Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    I'd just add that after seeing more of the series, they seemed to have gotten Ranger Johnson filmed at various stages of his appearance.

  • The Hunt for Red (and Yellow) October. It's Officially Fall - Let the Quest for Color Begin!   5 years 21 weeks ago

    If you are in the Oklahoma-Arkansas-North Texas area, check out Beavers Bend State Park and the Ouachita National Forest near Broken Bow, OK. Absolutely gorgeous in the fall!!

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 21 weeks ago


    Whichever or whatever it truly is. I call it beatiful and welcome to Yosemite.
    I appreciate and enjoy all the splendor there. Ancient and living.

  • Travel Back In Time to 1933 World's Fair At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore   5 years 21 weeks ago

    I grew up in Beverly Shores. So wish I could be there to attend this. Fond memories of many a party at the House of Tomorrow when Mary Miller (the coolest dame ever) used to own it.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 21 weeks ago

    There was no timetable set in the 1976 wilderness law for removal of the oyster farm. In addition the reservation of use signed in 1972 was set to expire in 2012, but had a renewal clause. All it would take is the signature of Superintendent Neubacher.

    The have also been allegations that the PORE administration was looking for scientific research that would force to farm to vacate before 2012. I heard part of it was that Superintendent Neubacher was also trying to get them to relocate completely to Tomales Bay, but that would have been tricky trying to get all the permits and the cost would have been pretty high too. In the end I think everyone abandoned that as unworkable. Drakes Estero is different than Tomales Bay. The amount of food for the oysters is higher and the water quality is cleaner. Tomales Bay oyster farms have to stop oyster harvesting operations when the bacteria counts shoot up after rains carry runoff from Marin streams that contains bovine fecal waste (sounds yummy doesn't it). They can harvest every day at Drakes Bay.

    Here's the law. It's short and has simple language. It has no specific mention of the oyster farm or any date past 1976. The only assumption we can make that's not in there is that the oyster farm is probably in what marked as potential wilderness in the map that accompanied the act. I can't find a source for the map. There have already been potential wilderness areas that have been converted to designated wilderness, while I'm sure there are other areas that have not.

    Apparently the law was also replicated in some larger law, but that appeared to be some sort of oversight.

    I'm sure that new Director Jarvis was well meaning, but there have been allegations that the content of the original report was more than just a mistake that could be corrected.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Bill, it wasn't just the Scot-Irish who were moved out. The Cherokee were evicted as well, and their connection with the land went back much longer.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   5 years 21 weeks ago

    I watched the Ken Burns series on the National Parks and was somewhat disturbed over the amount of attention paid to Yosemite and Yellowstone when, indeed, there are less visitors to those parks combined than to the Great Smoky Mountains alone. At the end of the series I thought that had I thrown a dime into a bucket everytime I heard the word "Yosemite," I would have had to paint my house 10,000 times to get enough buckets.

    It is obvious that we need more National Parks east of the Mississippi.

    I had not known, however, that money from children was used to pay for some of the property to make the park. Creating the Smokies is about displacing a people, the Scot-Irish who had inhabited the mountains for upwards of 200 years. I have known many people who were forced to move out of the area to make the park.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Anon & Observer - Why not tell the entire story? Was there a question about whether the oyster farm is harming the ecology of Drakes Bay? Yes - but that's not the point. Go back to the law - the law that was passed in 1976 that called for elimination of the oyster farm in 2009. The present owner bought the oyster farm with full knowledge and acknowledgement in the deed that they had to cease operations in 2009. So now he whines and wants the lease to be extended and you blame Jon Jarvis for that? Rediculous.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 21 weeks ago

    As a former DOI employee the exchange between Anonymous and Editor caught my eye. I'm afraid editor's comment tht the "report contained errors" is not entirely accurate. As a matter of fact the National Academy of Sciences was brought in to review the entire episode and documentation and concluded the Park Service "...selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information...". That suggests more than a report "containing errors". This is a sad chapter in the history of the NPS.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 21 weeks ago


    I've heard that comment about mountain bikes not impacting the land any more than hikers, and I'd like to see visible proof of that. I'm not questioning your information or trying to spur an argument, but from personal experience, I don't see how that's possible. All the multiple-use trails I use (and where I live it's hiker-biker, with only an occasional horse) are quickly ground up by bikes, the top soil kicked off and the underlying rocks erupting. I just don't see how it's possible, with switchbacks and the braking that goes on on straightaways and going into turns, that mountain bikes don't have a greater impact than a hiker.

