Recent comments

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The point here is the sky above Crater Lake NP is a natural resource needing vigorous protection from development and should not simply be treated as a medium ("airspace") for traveling from point A to point B. The enjoyment of a few people should not be allowed to impact the enjoyment of thousands of other people. Yes, Crater Lake NP has been developed (as I'm glad Frank pointed out above), but, that shouldn't stop us from trying to minimize continued impacts to the park's natural resources. For historical background on NPS management of the parks, I would suggest people read Richard Sellar's book, Preserving Nature in the National Parks.

    These proposed helicopter tours should not be allowed in Crater Lake National Park. Thanks for the posting Kurt.

    rob
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    If I recall correctly, there's a sign at the trailhead for Harper's Corner in Dinosaur National Monument, that proclaims it to be the best overlook in the National Park system. Some boast. It sure is a fine view, but it's hard to pick which one is the 'best'.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Graph: Natural Climate Cycle for the Last 2000 Years

    The above graph shows an average of 18 non-tree ring proxies of temperature from 12 locations around the Northern Hemisphere, published by Craig Loehle in 2007, and later revised in 2008, clearly showing that natural climate variability happens with features that coincide with known events in human history.

    As Australian geologist Bob Carter has been emphasizing, we shouldn’t be worrying about manmade climate change. We should instead fear that which we know occurs: natural climate change. Unfortunately, it is the natural climate cycle deniers who are now in control of the money, the advertising, the news reporting, and the politicians. (Source)

    The phrase "climate change" occurs twice in the study linked above (and interestingly enough, those are the instances quoted by NPT), but the study's focus is not climate change.

    I think Kurt has read too much into the study, and his title, "Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park", is too strong and not supported by the study. No where in the study, including the abstract or conclusion, do its authors attribute the lass of large-diameter trees solely to climate change. The authors state in the conclusion:

    This decrease in large diameter tree density throughout much of Yosemite can be interpreted as a long-term change in forest structure during the 20th century.

    Nothing about climate change here. The sentence Kurt cherry picked from the study reads:

    The decrease in densities of large-diameter trees could, therefore, be an indicator of climate change that is beyond the recent natural range of variation in these forests. (Emphasis added.)

    That's not a very strong statement.

    The study focuses mainly on the change in forest structure, largely a result of a century of fire suppression.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Knowing that Climate Change affects each region differently, I wonder how tree diameters are being affected at our National Parks in the Cascade and Rocky Mtns? The Whitebark pines (a high-altitude tree species) and other five-needle pines within the parks of these mountain ranges are already being devastated by blister rust. Thanks Kurt.

    rob mutch
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Yes, the weather on the Alaska Peninsula is powerful and not always expected. People, especially pilots, should expect it, and be prepared. National Park Service teams have been stranded in the Aniakchak Caldera for periods longer than a week, due to weather. When you go there you better be self-sufficient.

    Just a technical point about the first report from the park: the Aniakchack Caldera is no where near Katmai, certainly not "in" it. The Aniakchak Caldera is way down the Peninsula from Katmai. The Caldera is inside its own unit of the National Park System, wholly distinct from Katmai National Park or Katmai National Preserve. NPS people sometimes allow their own administrative systems -- the park superintendent of Katmai National Park, Katmai National Preserve and the Alagnak Wild River also manages the two park units at Aniakchak, and entirely different kind of place. Similarly, NPS people refer to the battlefields of Fredericksburg and of Spottsylvania as "Fred-Spot" even though these two battles happened at entirely different points in the Civil War, and the Home of Franklin Roosevelt, and the Vanderbilt mansion, together with another NPS unit, are routinely referred to as "Ro-Va," homogenizing the places, although hopefully not also the distinctive significance of the areas.

    The extreme of this homogenizing the meaning of national parks is Speaker Pelosi's proposal to bundle up all the distinctive park units around Golden Gate into one "national park(s)" [sic] designation.

    Let us hope the park staff at Katmai realize Aniakchak National Monument, Aniakchak National Preserve and Aniakchak National Wild River were each established for their own, entirely distinct, purposes. Nothing to do with the units at Katmai, other than the managers.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Good additions, Kirby. I thought about Hurricane Ridge. Definitely a great place to get the lay of the land.

  • National Geographic Magazine Revisits Yellowstone National Park's Supervolcano   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Aren't you glad I pointed it out to you?

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Brian, I'm not sure what you mean by town practices. Could you expand on that a little?

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    If he keeps treating them "like a big dog", sooner or later one of them is going to treat him like a disposable chew toy.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I'll take this as an invitation to add to the list:

    Wind Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Standing at the rim near the mouth of this deep and narrow canyon, you look out over the wilderness of the northwest corner of the park's southern unit. The Little Missouri River meanders through scrublands filled with bison and pronghorn. Come here at dawn for a surreal experience.

    Pyramid Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. After a steep climb through birch-maple forest on the back of a perched dune, you emerge on a flat summit with the vast blue of Lake Michigan suddenly filling your vision. 500 feet below and about 10 miles out is the park's wilderness area, North Manitou Island.

    Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. 360 degree views. Glacier filled valleys, elk-filled fields, snow-capped mountains, the town of Port Angeles, the Straight of Juan de Fuca....you can see everything from up there.

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Anyone who advocates "wacking" a bear is wacko. I do not think of brown bears as "savage, man-eating carnivores" but I have a great deal of respect for their potential to do some serious harm when they feel threatened. Your guide is an example of the arrogance and ignorance that can lead to tragic results to both bears and humans.

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Maybe so, Fred, but I'm not sure I'd want to get close enough to a bear -- black, brown, grizzly, or polar -- to smack it on the nose!

