Recent comments

  • Stanley W. Abbott, Wizard of the Blue Ridge Parkway   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Thanks, Linda. I hate to admit it, but I was completely unaware of this interesting fact. I'll definitely stop to see this marker for myself the next time I'm in the area.

  • Rangifer tarandus   5 years 17 weeks ago

    As Ray points out, Aniakchak is not exactly overwhelmed with visitors. During the last three years of record, Aniakchak had a grand total of 96 recreational visits, which is an average of 32 visitors per year). No visits at all were recorded during 26 of those 36 months. This NPS unit is certainly a great place for solitude seekers. It averages one visitor per 18,836 acres per year.

  • Upon Further Review: If It Smells Like Gasoline...   5 years 17 weeks ago

    As Bugs Bunny would say,"Whaat a maroon!"(What a moron)

  • Rangifer tarandus   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Ah, brings back memories. I recall flying a Cessna 206 on floats into the crater and landing on Surprise Lake at the bottom. It was truly otherworldly. The weather is perhaps the most extreme of any unit of the National Park System. Aniakchak may also be the least visited park unit.

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 17 weeks ago

    If you read the darn story, the father and daughter were in the neighborhood of 100 yards away from the rogue bison in a group of about 50 people with a RANGER! The bisopn charged another individual who headed for the group and the ranger seeking safety in numbers. The crowd scattered, but the father was no doubt hindered by the relatively slow speed of his daughter. These two people did nothing wrong! They were NOT idiots! If the ranger could walk up to within 15 feet of the bison, next to the threatened individuals, he could have easily shot the critter in the head. I would have guessed it was about 50/50 as to what that bison would have done when the ranger shot into the ground.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 8: Well, It's Kinda Oval   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Steven M. Bumgardner
    Videographer/Producer

    Is that a silver sword in the background? Haleakala?

  • Hot Springs Hoopla Goads Government   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Hot Springs is, IMHO, hardly National Park worthy as is. (National Historic Park, yes.) The dispute could easily be resolved by offering the city one of two alternatives--either the park is downgraded to a National Historic Park or the city provides additional land and funding to make the park truly National Park worthy. Of course, this is politically unfeasible.

  • Hot Springs Hoopla Goads Government   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I take offense to the comment that our beautiful town is dirty and run down...it has seen a resurgence in the past 10 years due to the Advertising and Promotions Committee...it boasts the largest convention center in the state which brings in countless visitors to our city each year! Without them the city/park would NOT have the millions of visitors each year. They have the budget and ability to promote and advertise our fair city...you can't tell me that the National Park does not benefit from all of the great things that they do. As to who was here first....the indians were...this has long been sacred spot...long before the park came along...Hot Springs was here first!

    Until the past few years we have always enjoyed a great working relationship with the NPS...why now is this such an issue... Josie Fernandez, Park Superintendent, has done nothing but pick fights since she got here...tell me what is wrong with a map that does nothing but point out all of the attractions our city has to offer in a facility run by the A&P Commission? And license plates...please...they do nothing but promote and let people know that we are proud of our town!

    Outside of the National Park...we have some of the most beautiful lakes in the country in some of the most beautiful scenery, outstanding golf, great accommodations, ...we one of the oldest Thoroughbred Racing Parks in the country, an ORV Park...the Park is a small part of our city, yet we are very proud to be a part of it...there is nothing I would like more than to see Superintendent Fernandez promoted out of here so that we can once again enjoy the relationship we once had.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Owen, don't forget the Stonemeadow Riots and the bigotry and corruption displayed by some NPS cops and their bosses. After reading my mentor's autobiography and accounts from the time period Owen referenced, it's clear that this proclaimed "Golden Age" wasn't entirely golden, especially when it came to bureaucratic management. Since then, the bureaucracy has only gotten bigger and badder, spurred on in part by the rash proclamation of national historic sites and other "lesser" parks, which the '60s Historical Perversion Act catalyzed.

    But I do believe in other ways, things have changed drastically, especially in the quality and experience of naturalists. The agency is just another bureau now, and its ponderous weight stifles innovation and repels competent employees.

