Recent comments

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 22 weeks ago

    If the excerpts are any indication, Johnson writes as powerfully as he speaks. I looking forward to reading Gloryland.

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    There were two fires. The one in the Teton N.P. is not the Arnica fire in Yellowstone. We came through Teton going to Yellowstone on Saturday 9/26 and saw both fires. There is also a very small fire in the mtns surround Gardiner, MT. We drove escorted from West Thumb through the fire area on the 26th. There was a helicopter scooping up lake water and dropping it on the fire boundary closest to the road. On the 27th, the loop road was open during the morning and I was quite surprised driving through the fire zone to see the fire about 300 yds from the road (or at least see smoke billowing that close to the road). I learned later that it had reached the road and they closed it again. The only way back to Gardiner/Mammoth was through West Yellowstone north to I90 and back down.

    Back in August, we had been disappointed that we couldn't get late season reservations at the Lake Yellowstone hotel aso we booked a place in Gardiner instead. Boy did we get lucky. The smoke around the hotel was thick and blocked out the sky. I feel sorry for the guests that had to deal with it.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    HUMANS BAD!! Humans EVIL!!

    Humans special! Humans wonderful!!!

    I can't even watch it, it is irritating me so much.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The thing that first hits Yosemite visitors who meet Shelton Johnson is that he is different. He's extremely eloquent and well spoken. He's got a very quick wit. It doesn't really matter that he's black and grew up in urban Detroit, although that is an important factor in who he is. I guess he doesn't necessarily fit the image of a national park ranger. He had that slightly sinister looking facial hair, and I'm a bit disappointed that he seemed to have shaved it for much of the Ken Burns series. The mustache and spot under the chin gave him a certain edge. He does wear the earrings though.

    For those who haven't been on one of his hikes, I can relay some personal experiences. The first time I'd ever seen him in any medium was when I went to a program showing a video on winter in Yosemite. He was videotaped playing the clarinet with snow all around him. The next day I went to the visitor center for some directions and he was the one who helped me out - recommending boots with ankle support for the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail and what to do at Hetch Hetchy before I left. He also was scheduled to give a ranger walk and talk on bears in a few minutes. I waited around for that and the first sign that it was going to be really fun was when he asked everyone to get a little closer. He noted that he'd rather have people come closer so that he wouldn't have to yell, since it can get a little scary when a federal employee starts yelling. He had a bear skin too, which he slowly pulled out of his pack. At the end of the walk he answered questions, including one about the clarinet. He noted that it was so cold that he was putting on gloves between takes and it was rather difficult to play since it was so cold. He did seem to appreciate that I brought up his research on the Buffalo Soldiers who patrolled the Sierra parks, although I may have been the only one in the group who knew about it.

    I was actually quite pleased that he was leading the snowshoe walk I went on over a year later. I don't think he was the usual ranger guide, but I lucked into going on that day. We did certain things like hold hands in a circle and just feel the area around us. I've got that picture where he's showing us the bear marks on a small tree. I also remember trying to get the snow off of my fleece gloves. At first he said tickled that I was applauding him, but then it occurred to him that I was just trying to remove the snow to avoid getting hypothermia.

    As for the likely notoriety for his participation in the series:

    "There may be a passing phase of notoriety. I will go back to being a federal employee. I'm very privileged to work as a national park ranger and to live where I live, which I believe is the most beautiful place on the face of the Earth."

    There is supplemental material too, such as the following. Part of his wry sense of humor is seen when he says to the visitors, "I'm going to have to break this to you, but I'm African-American. And..I'm a park ranger. In Yosemite, there's me. Then there's me. And there's also me."

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 22 weeks ago

    would you happen to know what the life span of these animals could be?

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks to all who are working to save Utah red rock wilderness. In 1966 Bates Wilson took me over dusty roads to the panorama from Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park. Much of the land we saw in the distance was outside the park boundaries, on BLM-managed land. I later worked in the BLM wilderness program, where we made a special point of studying roadless areas contiguous to the park boundaries, even if they were too small to qualify as stand-alone units. One of the values of America's Red Rock Wilderness Act is to get more protection for viewscapes around Canyonlands and the other Utah parks.

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Ok here is my "two cents" on the subject. In trying to get my head around the subject of "ducks in the parks". I am curious about what appears to be longer than normal legs on this pair of mystery ducks. I looked at all of the possibilities and then took a look at the "Yosemite Bird List".

    It appears that "Mr. Blue" can be found on the listing of ducks spoted "at least four times" on the final page of this report. Also that they do breed in the park.

    If it is a "Mexican Duck" could it be considered an "illegal alien". ;o))

    Semper Fi

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 22 weeks ago

    How do you keep a people down? You 'never' let them 'know' their history.

    The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry. Read, and visit site/great history,

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Wow, Anon, that's pretty harsh. All those of us who support designated wilderness are saying is that there ought to be a small portion of the American landscape that is free of mechanized recreation. In my own state of NM, the BLM manages 13.4 million acres, the USFS, 10.2 million acres, and the NPS,264,000. That's a total of approximately 23.6 million acres. Of that, 1,655,694 are in designated wilderness. And those 1.6 million acres are not "locked up." All wilderness says is that if you wish to recreate in those areas, you do it without motors.

