Recent comments

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I haven't really heard of many specific requirements for non-technical hiking or overnight camping. The only thing I've seen is that the ranger (or sometimes even non-profit worker or volunteer) will have the permit holder read a short list of rules before signing for the permit.

    In Yosemite there's no test. I though a few NPS units supposedly make people sit through orientation videos before issuing permits for some areas. Fiery Furnace at Arches requires watching an orientation video before they issue a day use permit.

    I'd also note that many NPS units have people pick up permits in person even if they're reserved by phone or online. There are some places where you can self-issue if it's not the peak season or pick up a prepared copy if it's after hours.

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'd be real curious to know more about the third "emergency" and why they were evacuated.

    I'm all for denying people backcountry permits due to lack of experience/qualifications but the logistics of it would make obtaining one extremely difficult because it would require the presence of the group leader at the park prior to issuance of the permit in order to evaluate him/her.

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 22 weeks ago

    >One would hope that this new appointment will move interpretive programs towards a more science/education based platform, and away from the "touchy-feely let's use emotions instead of scientific facts" approach that is currently in favor.

    The goal of interpretation is to allow for visitors to forge a connection between the resources and themselves. For many visitors, the way to do this, is to approach them through their emotions because part of the reason that we work to protect these places and these resources is because they do indeed provoke emotion. That is why this so called "touchy-feely" approach can be an effective tool at times.

    BUT the other role of an interpreter is to teach, and the interpretive division works hand in hand with the resource management division to share the scientific knowledge that has been learned about a park with the public. So data and fact must also be a part of every program. One of the most important tenets of interpretation is "to know the audience" and tailor your program accordingly. When I am creating a program for a group of visiting scientists, it is almost pure fact and data. But when I am working with a group of 3rd graders on the National Mall, the most important thing to them, is going to be what they're seeing right then, and how it makes them feel -because that is what they will remember.

    It is all about audience and context.

  • Adding to the National Park System: Here's One List Of Possibles....   5 years 22 weeks ago

    We need a National Park of the Chesapeak Bay. We need to learn how to make national parks out of large landscapes with multiple ownership, as they have in England. Chesapeake or the Hudson River would be perfect places to start.

    As far as "too many parks" goes, thank God elected officials are motivated by voters to protect the essence of the American experience. When that goes, you will know patriotism is gone in America. The most healthy thing is for people to be proud of what is best in America, and want to protect those places and tell their story.

    [Any review of the budget of the NPS shows that the new areas have an insignificant impact on the budget. If you want to save money, get rid of the useless reporting and "accountability" layers that undermine the parks and have nothing to offer to park managers. Replace that with simple reporting of performance measures that are directly useful to the park managers and, incidentally, will give Washington an accurate picture of what is going on.]

  • Investigation Of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Finds Cybertracks to Pornographic Images   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Failure of leadership, plain and simple. Leaders model effective behaviors; John Latchser failed this foundational leadership precept. NPS management demonstrates a very poor understanding of leadership, its inherit qualities, how its developed, selected and cultivated. The current state of NPS mismanagement has resulted in lost agency reputation, and this is a direct result of its poor leadership selections and development. Almost anyone is made a Superintendent today, regardless of any real leadership qualities. The NPS simply does not understand leadership.

    As we have seen, contemporary NPS leadership is poor, at best. Examples abound, from the failure to execute mission based decision making, to endless moral failures, including sexual scandels to superintendents pandering away its primary resource protection mission to billionaires. The list is long and ugly. The NPS is not the agency we once knew; this generation of NPS leadership is failing...

    It is disturbing to once again observe the "Superintendent Club" in full effect. Superintendents, as we know, are treated differently. It is no coincidence that this incident was omitted from the DOI IG investigative report, just as it was with FLETC Superintendent, Paul Henry pleading guilty to stealing .... firearms from FLETC. Oh, you hadn't heard that one? Ask yourself why? Some people are protected and they are Superintendents. We all know this. No other class of employee escapes serious conduct and performance issues like this group routinely does. It's the elephant in the room.

    Secretary Salazar has pledged to clean house and restore the proud traditions of dedicated public service to the department and its agencies. I encourage you to remind him of his pledge. We need to restore the confidence of the American people in its park system. We need to restore the proud, dedicated and traditional NPS culture to the workplace, or this generation will be forever known as the one who squandered its well earned legacy and reputation - if its not too late.

