Recent comments

  • Poaching Charges Pending In Case of Majestic Bull Elk Killed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    My son is a ranger at OVC in NC very upset about this act of senseless killing. I hope the park takes his weapon, vehicle and fines him the max plus time in jail!

  • Poaching Charges Pending In Case of Majestic Bull Elk Killed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    B. Grant, kinda offended by your comment, i consider myself a "redneck" and have never poached any animal and respect our parks and wildlife.don't put all in the same boat,an elk is an animal i have alot of respect for and has fed me many times. keep your perspective my friend.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: How Do You Cook Your Food in a National Park's Backcountry?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Funny that they do not and advertise that theirs is best for cold weather.
    Which would mean it has a higher percentage of propane than the others?

    MSR Iso Pro 80/20 isobutane/propane
    Brunton Brutane 80/20 isobutane/propane
    Snow Peak Gigapower 65/35 isobutane/propane
    Primus Powergas 25/25/50 propane/isobutane/butane
    Coleman 70/30 butane/propane
    JetBoil Jetpower ??/?? propane/isobutane

    Of course at temps above 40~45F this would not matter much though during high altitude and/or winter things change.
    Butane will vaporise, lose pressure at 30F, isobutane at about 10F, and propane at -40F or so...

    I advise my customers to purchase Snow Peaks Gigapower canisters for their winter adventures.

    Just sayin.. :-)

  • Firefighter's Death Underscores Need For Promise Of Swift Evacuation From Fire Lines   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I'm a semi retired firefighter who worked on the Lime Complex just to the south of the Iron Complex where Andy Palmer died. I recently read the investigation report and was saddened by the "rescue" that occurred, much less the chain of events leading to the accident. I have ground and aerial fire supervision experience through a 36+ year career. One of the statements made over and over again is "Never base a plan of action based on aerial support". That is for firefighting.
    Injuries at an incident often become an "incident within the incident" and require someone to take charge of the new event. The rescue response in this case was an event without clear management. You can make a statement that correlates to my previous statement about not depending on aerial support to make a suppression plan work and be safe that says "never wait for a rescue helicopter if other means of transport are available". Personnel on this incident became focused on using a helicopter and no one up the chain of command was totally in charge and asked for alternatives if the helicopter was delayed or unable to respond. Ground transport and aerial transport can be coordinated to make a transfer.
    Many problems in decision making are detailed in the report, the most striking fact is that ground transport to a medical facility (rural community hospital with a basic emergency room, not a trauma center) would have taken half and hour while it took at least an hour and a half for a helicopter to arrive at scene. Advanced Life Support additional to the ambulance's Paramedic care could have been provided at the hospital and the next phase of transport, either ground or air, would have been based on their findings and the flyable weather. If readers haven't read the report, please take the time to do so. It can be found at the National Park Service's Fire and Aviation management web page: www.nps.gov/fire/fire/fir_wil_fatality_investigation_dc.cfm
    Canada Guys comments are wonderfully simplistic and not germane to this sad event. While fire suppression policies of the past have affected our forest ecosystems, as have population growth, weather change, and public perspective; this event is not a forum to debate fire policy.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: How Do You Cook Your Food in a National Park's Backcountry?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Random Walker:

    Does anybody know the Iso-butane / Propane percentages in Jetboils Jetpower canisters?
    I use a first generation MSR Whisperlite International where ever I go.

    Not sure. They don't list or publish it. All it says is that it's an isobutane/propane mix. If I were to guess, probably somewhere around 80/20%. Anything with more propane would require a higher can thickness for safety reasons. If it's warm enough straight butane might even work although isobutane has better cold temp performance than butane.

    It's a standard Lindal valve. Pretty much any of them should work. Jetboil has theirs made in South Korea. There's probably nothing special about theirs other than the tiny size - which fits in the cup. About the only other canister I know that's as tiny (110g) is from Snow Peak. I would think that their canister base is designed to work with theirs and the larger 220+ gram canisters. Any Lindal valve canister from Snow Peak, MSR, Primus, Coleman, or Brunton should work. I've used Snow Peak and Brunton canisters interchangeably with my Snow Peak GigaPower and MSR Pocket Rocket stoves.

  • Poaching Charges Pending In Case of Majestic Bull Elk Killed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    This breaks my heart and makes me mad as fire at the same time. Rednecks like him give all hunters a bad name. You cannot replace an animal like that. How senseless and selfish...

  • Traveler's Gear Box: How Do You Cook Your Food in a National Park's Backcountry?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Exothermic reaction to water while in a self contained pouch/box.

    Are they full of calcium chloride pellets?

    Hmmm. Just looked it up. Magnesium, Sodium, and Iron. Sounds like the same general composition of the self-heating hand-warmers.

