Recent comments

  • Plane Missing at Denali National Park and Preserve With Noted Wolf Biologist Aboard   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Gordon Haber has long been a strong advocate for greater protection of the wolves in the Denali area. He never hesitated to call the Park Service to task when he felt it was giving the wolves adequate protection. I certainly hope the search is successful and both the pilot and Gordon are safe. The plane likely has an emergency locator transmitter that should have activated if the plane came down hard. It is a big country, and visually locating something as small as a single engine aircraft can be frustratingly difficult.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Just so you'll know....my son, KCNP employee, former KCNP Ranger, spotted the smoke from their fire and called it in to the searchers. He had been out of the Park the day before on work duties and didn't even know about the missing hikers. He made verbal contact with the group in the steep terrain, advised them to remain in place and that rescue help was on the way. It is the third rescue he has been involved with on Roaring River..all while being paid to do other work. Not every hero gets their deserved applause. Glad these guys are safe.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Thanks for the forum and important dialog here.

    A few observations:

    "There's no comparison between bikes made 20 years ago and those made today," Dave Bull, the Forest Service's director for recreation, minerals, lands, heritage and wilderness in Montana told the Times. "People are better able to get to places they couldn't reach before without hiking. They're pushing further and further."

    And

    "Not only are the latest generation of bikes capable of taking their riders farther and farther into the backcountry, but their arrival, some believe, is out of sync with the wilderness concept."

    This is a motorized argument and is ridiculous to apply it to bicycles. I don't know about you all - but I still generate roughly the same (slightly less with age) amount of horsepower I did 25 years ago and still get to the same middle-of-nowhere locations under my own power regardless of what bicycle I am riding. While what we ride into the woods has changed considerably over the years, the motor of heart, lungs and passion has not. Definitely alot of Bull Speak!

    ###

    “There is a wilderness experience, a truly backcountry experience, that is part of the idea and the concept behind wilderness," says Michael Carroll, associate director of The Wilderness Society's Wilderness Support Center. "It's preserving a landscape that is similar to the landscape that our fathers and their fathers before them were able to experience. It’s hard to argue that that experience has been preserved when you have heavy traffic zipping by on mountain bikes after you’ve spent two days hiking in.”

    What is the goal of a Wilderness designation if not to preserve a LANDSCAPE? So bicyclists ride a 30 mile loop in a day that it takes hikers 3 days to complete - please explain how 30 miles of trail based bicycle travel is more impactful to the LANDSCAPE than hikers who set up camp off trail - usually near a pretty but sensitive meadow, affect wildlife and the ecosystem with cooking and shit in the woods for three days? Does the presence of bicycles really bust your backcountry spiritual chops? What exactly are you protecting? Wilderness designation is not a religion or exclusive holier-than-thou club, it is a land protection tool in a box of Congressional tools that can permanently protect our roadless public lands from mining, logging, new roads, structures and expanded motorized use. A companion designation to Wilderness such as a National Protection Area is a viable and commonsense way to preserve our spectacular public lands as we go forward with the dialog about protecting pristine areas where we have ridden our bicycles for decades without adverse affects to its wilderness (little 'w') character.

    The cycling community is a huge conservation base and want to see our lands permanently protected but the Wilderness or nothing choice leaves us either supporting a bicycle banning protection tool or be opposed to new Wilderness designation. There is a better way. New, socially responsible Wilderness can be supported by the cycling community when it is part of a conservation package that can incorporate boundary adjustments, corridors and companion designations to preserve riding opportunities we've enjoyed for decades without issues. We don't need access to all trails but do want to preserve access to the historically and economically important ones. Bicyclists need to be at the table as responsible partners when the future of these lands are being negotiated.

    ###

    As far as offroad bicycle access in National Parks - not in my wildest singletrack dreams would I want to ride my bike on the sensitive backcountry trails in Yellowstone, for example, but I'd sure support some bicycle access to pedal around the park on old road beds or power line cuts rather than a death defying road rides with Hawaiian shirt wearing, RV driving tourists. People do travel with their bikes and making some bicycle concessions can do nothing but better connect people to their surroundings - is this not the purpose of our National Parks? The modern National Parks were designed with automobile access as a priority but not bicycles?

