Recent comments

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Working / volunteering in Our National Parks is a job unlike many others.
    I still have some great rambling letters from an old ranger friend.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Key words: "My wife and I"

    Not everyone is married, especially at my age. it's different, obviously, when you family is living there with you and you're not depending on a phone or the Internet to communicate.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    "Not having an affordable landline, cell service, or Internet when you go home is like living in a cave. It is isolating and lonely.'

    Hmm, my wife and I lived "in a cave" for a total of about 20 years. Most of that time the nearest phone was at least 80 miles away. I honestly do not remember feeling isolated and lonely. We were so busy and wrapped up in our work that we usually felt there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Those were some of the happiest years of our lives. It is much easier to get to know yourself when you are cut off from the chatter and hectic pace of modern living. I understand that some people must have immediate access to family and friends, particularly when a loved one may be seriously ill. But please do not make it sound like suffering simply because the Internet is unavailable or the nearest phone is a few miles away. That is not a hardship - indeed it can be a blessing.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Not everyone feels that the sound of "excited" children is the music of heaven. In fact, I would much rather hear adults yammering on a phone than kids screaming. It's wise, when discussing use of nature, to realize not everyone shares the same tastes in outdoor experiences. In that spirit, I'll say this: While I can't stand being around kids, I've become a crusader for getting kids into nature ala Richard Louv and his "Nature Deficit Disorder" concept. With that in mind, I'm all about modernizing parts of natural treasures like our National Parks. Grant Grove is already city-like a lot of time. Ditto for Artists Point and Norris Basin in Yellowstone, Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic, any of the iconic viewpoints in Yosemite, the coast drive in Acadia, and any of the postcard locations in any other park. Why not get some cell phone coverage? It won't change the fact that you can walk an hour from any of those places and be completely immersed in wilderness - the kind of kid-less, phone-less wilderness I love. The front country tourist magnets are the baby steps that get kids (and adults) a taste of nature. Some of those people a few years later might decide it's time to see what lies beyond the parking lot.

    Equating a desire to have technological communication with an inferior employee of the park system is painfully myopic. Is the desire to be able to call Dad and say hi on his birthday from the comfort of your cabin anathema to respect for nature? Is exposure to the wealth of knowledge and information available on the Internet somehow going to degrade the experience a ranger or seasonal employee offers to visitors? Wouldn't it be nice if some of the park folks could become email buddies with some young visitors from suburban Detroit and share pictures as the season progresses? It already happens and it already makes a difference. I can't imagine what logic would lead one to think potential natural history interpreters seeking locations with technological comforts would make them inferior employees. I could argue, though probably on equally unstable footing, the opposite. Technophobia and misanthropy are not generally qualities you look for in someone you want to spread the good word about nature...Ed Abbey notwithstanding. :-)

  • Iconic Trail at Grand Canyon National Park Set for a Major Makeover   5 years 16 weeks ago

    We are glad to hear you are improving the trail. We have been hiking the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails for almost 40 years. The Grand Canyon holds the most spectacular sites in the world.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    As a 'young person', I take offense at that, because if you're giving a program, then it's awfully hard to talk on the phone while leading walk or talk, no? I've never turned down a job based solely on lack of cell service, but it's something that I consider when I know I won't be able to afford to pay through the nose for long distance in park housing.

    It's not about needing to have phone service at work. It's about making sure seasonals who rely on the park for housing and utilities have at least one way to communicate with the outside world when they are off duty Not having an affordable landline, cell service, or Internet when you go home is like living in a cave. It is isolating and lonely.

    People take these things for granted, especially when they've never been in the situation. Sure, there are some who are fine with this (eg - backcountry rangers), but for many, it is like falling off the face of the earth for three months a year when people can't reach you and you can't get to them. It's not fun, and the Park Service, as well as other agencies, needs to start treating seasonals and interns better. We are not your gophers, or 'just seasonals'. We are the future of the agency.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    If young people are turning down jobs in this economy because of lack of cell phone service, they probably wouldn't be the best employees. I do agree that employees in parks need to be taken care of but I am tired of seeing so many people at work constantly talking and texting on cell phones. Also a cell phone does not guarantee your safety. Bears and other animals can attack you before you get your phone out-unless your talking on it the entire time. And in that case you don't need to be out in the woods anyways. Also, I can't believe your equating annoying adults on cell phones to kids who are excited to be in the woods making noise in the parking lot. I guess we'll agree to disagree.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Wow. Never thought I'd see so many people agreeing with Frank_C. Kinda surprising!

