Recent comments

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    As Kurt points out, they wouldn't be able to wire the entire park for wireless even if they wanted to; the geography makes that not likely to happen.

    In the various "villages," it seems kind of silly to me in areas that are already urbanized to restrict usage in some of the buildings. You're saying they can have vending machines, electricity, running water, restaurants, gift stores, etc. in the Old Faithful Inn (and telephones, too), but not Wi-Fi? That's not a middle ground; that's just a bizarro sense of aesthetics.

    As for cell phone service, I was in Big Sky a couple years ago and was near the top of Lone Mountain, and I had five bars on my cell phone; it seemed disgusting to me that I could have such great service near the top of an 11,000 foot mountain. I think what it was for me is that in one sense we are more connected than ever; in a larger sense, we are less connected. We have no connection to the place we are, to the land itself. We connect with each other on national parks on a freaking web-zine, but so often when we are out in the parks, we can only think about the pictures we will take to share, the videos, or the stories we will write (I'm guilty as charged!). We lose the moment with the place.

    So, I get very much our desire to scale back the technology; we just have to be honest about what we are doing and why we are doing it. If we are going to make things more difficult (I remember the good old days living in Yellowstone dorms without television - then, satellite tv came ... ugh) from a technology standpoint, don't do it half-assed and in ways that don't make sense. But, that's part of the contradiction of Yellowstone. The Old Faithful Inn, for instance, is truly a marvel of architecture and human construction, especially in the front foyer, and yet it was built so that people could stay very close to the thermal features, especially Old Faithful itself. It was a technological comfort, not a "historic" shrine. You want people to really connect with Old Faithful? Close down the Inn! In ages past, there used to be a campground - that was shut down - turn the Inn instead into a "historic" museum. But, if you are going to use it, have all these very modern amenities, make everything comfortable, and have cell phone service anyhow, then let people have Wi-Fi so they can also write about it. It's a faux denial, a faux middle ground.

    Don't take this post as pro Wi-Fi; I supported residents in Gardiner who successfully fought a cell phone tower that would have been an aesthetic blight on the town. I'm pro-consistency and pro-having a serious and meaningful dialogue on what Yellowstone should be and working to implement the consequences, no matter how drastic they are, to make that happen. If anything, people should take my point as being that strange things happen when you decide to play God in Yellowstone, and this is one example of it. People do their laundry in the thermals at the Black Sand Basin one day, and they blog about what it used to be like (but not in the Inn) the next. But, we love this place; doesn't it deserve better than our farcical policy whims and processes?

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

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Over-reacted? I don't think so. This stuff is far too dangerous to treat it casually. I know of one serious, big-time collector of Civil War stuff who got a little too careless with unexploded ordnance and is now singing with the angels.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 14 weeks ago

    If you were a woman who had been gang raped you would understand the need for concealed carry. No one is safe anywhere on this planet, and as long as I know there are people out there willing to hurt me for there own gain, or pleasure I will always push for the right to bare arms and the right to carry them concealed for my personal protection. It is a right I want to see extended to all National Parks.

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 14 weeks ago

    The homeowner told park employees that he had taken his five kids to school that morning with the old cannonball rolling around in his van.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    just shows how much the park staff had probably over-reacted... Did they bring in the bomb sniffing robot while everyone huddled in the distance? Meanwhile the homeowner went back home to play with the rest of his "unexploded ordinance" collection. Too funny.

  • Are National Parks That Recommend Bear Spray Encouraging You To Break the Law?   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Mike--I want to preface my remarks by frankly admitting I could be wrong, but I think that under the CFR "weapons" includes both bear spray and firearms. So if a park superintendent can use the superintendents "compodium" to allow bear spray, I assume the superintendent could also allow firearms. Again, I might be wrong.