    A real leader would resign, while taking the opportunity to explain his decision to the troops. Using his failure to demonstrate leadership, a sound moral compass and institutional values, even in failure. We all fail, but real leaders fall uphill.

    Editor's note: By the time the Paul Henry case was adjudicated, he had retired from NPS. He had been investigated on 1 misdemeanor count of theft of government property (2 weapons/15 magazines) in December 2008, according to NPS officials. The investigation and prosecution was conducted by the US Attorneys Office in Brunswick, GA. In March 2009, Henry pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 30 days home confinement, a $750 fine, and 2 years probation, according to the NPS.

  • Adding to the National Park System: Here's One List Of Possibles....   5 years 22 weeks ago

    And the Boundary Waters! in northern Minnesota.

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Your comment indicates you believe a ranger should have the authority to deny a group a backcountry permit based on his or her evaluation of their experience and/or qualifications for the trip.

    I'd be interested to read the reactions of other readers to that idea, including what criteria should be used to make that decision.

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    What ranger would approve a permit for this group on this hike anyway? The NPS bears some responsibility for its poor judgement as well.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 4: Standing Tall in the Middle   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Is the missing detail that Soldiers' National Cemetery is in Gettyburg National Military Park? Or are you looking specifically for the Soldiers' National Monument adjacent to the Cemetery?

  • The Cypress Cathedral in Everglades National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    awesome job,on the video and the wonderful drawings. hats off to you two. Your brother Kevin is one of my best friends.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 4: Standing Tall in the Middle   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Close...... very close....., but not quite. Like to try to tighten it up?

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 22 weeks ago

    You can't "cancel" a 911 call. Once you call 911, the case isn't closed until an officer can verify in person that no assistance is needed. You can indicate that you want to cancel the 911, and that information may be taken into account in planning the response to your call, but the assumption is that there was a reason the call was made in the first place, and that reason needs to be investigated.

    My understanding is that SPOT 911 messages are treated the same way. When I think about all the reasons why someone might press that 911 button on SPOT, legitimate or not, it seems to me that the response should ALWAYS be to escort that person out of the backcountry. Either they really do need a rescue, or they don't but were out of their depth, in which case they don't belong that far from civilization anyway (at least not without first obtaining better gear or more experience).

  • Adding to the National Park System: Here's One List Of Possibles....   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I have worked at Everglades and recently Lincoln Home. National Parks are the finest in the world. There is always room to improve, humans are often reckless and leave litter, start fires, poach animals. Instead of your tea bag conspiracy theory, do something, volunteer, request needed monies, but whining is simplistic and dishonest.

  • Reader Participation Day: Winter Park Visits, Snow or Sand?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Both snow & ice. I live in N.W Indiana very close to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore & Michigan lakeshore. The ice shelves that form over the sand are incredible. Gotta make the best of what is available in the winter in the midwest!

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I have no problem with stiff fines for abuse of emergency services. That's essentially what this was.

    Calling for help because water "tasted salty" that far away from any substantial source of salt? That's just beyond ignorant.

    Honestly though - it might have been better if they had been able to simply get access to regular non-emergency communications. The could have been informed where they could get a reliable water source rather than send expensive personnel to just give them water.

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    bojay--

    There have been a couple of threads on NPT about the pros and cons of charging for rescue services. The main argument against charging for emergency services is that the other type of idiots out there would get in trouble, not want to pay for the rescue, and therefore wait too long until the situation has escalated to be a more risky & difficult rescue, putting the emergency responders as well as the visitor at greater risk.

    You can't legislate good judgment, but perhaps folks need mandatory instruction on what is and isn't appropriate use of SPOT or other calls for help.

    I assume that these particular idiots will be fined an amount at least what the helicopter trips cost: over $1000 per trip even for simple trips. I'm glad the NPS folks had sense enough to not chance a high risk night landing: imagine if they were injured or killed.

  • What Now Becomes Of Fort Hancock At Gateway National Recreation Area?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Well, JoeAverage is right again that America needs its buildings with character. And, other than the coastal defense installations, the structures at Fort Hancock are pretty wonderful.