    It happens. :)

    And for those who still think a cell phone conversation is going to change the "atmosphere" of Grant Grove check out the Google Street View of Grant Grove.

    Pull up the parking lots, remove the lodge, dig up the sewage pipes, evict everyone from Wilsonia, tear up the roads and bridges and then, MAYBE, we can talk about cell phone towers. That's not going to happen, though. The area has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years.

    That's all I have to say about that.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Well, I guess I'll put in my two cents in this discussion. There should be parts of the larger national parks and wilderness areas where cell phones do not work and the internet is unavailable. Remoteness and isolation have special value that is becoming increasingly difficult to experience. Our electronic umbilical cords that tie us to the rest of the world should be occasionally severed. Yes, I know. Everyone should be allowed to choose for themselves. Sorry, I disagree. There is a book, Mountains Without Handrails, that addresses this issue. Cell phones and internet connections are electronic forms of handrails. Let there continue to be places that remain inconvenient, potentially hazardous, remote and cut off from easy and immediate contact with civilization.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I dont understand...Verison doesn't give a damb a bout your safty.or the disruption it will cause,concrete truck's, heavy equipment, cranes,power supply, exc....all they realy want is to make more money...also,how will they get ride of it after it becomes just another pease of junk in the woods...will it cause another big mess.. ahhhh.. ya..

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Wow. Never thought I'd see so many people agreeing with Frank_C. Kinda surprising! :)

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 16 weeks ago

    It is truly sad to see this tragedy unfold. The potential destruction this fish can cause is almost unimaginable. Here in Hawaii exotic plant and animal species have decimated the native habitat and caused scores of indigenous species to become extinct. National parks are certainly not exempt from the ravages of alien species. As this fish expands its range not only will it consume resident wildlife, it will set off secondary impacts throughout affected ecosystems that can have unforeseen consequences. Climate warming will likely help to carry this eel even further north.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Jess Stryker makes a good point.

    If a decision is made to allow a cell antenna in this area, it doesn't sound like it has to go on yet another tower - use what is already on-site. Unless there are technological barriers to different users sharing tower space, such sharing and/or use of existing structures should be a requirement for all such installations in parks.

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 16 weeks ago

    John -

    Thanks for the input and expert opinion.

    I've requested clarification from the contest coordinator as well.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Good Idea, cell phone coverage in National parks is necessary and needed in case of accidents or snake bites. If someone wishes to avoid people using cell phones, then simply go down another path, there is usually more than one path in the National Parks.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Well said Frank C. Sense and reason should trump all else.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I'm very familiar with the Grant Grove area, having hiked every front-country trail and driven all the forest service roads within 15 miles. I'm familiar with the Park Ridge communications site, which sits on the boundary of the park having been up there many times. It sits almost right on the park boundary. There are several large clear-cut logged areas just east of it. Not only is the community of Wilsonia within range of the tower, but the large Hume Lake recreation area is also, as well as the Big Meadows area across a canyon to the east- which is a major recreational area with summer cabins to the south outside the park. If there was not already a big, ugly metal fire lookout tower at the site as well as existing antenaes I would be against this new tower. But the damage is done and there is a need. What I would like to see is a better effort at concentarting these towers in one small area, as opposed to the current habit of having one compaies tower on one hill and another's on the next. When you start hiking around the front country of King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks you quickly discover there are antenaes all over the place. Many of them have been there for years. To see the location of the existing fire tower with Google Earth go to 36°43'29.03"N , 118°56'35.26"W . Then scan to the right past the park boundary to see the areas with small trees recovering from clear cut logging operations.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Verizon does not give a wit about your safety.
    I do not have to imagine as I happen to live in a neighborhood where bears (and other critters) are very present.
    If you fear for your safety, then by all means never ever venture outside of your cell phones range.
    Make sure the contract stipulates that the corporation dismantle towers no longer in use, I found this out the hard way..