    The parks that legally allow bear spray do so because the superintendent made an exception to the law/CFR. It seems like a superintendent could just as easily make an exception for guns. But I could be wrong.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 14 weeks ago

    There are a variety of ways to prevent freeze damage. Some solar power systems employ a working fluid that includes antifreeze (there are non-toxic choices), while others eliminate the need for antifreeze by using a drain-back system or other adaptations. In some applications, stored heat can be used to warm circulating fluids during unusually cold weather.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 14 weeks ago

    If water is needed to cool these solar systems, how is damage prevented on the many freezing nights? Just curious...

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 14 weeks ago

    NIMBY .......

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    What it looks like the NPS is trying to do is find middle ground in this issue. Something between the outright removal of all wireless (cell wifi) in the parks and total coverage of the entire area. I would guess that something in the middle is what will be adopted and hopefully will be acceptable to most park users. The park has changed many times. When I first came we fed the bears and anything else we wanted. We walked on areas that are now prohibited. My grandfather threw linen into the features and watched them come back up.

    The NPS adopted changes in these areas and the visitors adapted and the park benefited. I think it will be so with the cell and wifi that has become so much part of our culture.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Interesting discussion on cell service and points made on both sides. Limiting cell coverage to the developed areas of the park works for me, but expanding coverage to the back country and the "wilderness" areas, come on!
    I take scouts backpacking several times a year and tell them to leave the cell phone at home as the adults on the trip will have them. We leave them in the car at the trail head as I carry a SPOT now for emergencies. Then we get into the Sierra's someplace and one of the kids is playing a game on his cell phone while we are pitching camp, doing dinner, or some other activity. I want to scream! Of course I don't, I just take the phone, remove the battery and give the phone back; never saying a word. The thought of the backcountry "wired" for cell service angers me a great deal.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Hello,
    April 21st, 2009
    The Connecting Youth and Families to Our Parks program has filled. We have had over 300 families respond to get into this program, far more than we can serve. This has been a huge response with most of it coming shortly after and during the day it was in the Seattle Times newspaper came out on April 9th. (Note we did advertise for months before but targeted sectors within the Seattle Community for several weeks and gave presentations for several weeks to audiences in these areas). We are not sure we will run the program again next year but we hope to. Families which did not get into this program are encouraged to go outside, check out your local parks, regional parks, and national parks and learn from staff and through other ways of the wonders of your natural and cultural resources. The National Parks in our area offer programs for youth and families , they may not be like this but they are offen available to those who find out about them. Go to and click on the local parks you will find a wealth of information there about your national parks. There are also organizations such as Sierra Club, Seattle Mountaineers and REI which offer trips, information and insight on how to enjoy our great outdoors. Brad - Park Ranger

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Jeremy, I think the thing with cellphones is their intrusiveness, which can border on obnoxious.

    Zeb, with the rugged landscapes of many backcountry areas (Yosemite, Sequoia, Rocky Mountain, Glacier, etc), can you imagine how many towers you'd need to provide cell coverage in all the terrain? I'd doubt there's an economic rationale to pay for installing 'em all.

    There are other options for calling for help, ie Spot and the other personal locator beacons on the market.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Cell phone ban means that only people of means can carry a satellite phone to use in case of emergency. I don't quite see the rationale there. Yes, people can be inconsiderate and loud, but in the backcountry, there are so few people, that giving some cell phone coverage would not ruin the experience. I see them as a great tool to call in help in case of emergency.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    It's amazing to me that we accept electricity as a necessary element for parks, and accept electric lines across the horizons of our parks. We accept modern amenities like paved roads, and overpasses as necessary to enjoy the parks. We accept wired telephones in the lodges and public areas. We accept that park rangers communicate wirelessly with hand-held radios (and cell phones). We accept the park radio stations that broadcast interpretive messages. We accept as appropriate the use of very high technology digital cameras and high-def recording devices. So why the fuss over the use of cell phones?

    Having traveled in the past year to parks, including Yosemite and Yellowstone, I can tell you there is terrific cell coverage in Yosemite Village, and near Old Faithful. I'd suggest someone do a study in those areas and ask, is there an overt abuse of cell phones in those areas? So much so that it detracts from the 'natural' experience of the area (two of the busiest areas in the NPS including hotels, parking lots, restaurants, buses, souvenir shops)?

