Recent comments

  • Rare Ansel Adams Print of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Acquired By Knoxville Art Museum   5 years 26 weeks ago

    So if Ansel Adams said the Smokies are hard to photograph, then I guess I shouldn't feel so bad at a lot of my pictures not coming out like I had hoped? :)

  • Slide Show Demonstrates Ida's Power at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Kurt-

    You seem to take at least a little pleasure in providing your 'moral to the story.' Since this is essentially what happened to all those folks in New Orleans who built or bought homes below sea level, did you take as much pleasure in pointing out the same moral to those unfortunate folks?

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Tree of Heaven or Paradise Tree got that name from its native Asia because it is so often found around temples. That name sure doesn't apply to it in the US! I wrote a paper on this tree for my grad studies and there are papers out there discussing how to get rid of the tree. You often have to cut and apply some nasty chemicals to kill it all. But if you have a neighbor that won't get rid of the tree, as soon as the wind blows the seeds into your yard, it all beings again!

    Ranger Holly

  • Poaching Charges Pending In Case of Majestic Bull Elk Killed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    This sickens, and saddens, me so very much. I can't believe anybody would just go and kill something - anything just for the 'heck' of it. This beautiful animal had lived in a protected/wild environment all of his life and for the most part trusted humans. Anybody who considers this type of 'hunting' SPORT is a stupid fool. It really takes a high skill level to kill like this. If the guy was hungry I'm sure he could have found plenty of places to hunt legally, but apparently he thought it would be fun to go out and kill this gorgeous animal for no apparent reason other than stupidity. Thank God he was caught and will be prosected. Hopefully the powers that be will prosecute him to the highest degree possible.
    I'm especially sad for all of the people who have volunteered their time and worked so hard to make the elk project work. I know you are saddened by this more than anyone. My heart goes out to you all.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Death Valley National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I agree with Quang-Tuan, although you need to know how to drive a dirt road (don't get high-centered, put your tires on the rock and not your oil pan, etc.). I'm one of those people who actually _does_ run the rental car through the car wash before returning it! But make sure you have a good jack, shovel, and a couple of pieces of 2*8 just in case, and 2 or 3 of those 2.5 gallon drinking water jugs available at supermarkets.

  • Bison Will Soon Roam Again at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Bob--

    When I visited Tallgrass Prairie in the early 1990s, there were still bison wallows from the previous century.

    If you have flexibility in your schedule, try to go in September to catch the visitor day at Konza Prairie LTER, less than an hour north of Tallgrass Prairie NP on 177. They've got a couple of decades of research on various fire & bison grazing regimes. The comparison between the 2 sites would be wonderful (TNC owns much of each), and the tours they run that day at Konza should be very informative about the current & future of Tallgrass Prairie.

  • Trial Over What Constitutes a "Road" In Canyonlands National Park: Vestiges of Sagebrush Rebels   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Wayne, re your point about the pictographs, the NPS tells me that photo was taken in Salt Creek Canyon.

    As for your second point, I'm not sure a "Park Service employee smoothing the road" constitutes regular maintenance. Beyond that, the federal government (not necessarily the Traveler) would disagree with you.

    As for your third point, the main issue is that this creek bed is within a national park.

  • Sunset and Moonlight Hikes and Talks at Saguaro National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    1: I highly recommend these hikes. Up in the Chisos in Big Bend can be even more spectacular, with a moonlit view of a huge expanse of desert.

    2: Since establishment, there have been at least 2 major pushes to decommission Saguaro National Monument because it appeared that the saguaros were dying out (for 2 different assumed reasons). We now have a much better understand of the population dynamics and demography of saguaros and how the numbers increase after recruitment pulses and decrease after freezes where they don't thaw for 2 nights & 1 day; some things just take 100 years of data.

  • Trial Over What Constitutes a "Road" In Canyonlands National Park: Vestiges of Sagebrush Rebels   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Several errors in this story. 1. The pictographs in the photo are not in Salt Creek Canyon but are in adjacent Davis Canyon and are accessible by road.

    2. The Salt Creek Road was periodically maintained, even by the Park Service. I was venturing up Salt Wash in 1979 and observed a Park Service employee smothing the road, moving rocks, and filling in steps.

    3. Many roads in the southwest US travel along and thru creek beds.

    Open the road. . . .I want to take my grandkids to see Angel Arch!

  • Yellowstone National Park Officials Release Development Vision For Tower-Roosevelt   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Anytime I see a new development plan for Yellowstone, I think of the monstrosity created at Old Faithful, and urge restraint. I visited Tower Falls and Lamar Valley in 2008 and, thankfully, it is still somewhat isolated, at least in relative terms. The coolest thing about the current state of Lamar Valley is that it is somewhat off the beaten path and unless you really want to go there you may miss it altogether.

  • Bison Will Soon Roam Again at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Charlie, I'm excited about the Tallgrass bison too. Tallgrass is on my "must see" list, and I hope to get there next year. Knowing that the preserve now has bison gives that prospect extra appeal.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 5 Revealed: You’ll Find It At the Bottom of the Grand Canyon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Prices have gone up a tad since 1989, Anon. Prices for overnight rides, with Phantom Ranch accommodations and meals, now start at $477.34 for the first person or $842.60 for two people. That includes taxes.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Death Valley National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    It might be safer to use a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle, but I have driven to the Racetrack on five different years with different regular vehicles without any problem (each time taking between 1 hour to 1.5 hours one-way). The last time, I even had a Toyota Sienna. That same vehicle was also used to drive down the Titus Canyon, again without any problems. If the road is washboarded, driving in first gear will not reduce the vibrations. You are actually better off at a more reasonable speed. It could be that I was lucky that the road was recently graded, but what is the probability of that happening five times ?