  • Padre Island National Seashore: Wintering Grounds For Sandhill Cranes   5 years 24 weeks ago

    We spend October here in southern Michigan watching the cranes gather before taking off for parts unknown. Several thousand usually gather at an Audubon-owned sanctuary just south of where I live. Last year we went canoeing on the Weeki Wachee River in Florida in February. Around one of the bends we almost floated right into a pair of sandhills. I asked them if we knew them from the past October at the Baker sanctuary. Their lack of response either indicates that cranes don't speak English or they migrated from somewhere else.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: How Do You Cook Your Food in a National Park's Backcountry?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    You can always go the way of an AT hiker and use a soda can, alcohol, and tent stakes to cook.

    Ranger Holly

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   5 years 24 weeks ago

    The ground-nesting birds at Cape Hatteras will not tolerate any more pressure, indigenous or imported. Having the mere dozen nesting Piping Plovers getting their eggs predated or crushed demands extraordinary measures. Restrictions will be reversed in time if we all cooperate.

  • National Park Service Chastized For Poor Cultural Resource Oversight   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I am a National Park Service Curator, and have been for the past 8-1/2 years. Prior to that I worked in the private sector in museum collections management for 20 years. I can tell you that while the private museum sector has its own set of woes, the NPS does not and has not for a long time, adequately staffed the cultural resource / museum management sector in the parks. For too long, professional curators and collections managers were not part of the NPS "family", and even now, the jobs we take so seriously as stewards of our nation's cultural heritage, are not really understood in the park management system. The workload is tremendous, the support given in terms of dollars, adequate staff, and just plain recognition, is minimal. I am well aware that there is a segment of the population that loves it when government employees complain. That is not my point. Please look beyond the numbers of programs and statistics that don't measure up. There is a bunch of very hard-working and dedicated people that I call my colleagues. We are charged with upholding standards of collections care and care for our historic structures and landscapes. Regionally based programs have been decimated, yes. But the parks, themselves, are not adquately staffed.

    Like others who have written here, I also take care of my family's collections: letters, photos, furnishings, glass and ceramics; memories all. The stories are what ties them all together, what gives them real meaning. Likewise the museum collections of the NPS: if there was enough time and people to properly research and document these wonderful collections, these historic structures and landscapes, these archeological remains, we would be setting the standard not only in terms of making policy, but in setting example. I hope that I am able to make a positive difference at my park. I go to work with that in mind every day. I hope that better days are coming for all cultural resources programs in the Park Service.

  • Check Out The Traveler's Sponsors!   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Yeah, what Owen said. Keep up the good work.

  • Newspaper Turns Back the Calendar and Calls for "Buffalo Commons National Park" in Kansas   5 years 24 weeks ago

    A national park designation could reframe the way people otherwise see the expanse. It's an interesting idea.

  • Padre Island National Seashore: Wintering Grounds For Sandhill Cranes   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Beautiful place. Beautiful birds. Why are they still being hunted in Texas??

    See:

    http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/season/waterfowl/crane_limits/

  • Check Out The Traveler's Sponsors!   5 years 24 weeks ago

    It's seems to me that National Parks and Conservation Association would be a potential future sponsor. Or, maybe they see NPT as competition?

    Thank you for the great service you provide to the rest of us and our parks.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Traveler's Checklist: Death Valley National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I live in Wisconsin, but have been to Death Valley, three times..I did go to the race track..whew..20 miles, one way in first gear..so there and back was a day trip, and not much to see, you do need or should have a all wheel drive with lots of room underneat..I have a 450K+ mile Volvo, it made it, but was not happy with me. I love Death Valley and have been to Scotty's castle a couple time..great tours with era clothes on the tour guide. Staying at Furnace Creek was affordable, barely. But walking in the desert, remember..the desert is alive at night.ha. I will go back and tour more..maybe Barker Ranch might be interesting (house burned though...grrr).

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I used to feel the way many seem to until I learned deer biology. There are actually more deer (millions more) now than there were historically. Yes, it is our fault. Deer are made for open areas and by converting all the forests into farm we created prime food sources and the populations exploded. Added to that we took away the predators. Lots of food + no control = lots and lots of deer. I wish we could bring back predators. I for one would love to see wolves and mountain lions running around, but in the heavily populated east that just isn't possible. So we do need some sort of control because the deer are eating everything and starving in the winters. I would rather see a deer shot and the meat donated than watch it slowly starve to death. And it's rare for a coyote to take down a full-grown deer, the hunt small game, so I do not see them as a good means of control.

    Ranger Holly

  • Traveler's Checklist: Death Valley National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I finally made it out to the Racetrack just a few weeks ago and it's the only place I've been to in the national parks that I found the drive not worth it. It wasn't that the area wasn't fascinating, it was the fact that people have destroyed it. Most of the rocks have been stolen and I was just so sad to find a unique area being destroyed by people.

    Ranger Holly

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Here are some interesting facts, or key points in the background of all this:

    1. The National Park Service was pushed into this deer reduction thing by the local Congressman.

    2. The park service had no basis for eliminating deer, because there was no described park value, based in research or planning, that was at risk because of the deer. But the Congressman said local people complained about potentially hitting deer while driving, and deer eating people's gardens.

