Recent comments

  • Secretary Salazar Wants Everglades National Park to Return to Endangered List   5 years 18 weeks ago

    There are World Cultural Heritage Sites and World Natural Heritage Sites. The Everglades are part of the World Natural Heritage and recognized as such by the UNESCO along with Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Wrangell-St. Elias and Glacier Bay, Redwood NP, Mammoth Cave, Olympic NP, GSM NP, Yosemite, Hawaii Volcanoes NP, Carlsbad Caverns and Glacier NP. The World Cultural Heritage Sites in the US are: Mesa Verde, Independence Hall, Cahokia, La Fortaleza and San Juan in Puerto Rico, Statue of Liberty, Monticello and the Universität of Virginia, Chaco Culture NHP and Taos Pueblo.

  • Secretary Salazar Wants Everglades National Park to Return to Endangered List   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Everglades National Park (ENP) summarily evicted the cultural communities associated with it when it was established many years ago (Native Americans-Gladesmen). The Big Cypress National Preserve right next to ENP has never even had a cultural resource person on staff. Why would anyone support ENP or any US National Park as a heritage site? Why the Secretary of Interior would support any place managed by NPS as a heritage site is beyond me. Whenever a National Park has been set up in America the first thing they plan is the removal and destruction of local cultures formally associated with the Park in question in order to make way for the NPS newly invented history and interpretation (propoganda). One wouldn't think NPS doesn't even know there is Directors Order 28 mandating them to protect ethnographic/ cultural communities. The largest benefit so far to come with Everglades Restoration in print is that an additional 2 feet of water will be STORED there in the future. That will be controlled with pumps that I don't believe are too NATURAL.
    Mr. Salazar is obviously a political appointee with little if any environmental or cultural professional training in his background.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    For me it was the lack of merit based advancement and too much emphasis on self-promotion and ladder climbing careerism that led me out the door. It was not possible to be a motivated and talented employee and then be advanced according to your talents and capacities. You had to sit and wait for the slugs in front of you that were content to polish a chair with their butts. I remember one chief ranger telling me that I had a good chance for a job once the guy in the current job retired. He said, "he's a short timer with only about six more years till he retires." Oh that's all huh?

    Not an organization that rewards the go getters of this world. For many of the less talented it IS a nice place to wait out the time in tranquil anticipation of a generous retirement package.

    For a humorous look at life in the rank & file my story blog on the NPS might bring a smile to those of you who have slogged through the musty halls of this myopic bureaucracy: www.parkcircus.blogspot.com

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    I have only come across 1 individual who had a problem with her job, and she was in fact a fee booth employee at Cape Hatteras Light house. But as far as the 2 Grand Canyon fee booth employees, they may just have been referring to working in the Grand Canyon in any capacity as their dream job. I have visited many NP sites over the past 20 years and I have always found the rangers in all areas to appear to love what they are doing, but I am sure this survey is not wrong either. I just hope that things improve for everyone.

  • Softness Continues To Be the Story Across National Park Lodging   5 years 18 weeks ago

    The U.S. has passed a historic inflection point. It is unlikely that the days of cheap and easy travel, along with the intensely consumptive lifestyle of the past few decades, will return any time soon - if at all. Rather than trying to resuscitate an economic model that is unsustainable and wasting precious resources and time, it would more productive to begin the process of moving into a less consumptive and more sustainable system.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    The NPS has been in serious decline, some of it almost a free-fall, since its reorganization in 1995. That means almost fourteen years of erosion that will take some years to stop followed by several years of recovery. The good news is that I think the recovery may be underway, but I'm not sure how long it can be sustained. The economy, already large and increasing entitlements in the federal budget, and the potential for another reorganization or consolidation all threaten the Service. That doesn't mean we can't find bright spots. If there is much satisfaction out there, I would expect to find it in the parks where the idea of being "paid in sunsets," especially in the crown jewel parks and the West, is still very much alive. The reality is that the NPS is now much more than the lean, male ranger riding off into the Sierra alpenglow. Fewer and fewer employees get to work the so-called "dream" jobs. That "old" NPS eroded with the increasing crush of specialization, regulation and compliance that affected the organization dating from the late '60s, and with the Yosemite riot in 1970 that forced the Service to reexamine the park ranger concept.

    Also, we should remember that all of what I mentioned above occurred at a time when the Service was marginally funded at the field level and undergoing rapid national expansion, both physical and ideological. It wasn't until the mid-'90s that we got several park rangers off food stamps by paying them a living wage. Then the Service proceeded to repair itself even though it wasn't broken. Several regional offices and centers paid dearly and several folks have the scars - and settlements - to prove it.

