Recent comments

  • Lawsuit Aims to Halt Uranium Mine Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    To expand a bit on the above comments by tomp and Kurt:

    The question of whether there should be "buffers" on public lands owned by other agencies adjacent to parks has always been fertile ground for debate. As tomp notes, one factor in evaluating an activity on public lands adjoining parks should be the extent of the impacts of the activity on the park.

    In the case of uranium mining near Grand Canyon, one of the concerns raised has been possible effects of the mining activity on water quality in the Colorado River, and on the underground water resources in the area. Water is a scarce and increasingly valuable resource in the Southwest. If mining on the BLM land near the park runs the risk of compromising the water in the park, that's an issue which needs serious consideration, and the water in the Colorado River is a critical resource for a much larger area than just Grand Canyon NP.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I've had a jar of peanut butter in my cupboard for more than a year and it still seemed edible and didn't smell bad, so that description was lost on me.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Bob, I believe the Ailanthus tree was planted in great abundance as a cheap weed tree in New York. Planted as a quick growing shade tree for the streets of New York back in the 1900's and also known as a poor mans tree. Smells terrible when burning the wood.

  • Ranger Academy Suffering From Loss of Experienced Instructors   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I was looking up the SRJC academy to attend in January 2010 when I came across this site. I was very interested in what everyone had to say. For those of you who are in the field, please respond to and let me know if you believe there are opportunities out there in this economy and if, in fact, you believe it is a sound academy.

    Thank you!
    Jean

  • Lawsuit Aims to Halt Uranium Mine Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    To Kurt, y_p_w, and tomp, the three who responded to my questions about the boundaries, I thank you for your professional, concise, and intelligent replies. Those were needed here in this particular comments section. All the responses make sense to both sides. I do not see why there must be an instant cutdown of something as soon as an article is published.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 22 weeks ago

    What control methods have your tried, Paul, and how long have you been at it?

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 22 weeks ago

    It is a very nasty plant and a major problem in middle Tennessee. I am trying to eradicate from my property, but at the moment it is winning. The local park systems in Nashville, TN are trying to systematically remove it as well as Privet, Honeysuckle and a few other aggressive species.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Good work, Linda. We'll give you an A- (a clean A, except for the spelling glitch). The mystery tree is the tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima). I'll have more to say about the tree and its control in tomorrow's Traveler.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm guessing Alanthus (sp?) Around here it's also called paradise tree. While trying to eradicate it's shoots in central Virginia I became very familiar with the peanut butter smell. I had a huge "adult" tree and had runner roots the size of an anaconda through boxwood beds.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I've been camping at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park since the 1950's. It is away from the crowds of Yosemite Valley and has beautiful granite domes, lakes, rivers, and a big meadow where you can wander out on a moonless night to see the stars. And at nearly 9,000 feet elevation the night sky is spectacular. There are lots of wonderful naturalist walks to join, and we like to drive over Tioga Pass to visit Mono Lake. The best season is about mid-July to mid-September. We reserve a campsite 5 months in advance to assure a spot.

  • Forest Service Open to Allowing Mountain Bikes on Continental Divide Trail, But What About Park Service?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    RodF,
    My experience has been similar. I frequently run in to stock and hikers and bikers while hiking and biking on trails and I don't recall ever having any conflicts.

    And amen to your conclusion:

    "Let's allow USFS and NPS land managers some flexibility. One nation wide policy does not fit all trails."

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Barbara,

    Those solutions and actions might work in Evergreen, CO. But VF is not in Evergreen, CO, it is in south eastern PA. There are probably more deer in VF than are in Evergreen CO. What is the density of deer in Evergreen, CO? The deer population in SE PA has been documented in several areas at over 140 deer/square mile, or 1 deer for every 4.5 acres. The current number of deer in VF, using the data in the article, is 233 deer/square mile. Ecologically speaking, Evergreen, CO and VF and two very different and distinct ecosytems and biomes.

    Nature will eventually take control of the situation in VF if allowed, but that will take a long time. Nature will cause the deer starve, before and after birth. Nature would introduce a disease to assist in controlling the deer, and they will die a slow, painful death. Coyotes will take and eat deer (young, sick, or injured), but most likely not enough to have a large impact. While VF is waiting for nature to take over, the rest of the nature in the park will continue to suffer, humans will continue to hit them, humans will continue to contract lyme disease and suffer.

    "Thank God someone had enough courage, intelligence, correct research/studies, motivation, and just plain respect, for both animals AND people, to bring about this suit."