    Cell phones are becoming more of a necessity to many people as time goes by. It doesn't make sense to restrict their use, simply because they are new technology, or because their use by some may be considered inappropriate ... I could tell you plenty of stories of bad drivers in parks, but I doubt we'll get rid of the automobile any time soon.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Is it open to ppl who don't have kids?? I am very interested in this activity, however, don't have a kiddo yet. -- M.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Jim,
    I agree with most of your points. I think cell phone use on some of yellowstones roads woad be dangerous, but not by a passenger. I also think taking a vacation free from my kids using their phones for texting etc.. sounds good. But, I think having cell phones comes with the times. Historic Park, come on; should we ban cars and go back to horses, should we only allow pit toilet houses should we ban green energy, should we ban a microwave. Cell phones provide some safety and security as well as keeping informed via the internet. Long and short, I think cell phone towers should be required to fit into the area by looking like a tree( i have seen requirements like this in some localities) but could be added only to a few new areas at a time including campgrounds and all lodging.
    Dave Crowl

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Jim raises some intriguing points that revolve around our whole concept of what is wilderness, and what is a wilderness experience. Of course, those answers no doubt would vary greatly depending on whom you posed the questions to.

    What are the components of 'pure wilderness'? Does a transient population such as the Sheepeaters make it less of a wilderness?

    Unfortunately, we are limited by how we can address the answers to these questions by the politics and economics that drive our society.

  • National Park Superintendents Have Authority To Allow Bear Spray   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Thank you for the update.

    Based upon this comment and correspondence I have received from the GSMNP even though it is allowed in a national park on a park by park basis, it is still illegal to have Bear Spray in the GSMNP until the superintendent decides to allow it.

    It would be wise for the NPS to have an official list of parks that do and do not allow bear spray accessible to the general public. One must really wonder such a list does not exist. This can't be the first time the question has come up.

    2 people (unsubstantiated reputation of these sources) claim that phone calls to the backcountry office at the GSMNP questioning the use of bear spray resulted in different answers claiming NON aerosol bear spray (an oxymoron statement if I ever heard one) is legal.

    My last sets of correspondence sent to the park have remained unanswered but I will update my site in 24 hours regardless if my correspondences are answered or not.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Yellowstone already has cell coverage in some areas already, and so some of this isn't anything new, just as it has electric wires, phone lines (hmm ... maybe make Yellowstone completely wireless and get rid of the phone lines? ...), lots of automobiles, gas stations, sewage treatment ... when you visit Yellowstone, you realize it looks little like it's portrayed in the nature series you see on television (even in backcountry, you might see military jets fly over you, and on and on).

    And, Yellowstone, never was pure wilderness exactly; it had a permanent and transient human population who were hunting, burning fires, burning trees down (often on purpose); the idea of a pure wilderness is fictional, anyhow.

    It seems a little silly to me to restrict Wi-Fi in the "historic" buildings that perhaps require it the most, if you are going to build a new tower anyhow.

    But, as to the larger philosophical questions of what should or shouldn't be built in Yellowstone, that seems to be too small a question. We are already asserting ourselves as lords over the land; should we see our relationship with relatively wild places as protectors and overlords, as users and recreationalists, as resources, etc.? These questions are the oldies but goodies of conservation, but they remain relevant. Tinkering with our answers to this small questions about cell phones and Wi-Fi won't get us anywhere unless we are willing to understand why the boundaries are drawn, who draws them, and whether they should be drawn this way. If the goal is a wild Yellowstone - that is, a somewhat artificial Yellowstone of a different sort - that will suggest different answers than one that recognizes that humans have had a relationship with this land for a very long time, much longer than 1872. But, what sort of relationship?