    Today, the NPS has to own up to the fact, then convince Congress, that it is grossly overextended in terms of mission and facilities. Its central office experts often work at least one or two pay grades below their counterparts in other federal agencies. That needs to change in order to compete for expert employees. Its interpretive mission is now viewed through a politically correct, multicultural lens where moral equivalency sets a stage for visitors to reach their own conclusions. And, hopefully, narcissism and a host of non-merit factors no longer determine selections as they once did until recently in at least one regional office.

    Indeed, repairing and restoring the NPS into even a mediocre place to work will be a serious challenge. I, for one, am glad that I'm out of it. I really love the park idea and am proud of my contributions to the mission over a long career. The NPS was a calling to me; however, it is no longer the noble organization I knew and loved and I have directed my children to avoid it as a career. Instead, I have encouraged them to follow the money, then volunteer because those folks really are the ones with the "dream" jobs.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    We rangers love our jobs - the actual job part and we won't tell a visitor we hate it (even if we did). The hard part is that mgmt doesn't care about seasonals, treats us like we are worthless and half the time won't bother to learn our names. Most of us aren't valued from within. As this story suggests, if my supervisor actually showed interest in me and my duties that would help a ton. Living conditions are poor at best and there is no training, incentives, or even opportunities to move up and stay with the agency. It's practically impossible to have a family and be in the service anymore.

    I have been with the NPS for almost 10 years and I have seen many great rangers move on because of these reasons. We are filling positions with retired folks and vets - people that have had horrible jobs in the private sector - of course they love the NPS. They see it as a vacation, not a career. They don't have families and bills to worry about. I believe deeply in the mission and have struggled with all my heart and passion over the years to see it through. I have tried endlessly to get a perm job only to have nepotism, vet status and the glorious SKEP program move people ahead of me. You wonder why morale is low amonst the core career people....

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    ...how seasonals are treated...yada, yada, yada...

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Terry, those kids were high on gas fumes. I don't know one out of hundreds of fee rangers I've ever worked with during my ten seasons who said working the fee booth is a "dream job". And if they weren't high on diesel fumes, then it must have been their first week on the job. Or they were just lying to the public, which is pretty much required of them on a daily basis.

    Anyway, Kurt, isn't this story a re-run?

    The NPS sucks and it's a horrible agency to work for...yada, yada, yada....nepotism...yada, yada, yada...cronyism...yada, yada, yada...

  • Softness Continues To Be the Story Across National Park Lodging   5 years 18 weeks ago

    The credit bubble has burst. The Fed inflated prices through its easy credit policy; there's tremendous downward pressure on prices, but our government keeps interfering and trying to prop up an unsustainable bubble. Stories about the "softness" of concessionaires' profit will continue for the next few years, especially after the bulk of the stimulus funds hit during the next fiscal year. Inflation will keep prices high and price all but the elite out of our national parks. Hopefully, that's as bad as it'll get and our government won't borrow and spend us into hyperinflation; things are not so great in Zimbabwe.

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Most people think that bears are the most dangerous in Yellowstone. Bison are the most dangerous. When my wife and I were in Yellowstone NP in June, 2000, there was an exhibit in the Canyon area -- I think at the visitor center -- about bison and the danger they pose. There was a video showing people being tossed in the air as if they were pillows. A photograph showed the front of Chevrolet Suburban pushed in as if the front were made of aluminum foil. Bison can easily run 30 miles per hour and can attain it quickly, a speed far faster than than any human can run.

    It is up to people to be aware of the dangers that animals pose, not the other way around. If a person does not care to take precautions or believes that the animals should give way to humans, visiting a zoo would be more appropriate.

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 18 weeks ago

    You definitely have a point, Clint. Many people have little understanding or appreciation for the fact that wild animals are truly wild, and that they can seriously hurt or even kill you If you want to see a classic example of this go to Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. It is a constant struggle to convince visitors not to approach bears and to take precautions not to attract them.

    By the way, based on my experiences, moose are probably more dangerous than bears.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    I am noticing frequent problems accessing NPT in recent days, sometimes briefly, some lasting. As I submitted a commented a few minutes ago, I got the dreaded "Server Not Available" error, and my post was null-filed. After several more failures, the site came up again.

