Recent comments

  • 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!

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

    Clipped from http://www.imba.com/resources/land_protection/wilderness_faq.html :

    "What is Wilderness?
    The 1964 Wilderness Act protects more than 106 million acres from road construction, development, motorized travel and most forms of resource extraction and manmade structures. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that bicycles are not allowed in Wilderness. Federal land agencies in the 1980's interpreted the Wilderness Act to prohibit bicycles, though previously they had been allowed."

    What this FAQ item conveniently omits is that until commercially made mountain bikes became available around 1980, bicycling single-track was almost unheard of and was not on anyone's horizon as a potential wilderness issue in 1964. It seems a bit disingenuous now to imply that an activity that essentially didn't exist 45 years ago at the signing of the Wilderness Act and that didn't have any significant presence anywhere for another 8-10 years was "allowed" by the Act. It is a bit challenging to write laws and regulations to address activities and issues that don't exist at the time of their drafting.

    Hikers and mountain bikers at speed do not co-exist well on single-track trails. Hikers don't enjoy being buzzed or swarmed on "their" trails and the bikers don't enjoy dodging clue-less hikers on "their" trails. Similarly, horseman don't like hikers spooking the horses and the hikers don't like walking around horse crap and being forced to "Please, step aside" to allow the horsemen to pass by. Yes, this is a regulation, at least in Yellowstone; see Regulations on page 5 of http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/upload/bc_tripplanner9-08.pdf : "Impeding or disturbing horses or pack animals is prohibited." My impression is that this is both to limit the greater damage that the steel-shod horses do to trails and adjacent areas and to limit the risk to both riders and hikers from poorly trained horses and/or riders.

    It is fairly well established that both bikes and horses have great demands on trail building requirements and trail maintenance, especially in steeper areas. Both need shallower grades, more turning room at switchbacks, more rock removal, etc. and both have more impact per human user than hikers. In this current age of nearly non-existant yearly budgets for trail construction and maintenance in many National Parks and other areas, it seems reasonable to me to not add new trail usage demands that will not be funded to cover the increased impact. To me, this means not allowing mountain bikes in wilderness areas and like areas in National Parks.

    Least any "neo-cycle zealots" care to accuse me of being "anti-bicycle", my wife and I have three bikes each. Also, I bought my first mountain bike in 1983, when I lived and worked in Yellowstone. I rode it on paved and gravel roads in the park and trails *outside* the park when I worked there and later in Sequoia and Mt Rainer. I was ok with that then and I still am now.

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

    Kurt, as CW posted, the hearing testimony did not include the bit about opposing the re-designation. You must be quoting something else (the prepared testimony?). Please let us know if you have a link to whatever you're quoting.

    But that aside... I wonder about this argument that they should wait for the Second Century's recommendations before renaming anything. Seems to me this is either:

    1. A stalling tactic, hoping that the proposal dies before then.

    OR

    2. The Second Century Commission really will do a pretty significant proposal as far as redoing the nomenclature. He seems to be suggesting that Pinnacles might be a national park under that new designation. That presumably means other units would also fit the new designation. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out. What if we radically expand our definition of national park to include a lot more units? Would that be a good thing? I don't know. But I will say that the national monument designation could use some tweaking. There are a ton of national monuments from Grand Portage to Bush's Marianas Trench to Pinnacles and they vary quite a bit in what precisely they protect and what kind of visitor experience they offer. Personally I think it would be nice if all NPS's national monument got designations that better reflected what exactly they are and what they offer to the general public. Maybe that would mean making a lot of them "national parks" and maybe that's a good thing. But maybe not.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: How Do You Cook Your Food in a National Park's Backcountry?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Jetboil's Jetpower "four-season mix" fuel is about 70% Iso-butane, 25% propane, 5% butane.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Lava Point Campground at Zion. Great views only steps away from this campground, with six quiet sites shrouded in the pines.

  • National Park Service Opposes Redesignation Of Pinnacles National Monument as a National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Thanks for the coverage about this important effort. However, the Park Service in yesterday's hearing did not out-right oppose the re-designation of Pinnacles to a national park. The agency simply requested that the decision be delayed until the completion of their study on how they designate their parcels. Rep. Farr is working to ensure local voices are heard and local voices strongly support Pinnacles National Park.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    My favorite is Pinyon Flats Campground at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Always quiet and peaceful with a beautiful view of the sand dunes at the base of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Cottonwood Campground at Canyon DeChelly National Monument. It's free, it's not usually very crowded, and the cottonwood trees are amazing.

  • Forest Service Open to Allowing Mountain Bikes on Continental Divide Trail, But What About Park Service?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    MVD has lost credibility a long time ago. At least his posts are always a good laugh.

    This comment was edited to remove unnecessary gratuitous attacks. Let's play nice, folks. -- The editors.

  • National Park Service Opposes Redesignation Of Pinnacles National Monument as a National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I hope this doesn't happen. I just don't see Pinnacles as worthy of "National Park" status. I enjoyed my visit there, but it just doesn't seem to fit the profile.

  • Lawsuit Aims to Halt Uranium Mine Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    There are extensive clear-cut swaths of forest near Olympic NP on private and NF lands. There are many towns right next or really close to the border of national parks with the kind of development that wouldn't be allowed within the parks themselves. Think Tusayan or the area outside the Niqually entrance to Mt Rainier NP.

    There's a campground with full hookups in Pinnacles NM. It's really more the kind of KOA-style campground with lots of grass. It used to be just outside the border until the NPS bought them out and incorporated the campground into the park boundaries.

    However - if a uranium mine has the potential to affect areas within Grand Canyon NP, then the consequences have to be considered.

  • Reader Participation Day: Where is Your Favorite National Park Campground?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Devil's Garden Campground in Arches National Park is my favorite. The expansive redrock scenery speaks for itself, but the absolute silence you can experience there is magical.

    Runners up:
    1. Toroweap Campground at Grand Canyon National Park: Remote, silent and unparalelled in its beauty.
    2. North Rim Campground at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Feels as remote as Toroweap, with cliffs nearly as precipitous only steps away, but it's closer to both home and civilization.
    3. Wheeler Peak Campground at Great Basin National Park: The stars, the mountain, the wildlife and the lushness of this place keep me coming back. And, the crowds are missing!