    One commenter cautioned us "not try to emulate the private sector because I think we can all see how well that works." For thousands of conservation trusts, it works quite well.

  • Traveler Tech Update: IE8 and Latest Performance   5 years 17 weeks ago

    No more scrolling for this caveman to find 'Latest News & Views'. Thanks Doc!

  • UNESCO Agrees to Send Field Team to Inspect Threats to Glacier, Waterton National Parks   5 years 17 weeks ago

    National government has done such a bang-up job with parks; can't wait to see where world government takes land mismanagement.

  • Traveler Tech Update: IE8 and Latest Performance   5 years 17 weeks ago

    With regard to IE8 I found that Microsoft has added a new button called “Compatibility View: websites designed for older Browsers will probably look better, and problems such as out of place menus, images and out of place text will be corrected”. It’s located next to the refresh button on the address bar. (it looks sort of like a page torn in half) ;-))

    Semper Fi
    Doc

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Yes, it's true, there was a time when Dr. Carl Sharsmith was reassigned to a duty station other than Tuolumne Meadows. This was during the late 1950's. Carl had been working summers in Yosemite since 1931. He was the only naturalist at Tuolumne Meadows until 1946. Will Neely joined him at Tuolumne Meadows in 1950. By the late 1950's, he and Will had become very popular with return Tuolumne campers. Many of these return campers purposefully sought them out for walks and evening programs. Less experienced staff had difficulties competing. But, part of Carl's re-assignment was to perform a special ecological survey for the NPS on visitor impact of High Sierra lakes and meadows of Kings Canyon National Park. He and Will Neely were eventually reinstated at Tuolumne Meadows, and the ranger-naturalist programs there continued to prosper.

    In the years prior to his "reassignment" Carl had been awarded the Department of Interior medal for meritorious service, after he had completed 25 seasons of service. He went on to serve the NPS each summer at Tuolumne for another three and one-half decades, completing his last season in 1994 at the age of 91.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Stanley W. Abbott, Wizard of the Blue Ridge Parkway   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Abbott Lake at Peaks of Otter was named after Stanley Abbott. The Park Service installed a marker there in his honor. See http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=9743 for a photo of the marker.

  • Hot Springs Hoopla Goads Government   5 years 17 weeks ago

    That city has become so run down and dirty, it probably doesn't make much difference what name they use.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I agree with Tahoma. Beamis should write us another chapter of Park Circus! Because the NPS has a chronic disease and laughter is the best medicine.

    Owen, be grateful for your memories. I'm not sure so much has changed. For example, Harry Yount resigned under pressure and frustration after only 14 months and a young Carl Sharsmith endured reassignment by managers jealous and threatened by his talents. Also, with all due respect, five summers in a short season park is a honeymoon.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    With all this negative flow about quality work issues regarding the NPS, I sure hope this doesn't deter the younger generation from going into resource management...especially when we need the very best and the brightest in the field of resource & wildlife management. Why does the NPS get the dipstick in the job pool with mediocre talent? Who's lowering the totem pole for supervisory talent? It's understandable, why the younger generation doesn't look towards the NPS as prestigious employment. The cronyism that forestalls the rewarding of those who display their intellectual mantle for a job well done, is a prime example of structural interdepartmental family nepotism that stifles the creativity of the best and the brightest. Yes, seasonal workers must earn those brownie points for advancement by doing the job of of a glorified custodian that wipes toilet bowl clean. You pay your dues college boy! There's a lot of blame to go around with the NPS and starts at the very top...the President and down. The last administration didn't give a living hoot how the NPS was run...as long as there was rape, greed and pillage on the drawing boards. Put the right people in who could careless about the proper direction of the NPS and it's natural resources and care, borderlines on defunct administration that's hell bent towards failure. Sure looked like it over the past eight years. A complete overhaul is needed and let's kick in some young talent for change. The old school is dead! Let's start afresh and it's NOW!

  • Hot Springs Hoopla Goads Government   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Well, who was there first? The city or the park service? The answer to that could possibly be the solving of the problem, while at the same time, eliminate the free advertising they are both getting while the squabble continues .