    Perhaps Mark E. can weigh in on this.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 21 weeks ago

    I never had the pleasure of riding in Utah, although I'll make it a point of doing so at some point. I take exception with your comment of lumping together OHV and cycling. There's a slight difference between a 2 ton SUV and a 30# bike. Last I checked we don't impact the land anymore than hikers.

  • Bridge Over Needed Waters: Contract Awarded for Tamiami Trail Bridge at Everglades National Park   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Listen, you may be able to hear it. The Everglades: "Ahhhhhhhhhh."

  • Judge’s Ruling on Drilling Noise May Bode Well for National Park Soundscape Protection   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Thanks to that judge for good sense. Let's hope this means protection of the peace and quiet I look for in Nature.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 21 weeks ago


    Are you asking about single track that exists as a track already ridden, or are you asking about riding anywhere that isn't a wide enough track for a jeep, including cross-country over untracked land?

    Looking at the bigger map, at least in the the areas I know, I'd say almost no single track is being closed. I don't think that there's single track on the west side of Desolation Canyon, nor on top of the Book Cliffs, where they're proposing wilderness. If you ride there, you're busting new trail over crust, and I have a big problem with that.

    In the Moab area, Behind the Rocks WSA is included, as is Negro Bill Canyon, but the Behind the Rocks trail, Cane Creek, and the areas to the south where I know of single track are not in the proposed wilderness, nor are the La Sals. The mountains west of Price are wide open (I've only been there once, but it was great).

    If there's extant single-track in the proposed closures, point it out. Existing single-track should be respected as non-wilderness. More single track riding trails should be established elsewhere on public lands in the Colorado Plateau so we can get away from folks when we ride. There's plenty of less-sensitive land left that BLM should designate for trail riding, and (slightly) develop (e.g., parking areas at trailheads). The majority of public land in the Colorado Plateau is not in current or proposed wilderness, even counting this proposal. But I think that large hunks of sensitive lands should be closed to our bikes as well as to jeeps and OHVs.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    They haven't done an exclusive story only about the units with the "National Park" label. They've gone quite a bit in depth about the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the power it gave to the President to declare National Monuments. They've touched on Horace Albright's move to consolidate National Battlefields from what was previously under control of the War Dept into the National Park Service.

    Gerard Baker is heavily featured in the series as Superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

    There also should be no doubt that the crown jewels of the NPS should get a lot of airtime.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    As usual Burns has done an excellent job with his subject. The series will no doubt build support for, and increase visitation in the parks FROM THAT SUBSET OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC THAT WATCHES PBS! That subset is unfortunately not the group that will be leading (and voting in) our society in 50 years. If the parks do not reach out to these groups that will make up the majority of our population in the coming century then the parks will eventually go the way of the passenger pigeon.

    I also feel that the concentration on the big well-known parks (and just the 58 "parks") does a huge disservice to the rest of the units that make up the 391 UNITS of the park system. This just confirms the public's mistaken impression that the Park System is just those "big, natural" areas. This was a missed opportunity to relay to folks that the Park System is SO much more than Yellowstone and Yosemite or for that matter those "58" national parks.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 21 weeks ago

    I wonder how many miles of singletrack will the cyclists lose in the process. Of course, it's not big deal because cyclists have so many more miles somewhere else to go ride, or so goes the argument...

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 21 weeks ago

    I'm not sure about the life span of the Asian swamp eel. Several of the sources I consulted say 8 to 12 years, but that would certainly vary with local conditions.

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 21 weeks ago

    If the excerpts are any indication, Johnson writes as powerfully as he speaks. I looking forward to reading Gloryland.