    Do not forget our cycling roots in National Parks! It's not a new concept or precedent!

    http://www.nrhc.org/history/25thInfantry.html

  • Plane Missing at Denali National Park and Preserve With Noted Wolf Biologist Aboard   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I know Gordon and respect his work as one who looks at things differently than many other biologists. I hope this has a good ending for a man so dedicated to the wolves in Alaska.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I got your point Zeb. There is room for a variety of activities and we should support agency leaders who manage outdoor recreational use accordingly.

    Kurt your anecdote is right on. Some areas draw more people and thus agencies need to aggressively manage the use in those places, but there are plenty just as beautiful spots that practically no one visits. Places where one hiker can run into one mtn biker and neither has had their outdoor experience ruined. In the USFS portions of the Sierra I routinely encounter mtn bikers, hikers, fishermen, and stock users on my favorite trails. Everyone is cheerful. Everyone is apparently enjoying themselves. Everyone is courteously sharing the outdoors. To me the conflicts on the ground appear to be few and far between, if they exist at all.

    imtnbike brings up good points about generational differences. I suspect that some folks are clinging to a mythology about the fight to stop the "loss" of "wilderness." This mythology was instrumental in calling people into action during the environmental struggles leading up to the new millennium. Today, such a black and white, evil vs good vision is probably obsolete. For the future, an updated perspective may be in order.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Thanks for the forum and important dialog here.

    A few observations:

    "There's no comparison between bikes made 20 years ago and those made today," Dave Bull, the Forest Service's director for recreation, minerals, lands, heritage and wilderness in Montana told the Times. "People are better able to get to places they couldn't reach before without hiking. They're pushing further and further."

    And

    "Not only are the latest generation of bikes capable of taking their riders farther and farther into the backcountry, but their arrival, some believe, is out of sync with the wilderness concept."

    This is a motorized argument and is ridiculous to apply it to bicycles. I don't know about you all - but I still generate roughly the same (slightly less with age) amount of horsepower I did 25 years ago and still get to the same middle-of-nowhere locations under my own power regardless of what bicycle I am riding. While what we ride into the woods has changed considerably over the years, the motor of heart, lungs and passion has not. Definitely alot of BULL SPEAK!

    ###

    “There is a wilderness experience, a truly backcountry experience, that is part of the idea and the concept behind wilderness," says Michael Carroll, associate director of The Wilderness Society's Wilderness Support Center. "It's preserving a landscape that is similar to the landscape that our fathers and their fathers before them were able to experience. It’s hard to argue that that experience has been preserved when you have heavy traffic zipping by on mountain bikes after you’ve spent two days hiking in.”

    What is the goal of a Wilderness designation if not to preserve a LANDSCAPE? So bicyclists ride a 30 mile loop in a day that it takes hikers 3 days to complete - please explain how 30 miles of trail based bicycle travel is more impactful to the LANDSCAPE than hikers who set up camp off trail - usually near a pretty but sensitive meadow, affect wildlife and the ecosystem with cooking and shit in the woods for three days? Does the presence of bicycles really bust your backcountry spiritual chops? What exactly are you protecting? Wilderness designation is not a religion or exclusive holier-than-thou club, it is a land protection tool in a box of Congressional tools that can permanently protect our roadless public lands from mining, logging, new roads, structures and expanded motorized use. A companion designation to Wilderness such as a National Protection Area is a viable and commonsense way to preserve our spectacular public lands as we go forward with the dialog about protecting pristine areas where we have ridden our bicycles for decades without adverse affects to its wilderness (little 'w') character.

    The cycling community is a huge conservation base and want to see our lands permanently protected but the Wilderness or nothing choice leaves us either supporting a bicycle banning protection tool or be opposed to new Wilderness designation. There is a better way. New, socially responsible Wilderness can be supported by the cycling community when it is part of a conservation package that can incorporate boundary adjustments, corridors and companion designations to preserve riding opportunities we've enjoyed for decades without issues. We don't need access to all trails but do want to preserve access to the historically and economically important ones. Bicyclists need to be at the table as responsible partners when the future of these lands are being negotiated.