    As to your economic argument, backpackers still have to buy food, buy gas to get to trailheads, and motel rooms from which to stage their trips. All they are not doing is buying fuel to power their recreation.

    Rick Smith

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    For what it's worth, Shelton told me he does indeed hope to remain at Yosemite. He also said he's suggested to his superiors that he not be stationed in the park's Visitor Center for the immediate future as it might prove more trouble than good in terms of folks wanting to talk to him about him rather than the park.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Shelton Johnson is great though. Still - I sort of wonder what kind of treatment he's going to get after the Ken Burns Series. I remember seeing an interview of him on the publicity tour and reading some of the comments he's given to newspapers. Apparently he thinks that it might get him a little bit of notoriety but he's hoping that he can just settle down and be a federal employee.

    And he doesn't seem to have his glasses on anywhere during the tour or the series. The originals were a bit too wide to post here, so I just included thumbnails (you can click on the thumbnails for the larger versions).



    He's also been interviewed about the notoriously low pay that park rangers have. He's said that he wouldn't mind a raise but it's been worth it. Hopefully his book sales gets him that raise so that he can return to Yosemite.

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Juveniles? This looked like a nesting pair after the kids had flown!

    My wife's thought -- and she just might have nailed it -- are that these are "Mexican" ducks. The clincher is the blue swatch on the speculum with the white borders.

    If so, is this new to Yosemite, as it doesn't appear on the park's bird list.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Feel better?

    Perhaps you should go back and read the story. Mr. Anderson points out that even if all 9.4 million acres were designated as wilderness -- and that would be a stretch -- there still would be 17,000 miles of ORV trails in Utah. Any idea how many there are in Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and the other western states?

    Some things to ponder:

    * The Chief of the US Forest service named unmanaged recreation, especially OHV recreation, as one of the top four threats to the nation's public land. Source: National Trails Training Partnership, a subsidiary of

    * Outdoor Industry Foundation (OIF) began tracking participation among Americans age 16 and older in outdoor recreation in 1998 measuring 13 core activities including: backpacking; bicycling on paved roads, dirt, and single track; car camping and camping away from car; canoeing; cross country/Nordic skiing; hiking; rafting; snowshoeing; Telemark skiing; and trail running. Since the study began, OIF has added 9 additional activities including: bird watching trips; climbing on natural rock; artificial wall climbing; ice climbing; fly-fishing; non-fly fishing; sit on top kayaking; touring/sea kayaking; and whitewater kayaking.

    Despite stiff competition for the attention, time, passion and resources of Americans, the 13 core human powered activities were more popular in 2004 than in 1998 by a wide margin. However, they were down from their high in 2001. A comparison of 1998 and 2004 participation levels reveal an increase of 6% and a net increase of nearly 15 million people as the Participant population for the 13 core activities grew to 141 million people. Over this 7 year period, participant levels were up for kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing, Telemark skiing, and trail running. Three activities saw a decline over this period: backpacking, paved road biking and car camping. Consistent with prior years, the majority of participants recreated by biking, fishing, hiking, or camping. Source: Outdoor Industry Foundation.

    * OHV recreation has become an important policy issue on public lands because these vehicles can have negative impacts on the environment by increasing soil erosion, decreasing water quality and impairing wildlife and visual aesthetics. Attempts to regulate OHV use on public lands are not new. Executive Orders E.O. 1 1644 (1 972) and E.O. 11989 (1977) addressed safety and environmental concerns with OHVs by authorizing the Forest Service to manage OHV use so as to protect the land as well as the safety of all users of those lands. Within the past few years, however, the Forest Service has recognized the need for greater authority in managing these recreation areas and has proposed to amend the OHV regulations in an attempt to mitigate unacceptable environmental damage to Forest Service lands (USDA Forest Service 2004). Source: From Benefits and Costs of Resource Policies Affecting Public and Private Land: Papers from the Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah, February 14-15, 2005.

    Finally, it's interesting that the above comment by "anonymous," and the "anonymous" comment on the "Clash of Viewpoints" post pertaining to those who "destroyed this country" mentions lack of consideration and respect for other opinions and yet, he/she doesn't appear to embrace that opinion.

    There are many, many viewpoints and interests in this country when it comes to public lands recreation. Key in arriving at sound management plans is respectful discourse, dialog and even negotiation. And, too, I think it must be kept in mind that wilderness characteristics on that landscape is quite finite -- once it's gone, it's gone.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 22 weeks ago

    What has truely destroyed this country are the single minded, self-serving and lack of consideration for others. There you will find some of the richest people in our country along with the liberals. All these people think they know what is best for everyone and make every attempt to force their ways upon others without any consideration or respect to anyone, but themselves.
    [This comment was edited to remove a particularly insulting remark that will get the poster banned from this site if he keeps it up.]