    I think some of the frustration people on both sides feel is that the National Park Service, though it asks for public comments (because it is required to by law), generally makes its own decisions; they are abstracted from the public they are supposed to serve. We are left to be cynical no matter where we are on the questions of use in Yellowstone (look at snowmobiles or bison). This has suggested to me for a long time that Yellowstone is trapped in a much larger human system of politics, and I doubt we will have adequate discussions about particular issues in Yellowstone without discussing the way our nation works and operates (for better, and often for worse).

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

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    It's quite apparent that were loosing are stellar night sky to high volumes of illumination from major metropolitan cities (example:Las Vegas) and other populace areas, which is now obliterating are wilderness experience to visualize the night heavenly bodies with awesome clarity. Also, which is sad enough, is the jangling sound of cellphones going off in all hours of the day in are national parks. All for what...simply conversation and garble that certainly can be left at home. Remember when silence was golden!?

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Most of us have to put up with inconsiderate people in our daily lives. We take vacations to get away from the daily hustle and bustle. I travel all the way across our nation each year to enjoy the "wide open spaces" of the west. I want to enjoy the "silence of nature", not listen to other peoples' phone conversation !

    People are walking around the boardwalks at Old Faithful yapping on their cellphones now and some people want their kids to be able to sit around and play their video games on their pcs. If that is your definition of a vacation, please just check in a hotel in the middle of civilization and "play" by the pool, leave the nature-type " National Parks for those of us who truly enjoy nature ! Natural settiings are few and far between these days, I'm for keeping them as natural as possible and letting the big, private recreation developments entertain those who choose that route.

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   5 years 14 weeks ago

    It's great to know that Brighty has a good home, Barb. Have you perchance got a photo of the Brighty statue you're willing to share?

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   5 years 14 weeks ago

    Tahoma: You make a good point. The battle against non-native animals in the national parks requires eternal vigilance and some common sense. If you've got suitable habitat for non-natives, dispersers from nearby areas will eventually find there way into the park. Period. This means that no plan for eliminating the threat can work in the long run without coordinated management. Providing safe haven for feral burros on federal lands near national parks and wildlife refuges is, from a managerial point of view, an act of thundering stupidity.

  • Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?   5 years 14 weeks ago

    If the new administration was truly interested in stopping invasive species they would act now because, much of the new ballast technology being developed could be altered or used to do harm. It is interesting that with all the major presidential candidates and the vice president being senators, federal legislation was not passed because ballast dumping was considered a states rights issue by the senate.
    It is possible we will have pirates or terrorist on our horizon once they learn to infiltrate foreign ships unnoticed, and realize what they can do. Can we be a free country and protect our waters from pollution in a global economy, when those counties who supply us with consumer goods, hold our countries debt, hold large interest in banks controlling Americans home mortgages, and are going to be affected by the cost of this security. If we try and protect our country from the pollution of their ships and the unsafe products they bring to our country, (lead, chemical, in toys etc) will they let us? This problem adds a new meaning to the thought Russia once expressed about taking our country without a shot.

    Congress will not act until the public becomes aware of the enormous threat that ballast systems provide for terrorist, pirates or foreign sea captains, who do not like our country, to use ships flying under foreign flags with foreign crewmen, to contaminate and pollute our waters. Until we demand protection by exposing this threat, lobbyist will push the senate to consider it a states rights issue. Virus and invasive s in water do not recognize the lines man has drawn on maps. Industry knows that log books and record keeping, are mere paper work that do not prove procedures were followed. It is time protect our country and our waters by screening all problems of shipping offshore. Maybe if we were to build up our neglected Coast Guard to be capable of this mission we could create some jobs. Sincerely
    Don Mitchel

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 14 weeks ago

    I am a solo physician and am limited in my travels because of not being able to successfully communicate with my office and my patients. I feel I am missing out on seeing a lot of America because of this. I can understand not having cell service or internet access in the wilderness campgrounds or along hiking trails but knowing one can drive a short ways to a larger facility is comforting. It allows me to check in several times a day. On the other hand, I do not appreciate indescriminate cell usage anywhere by rude people.