    ###

    As far as offroad bicycle access in National Parks - not in my wildest singletrack dreams would I want to ride my bike on the sensitive backcountry trails in Yellowstone, for example, but I'd sure support some bicycle access to pedal around the park on old road beds or power line cuts rather than a death defying road rides with Hawaiian shirt wearing, RV driving tourists. People do travel with their bikes and making some bicycle concessions can do nothing but better connect people to their surroundings - is this not the purpose of our National Parks? The modern National Parks were designed with automobile access as a priority but not bicycles?

    Do not forget our cycling roots in National Parks! It's not a new concept or precedent!

    http://www.nrhc.org/history/25thInfantry.html

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    $10,000 is nothing in a rescue, that wouldn't even cover the costs of starting up the helicopters. Generally costs are covered by the county in which the subject went missing. The county has the option of charging the county of residence for the missing person, but this doesn't really happen ever. There have been instances where missing persons have been charged, especially if it wasn't their first time. People's families would call, regardless of the cost. What happens is that uninformed people think that SAR is easy and expect them to be there. I'm glad the boys are OK, really, but they got themselves into a bad situation and made some really bad decisions even in the planning stages of their trek.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Just in case you people are not aware, one of these men is a police officer and a iraq vet..both very under paid jobs.. this man has served us as we are now serving him, remeber what comes around goes around.. humans dont turn their back on other humans in need regardles of the cost.. and by the way most search and rescue members are volunteers and as far as the helicopters and so on we dont charge crooks for the use of a helicopter in a police pursuit.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    The big problem with charging for rescues is that you get people who might not consider calling for the rescue if they know they'll be charged. Who's going to call for help from any public service agency if they know they're directly going to be charged for it.

    Various fees and resources go into search and rescue funds - like an insurance premium where the costs are spread out with many people who might need them.

    Of course New Hampshire apparently tried the "charge the rescued party" route and are getting much deserved criticism. They're trying to charge $25,000, which was the cost because they had to import a helicopter from out of state.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-09-23-rescuefee_N.htm?csp=34

    The article notes that some states might charge but have a fairly low cap. If it were only $500 - I wouldn't be phased. Some people might think long and hard if they know they might be charged $10,000.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    My point is that by and large, a few miles from the trailhead there's plenty of room to enjoy some solitude. I don't mind seeing people on the trail either. It's public land after all, so I expect to have to share it. I think that a lot of the push against cyclists is that they somehow impact other perception of their "solitude". That's understandable, but frankly is a really bad argument. Again, if one wants complete solitude, one should buy his/her own piece of land and stay there. Nobody should expect complete solitude on taxpayer funded trails. They're ours to share.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    going hiking in the parks,is quite different then someone breaking into your home,and by the way the park service fees dont cover (folks) that stray from where they are supposed to go...if you want an adventure then pay to get rescued period...

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Why should there be a charge?

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Do you think each person should be sent a bill for every emergency service requested? Say, when someone is breaking into your home and you call the police part of the information you give will be a credit card number so they can charge you for sending police to your house. No credit card, sorry no service.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    they do charge.... it's in the park access fees.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    hope they get out okay,but when are we going to charge for these rescues,i know it must take a lot of resourses to do these things...

  • Flamingo Lodge is No More   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I'm still mourning the loss of Flamingo Lodge. Since I travel alone, I always felt safe going to the lodge when I wanted to visit the Everglades. Staying in the local motels is NOT my favorite experience, though I have done it. The notion that a 30 room hotel will suffice, or that we should stay in "eco-tents" is ludicrous.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    We flew through Gates of the Arctic NP and landed at Summit Lake, above the Arctic Circle. We then hiked for 5 days along the N. Fork of the Koyakuk River on a trailess route. At the Gates of the Arctic itself, we picked up two small rafts and floated for 9 days until we came to Bettles, Alaska, our take out place.