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 16 weeks ago

    As an intellectual property attorney, I agree with the way that Mr. Burnett is reading the rules. The actual physical copy is retained by the National Park Service and the photographer grants a non-exclusive, royalty free license to the National Park Service to use the photos. It is the only real way to rationalize the statements. Having reviewed the materials related to the National Natural Landmarks program, it is obvious that the NPS uses some of the same winning photos in other contexts, e.g. in brochures and other materials, and to announce the winners.

    I personally don't see what the big deal is to "Chip, " as it does seem pretty similar to other photographic contests. But if "Chip" doesn't enter, that's OK with me because it will improve my odds.

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Thanks for the Usefulle Info, tomp. You obviously know a lot more about swamp eels -- and the people who are studying them -- than I ever will. One of the truly frustrating aspects of writing for Traveler is that I don't have the time, energy, and expertise to dig as deeply as I should into complex subject matter like this. Sigh......

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Thank you, Frank C, for providing some essential background to this story. If Grant Grove is a telecommunications center, "a small community" and a visitor node possessing a "huge parking lot," a new cell tower and impacts from cell phone usage will be minor issues for park management. Been there and done that in similar situations at another jewel in the crown.

    Keep in mind that new broadband and wireless technologies will render cell towers obsolete within five to ten years while SEKI will be there in perpetuity. Tower maintenance is a huge expense for the industry; they're eager to eliminate it. When that day arrives, the only delay will come from the NPS's desire and ability to buy the new technology. Seen that, too.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Safety issue? LMAO!

    Absolutely it's a safety issue, Random Walker.

    There have been a few seasonals and volunteers at Grant Grove who are in their 60s and 70s. Imagine being in that situation and having some kind of health emergency, say a heart attack or a fall that results in a broken hip. Now imagine you're in a tiny cabin without a phone. No phone, no ambulance.

    Bears are a safety issue, too. Imagine a bear tried to break into your cabin when you're in it. (This happened at Grant Grove, but fortunately when the resident was outside at a nearby campfire.) No phone, no help from law enforcement or wildlife biologists.

    This area is also prone to fires. Now imagine that you live in Wilsonia and your chimney starts a wildfire. No phone, no fire fighters.

    Grant Grove and Wilsonia are not wilderness. Not even close. The cell phone tower will go with many other towers in an already developed area.

    So go ahead. Keep laughin' yer ass off. Many do not consider it humorous to be without help during an emergency.

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I want to give a shout out to Tim Collins at FIU, who did the molecular genetic work that demonstrated the multiple introductions (of several species from different SE Asian countries), and to Bill Loftus, who recently retired from USGS but performed the long-term fish monitoring in ENP and S. Florida.

    Collins T.M., Trexler J., Nico L., and T. A. Rawlings. 2002. Genetic diversity in a morphologically conservative invasive taxon: Multiple introductions of swamp eels to the southeastern United States. Conservation Biology 16: 1024-1035.

    Also, we'll know a whole lot more about swamp eels if and when Duane Choquette finishes his dissertation in Collins' lab.

    My point is that much of what's known about swamp eels has been nickel & dime projects, and beyond the minimum job duties for the USGS folks.

    ps: Tim's also done the molecular genetics work on the burmese pythons, showing not just reproduction in the Everglades (as opposed to mere survival of released pets) but parthenogenic reproduction (no mate needed). Not bad for someone who's real research interests are snails.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I totally see Frank_C's point about seasonals. I've worked as a seasonal several times, and it's a terrible feeling when you're cut off without landline, cell, or Internet access. It's easy to become lonely and frustrated.

    I'm not in favor of building oodles of cell towers, but we need to find a way to treat seasonals better. It's too easy for management to take them for granted.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Safety issue? LMAO!
    Just when did "they" decide that Our National Parks were not safe?

    "We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: in wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men." Aldo Leopold