Recent comments

  • Predictions for the 2009 Wildfire Season   5 years 14 weeks ago

    We've had a really wet spring in Greater Yellowstone, just as we had last spring (in a fire season that was mostly calm, except in the Shoshone area, where a fire was badly needed). However, last summer, we had a fairly wet summer as well. There's a lot of green everywhere; it will be interesting to see if that serves as the fuel for a big fire season here. But, that's no doubt why we are in the normal range.

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

  • Poaching Trees from Redwood National Park   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I am a commuter in santa cruz and have, over the last 6 months watched the disappearance of the largest redwood trees along the entire length length on each side, on bear creek road.. Simply vanishing... one day there, next day LOG BE GONE! Quite amazing and very allowed by our county officials, they don't appear to have heard anything before about it! At last glance, since i can totally see through the trees that remain and can for the first time view the opposing mountain side, its very sunny, and over 75% non-redwood, likely tan oak. This is our backyard redwood park that we should be interested in protecting from timber theft that has already happened.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I have to agree. At least in my lifetime Barker Ranch will forever be associated with one of the most savage crimes in history--I've seen the crime scene photos. There will always be ghosts there even if no one goes "Boo" or sees a white wraith. It's just the pure savagery of the crimes. Nobody should have to die like that (except those who commit the crimes to begin with). Good riddance to Barker Ranch. Now they should salt the earth. It will forever be tainted with pure evil.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I would have loved to have hiked in there just to see the cupboard that Charlie was hiding in (like the rat he was) when he was apprehended. I suppose it is now gone. I would not put it past Charlie to have sent someone out to torch the place after all the notoriety it got last year.

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 14 weeks ago

    This is a reservoir, not a natural lake. Thus, the status of various land forms as "islands" or "peninsulas" is entirely dependent on the water levels at any given time. The official NPS map is based on the "full pool" level, which is hardly ever actually obtained (certainly not in recent years), but they had to use something as the base reference.

    Also, the water levels are given as feet above mean sea level, not depth. Hope that helps.

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 14 weeks ago

    The "3,613" is the above-sea level elevation of the lake's surface.

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 14 weeks ago

    At the risk of being censured like I was the last time I posted (because I corrected the author about the existance of a 50' python snake?), I'll try it again:

    The elevation of Lake Powell reached 3,613 Thursday and continues to rise.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Can you clarify this please? I don't think that could be possibly referring to the depth of the lake, but in the context of this article, that is the most logical interpretation.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Applying a chemical insecticide to control a natural occurring insect so as to maintain a scenic setting is potentially a slippery slope for park management. Chemicals rarely remained confined to a target specie or remain within a defined special management zone. They pass through the food chain becoming increasingly concentrated as they move from one specie to the next (as described in Silent Spring). My first reaction to the article was to wonder why hazard trees were not simply removed and the infestation cycle allowed to run its course. Once the chemical control strategy is employed it will likely establish a precedence of maintaining a functionally artificial setting for esthetic purposes rather than trying to be minimally intrusive. Ecosystems, by their nature, are dynamic. Trying to freeze one in place rarely succeeds and is ultimately counterproductive.

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 14 weeks ago

    The desecration continues.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I don't have personal knowledge of the current program at Rocky Mountain, but from experience with similar situations elsewhere, I strongly suspect one criteria for decisions on whether to treat a particular area involves safety.

    Beetle-killed trees in areas such as campgrounds and parking areas become a safety hazard, so one of the questions is whether trees in those areas can be "protected" from beetles; if so, they won't have to be removed. When a forest insect outbreak is as extensive as the current one in the West, any kind of "treatment" program--or the lack of one-- is expensive and controversial.

    The aesthetic issue is a difficult one, especially in mountainous areas where vistas can cover an enormous area. I was in the park last summer, and heard several comments from local residents lamenting the impact of the beetles on the scenery, not only in the park, but throughout the whole region.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Certainly the most visible areas should be treated.The National Parks,testament to natural forces that they are, are also an investment by the US people in a shared heritage.They are not the private playgrounds for environmentalists or gov. study groups.

  • Secretary Salazar Announces Plan to Open Statue of Liberty Crown to the Public   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Now if only Air Force One will stay the heck away . . .

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Just curious, but looking the the NPS map, it shows Castle Rock as an island. Google earth shows it as part of a land mass.

    Which one is it?

    Also, is the Narrows the route around Antelope Island?

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Barky,

    You touch on some very difficult points that the NPS has to address. It must be interesting sitting in on their planning process. Should parks be managed for their aesthetics? After all, mountain pine beetles are natives and have been around about as long as lodgepole pines. So should you selectively manage for the lodgepoles, or also ride out the peaks and valleys of beetle infestations.

    And, of course, there are many who hold the position that climate change is a natural phenomenon. If so, shouldn't the NPS simply ride out the side effects and explain the natural process to visitors?