    Total # of people seen: 0
    Total # of grizzly scat: uncountable
    Total # of grizzlies seen: 0
    Total # of fords of the river: numerous
    Total # of aircraft observed: several each day
    Total amount of awesome scenery: endless
    Total days of rain: almost every day
    Total number of times we packed wet tents and other gear: almost every day
    Total amount of fun: immeasurable.

    Rick Smith

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Whether people are on the trails when you're on them is beside the point. If you went back there on your bike and ran into dozens of other users how would that have affected your perspective?

    Isn't part of the beauty of getting into the backcountry the solitude that exists there? Last September I spent five days canoeing Yellowstone Lake with two friends. We never encountered another party -- just wolves, grizz, bald eagles and sandhill cranes. I thought it was wonderful. This past September I took several hikes in Yosemite, and ran into other groups on each of them. It was great seeing people out on the trail enjoying the park, but it wasn't the same experience I had in Yellowstone.

    If I'm inferring your point correctly, Zeb, it's that the trails appear empty and so why shouldn't bikers be able to use them. I would reply that the "snapshot moment" you experienced didn't necessarily demonstrate that the trails are not been used, and at the same time it offered you the type of experience you were seeking. Didn't you enjoy it more having the trail to yourself than jockeying with others, be they on foot, bike, or horse?

    As I indicated earlier, I'm working on a story regarding how Americans are using the outdoors. I think we'll all find the findings interesting, and hopefully it will lead to further dialog on what can be done to see that all groups can achieve the experiences they're seeking.

  • On the Run: Racers See Four National Parks on Two Feet in One Day   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Cheryl, you are quite welcome. Congratulations to you and all of the race committee for a most enjoyable event! It was a very fun day, and the focus on keeping it green was most appreciated. I'm already looking forward to next year!

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 23 weeks ago

    This is indeed a fairly crazy debate. I've ridden around the San Francisco quite a bit. Often, a few miles from the trailheard, I hardly see another user, and that's in the midst of a huge metropolis with millions of people. I can't imagine that there are many people milling around in the backcountry in the middle of nowhere.

  • On the Run: Racers See Four National Parks on Two Feet in One Day   5 years 23 weeks ago

    As part of the race committee too, GoGreenGals was inspired that Freedom's Run adopted a green program in its inaugural year. As the marathon grows we hope to encourage our motto "Keep the pace, Reduce the footprint." When we become aware of the natural beauty around us; stewardship, conservation, and eco awareness are soon to follow. http://www.freedomsrun.org/GoGreen.aspx
    Congrats to all of the participants!

  • Pruning the Parks: Castle Pinckney National Monument (1933-1956)   5 years 23 weeks ago

    RoadRanger, there were just too damn many Charles Pinckneys for my feeble neural networks to process. Let's give this thing a rest, OK? Well, maybe not yet. Wasn't the Charles Pinckney of Charles Pinckney National Historic Site the first cousin once removed of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney? BTW, thanks for not pointing out my misspelling of the latter's name in the article.

  • Winter Reaches the High Country Of Yosemite National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Beautiful picture! We used to live in Merced ('87-"90) and would visit often. Moved back to WNY and still miss Yosemite very much.Last there in 2008 for my daughters wedding.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I'd note that there are historical reports of an effort to turn the Lake Tahoe Basin (California and Nevada) into a national park between 1915 and 1925. Several California legislators tried to push that through. That was long before there was any large scale development. There were a few scattered private resorts in the area. It would have been relatively easy and most of the area was (still is) federal land.

    Right now it would next to impossible to turn the area into a national park. There are just way too many people living there now. Any move to turn over the Forest Service lands to the NPS would be shot down by the locals.

  • Pruning the Parks: Castle Pinckney National Monument (1933-1956)   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I have been victimized by the same curse. Charles Pinckney's mother is Frances Brewton Pinckney. Eliza Lucas Pinckney was the mother of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. My apologies for not proofing more carefully. I am now ready to move on to another topic, quickly.