Recent comments

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    If it's supposed to be "peaceful" then it's probably too late. It's right off the road and there are numerous businesses operating there. If you want something that really ruins the experience for me, try a group of Harley riders going down the road or getting off in a parking lot.

    There are already pay phones in the area, but most people are more familiar with their cell phones. Again - I had someone to meet at Grant Grove once, and not having cell phone service made it difficult if something were to go wrong.

  • Wolves, Moose, and Nutrient Flows at Isle Royale National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago
  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    What a beautiful place there. I have never been in Kings Canyon but I hope that one day I will go there. I think that this place should be peaceful and any mobile phones or other things should not disturb the people there. People go there to relax from their work so I think that it is a bad idea. But it is only my opinion. Thanks a lot for the interesting post and i will be waiting for other great ones from you.


    Greg Peterson

  • Traveler's Gear Box: A Tent For Every Occasion   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for the tent information. Since I'm a long time REI member, your tent choice appears to fit well for my next one man tent. I like the low weight compactness. Perfect!

  • Creature Feature: Rescuing the Island Fox is a Complicated Long-Term Project   5 years 24 weeks ago

    come on people , theses foxes are adorrable we need to help save themm :) !!!!!

  • Tidewater Goby Translocation: A Little Fish Gets a Big Boost   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Go gobys!

  • Traveler's Gear Box: A Tent For Every Occasion   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Well, there are lots of tents I haven't tried, but I must admit I like REI's Quarter Dome UL for solo jaunts. It's light -- under 4 pounds -- stands up to storms, and is durable. And the pricing was right; I think it was under $175 when I bought it a few years back. While it's listed as a 2-person tent, I'm 6-foot and can't imagine comfortably sharing the tent with anyone.

    If time and money weren't issues, I'd like to test a half-dozen or so other tents in each category -- solo, three-season, and four-season.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: A Tent For Every Occasion   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Kurt, just out of curiosity since your a heavy backpacker, what's your personal preference for a one man tent?

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Tom, Thanks for commenting. I am proud to have had the chance to work with you during those critical times in the park's history.

    I am also proud to have had the chance to have known and worked with Gary Hathaway, who resided in the Mather Ranger Club of Yosemite Valley, along with the rest of us single naturalists and protection rangers. I want to thank Ron Kerbo for mentioning the positive effect that Gary had on his own experience at Lava Beds National Monument. Gary became an inspirational mentor to many individuals who worked seasonally for the NPS in interpretation (some of whom have been active on NPT in the past).

    Sunset at Glacier Point is the most ideal spot to hear a great presentation about Yosemite and it's history. I'm now looking forward to meet David Rose. Did anyone set up telescopes that evening for public viewing?

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • To Drill Or Not To Drill For Oil Beneath Big Cypress National Preserve, That Is The Question   5 years 24 weeks ago

    The amended enabling legislation for Big Cypress National Preserve called for a management plan for oil and gas drilling inside preserve boundaries within 9 months of its enactment. Let's see. The Amended Act was signed into law in 1988 which means that the rules and regulations described below are about 20 years late. And counting.

    The Sierra Club as a whole was delighted with Mayor Alvarez's decision to curtail drilling on Miami-Dade's property inside the borders of Big Cypress. But NPS needs to get on the stick and write the required plan to govern this activity. There are privately owned oil and gas mineral claims throughout the preserve, and exploration and extraction on those owned by Collier Enterprises are currently on the table.