    And why treat areas that are highly visible or which enhance settings, such as around campgrounds, and not also address wilderness areas? Part of the sequence of beetle infestations are wildfires that often follow in their wake. If a fire starts in the backcountry, depending on how extensive the beetle kill is it could sweep right through any healthy trees left around campgrounds.

    Difficult questions all.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Crews Battling Bark Beetles With Insecticide   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Oof, tough issue, and an example of how adults (as compared to knee-jerk, single-issue, pouty types) have to make decisions.

    Do you spray pesticides in a National Park?
    Do you let nature take its course in eradicating signature trees/forests?
    Do you consider the bark beetle, an invasive species not native to this country, to be a natural phenomenon or not?
    Do you only work to save areas in view of hte public and leave the rest of the park to to succumb? Or do you only spray where you can spray without costing millions and millions of dollars (air-drop pesticides in remote areas, anyone??)?

    I can see this policy appeasing no one, but it certainly seems something needs to be done. I've seen the huge tracts in the Arizona forests that have been completely devastated by the bark beetle, and it's not pretty. Not pretty at all.

    =======================================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Jim-

    Although the Barker Ranch and other ranches in the area have plenty of history behind them (I could tell you many stories about them), the Manson episode certainly provides an interesting embellishment. Most people mistakenly assume that Manson, et. al., were arrested at the ranch for the Tate/LaBianca murders. In October of 1969, just after dark, officers of the Inyo county sheriff’s Dept., the California Highway Patrol and Death Valley Rangers raided the Barker Ranch and arrested Manson and members of his “family” for setting fire to a piece of earth moving equipment in the Racetrack area of Death Valley. Once Manson and his followers were rounded up, the lawmen marched them single file down Goler Wash to waiting vehicles and transported them to the jail at Independence CA. While they were in jail awaiting arraignment, family member, Susan Atkins, also in jail in Los Angeles but for an unrelated crime, bragged to her cellmate about her participation in the T/L murders in great detail. The justifiably frightened cellmate wasted no time in contacting the authorities just to get away from Atkins. Thus, the Tate/LaBianca murder case was cracked. But you’re right; the Barker Ranch arrest marked the end of Manson’s spree and for that very reason, I think the Barker Ranch should have long ago been designated an historic edifice.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    It has historical value on its own, the murders arent what gives it historic value.

  • Sailing in Place   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Nice shot!

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    C. M. Baxter -

    Thanks for some nice perspective on the place beyond the Manson connection. As Das Trekker notes, the cabin was there for years before Manson adopted it as an occasional hideout.

    As far as the historical connection with Manson is concerned, perhaps it's greatest importance is as the place where he was captured, and his spree came to an end.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Come on People, it's not like Charlie built the place with his own two hands. I am sure this building was around long before Charlie. A cabin in death valley? That in itself should be enough reason... Historical value can't be judged by good or bad. By that thought process should we destroy all things having to do with bad people?

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    My friends and I visited the ranch just a few months ago and gathered olives from a tree in the front yard (a natural spring—a branch of Sourdough Springs—runs through the yard and keeps the tree watered). I brought the olives home and salt cured them. After giving each friend a jar, I have four jars left. Could we be the only people in the country possessing “Barker Ranch Olives?” Probably.

    I’ve made many trips to the Barker/ Myers Ranch area and camped overnight on several occasions. Yes—as one commenter suggests—it is a creepy place. There are rattlesnakes and other bitey, stingy creatures living there, but that’s part of the fun. The drive up Goler Wash from the Panamint Valley side (make sure you have a high clearance, 4x4 vehicle) is a wild and beautiful ride but certainly not recommended for the diehard city slicker. Coming from the north through Warm Springs Canyon and Butte Valley is nice as well. But watch out for Mengel Pass! There are rusty car parts strewn among the boulders you must negotiate to get up and over.

    I, for one, will dearly miss the Barker Ranch.

  • H1N1 Flu, You, and the National Parks   5 years 14 weeks ago

    This H1N1 flu virus seems to have the ability to pass easily from one human to another, but it seems to be rather mild in terms of symptoms for most who are infected. However, there might be a nightmare scenario waiting in the wings. Virus are notorious for their ability to evolve and merge with other virus strains incorporating new characteristics. A worse case could be the combination of H1N1 and H5N1 (bird flu). H5N1 is endemic in parts of Asia and the Middle East occasionally infecting humans. The fatality rate for infected humans is extreme - 70%+. If a person or animal carrying H1N1 contracted H5N1 they could become the mixing incubator for a pandemic flu of historic proportions. Sure hope that never happens.

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I had the same question as shicks49. Even if it hadn't been burnt I would never have chosen to go there, it seems like a pretty creepy place (They possibly thought there were more bodies there......) to me.

  • H1N1 Flu, You, and the National Parks   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Funny how 900 people get the swine flu and everyone wears a mask but millions of people get STD's and no one wears a condom?

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I don't understand the reasoning for even wanting to restore a place that has been connected to a mass murderer. Does it have any other significant historical value?