    Here are my first thoughts about what to do now:

    1. First, I challenge the idea that the NPS cannot pursue the funds, and think it is VERY interesting that the statement that NPS can't pursue the funds comes from a PR guy -- Phil Sheridan -- rather than the Regional Director. Wouldn't it be great to hear how someone in authority explains why the NPS has never even ASKED congress for the money?

    So, NPS: ask for the money! Break it into bite-sized pieces of around $10 Million each. Make a point of who General Hancock was: one of America's greatest heroes who stood at the point of attack at Gettysburg. Think of how this park that now is thought of mostly as a beach could be with really terrific programs in those splendid structures ! Many educational and environmental institutions with missions consistent with the NPS have already indicated they would like to use portions of these structures. Years ago, when the person in Washington responsible for reviewing partnership proposals came NY-NJ to consider this proposal, her first recommendation was: "forget about the partnership ! It will take too long, be too controversial, and may never happen: ASK FOR THE MONEY ! You can get this funded !" But, the suspicion has always been that Gateway NRA superintendent has always been focused on the part of the park where he lives - New York, and Fort Hancock in New Jersey never gets the priority. The fear being that all the needs in Long Island will then be pushed back. But the NPS always needs to be ready to ask for the money, so when opportunities like the Stimulus Package happen, it can slide this in whole, or in normal years break it up. NPS: Step Up and be a leader !

    2. Second, Congressman Pallone needs to step up, too, and not hide behind blaming the NPS all the time. Kurt, despite what you report, above, I do not believe Mr. Pallone asked for even one dime for Fort Hancock. This is something, over all these years, he could have eagerly pushed if he was really interested in avoiding the commercialization of the park. I've checked on Capitol Hill, and nobody there has any knowledge that Mr. Pallone ever asked for ANYTHING for Ft. Hancock when the Stimulus Package was pending. So, whats up with that?? Again, Mr. Pallone blamed the NPS, and that makes no sense at all. If HE is the LEADER, as he likes to present himself, he must LEAD. Check it out, many Members of Congress have made huge improvements in national parks just by pushing the point, and making the NPS and the Congress understand this park is a priority. So, Mr. Pallone: Step Up and be a leader !

    3. In the absence of the above two recommendations, I don't think donations will happen. Even if they do, the truth is now is a terrible time to be asking for this kind of development, when Foundations are looking at really critical human needs in our broken economy. Usually, you can get some private sector or State Government matches only if you can get SUBSTANTIAL federal matching money, like the 80 or 90 percent you get with highway money. You could get some highway money for this park, but only for smallish items on the side, not the main even.

    So, JoeAverage, as dazzling as your idea would be to put on a show or help out the Fire Fighters, we need a structured plan to get the kind of money you need here.

    If not any one of the above??

    THEN, Mr. Pallone, the only alternative I see is to try again with a Historic Lease and the commercialization of these structures. The NPS is responsible to fulfill the NPS mission, and the first thing is to preserve the resources, even at the cost of commercialization. Some of your advocates, as even you must have figured out, really just want the beaches all to themselves, and would prefer to destroy these "buildings with character" that JoeAverage AND MANY AMERICANS believe in.

    Put up or shut up!

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Joe Average:
    Modern Americans aren't going to exert themselves very hard. Too many of us want luxury and easiness in all things. However if people were going slow and outside on a Segway or bike they might rediscover the joys of being outside and want to venture further from the road on foot or carry a picnic and stop somewhere for hours to lay in a field and listen to the mtns rather than worry about how slow they are going or how badly the other drivers are operating their vehicles or how badly their FM channel reception is.

    My sense is that there are a whole lot of people who would like to think that they're into physical fitness spending 15-30 minutes on a Stairmaster, but bypass one or two flights of stairs in favor of an elevator. Perhaps it's not necessarily a matter of fitness level, but what's cool (working out in a gym) versus some anonymous activity (climbing a real set of stairs as practical self transport).

  • Bad Timing: Road Closures Along the Blue Ridge Parkway During Leaf-Peeping Season   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Park info, including road updates, can be had at: (828) 298 0398

  • History Abounds in the Waters Surrounding Isle Royale National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I would add that the fishing for Lake Trout off the reefs on the north end of the island is outstanding.