  • UNESCO Agrees to Send Field Team to Inspect Threats to Glacier, Waterton National Parks   5 years 17 weeks ago

    the world heritage should not be telling the us or canada what to do period...stay to hell out of our business...thats what we get to be a one world country.....

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    As the NPS begins to increase its reliance on web-based methods of electronic communication and public outreach, so should it invest in frequent auditing and updating of posted information. For example, sometimes I've found more complete, accurate and updated information for specific park units on Wikipedia.com or on websites maintained by non-profit organizations, than on nps.gov.

    It's one thing to initiate a new structure and feel to an old web site that function's as the Agency's front page. It's quite another thing to audit, correct, and update accurate information for each park unit. I wonder what effort is being put into www.nps.gov to ensure ease of use and accuracy of posted information at the level of individual park units?

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    With two wars, the economy, and instability in Iran, it's hard for me to see just how the White House will have time to focus on the plight of NPS employees.

    I only worked seasonally for the NPS as a uniformed park ranger-naturalist (Crater Lake, Zion, and Yosemite 1966-71). During that time, I found myself to be a member of a highly motivated and respected organization. Many of my colleagues were university professors and professional educators. Some performed research while carrying out their duties presenting programs and engaging in visitor contact.

    Our guided walks and evening programs were very well attended, and they were frequently audited by peers, supervisors, and park administrators (and their families). Sometimes, unannounced audits would be conducted by staff from the Regional Office.

    My direct supervision was highly educated, trained and motivated. Many contributed to the overall knowledge base of the park through publications. Standards for performance of duty were set high. Recruiting and hiring of a professional, high-quality staff was taken seriously and given a very high priority. Most seasonal employees, who were not already employed full time during the off-season, aspired towards permanent NPS status.

    In my day, the NPS was considered to be among the very best places to work within the Federal Government. How is it possible that today that the NPS now ranks much lower than other Federal Agencies, like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, EPA, or even the US Dept. of Commerce?

    Given the recent history of depressing survey results as summarized in the article above, and the description of major employee morale issues confirmed by comments made by several with more recent NPS experience than I have had, I can only ask, what has changed? What are some of the root causes that have allowed the NPS to slip so dramatically from the organization I remember from my youth?

    I look forward to reading more comments on this important topic.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   5 years 17 weeks ago

    djhouston: I get it that you have many grand memories of camping as a kid with your folks in these grand places. Most of us do and I for one repeated these experiences by camping at and visiting the NP with my kids and my grandkids. I know from their comments they experienced the same joy as I did as a kid and still do as an adult.

    What I am trying to understand is why you stated: "I had the privelege (not the right) to spend about 30 days camping..."? I think we are privileged to have these places available but I also feel that as citizens of this great nation we have every right to visit and use them. We have the obligation that goes with those rights to use them and take care of them in a responsible and sustaining way.

    Part of the problem I have with the pricing with many of the facilities in the NP is that I can't afford them. I know,...duh. But I can't help but feel that it isn't only corporate greed or whatever catchphrase you want to use here...It is also a way to keep the rift-raft out for the people that can afford it. But then that by definition is what makes it "exclusive". Not being a hob nobber and with my own definition of the "good life", I will stick to my older motorhome and tents and enjoy the great outdoors the way my ancestors ancestors did. Of course they didn't have Sirius radio or DVDs or etc,etc....Ah the good life!

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Some great comments here folks. Thanks! I can understand how seasonals might feel like second class
    citizens, but it's often almost as bad for rank & file permanents. Congress's capture of the NPS for its pork barrel schemes has evolved a class of managers more interested in agency growth and personal careers than
    preserving the Parks or assisting their employees. Most of my supervisors were most talented at managing the
    egos of those above them; some had only the vaguest idea what their employees did and what problems they
    faced.

    Anonymous of June 26 makes an important point about the lack of accountability of NPS management. Every Park I worked at seemed to have an Assistant Superintendent or three who had seriously screwed up at some other unit. The system for wayward managers seems remarkably similar to that of the Catholic church for pedophile priests.

