Recent comments

  • Staying Safe and How Not to Become A SAR Statistic in the National Park System   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Most of the SAR missions at Gateway NRA are related to their lifeguarded beachs and high urban visitation.....

  • Kurt’s Still on the Yampa, and He Wishes We Were There Too   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Omar: If you zoom in on the Google map site and switch to the terrain display, you will see, that the message was sent from a spot high in the mountains over the river. So Kurt did not send it from camp but from a hike.

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Dear anon: your point is?

    I have encountered a black bear with two cubs in a distance of less than 15 feet. I have to admit though, that it happened just across the border in Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada, so US gun laws did not apply anyway. I did not carry any weapon, not even pepper spray, and it took place close to developed areas while I was on an evening stroll. There was no aggression involved, just an accidental encounter on the trail that was by far too close for my taste. I retreated talking softly so fast that I don't even have a picture. The ranger I met in the valley minutes later told me that she and her cubs were well known and not aggressive at all.

    So what is your point about this issue? Are you in favor of carrying firearms in National Parks? And what good would that have done in my case? A bear with cubs coming out of the vegetation less than 15 feet away from you: If she is aggressive you have already lost. No way you can get any weapon out and use it in time. And what good would a hand gun do against a charging bear anyway?

  • Yampa River, Lifeblood To Dinosaur National Monument, Eyed for Water Diversions   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Unfortunately there are no humpback chubs in Yampa River anymore - not for some 50 years. The only known population is in the Little Colorado River and some small parts of Colorado River near the confluence within Grand Canyon National Park. The Yampa River was part of the historical habitat of the humpback chub, but it became locally extinct since.

    FWS data sheet: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/life_histories/E000.html

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    From Xanterra's 2005 annual report:

    Reduced water consumption from 17,308,000 to 14,741,2000 [sic]. This is a 15% reduction from 2004 to 2005. Improvements made: - Reduced lawn watering by reverting to natural landscaping. - Continued use and retrofitting of low flow showers, toilets and faucets. - Continued education of guests and employees on our water conservation ethic. - Replacing guest room linens and towels by request only, to reduce water in the laundry operation.

    No mention in the following year's report. While a 15% reduction is laudable, the consumption of over 14,000,000 gallons(?) in a desert national park seems wasteful. At least water use for solar panels will produce a commodity; it's unfortunate that it's subsidized by taxpayers, however, as that might lead to abuse or waste of collectively held land and/or resources.

    No mention on whether Xanterra uses gray water on the lodge lawn. When I lived at Zion, and it's been almost a decade, I don't think the NPS used gray water on employee housing lawns. Might have been water diverted from the Virgin River or maybe even treated potable water. Not sure what's going on now, but it would be interesting to know if Zion and other desert parks have limited or stopped such practices.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Mike, please comment on the art and science of creating cell phone base stations that blend into their surroundings. I mean, if the decision is made to locate a cell phone site in a particular place, can it be made darn near invisible? I believe that the cell phone industry would be much better served by a policy of creating sites that aren't so darn ugly.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I work in the wireless industry as a "site acquisition agent" (finding places to put antennas - tall buildings, water tanks, electric transmission lines, existing towers, etc.) and have mixed feelings. The industry, as far as I've seen over the last 10 yrs I've been in it, makes building a new tower the last option due to the cost and negative PR. I prefer to have "wild" places be just that. At the same time, the safety concerns sound valid. Tough call. I hope I get to this park soon though, it looks gorgeous.....

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Frank -

    The NPS memo in this case wasn't criticizing another agency's use of water, but rather asking the BLM to fully consider this issue before it issues permits for private utility companies to use more water for new power plants proposed on BLM-managed land. That "new" water will have to come at the expense of other, existing uses.

    I agree that everyone and every organization - including the NPS - needs to look for ways to conserve water. If a decision is made to have a lawn in a desert, Bob's comment about gray water is the only way I'd be willing to justify it.