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Let's just lock up everything from OHVs, camp trailers and etc. Let's just literally kill any demand for these products and the supporting jobs behind them. You guys are so naive when it comes to recognizing where much of the money comes from to manage these areas in the first place. Seems like another clueless Liberal Democrat movement in the works. Seems you people are all for yourselves and without regard for any other interest, but your own. Bet you are believers in one religion, one language too. (Of course you wouldn't admit this.) Additionally, I doubt 5% of those pushing for this effort have really seen the true beauty of the outback. This truely validates my recognition that anyone can go to school to obtain their undergrad, graduate and doctorate degrees, but still lack any common sense intelligence. What a pathetic bunch. OPEN YOUR MINDS AND BE RESPECTFUL TO ALL, not just your self-centered group.

  • Judge’s Ruling on Drilling Noise May Bode Well for National Park Soundscape Protection   5 years 22 weeks ago

    There's been no final ruling in this case, but the preliminary injunction is certainly very encouraging.

  • Judge’s Ruling on Drilling Noise May Bode Well for National Park Soundscape Protection   5 years 22 weeks ago

    A fantastic precedent for the protection of the planet's tranquil wild areas. Let's hope to see more such cases

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Many of today's urban African-Americans grew up in the rural south doing farm work, or their parents did. Once those people escaped to the city, they had no desire to go out into "Nature." And they have passed that on to their children, grandchildren,,,, which is too bad for those children who miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the parks. I speak as one who grew up in a small rural community in the south, but was lucky enough not to HAVE to do farm work. Many of my contemporaries were not so lucky. Curiosity has led me into many "nature" experiences, but even my own family considers my excursions odd.


  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 22 weeks ago

    What a tragedy for the nation. Under his watch federal employees ... attempt(ed) to ruin a perfectly legitimate and licensed business at Pt. Reyes. Mr. Jarvis should have insisted that these employees .... be fired for their actions. In the private sector such behavior would not be tolerated. One can only guess what he will tolerate (and encourage?) in his new position. A sad day for scientific honesty and the American taxpayer.

    Editor's note: Portions of this comment were edited due to their potentially libelous nature. While it is true that a report the National Park Service prepared on the impacts of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. contained errors, as the agency acknowledged, they were corrected.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I have loved the series thus far. I have learned alot about the history of the parks and been truly inspired by the passionate people who helped create them. Shelton Johnson has been my favorite commentator thus far. I would love to take a hike with him one day.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    It's a Ken Burns documentary. In many ways it's more about people and researching that obscure, personal story that can be captivating.

    I'm glad there wasn't a complete whitewashing of the saga of people displaced when the Park Service took over lands. Or the influence Gifford Pinchot had on the damming of Hetch Hetchy partially because the national parks didn't have its own agency.

    If one really wants a travelogue with oodles of footage of our national parks, just check the Travel Channel listings.

    I (as UC Berkeley graduate) find it fascinating that the three people most responsible for the founding of the National Park Service (Mather, Albright, and Lane) were all UC Berkeley alums (although Lane did not graduate). I think I already knew that, but it was interesting that it was mentioned in the series.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 22 weeks ago

    As the Gov admits, these lands are owned by all the American people and as one of those owners I say Utah has no right to claim the resources. Greed has destroyed so much in this country already. Protect the uniqueness of this area.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 22 weeks ago

    All this talk about billions of billions of dollars being spent on the attempt to cut down the population of non-native problems is idiotic. There is no proof of anything in which a burmese is held accountable in the wild other then...raccoons, dogs, cats ect. No human in North america has been killed by a wild burmese ever. They are not the biggest predator and nor do they thrive souly on protected animals. They have the same diet as a aligator...and need i remind you there are 1,000,000 estimated aligators in the everglades. Aligators, snakes, panthers whatever presents it's self. They do not target particular animals. Anytime an american can muster up a way to earn a buck they pin the blame on something. Now my question is merely this....when burmese pythons become threatend and are on the verge of nothingless...will we then put them in wild to help build numbers?

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    MikeD, the essay I wrote that I linked to also has the criticism of the overall point of view of the work, focused somewhat on criticizing what I take to be Burns' view that history is made by dynamic, even if complicated characters, and that the national parks in part arose because some of these peculiarly inspired and energetic people went against the grain and made it so. I think that view is ultimately wrong - and not simply because it's a tad melodramatic - but because I think that the national parks arose out of the same strand and forces that were at the same time destroying everything else. That may seem subtle, but I think it's an important distinction because ultimately in the Burns view, we don't know what to make of all these complicated and unsettling anecdotes of atrocities and conflicts and paradoxes (they seem to be for the next generation of inspired and creative Americans to discover). So, his view chugs along mostly happily without much analysis of the many complexities he (to his credit) throws in there. My view is far darker about American history but hopefully more coherent, thus ultimately suggesting ways through this forest. If we understand the causes of the national parks as something within the flow of our history, I think we have a better sense of why these injustices have happened through the history of the parks.

    (As for all the talk about more rangers, I find that they are over represented, but that's me - as a critic of the Park Service, you would expect that. I'd rather see much more about those not thought of at all in the national parks experience - the bell hop at the hotel, the waitress, the child, and much more than the token treatment of native peoples.).

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Could be a juvenile mallard. Juvenile and non-mating vs. mating plumage colors are what often throw me with bird identifications.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography