an area that is not only seismically active, but has active volcanoes nearby, it is an environmental recipe for disaster just wanting to happen.


  • New Book Explores Evolution of "Wilderness" In National Parks   5 years 23 weeks ago

    "In spite of Albright’s best intentions, there are surprising gaps in wilderness protection across the 84-plus million acres of the National Park System . None exists in Grand Canyon, Voyageurs, Canyonlands, or even Great Smoky Mountains, nor in Grand Teton, Big Bend (although a proposal is in the works there), or Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore."

    Just because lands have not been designated Wilderness (capital W) by the federal government, does not mean that they are not protected as wilderness or that they do not exist as wilderness.

    Statements like the one quoted above are misleading because they imply to the lay person that these lands are in some sort of peril, as if developers and amusement park creators are revving up their bulldozers as we speak. The vast majority of Grand Canyon land is currently managed as wilderness. Therefor there is no "surprising gaps in wilderness protection" at this park.

  • Reader Participation Survey: Let's Build A Top 10 Most-Endangered Park List   5 years 23 weeks ago

    The Pineland's National Preserve in my homestate of New Jersey is often overlooked. But this ecosystem supports more singular, rare, and endangered species that almost any other on earth. In addition, it boasts a trillion-gallon aquafir of the purest water on earth. This water is a resource that many have tried unsuccessfully to plunder over the decades. The threats brought to the attention of the world in John McPhee's book, The Pine Barrens, are still very real today.

  • Updated: NPS Director Jarvis Ends "Core Ops" Budgeting Across The National Park System   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Another round of CORE OPS Letters were just distributed yesterday, December 15, in continuation with the CORE OPS Plan, for Glen Canyon NRA. Some have described the IMR (Inter-Mountain Regional) and the GLCA hand picked pocket men, as Odessa, (The Organization of Old Nazi Hold-0uts). They appear to be continuing with their CORE-OPS plans in spite of Director Jarvis's letter and comments. They are hiring brand new positions at the same time they are trying to abolish positions under the CORE OPS Plan? The Superintendent has just hired an "Assistant Superintendent, GS-13", non-competively, that is. They have a Deputy Superintendent (GS-14) already? The person will be supervisied by the Superintendent, however? And a GS-12 Administrative Assistant for the Superintendent (Planner) as well? Many other goofy and strange things going on there as well I hear?

  • Reader Participation Survey: Let's Build A Top 10 Most-Endangered Park List   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Joshua Tree is threatened both by a massive landfill project just on its borders, and by climate change, which may extirpate its namesake tree from the park.

    This park is first on my list of endangered parks--surprised it didn't even make your list!

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    First, Mt St Helens is unique in that it is so much of a tourist haven. Its popularity comes not from it being an easiy mountain to climb, but from the fact it blew 1500ft of its top in May 1980. Permits were set up to manage the total number of people accessing the mountain, and paying to cleanup after them. Its not about the climbers....but rather those who hike 1mile into a sensitive post-eruption zone to "ooo" and "aahh" before trampling the recovering vegetation and leave a candywrapper in its place. Permit fees go to the Mt St Helens National Monument, as part of the National Park Service. * The Volcano Rescue Team (local SAR team) is not paid, nor do they receive funding from the NPS. They are a local volunteer county-dispatched SAR team.

    People flock to that mountain much like rubber-neckers look at a car-accident on the freeway. They want an up-close view of the carnage, but no responsibility to take care of the injured (i.e. learn about how to properly climb that mountain and the risks involved).
    In many areas, Sat-tracking devices (MLUs, PLBs, SPOTs) do not work. I am on a SAR team in NW Oregon and have used SPOT Satellite devices myself in training. The devices identified my location as being either in the middle of the Columbia River, or in an area no where close to where I was actually hiking. I don't even trust GPS devices....they are helpful, and a nice short-cut....but a map and compass (and knowing how to use both) is the only consistent reliable navigation system I've used.

    Technology looks great in a catalog, but there's no substitute for sound judgement and training.

    [* Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a US Forest Service-managed property, not a unit of the National Park System. Ed.]

  • Winter, A Season of Discontent When It Comes to Travel in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    By militant, I mean the extremes. Yes, militant means something different today than it used to. Perhaps extreme is a better word, the "extreme environmentalist." After all, d-2, I consider myself an environmentalist. But every time I recycle a bottle, I can tell you the plus and negative side of what I am doing, and if pressed, back it up.