    I pose this question to you, what is "correct" research/studies??? From what I have been taught, practiced, and read, pertaining to scientific research, there is no such thing as research or studies being "correct".. Research or studies present their findings on a particular question posed, whether the findings support or fail to support the original question. I'm sure what you meant is that the people that brought this suit about, will only use, quote, or point to research/studies that support their mis-guided thoughts about what should be done in VF, and ignore the research that was conducted directly in VF. They will use, quote, and base their opinion on science that was conducted 20 years ago in some part of the country that has no bearing on what is going on in VF.

    So let me ask you this, killing is OK as long as nature is doing it, the coyotes, the mountain lions, the bears, etc??

    "The famously-gifted Alice Walker once wrote, "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men." How incredibly honest...and how profoundly TRUE!". I say this is partly right. They were not made for humans, as much as we were not made for them.

    According to your logic, VF has to just deal with the situation and do nothing about! I say that is irresponsible, for the deer and for all other beings in nature, including us humans, the small mammals, the birds, and the plants.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Wonder Lake--Denali National Park and Preserve--when the mountain is cooperating.

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    For those of you that think deer populations are hurt when areas are developed, you are wrong. Deer are an 'edge' species. They don't prefer large un-broken tracts of land, because those areas don't produce large amounts of food. Edge areas receive more sunlight, often grow more dense, with species of plants that provide berries, leaf buds, and other soft mast, aka browse. So when areas get developed, it increases the amount of edge, creating more food. Deer are more likely to use these areas because they are protected from any and all hunting pressure. So no hunting, more food, more reproduction and more deer surviving the winter to reproduce next year. After a few short years, the population starts growing and doubling itself every year. Then they pass the carrying capacity of the habitat, this is when the damage to the forest starts to really show. A few years later, no new trees growing from seed (aka regeneration), ferns start taking over putting chemicals in the soil to discourage further growth by deciduous trees. In the meantime, forest dwelling birds that use the shrub layer and midstory start disappearing. Small mammal populations decline because the deer eat all hard mast rather quickly. Pretty soon, all you are left with is a huge population of deer, and little if any other wildlife.

    Racheal Carson wrote a book called "Silent Spring". How many of you are familiar with this book? Bascially, she says that chemical insecticides would eventually reduce bird populations to a point were they would be a "silent spring". She was close to being correct except that we prevented the continued use of chemicals that were detrimental to the birds. Now we face another potential cause of this "silent spring", the deer. And now we someone tries to manage to prevent it again, all the "armchair naturalists", Felix Sulton praising deer lovers, don't want the deer killed because the deer are "nature"!!! Well, deer are part of nature, and should continue to be part of nature. However, nature also includes other mammals, numerous song birds, all of which are negatively affected by the overpopulation of deer.

    I personally applaud the efforts of the NPS to try and remedy the problem of too many deer in VFNMP. Keep up the good work!!

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    If you are a naturalist, you would truely know the impact that an overpopulation of deer has on the habitat. Other animals, both birds and mammals, have suffered, and will continue to suffer because of the current population of deer in Valley Forge. A true naturalist would understand that, and would understand the management decisions for the good of the whole ecosystem, not just worry about one aspect of the ecosystem. I would rather see the deer humanely shot and die a quick death, than to suffer a very slow and painful death from a disease or a dvc.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    We haven't camped all that much so I don't have a lot of experience with camping in the National Parks. However, this last September, we camped at Great Basin National Park. Because it truly is in the middle of nowhere, it was quiet, peaceful and wonderful. And Great Basin is beautiful!

  • Bison Will Soon Roam Again at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   5 years 22 weeks ago

    praise the Lord that is great news that bison are now on the preserve. I will try and get there some day and see them, that would be neat to see

  • Forest Service Open to Allowing Mountain Bikes on Continental Divide Trail, But What About Park Service?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    As a trail maintenance volunteer, who helps maintain dozens of miles of trails (some designated for bikes, some not), the above discussion of trail damage seems to me disconnected from reality. I spend hundreds of hours each year clearing trails and repairing tread damage. Most from windfall tree rootballs, floods and slides. Wildlife, particularly elk, cause more damage than trail use by stock, hikers or mountain bikers.

    Even on heavily-used, designated bike trails, I just don't see much damage from bikes. Its rare because most designated bike trails are former roadbeds or stock trails (have solid tread).

    As both a hiker and stock rider, I encounter mountain bikes many times each year, both on designated mtn bike trails and occasionally in wilderness (where yes its illegal, but I'm not a law enforcement ranger), and have never experienced any problem with this "mixed use". I've heard of it, but it must be rare.