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    When I was in Alaska last year, we saw several grizzlies (called "brown bears" up there). Our guide said that he often had to "holler at them" and "whack them over the head" to get them to leave the fishermen alone. He said, "you just need to treat them like a big dog." I thought that sounded like a foolish way to handle savage, man-eating carnivores, but he said it worked. Maybe the punch to the nose isn't all that bad an idea.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The other shoe is a pair of papers by van Mantgem et al. (Ecology Letters10:909-916 (2007); Science 323:521-524 (2009)) showing that from Sequoia NP to Yosemite NP, over the past 20-30 years, per tree per year mortality rates have roughly doubled (that's what's referenced in the first paragraph of your excerpt).

    Part of increased mortality is _because_ there are more small trees (small trees die at much higher rates than big trees, and fire suppression lets many more saplings become small trees rather than being killed as seedlings & saplings), but part is less soil moisture to go around even if the densities stayed the same.

    One sobering implication is that even with increased controlled burns (to thin the medium trees and thus reduce the competition for water), it will take centuries to get back to the numbers of large trees found even 100 years ago. And, even with shifts in species ranges (e.g., those central Sierra species growing by Lassen or into Oregon), there won't be really big trees. Locations with favorable climate when the tree is an establishing sedling & sapling won't still be favorable by the time the tree might get large.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Releases Renderings of New Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Thanks for the correction, Heather. So noted.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Releases Renderings of New Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    As the curator of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, I need to inform you that there is a MAJOR error in this report. DNM collections has NOT been moved to a facility in Vernal, UT. The joint state-federal facility you speak of has not even been built yet! This project has been postponed several times because the federal funding for it has not come through yet.

    Heather Finlayson
    Curator of Collections
    Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
    Vernal, UT 84078

  • Vandals Remove Fencing That Was Protecting Turtle Nest at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The turtle nest is in an area closed to ORV traffic. The NPS announced with the closure that their was a set of footprints and canine prints in the closure area...a SMALL addition to this article that the author overlooked.

  • Historic Lighthouse Aids in Rescue at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Lake Superior often doesn't get the respect it deserves from recreationists. I'm not saying any of these folks were ill-prepared (except, perhaps the guide service that should have had more guides for a 19 boat group), but it's fairly common for people to think "lake" and decide boating or kayaking there should be a walk in the park. Apparently not enough people listen to Gordon Lightfoot songs. If Superior can take out a 30,000 ton iron ore freighter, it can swallow a kayak in the blink of an eye.

    I've had several friends run into trouble in the channels between the Apostles and between the islands and mainland. A lot of unpredictable waves out there. When I was in college in Ashland, a couple friends of mine decided they were going to go pole rafting on a big chunk of floating ice off the Bayfield shore. To make a long story short, it's amazing how many kids actually survive college to tell the stories later! (Yes, they managed to self-rescue without USCG assistance.)

    We're going kayaking in the Apostles next summer. Hopefully we won't get a write-up on Traveler.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Whoa, Anon. Referring to an entire mountain as a peak is a practice as common as dirt. If you really want to avoid confusion when referring to the very top of the mountain, use the word summit.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    "Two of the kids stopped to take a rest, the slide occurred. One of the kids died on the peak, another little girl was injured. And then the last child was fine.”
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Kudo's to park Superintendent Darlene Koontz for adding confusion to a story that should be pretty straightforward. How in the blazes could the little boy have died of a rock slide if he was "on the peak"? He was obviously somewhere on the trail between the peak and the parking lot for that to have happened.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    One sentence is essential in your article: the mountain is barren and there is no vegetation to stabilize the flanks. I climbed Lassen Peak last year and I noticed some huge breadcrust bombs above the trail to the summit. Heavy rains or a slight earthquake may destabilize them. One should not forget Lassen is an active volcano (The last eruption occurred between 1914 and 1917). Besides, park authorities are right to ask hikers to keep to the footpath. Taking short cuts contributes to cause landslides that can become tragic.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    i am very saddened to hear this news. my brother in law and i just hiked this trail about five days ago. there were two snow fields we crossed which looked a touch treacherous, but otherwise, it was smooth sailing for us. i am very sorry for the family.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    This dosen't have much to due with the terrible idea of scenic flights at any Park, but I have to agree with Frank C. about monopoly concessions. In addition to the tiny fees paid to the government, often the facilities are property of the NPS, which picks up most of the maintenance tab. The infrequent renewals tend to breed overly cosy concession managers and Park managers, a very powerful bloc in planning & policy affecting both the visitor experience and the economy of rural gateway communities.

    A couple examples from Mount Rainier: The Paradise mass transit system leaves from one concessionaire and delivers you to another, while bypassing most local businesses. Clients of lodging and climbing concessions had access during the six-month 'flood' closure of 2007, while the public was totally excluded, even from hiking across the boundary.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    How in the hell can we relegate illegal mountain biking in the national parks when we can't even curtail illegal wildlife poaching, or stop drug pushers from instilling meth labs and from growing marijuana. We need more crises intervention across the board to stop this illegal activity. Were ----ing the parks big time folks. Say, Ray and Random Walker...your my pack backing buddies in spirit. Love your mountain zest for life.

    [This comment was edited to remove an offensive remark]

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Frank and Anonymous,

    Did you guys miss the memo on condescension?

    Kurt, I did not get a memo on condescension, but I did get the one on personal attacks and have been avoiding those. I assure you that any condescension readers might take from my words are read into them by the reader, and I am endeavoring to write in neutral tones.

    As for putting concession contracts up for bid, that introduces the appearance of competition, but the government remains a middleman, and for periods as long as decades, all other competition is excluded by law from entering the market.