    Remember the Organic Act. Two opposing ideas. Preserve and protect for the benefit and enjoyment of the people both current and future. Every new technology needs be felt out and considered, not dismissed outright. If we did that, we would be doing our parks a disservice.

    As for labels, is not saying the leaves are green labeling the leaves? Would not someone who is colorblind be able to argue that point? He doesn't see them as green. We are human, by nature of our brains and our language, we label things, and yes, sometimes dismiss them because of that label.

  • Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park Offers Winter Lodging Packages   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Just got home from our first stay in Sequoia National Park. We arrived just after a major snow storm and it was beautiful. The lodge was nice - nothing fancy but we loved being right in the park with the gorgeous scenery right outside our window. We spent a day on snowshoes and couldn't have had a better time. Absolutely wonderful park.

  • Reader Participation Survey: Let's Build A Top 10 Most-Endangered Park List   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Great Smokies has to be on the list - air quality is downright embarrassing there.
    I'd also suggest Congaree - SCDOT is messing around with some highways in the area that are choking off the bottomlands, although Bob would know more about this than I.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    "Uffda Minnesota!", MRC, and thanks for the compliment.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    You got it too, Terry, nice going.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Sled dog kennel at Denali?

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Thanks for the nice quiz. And no, it wasn't that hard. I still don't get the hint with the toothy trophy, though.
    [The quizmeister has edited this comment to remove a helpful hint that still-puzzled people shouldn't have.]

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Not in Texas. Way cold.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    somewhere in Texas

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Qranyv Fyrq Qbt Xraaryf, Lrf! Good job, MRC. I trust you didn't have to break a sweat on this one?

  • National Park Mystery Spot 6: You Might Hear It Before You See It   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Gur Nynfxn Uhfxl xraaryf ng Qranyv Angvbany Cnex

    (use a "ROT 13" conversion to make my entry readable)

  • Want Kinder, Less selfish Kids? Take Them to National Parks!   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Good article! What alarms me the most about the younger generation inactive they are when it comes to personal physical fittest. The huge obesity problem in this country among are younger generation is most likely going to produce future patients for the intensive care unit in are local hospitals. Parents with fat kids, the lack of proper diet and with the lack of a well balance exercise programs is not going help build there interests in participating in the great outdoors. It all starts at home and away from the slouch video computer games with a cheap bag of potato chips in one hand. What in the hell ever happen to this nations health and physical educational programs for the kids. Where in the the hell are the parents? I guess they might be stuffing their poor kids with a fast jiffy burger while gaining well over 100 pounds. I see this is now a major problem for the military - fat kids lingering into young adulthood with major health problem and later becoming totally unfit to serve in are arm forces. A very sad state of affairs in this country.

  • National Park Movies: Some More We Like for 1950-1979   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Bob, you are right, of course, that the Blackstone River Valley NHC is not a "unit" of the National Park System, and it would be distressing indeed if employees there were not fully aware of this. It seems for a few years now, no one has investigated more than you, the different kinds of designations of the NPS.

    On the other hand, it really is time to recognize that this kind of heritage area, with a federal commission, appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, able to hire federal employees and decide on budgets, and determined to be nationally significant, are the equal to "National Park System Areas" in many ways. The legislation even says the heritage area is "administered" by the Secretary's commission, whose executive director is in the NPS. It is time for the USA, for Congress, to include qualifying heritage sites in the National Park System, as they are in England.

    Many have identified Blackstone as a model of the best, and that may be because the historic resources are clearly nationally significant, or it may be because it has the closest relationship of all the heritage areas to the National Park Service, or it may be because the citizens of the region really support this heritage area. But the National Park System is missing something when the System does not include living and working landscapes, as are included in England, where the way people continue to live and work is a critical part of what makes the area important to the nation.

    Of course, I am completely sympathetic with the size of your self-imposed task of just trying to identify the great movies of the National Parks ! So, you are off the hook.

    But it is time for the NPS and the Congress to rethink the somewhat arbitrary line it has drawn between those federal, nationally significant heritage areas, and the "Units" of the NPS. These areas tell key stories of America often not told by the parks themselves.