    I'm not a mtn biker, but view the polarization and emotion here about bikes as disconnected from reality I experience on the trails.

    I maintain trails so people can use them! Hike, bike, ride, I don't care. Let's work together. Let's allow USFS and NPS land managers some flexibility. One nation wide policy does not fit all trails.

  • National Park Service Opposes Redesignation Of Pinnacles National Monument as a National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm not sure that NPS wants to stick their neck out too far in opposing almost anything in congress unless it has a major impact on NPS resources. While it isn't quite "salute and obey", legislative enemies are to be avoided. Perhaps a fair summary was that the NPS testimony did not actively support the redesignation, and suggested waiting for a more rational overhaul of NPS designations?

  • Lawsuit Aims to Halt Uranium Mine Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Anon #2 & 3--

    The BLM land around Grand Canyone NP is not being managed as if it were a National Park.

    There's a land-management concept of buffer zones. Some uses that aren't allowed in one area are very appropriate in adjacent areas, as their effects don't extend very far. Mountain biking, various levels of grazing, etc., don't impact nearby National Park areas and are allowed right up to the boundary of the NPS land. Large industrial areas such as the Eagle Mountain dump and uranium mines and oil & gas drilling do have impacts that extend substantial distances, so they are not appropriate on Federal lands very close to National Park areas. Activities such as clearcutting and heavy hunting have effects that extend a lesser distance; a straightforward reading of the relevant federal law probably should preclude them ON FEDERAL LANDS immediately adjacent to Yellowstone, and allow them some moderate distance away.

    Note that we're not talking about restrictions on what private landowners should be allowed to do on their private lands: the proposed uranium mine is on BLM land, as are the canyons to be filled by the Eagle Mountain dump.

    Yes I'm a tree-hugger, but I give the same answer to federal lands around military training areas, airports, etc. Buffers are required, because land-use activities have impacts that extend distances.

  • Yet Another November Storm Wallops Olympic National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I live in Olympia and go to Evergreen State College, so I live right on the border. Monday was the rainiest day of the whole fall so far. I went to Lake Cushman last Friday and it was really beautiful. I'm going to Kalaloch for Thanksgiving.

  • National Park Service Opposes Redesignation Of Pinnacles National Monument as a National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks Kurt. I was watching the actual video and Whitesell did not mention anything then about opposing the designation. Of course prepared remarks are always longer, but I wonder if leaving that out in the spoken remarks was intentional. :)

    http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=58&extmode=view&extid=310

    Agree on the second point, and wonder about what new national parks would exist under the new designation, and of course whether some others would lose that status, which would be by far the much trickier part.

  • This Time, the SPOT Alert Was Real, Leading Grand Canyon National Park Rangers to Man With Broken Leg   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Good catch, ranger. We have an opening for copyeditors if you've got some free time!

    I'll reword it.

  • This Time, the SPOT Alert Was Real, Leading Grand Canyon National Park Rangers to Man With Broken Leg   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Hi Kurt,

    Re your first sentence, I think you should emphasize that it was the *person* using the SPOT device that did their job this time, in contrast to the previous Grand Canyon incident you referred to. The SPOT device performed identically in both cases.

    There have been incidents where the SPOT device was at fault (e.g. false alarm from an unprotected alert button that got pressed inside a pack), but that's a different issue. Performance issues with SPOT can be solved by an engineering redesign, but the much larger problem of SPOT misuse will require a social fix.

  • National Park Service Opposes Redesignation Of Pinnacles National Monument as a National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    CW and Mike, I think Mr. Whitesell's comment, contained in his prepared testimony that you can find at this site (http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=58&extmode=view&extid=310) speaks for itself.

    "... under longstanding practice, the term 'national park' has generally been reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. Pinnacles National Monument does not include the full range of resources usually found in national parks," said Steve Whitesell, the agency's associate director for park planning, facilities, and lands.

    I think it's accurate to say the Park Service opposes redesignating Pinnacles from a monument to a national park as things stand today.

    Now, the Traveler long has argued that the nomenclature system used by the Park Service has gotten carried away and that there needs to be some downsizing. It's not out of the question to envision a system that contains three or four designations and no more. If so, then perhaps Pinnacles would be classified as a national park...but arguably because the name game has changed, not because the monument all of a sudden has developed "the full range of resources usually found in national parks."

    Put another way, while I've written thousands of articles, I likely won't become a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer unless and until they change the qualifications;-) I'm sure Professor Bob would back me up on that!