    Haven't seen this before on NPT, and all other web-activities continue normally.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    My son and I were at Yellowstone and Grand Teton two weeks ago and every ranger and NPS employee we had contact with had wonderful attitudes and were extremely friendly and sure seemed as though they loved their jobs. Our first night at Yellowstone we went to the campfire program at Bridge Bay Campground. It was presented by a male and female ranger who were husband and wife. They explained that they had both quit their jobs at the same time to accept ranger positions at Yellowstone. They made a point of explaining how happy they were to have made that choice.

    Maybe there are areas within the NPS that are more unpleasant to work at than others, but we sure did not get that impression from what we saw at Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Like my son said when I asked him if he noticed how friendly the employees were..."You would be friendly too if you got to live and work around here".

    Stephen Hicks

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 18 weeks ago

    I'm sure the survey is correct but on a recent trip to Grand Canyon North Rim and Cedar Breaks parks I talked to two NPS employees who said this was their 'dream job'. And they were both working the fee stations at the time. One had been laid off in Ga. and the other had been a nurse. Both thought they now had the best job in the world.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 8: Well, It's Kinda Oval   5 years 18 weeks ago

    No, not angry at all. I'm afraid I wouldn't have guessed the right park anyway. Congrats to tehoma.

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 18 weeks ago

    By the by, the bison in that story did have a reason. It felt threatened by all those people. The park rules clearly state: 100 yards from wolves and bears, and 25 yards for all other large animals. What were the father and daughter doing 15 feet from this bull bison? My guess is that rangers who see this kind of stupidity day in and day out, the last thing they want to do is make the animal suffer for it.

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 18 weeks ago

    R: Scaring the bison away was likely the safe thing to do. If that shot in the head was anything less than perfectly placed, a wounded bison would have been far more dangerous. Besides, if rangers shot animals every time some idiot did something stupid, soon there wouldn't be any animals left in the park! I remember once over by the lake there was this lady that got too close to a grizzly bear and the bear chased after her. When the rangers arrived we all showed pictures and video of how close the lady had gotten. The ranger said, "Good for the bear" for chasing her, but also said that if we didn't have pictures and video the bear probably would have been put down. Sad.

  • Is Senator Feinstein Speaking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth on National Park Matters?   5 years 18 weeks ago

    As far as the article showing the two sides of a senator I will say environmentalist groups do the same every time they try and shut a coal plant they go and would then sue to not allow a wind farm on the same lot.

    I only wish we had politicians with ... (her guts) ... on the east coast to have prevented the issues happening on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

    Editor's note: This comment was edited to remove some rather colorful vernacular.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 8: Well, It's Kinda Oval   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Thunder egg!

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Regarding the story from robyninyellowstone linked above. The rogue bison was 15 feet from a father and young daughter after it had run into and threatened about 50 people for no apparent reason. Given the unpredictable behavior of this bison, and the immenent danger to two individuals who had not provoked the bison, why in the heck did the ranger not shoot the bison in the head instead of shooting into the ground? As far as I'm concerned, the gun shot could have just as well startled it into charging the two innocents. Have the rangers been conditioned to put the life of a rogue bison on the same pedestal as a father and young daughter who did notheing to provoke the bison?

  • Is Senator Feinstein Speaking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth on National Park Matters?   5 years 18 weeks ago

    I know Point Reyes NS well. Whether you designate it wilderness or not, it will still be there. If the only reason to designate it wilderness is to remove the oyster farm, it does not seem justified. Wilderness designation for a place that is well managed already is silly. It is a feather in their cap, but the public suffers from such designation, as the list of prohibitive acts grows with such designation. Management is the key. Let the oyster farm continue until you can get the funds to restore the area, but don't designate it wilderness unless you have a management problem that only such designation will correct. This is not that situation.

  • Don’t Do This with Your Helicopter   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Well considering that this time he was handcuffed and hauled to the hooskow...it was he with his hands tied behind his back. Hard to thumb your nose in that circumstance. Which - it appears - was completely appropriate. When you are that wealthy some tickets really have no effect. Maybe this time the4 Magistrate will apply a little learnin'?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 8: Well, It's Kinda Oval   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Obviously we're going to have to dig a little deeper to find images that are more challenging. Come back tomorrow to learn about some of the background of this particular type of bomb.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 8: Well, It's Kinda Oval   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Geez, I didn't even get a chance. Great (well educated) guess tahoma. Well done. Yes, the background (as low depth-of-field as it is) was not Lassen Volcanic NP.

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