    As to a decision to let a faucet run for a day vs. paying overtime for a maintenance employee to come in a fix it ... I'll avoid criticism of that specific situation without knowing all the details. Yes, water is a limited resource, and so are NPS dollars. Life's all about trade offs, isn't it, and the answer's aren't always easy ones.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Since waste water (gray water) is commonly used for irrigating turf at golf courses, picnic areas, and various green expanses in the arid West, are you sure that Zion National Park isn't using gray water for watering the lawn(s) you mentioned? Where gray water is in use there are normally(though not invariably) signs warning that the irrigation water isn't potable.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    If the NPS is so concerned about water use in the desert, maybe it should look at and even reduce its own water use before criticizing other agencies' usage.

    In Zion, the NPS allows and actively waters lawns. Lawns in a desert.

    Just the other day, at a NPS unit in Nevada, rather than fixing a stuck-on water faucet, the park decided to wait a day instead of paying maintenance overtime.

  • That “America’s Marines” Commercial Shows Five NPS Units, Not Six   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Hearty thanks to Jon, who pointed to an error (since corrected) in the initial version of this article. The last two scenes were filmed in Golden Gate National Recreation Area alright, but not from Crissy Field looking north. The filming was actually done in the Marin Headlands area of GOGA looking south toward the San Francisco end of the Golden Gate Bridge. In other words, in the original version of the article I had it exactly ass-backwards. Anyway, the penultimate filming site in this commercial is Battery Spencer, and the very last filming site is Kirby Cove Beach. This brings me to an additional point (no pun intended). Fort Point National Historic Site is visible at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge in the very last scene, which means that it cannot possibly be a "nearly visible NPS unit." It also means that a total of five NPS units provided backdrops for the commercial, and that the title of the article was misleading. I fixed it, but only after more than 800 Traveler readers saw the incorrect version. This is all very embarrassing. Perhaps, as some readers have suggested, I should find another line of work. Maybe one that pays? :-)

  • Kurt’s Still on the Yampa, and He Wishes We Were There Too   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Omar -

    Thanks for your comment.

    Just wanted to clarify that except for his ability to send some brief, outgoing messages via his SPOT, Kurt is otherwise "unplugged" for the duration of his trip on the Yampa. He can't receive any of our communications via the Traveler until his return at the end of this week. We'll look forward to more details about his jaunt when he's back "on the job."

  • Kurt’s Still on the Yampa, and He Wishes We Were There Too   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Looks like you camped about 3 times further inland than you did last night.
    Maybe you could send a note when you are actually on the river.

    Semper Fi
    Omar

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Have you ever had a bear come at you? Have you ever been hiking and come across a mother an cubs? Any person with any intelligence can tell you have never been outside your shallow world. Don't talk about bears and cougars until you actually come across one that is aggravated or aggressive. [Edited for unacceptable language] look at the facts. I would be more than happy to welcome you to my home and introduce you to a brown bear. That would be far too intimidating for you so maybe just a black bear for starters; they are far less aggressive. Where are you from again? Have you ever seen a wild animal that is know to hunt man?

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Let's take another look at the main point in the NPS concerns about these solar projects in the desert southwest - the amount of water needed for cooling the power plants.

    Potable water is the elephant in the room for much of the country, and future shortages have the potential to eventually eclipse even the supply of energy as a major problem. There's not nearly enough serious attention being paid to the subject of water supplies, and the NPS was correct in raising this concern before a massive investment is made in more water-intensive projects, especially in southern Nevada and southern California.