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 21 weeks ago

    There were two fires. The one in the Teton N.P. is not the Arnica fire in Yellowstone. We came through Teton going to Yellowstone on Saturday 9/26 and saw both fires. There is also a very small fire in the mtns surround Gardiner, MT. We drove escorted from West Thumb through the fire area on the 26th. There was a helicopter scooping up lake water and dropping it on the fire boundary closest to the road. On the 27th, the loop road was open during the morning and I was quite surprised driving through the fire zone to see the fire about 300 yds from the road (or at least see smoke billowing that close to the road). I learned later that it had reached the road and they closed it again. The only way back to Gardiner/Mammoth was through West Yellowstone north to I90 and back down.

    Back in August, we had been disappointed that we couldn't get late season reservations at the Lake Yellowstone hotel aso we booked a place in Gardiner instead. Boy did we get lucky. The smoke around the hotel was thick and blocked out the sky. I feel sorry for the guests that had to deal with it.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    HUMANS BAD!! Humans EVIL!!

    Humans special! Humans wonderful!!!

    I can't even watch it, it is irritating me so much.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    The thing that first hits Yosemite visitors who meet Shelton Johnson is that he is different. He's extremely eloquent and well spoken. He's got a very quick wit. It doesn't really matter that he's black and grew up in urban Detroit, although that is an important factor in who he is. I guess he doesn't necessarily fit the image of a national park ranger. He had that slightly sinister looking facial hair, and I'm a bit disappointed that he seemed to have shaved it for much of the Ken Burns series. The mustache and spot under the chin gave him a certain edge. He does wear the earrings though.

    For those who haven't been on one of his hikes, I can relay some personal experiences. The first time I'd ever seen him in any medium was when I went to a program showing a video on winter in Yosemite. He was videotaped playing the clarinet with snow all around him. The next day I went to the visitor center for some directions and he was the one who helped me out - recommending boots with ankle support for the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail and what to do at Hetch Hetchy before I left. He also was scheduled to give a ranger walk and talk on bears in a few minutes. I waited around for that and the first sign that it was going to be really fun was when he asked everyone to get a little closer. He noted that he'd rather have people come closer so that he wouldn't have to yell, since it can get a little scary when a federal employee starts yelling. He had a bear skin too, which he slowly pulled out of his pack. At the end of the walk he answered questions, including one about the clarinet. He noted that it was so cold that he was putting on gloves between takes and it was rather difficult to play since it was so cold. He did seem to appreciate that I brought up his research on the Buffalo Soldiers who patrolled the Sierra parks, although I may have been the only one in the group who knew about it.

    I was actually quite pleased that he was leading the snowshoe walk I went on over a year later. I don't think he was the usual ranger guide, but I lucked into going on that day. We did certain things like hold hands in a circle and just feel the area around us. I've got that picture where he's showing us the bear marks on a small tree. I also remember trying to get the snow off of my fleece gloves. At first he said tickled that I was applauding him, but then it occurred to him that I was just trying to remove the snow to avoid getting hypothermia.

    As for the likely notoriety for his participation in the series:

    "There may be a passing phase of notoriety. I will go back to being a federal employee. I'm very privileged to work as a national park ranger and to live where I live, which I believe is the most beautiful place on the face of the Earth."

    There is supplemental material too, such as the following. Part of his wry sense of humor is seen when he says to the visitors, "I'm going to have to break this to you, but I'm African-American. And..I'm a park ranger. In Yosemite, there's me. Then there's me. And there's also me."

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 21 weeks ago

    would you happen to know what the life span of these animals could be?

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Thanks to all who are working to save Utah red rock wilderness. In 1966 Bates Wilson took me over dusty roads to the panorama from Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park. Much of the land we saw in the distance was outside the park boundaries, on BLM-managed land. I later worked in the BLM wilderness program, where we made a special point of studying roadless areas contiguous to the park boundaries, even if they were too small to qualify as stand-alone units. One of the values of America's Red Rock Wilderness Act is to get more protection for viewscapes around Canyonlands and the other Utah parks.

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Ok here is my "two cents" on the subject. In trying to get my head around the subject of "ducks in the parks". I am curious about what appears to be longer than normal legs on this pair of mystery ducks. I looked at all of the possibilities and then took a look at the "Yosemite Bird List".

    It appears that "Mr. Blue" can be found on the listing of ducks spoted "at least four times" on the final page of this report. Also that they do breed in the park.

    If it is a "Mexican Duck" could it be considered an "illegal alien". ;o))

    Semper Fi