    Unfortunately, in my 12 years as a Deputy Medical Examiner for Keewenaw County Michigan (1988-2000), I had the occasion to perform two autopsies on divers who were killed diving the wreck of the Emperor. Suffice it to say that both divers were inexperienced in doing deep dives in cold water, and this inexperience led to their death. One aspirated water while at depth and continued to ascend while coughing uncontrollably and gave himself a pneumothorax. The other was insufficiently weighted for a 7 mm wetsuit and suffered an air embolus while free ascending too fast. He sank to the bottom and then suffered massive injuries to his lungs when he was brought to the top without breathing.

    The take home message I wish to impart (I'm a PADI certified diver as well) is that if you are going to dive in cold water and you have no previous experience, be sure and do some shallow dives first and get used to the cold water and the thick wetsuits; and make sure you have determined the proper weighting for your weight belt as required by the thick wetsuit. Also, you should practice breathing through a free flowing regulator in case you should find yourself with a frozen open regulator. Luckily, this is not as common with today's gear as it used to be. If you don't mind the cold water, the diving is fantastic, but Mother Superior can be very unforgiving should you make any errors.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I've ridden a Segway a few times. Neat gadget. I'd be glad to ride a Segway a couple of miles vs driving my car. I'd also be glad to ride my bike for the same distances and more. I'd also ride an electric bike.

    Would I rather see a gaggle of Segways, pedestrians and bikes (pedal and electric) on the Cades Cove loop than a traffic jam of SUVs and RVs? ABSOLUTELY.

    On the trails? Not so much.

    The Segway and bicycles would be a great way to get people out of their cars. It would make a place like Cades Cove an all day destination for more rather than just a place to ride through in a car sipping on a soda or eating some snacks.

    People could roll through these areas IF they weren't competing with all the &%$@# traffic on a bike or a Segway and HEAR nature rather than some obnoxious motorcycle rider nearby revving their engines after idling for a few minutes.

    Modern Americans aren't going to exert themselves very hard. Too many of us want luxury and easiness in all things. However if people were going slow and outside on a Segway or bike they might rediscover the joys of being outside and want to venture further from the road on foot or carry a picnic and stop somewhere for hours to lay in a field and listen to the mtns rather than worry about how slow they are going or how badly the other drivers are operating their vehicles or how badly their FM channel reception is.

    I'm for ANYTHING that removes the automobile from the center of every attraction. I like cars don't get me wrong but I can't walk or bike without breathing all those exhaust fumes and listening to the slow rumble of cars puttering through the parks I visit.

    Time to move away from car-centric America a little in certain places. I'd like to see the NPS ban cars a few days per week in places like Cades Cove for us Americans who want to stroll, pedal or even Segway our way around the loop.

    DO I want a bunch of tacky concessions? No. I don't go to the mtns for the Pigeon Forge circus. That's what Pigeon Forge is for. I go for a little solitude, a chance to see the mtns a little, and a chance to lay in the grass and just listen. Around where I live I get to hear traffic and sirens and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. No thanks...

  • Bad Timing: Road Closures Along the Blue Ridge Parkway During Leaf-Peeping Season   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Who do you call? I mean what number?

    Thanks.

  • What Now Becomes Of Fort Hancock At Gateway National Recreation Area?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    So let the folks who want to restore buildings restore what they can for bed-and-breakfasts. Le the gov't pick up and repair what they can. Finally ask for charity to repair what they can. TOGETHER they ought to save most of buildings right?

    We need some buildings with character in America!

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    rescue services, should not be free. most ambulance and some fire service have set fees for response.
    Phoenix ,AZ police charge time and material for noise and loud party calls. These are service costs not fines.Why not do the same in the parks

  • Traveler's Gear Box: Hauling Your Gear Around   5 years 22 weeks ago

    One more quick comment. Hope I did not imply that the trailer I bought was aluminum. Thule's new non-Brenderup sourced trailers are aluminum. Mine is galvanized steel. The payload capacity is less than the 1600 lbs I quoted. 1300 lbs is the payload limit. I've had about 1000 lbs of steel on mine and it did find. Find a HD trailer for regualr work carrying really heavy loads though. Was stronger and stiffer than my old 5x8 utility trailer however.

    Where is a good place to see other people's solutions to carrying their camp gear, bikes and canoes? Always looking for better ideas. Won't part with the trailer but what goes inside might adapt a little.

    Itching to camp in the Smoky Mtns one more time this fall before the daytime temps get too low for our kids to enjoy themselves.