    National Parks images

  • Sunset and Moonlight Hikes and Talks at Saguaro National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Thanks tomp -

    Not sure what calendar I was looking at when I added the day of the week to the park's list of dates for the programs, but it must have been for a different planet. I've made the correction for Dec. 2.

  • Poaching Charges Pending In Case of Majestic Bull Elk Killed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    This just goes to show the state that are country is in and are need to protect are resources

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I agree with what was said in the last few posts and would like to add something. Barbara, in your last post you commented about forest regeneration studies then commented about the wildflowers being abundant. Well, forest regeneration does not really have anything to do with wildflowers. Most forest regeneration studies look at the number/size/abundance of replacement stock growing to replace the overstory. Wildflowers, present or absent have nothing really to do with forest regeneration other that in there are plentiful wildflowers, there is an alternative food source for deer other than newly sprouted saplings.

    I would challenge you to look in VF for wildflowers throughout the year, you might find some as they initially grow, but are quickly consumed by the over abundant deer.

    One public property not far from VF did document species of wildflowers growing again on the property after 10+ years of not growing, only after removing a large number of deer from the ecosystem.

  • National Park Mystery Spot 5 Revealed: You’ll Find It At the Bottom of the Grand Canyon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Interesting. We stayed overnight in one of the little cabins on the night of July 4, 1989. The mule I rode down was named Dolly Parton, my wife rode Socks. It cost $49.00/night at Bright Angel Lodge. The overnight mule trip was $359.00. I wonder what it is now. A great experience.

  • Poaching Charges Pending In Case of Majestic Bull Elk Killed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Seriously! Why would someone do such a thing? Senseless, inhumane and for just the thrill of killing a poor, defenseless creature. It is one thing to hunt to eat; it is another to just shoot an animal that is clearly very domesticated and not at all afraid of humans. I have seen these beautiful creatures and shooting one of them is equivalent to pulling up to your neighbor's house and shooting their dog in the yard. This is not hunting, it is murder. I hope he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent!

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I completely disagree with killing this sow. This was a seventeen year old breeding female and a huge loss for the grizzly bear population. It's always about people and what they need and want. I wonder how this bear became habituated in the first place? What other measures were tried? Was she relocated, how many times? To gun down a perfectly healthy grizzly sow in the prime of her life, with two cubs? Just a terrible decision. Now one cub is dead and the other will spend a lonely life in a zoo. Worst possible outcome.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Thanks for the new info, tomp. I trust you noticed that I left some wriggle room in that list of 29 NPS units provided, as i indicated that there are "probably some not listed here." The map you referenced is not necessarily "better," it's just different. The map I used shows the states where it's considered invasive, whereas the map you referenced shows the 43 coterminous states where it's been certified as "present." (I did say that it was present in just 42, so your suggested map does add new information.) All of this weaselspeak has left me a little worn out, so I think I'll go find my watch and see if the cocktail hour has arrived.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I've got it in 87 NPS units, although 40 don't flag it as "weedy":
    ANAC, ANTI, APCO, APPA, ASIS, BAND, BISO, BLRI, BOHA, BOWA, BUFF, CACO, CALO, CARE, CARL, CATO, CAVE, CHAT, CHCH, CHOH, COLO, CORO, COWP, CUGA, CUIS, CUVA, DEVA, DEWA, EISE, ELRO, FONE, FOVA, FRHI, FRSP, GARI, GATE, GETT, GEWA, GRSM, GUCO, HAFE, HOCU, HOFR, HOFU, INDU, JOMU, KEMO, KIMO, LIRI, MACA, MANA, MANZ, MIMA, MOCA, MONO, MORR, NATR, NEPE, NERI, OBRI, OCMU, PEFO, PERI, PETE, PISC, PISP, PRWI, RICH, ROCR, RUCA, SAAN, SAHI, SAIR, SAMO, SHEN, SLBE, STRI, THST, TUMA, TUZI, VAFO, VAMA, VICK, WEFA, WHIS, WOTR, ZION

    You're right that ITIS only lists Simarouba glauca for paradise tree as a common name, but paradise tree is one of those common names that gets applied locally or regionally to at least a handful of species.

    Also, USDA Plants has a better range map for it

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Hello Bob,
    If you catch the Ailanthus when it is young you can pull it out of the ground. I use a special tool called the Weed Wrench which can be purchased here http://www.weedwrench.com/ When the plants are too large to remove with this tool, I cut them off at the ground and immediately paint with undiluted Roundup (Glyphosate). I really don't like to use chemicals at all but there seems to be no other solution. I have been a big proponent of using native plants in the landscape for years. There are quite a few examples of plants introduced into the country as garden plants that have escaped into the wild places and have become invasive.

  • Lawsuit Aims to Halt Uranium Mine Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Kurt, for an even more dramatic view of park boundaries (Olympic) visible from space:
    http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=9681

    I'd think the potential for contamination via blowing dust from the ore would be significant and expensive to mitigate with water in such short supply on the South Rim.

  • Search Now In Its Third Day for Missing Hunter At Big Cypress National Preserve   5 years 26 weeks ago

    We're praying for you Jay. I know you're out there, alive and well. Hopefully, today we will find you. I just got down here today from Elmira and we're gonna help with the search for you. Stay strong brotha. See you soon.

  • National Park Mystery Plant: 4: This “Tree from Hell” Smells Like Rancid Peanut Butter   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Linda and appletree: I suspect that calling the tree-of-heaven a "paradise tree" may sow confusion. A completely different tree, the Simarouba glauca (sim-uh-ROO-buh GLAW-kuh) goes by the common name paradise-tree. And it's got pinnate compound leaves, too. The "real" paradise tree is found in the coastal hammocks of south Florida, the Keys, the Caribbean, and areas of the tropics.