    3. NPS also raised concerns that the public who was complaining were not necessarily the whole public. NPS told the congressman that he could expect, if the NPS was pushed to kill deer, a huge outcry among people who currently were not included in the discussion.

    The park service also raised the point that the population of deer was high throughout the suburban area, and would continue high whether or not deer were all killed off in this very small park.

    The park service pointed out that no one was seeking deer hunting on all the deer habitat in the residential areas all around the park.

    The park service pointed out that the park would be better off, as a park, if the state road through the park were closed to commuter traffic anyway, and the congressman agreed to look into that, but still wanted a deer hunt, because of local pressure. The congressman produced deer experts who claimed that, even if deer populations outside the park were high, and park populations reduced or eliminated, the large populations of deer WOULD NOT move into this tiny national park. . . . .

    NPS was informed that deer birth control would not be sufficiently effective, and that actually reestablishing the original predator-prey relationship was not what the congressman wanted. He wanted the park service to say they were recapitulating historical or 'natural' deer population levels, as a means to allow the NPS to kill the deer unnaturally.

    4. But the congressman, with threatened legislative language and squeezing other parts of the park budget, cornered the park service into agreeing to pursue STUDIES. The idea from the congressman was to established some element of the landscape, that was being threatened by deer, as a park-value. Then, by demonstrating the newly demonstrated park value was being compromised by deer, the NPS could eliminate the deer.

    5. The congressman was tossed out by his constituents in the next election.

    6. Once started, just as if this was serious 'science' or 'resource management," the NPS continued to work on this thing, just as if it was a real issue of concern to the National Park System.

    7. The 'other' public, waking up to the special-interest pressure, are horrified that the NPS is preparing to shoot deer, just as the NPS told the congressman would happen once this became real.

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 24 weeks ago

    There are some interesting perspectives in this thread. I'm originally from the area and when I go home, the effects of an increasing deer herd are quite obvious. There is very little understory and a distinct browse line in the local forest patches. The notion that the local coyote population is going to control the herd size is misguided. As far as I know, there isn't a sizable coyote population in the area and PA coyotes are not typically big enough to bring down deer. If proactive measures are not taken to reduce the herd size, it will decline, in potentially a massive and ugly die-off.

  • Firefighter's Death Underscores Need For Promise Of Swift Evacuation From Fire Lines   5 years 24 weeks ago


    Forests fires are a natural event. They are beneficial for forests and help to create a diversity of ecosystems. The traditional approach of fighting all fires without reservation has been wrong and misguided. It damages the environment, costs more, and risks more lives. Fortunately many scientists and fire fighters are now changing their approach. Smokey Bear's time is over.

    http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/11/forest-fire-suppression.html

  • Firefighter's Death Underscores Need For Promise Of Swift Evacuation From Fire Lines   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Great story, Kurt. I just read about him--maybe it was in "The Big Burn"? I don't remember, but I read a lot of fire stories. Anyway, this was a sad and compelling story, and you told it well. Thanks.

  • Newspaper Turns Back the Calendar and Calls for "Buffalo Commons National Park" in Kansas   5 years 24 weeks ago

    @ Anon: Your reservations about keeping these animals confined to the proposed park are well founded. If you don't confine bison, they will roam far and wide, and inevitably into places where they aren't wanted. Installing and maintaining perimeter fencing for a park of that size has just got to be staggeringly expensive. Are there cheaper alternatives? And while we're raising big questions, let's address the not-inconsequential matter of how the population is to be maintained in a healthy condition at something approximating ideal size. Roundups for culling? Hunting? Reintroduce the natural predators? (That would mean translocating wolves and plains grizzlies to the park -- not exactly the sort of company that Kansas cattlemen and farmers want to keep. Don't worry about the mountain lions; they'll be there in a flash if they're not there already.) Don't get me wrong, I'm a big booster of the Buffalo Commons National Park concept in broad outline, even if I do realize that bringing it into existence is a vastly more complicated proposition than most people seem to appreciate. BTW, let's consider whether it might be possible (I think not) to scrub the term "buffalo" out of the name of the proposed park. These are bison we're talking about, darn it.

  • Visiting National Parks by Train – Central and Western U.S.   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I like your article, it has lots of helpful info. However I'm not sure why you wouldn't use a company ..... they plan everything for you.

    This comment was edited to remove a plug for a specific rail-trip planning company. As was mentioned high up in the story, there are many companies that can plan a trip by rail for you. You can find them by Googling them. This story was more aimed at readers who like to put their own trips together. -- Ed.

  • Newspaper Turns Back the Calendar and Calls for "Buffalo Commons National Park" in Kansas   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Admirable idea and as a national park/western history/western nature buff, I find it exciting. BUT....can such a large herd actually be supported with the natural resources available in the proposed area? The giant herds DID migrate. Placing them in one area seems a bit dicey for their own seasonal survival? Perhaps I'm wrong, but it's the first thing that came to mind.