    Beamis hits the nail on the head, both with his comment and his wickedly funny and only slightly exaggerated
    park circus site. I wish he'd resume work on it. He may be wrong about the lack of opportunity for 'the go getters of the world' though. Here's a snippet from http://www.doioig.gov/upload/APR2009SAR.txt , the most recent DOI Inspector General's Report to Congress:

    "After a confidential source alleged a possible conflict of interest over a real estate transaction between a
    park superintendent and a park concessioner, the OIG investigated the case. We determined that the
    superintendent bought a parcel of land in 1992 for $84,000, sold it in December 2002 for $425,000, and
    financed the sale of the property to a concessioner over the course of 63 months."

    "Based on the appearance of a conflict-of-interest, we reviewed documents submitted by the superintendent.
    This review determined that he made false statements or concealed material facts on his Office of Government
    Ethics form 450, as well as in an e-mail he sent to the NPS reviewing official who had requested additional
    information concerning the nature of the transaction. The superintendent also signed the conflict of interest
    certification for the contract process, further complicating his position."

    "Our findings were presented to the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, which declined to prosecute the NPS employee because his case did not meet its criminal threshold. Our office was notified in March 2009 that the superintendent had been transferred to another national park and given a Letter of Reprimand."

    It will be interesting to see if Mr. Jarvis and the new team can turn this once proud agency around, or if Obama's talk of accountability and transparency are mere rhetoric.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Well put RoadRanger and spot on as my British friends would say. The reorganization of 1995 was a joke in poor taste and completely ineffective. Just witness the fact that we have morphed back to essentially the same kind of organization that existed before 1995 just one with three fewer regional offices (in theory at least). As an agency we tried to reorganize without ever re-engineering the work and oh my, guess what, it was a failure. Roger Kennedy decried our militaristic command style of leadership so he crippled us with decisions by committees. The old guard has all retired and as an agency we did little to nothing to prepare future leaders based on merit. It comes as no surprise that the survey highlights the lack of effective leadership.

    Our senior "leadership" is dismal. Never in a 30+ year career has there been such shallow field experience at both WASO and in most of the regional offices. Regions have reverted back to the bloated entities that they once were and yes, jobs still get created out of thin air for the spouses of regional office employees. In the Intermountain Region only one of the senior leaders has any kind of recent field experience and many of them fail to even get out to at least one park a year. Is it any wonder these people lack credibility among park staffs?

    We have become an agency seemingly obsessed with process over progress, tethering our field employees to their computers in order to feed meaningless databases that force you to report the same information across several different platforms. Rather than expend the time and energy at central offices to extract the information that is already available in one system or another it's just easier to have the parks report on it again in some slightly modified form. The time wasted is incredible - especially since we fail to make the IT investments necessary to provide the field with the necessary bandwidth to feed these resource greedy computer applications - sure, they work well in central offices but please remember that in remote park areas the information highway often turns into a badly-rutted dirt road. We have nearly destroyed our contracting capabilities and are well on the way to doing the same with personnel. At times it seems as if we are consciously trying to make our administrative functions as ineffective as possible and as far removed from the parks as we can possibly get them.

    So why do some of us old dogs still hang on? Because at the end of the day for us it's still about protecting park resources and serving park visitors. The mission of the agency hasn't changed and it's still an incredibly important mission. I wouldn't trade my career in the NPS for anything but I do long for the days of effective leaders that came up through the ranks and who actually did understand park operations. I long to have a Director like Geroge Hartzog again - someone who could and did walk the halls of Congress and be recognized and welcomed. Perhaps it's all just wishful thinking or wistful reminiscing - but please, give us our agency back.

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Neat and very well done for all park visitors. While I'm not a fan of flash-sites (limited access for search engines and so on), the large slide show on the front page looks great. I miss a drop down list with direct access to the parks, though. That one would be nice even if it's usually not the method of choice for almost 400 parks.

    And it is wonderful that lots of in-depth information has been collected, sorted and linked through a decent structure. A wealth of information is buried in the NPS servers, and some of it could only be found by accident. Now most of it is listed and much better accessible. I miss the peoples directory so far, but it is probably linked somewhere too and I have to browse a bit more (and I have it bookmarked anyway).