    I believe we need to be moving aggressively on development of alternative power, including solar and wind, but that development needs to be done as wisely as possible.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Anon, do you know something that that the rest of us do not? Can you cite any scientific evidence that electromagnetic radiation associated with power lines, cell phone towers, or whatever is harmful to people? I'm genuinely curious. For about 25 years now I've been looking for a study that provides empirical evidence that this hypothesis holds water. So far, nothing.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Back in the early 1970s, Vice President (and soon-to-be-admitted-felon) Spiro Agnew railed against Nixon's vocal foes, calling them "nattering nabobs of negativism." So of course thousands of youngsters bought and proudly wore T-shirts emblazoned with "Nattering Nabob of Negativism." I'm tempted to get me a Tee with an "Envirofreak for Green Energy" emblazoned front and back. Anybody know where I can get one of those?

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 17 weeks ago

    cell phones and towers are toxic, and dangerous, every time you do whatever you want, you are poisoning the earth and others. Yes it is legal, because unfortunatly corporations including the cell phone wireless industry run the country and decide the policies, but if you read between the lines you will soon find that electromagnetic radiation is creating illness and death and has effects that accumulate over time.

  • Best Solitude in the National Park System? Here Are Traveler's Choices   5 years 17 weeks ago

    You're welcome, Chance. I think the remote islands are meant to be well-kept secrets, but Traveler readers are now in the loop. Have a great time in Georgia and do get to some of those islands. I think they are a national treasure. Cumberland stands alone on the GA-FL border and there is that magnificent 100 mile long string of islands from Brunswick north to Savannah. Nothing else like it on the East Coast.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 17 weeks ago

    So what will satisfy the envirofreaks??

  • Best Solitude in the National Park System? Here Are Traveler's Choices   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Hey RoadRanger,

    Thanks for correcting me. I didn't realize that there were that many places outside of Cumberland Island NS protected in Georgia. I really do appreciate it, since I'm working in Georgia this summer, and this is exactly the sort of thing I need to know.

  • Best Solitude in the National Park System? Here Are Traveler's Choices   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Chance, thanks for some fine suggestions for solitude in the NPS; however, your comments regarding Cumberland Island National Seashore (CUIS) need some clarification. If I read your correctly, you say CUIS - Georgia's only national seashore - is the only largely undeveloped barrier island in the state. Actually, there are several that meet the definition thanks to the foresight of the Georgia legislature about 40 years ago. Little Tybee, Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherine's, Blackbeard, Sapelo, Wolf and several smaller islands are either under state or federal protection as refuges and even one wilderness area. St. Catherine's is privately owned, but is held as a conservation reserve. It's true that some of these islands have "development," but it is less than that on CUIS. In fact, solitude on some of these islands is beyond anything available on CUIS. Don't get me wrong. CUIS is a prominent NPS jewel, one of the most beautiful units in the system, but it has some stunningly beautiful company. Yes, there is development on several islands , but by far most of the Georgia barrier island coastline is wild, free and very remote and likely to stay that way.

  • Best Solitude in the National Park System? Here Are Traveler's Choices   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Lake Clark certainly deserves to rank high on the list, but there are other national parks in Alaska that would rival or exceed the solitude found in Lake Clark. Aniakchak, particularly the volcanic caldera, is in a class of its own. I am particularly fond of Gates of the Arctic, because it has solitude on a human scale. By that I mean that a reasonably capable wilderness traveler can be immersed in true solitude in most regions of the park.

  • Best Solitude in the National Park System? Here Are Traveler's Choices   5 years 17 weeks ago

    We love the Smokies! I agree, it's easy to get off the beaten path. And even if you do want to go to Cades Cove, (we ride our bikes through there annually) if you go on a weekday in the off season, it's very peaceful.

    Our favorite spot though, is in the Daniel Boone National Forest. I've purchased a book called The Hinterlands of Red River Gorge and there are paths that aren't marked and you can walk for hours and not run in to another person. Truly glorious!

  • Best Solitude in the National Park System? Here Are Traveler's Choices   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Wayne -

    Death Valley would be another fine choice for this list.

    A wonderful thing about the National Park System is that there are a lot of areas where anyone who wants to experience solitude can do so. The challenge is deciding which ones to include on a list of 10 - or 50 - such sites :-)