    Matt Schwartz
    Everglades Chair
    Broward Group of the Sierra Club

    Sec. 12. (a) Within nine months from the date of the enactment of the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Act the Secretary shall promulgate, subject to the requirements of subsections (b)-(e) of the section, such rules and regulations governing the exploration for and development and production of non-Federal interests in oil and gas located within the boundaries of the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Addition, including but not limited to access on, across, or through all lands within the boundaries of the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Addition for the purpose of conducting such exploration or development and production, as are necessary and appropriate to provide reasonable use end enjoyment of privately owned oil and gas interests, and consistent with the purposes for which the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Addition were established. Rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the authority of this section may be made by appropriate amendment to or in substitution of the rules and regulations respecting non-Federal oil and gas rights (currently codified at 36 CFR 9.30, et seq.. (1986)),

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Just returned from a wonderful hike up AL. I've heard about all the warning sings, the accidents, crowds in the summer, howling wind. I brought lots of water, good shoes, light gear for the final ascent, and a buddy. I could see how people are getting unruly during the busy summer season, as I've heard stories of people shoving and pushing to get in front of people. Personally, one of the tougher part of the whole hike is to conserve energy to reach Scout's point. The chains are nice for balancing, but it could provide a false sense of security for some, or even dangerous if someone's swinging it when you actually do need to grab it! The most tricky part for me was actually the first 500 yards or so, as the rocks are slanted, and you need to find a good footing to continue. Once you've begun your actual ascend, the trail is quite clearly marked. Also, the ever changing wind is a concern for some. That's why i hiked with only what I need, so I can carry a lighter, less profile daypack. The most windy spot is on the 2nd part of the ascend, halfway to the final summit, and once you've reached the summit, it's nothing but calm wind, since there's much less pressure differential up top from the canyon draft.

    I think if there's anything NPS can do anything about it, is to require all AL hikers watch a 10 minutes video to summarize all the warnings, and also some common sense rules for some of the inexperienced hikers. (Another place that came to mind was Ha'nauma bay natural reserve in Honolulu. You watch a beautifully done 10 min. video explaining what to do, what not to do when you snorkel)

  • Report Details Errors That Led to The Death of A Young National Park Firefighter   5 years 24 weeks ago

    My heart goes out to Andy's family & friends. What a waste.

  • How Many Wolves Are Enough In Washington State?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I just wanted to correct an inaccurate statement in your otherwise informative piece. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed management plan does not put "a cap" at 15 breeding pairs. It sets 15 breeding pairs as the number for delisting from the State Endangered Species Act. In fact, they clarify in the plan that the number is not a management cap for wolves. So the question should really be, "Do 15 breeding pairs constitute a recovered population in Washington?" I would conclude no, and recommend the department has more wolves before a delisting is proposed. But there is a subtle, but important distinction between a management cap and delisting trigger.

  • Wolves, Moose, and Nutrient Flows at Isle Royale National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I'm generally considered odd because this is exactly the kind of thing I'd search for and think about on a hike!

    I'd love to see the papers, tomp. (I'm partially laid up at the moment and can't get to the library anyway.) The idea that every single minuscule event in a system has some effect on everything else in the system is second nature to me, but I like to collect examples to rattle offer to folks to whom I'm demonstrating the concept.

  • How Many Wolves Are Enough In Washington State?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I have been casually monitoring the management plans for wolf control in the wild. These plans all seem to have one theory in common. This theory is that a wolf, is a wolf, is a wolf. This seems to ignore everything we have learned about the social behavior of canines. Canines have a very complex cultural relationship with each other and the death of the alpha pair has an extremely detremental effect on the survival of the species in the wild. Added to this that some of wolf hunters usually hunt the strongest of these animals (the alphas), and the biology of the species is being effected. Don't get me wrong. I do believe that responsible hunting has its place. I just don't believe in trophy hunting. Add the eradication statements of some of these ardent wolf hunters, and there is a problem. Maybe the Licensing of wolf hunters should include species specific training and a psychological profiling. This is just a thought.
    I also have a request of the National Parks Travelor. If you have information on the buffer zone at Denali, would you publish the information. I believe it was being re-evaluated in 2010. I also believe the biologist that was its primary defender was recently killed in a plane accident.

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    First the bad. I sympathized with the young seasonal ranger on the stage at Mount Rushmore because like him I suffered from stage fright. It was like sitting in agony in my high school speech class watching a classmate miss-delivering a speech he had tried to memorize verbatim. The only difference was that I knew I wouldn't have to follow the ranger at Mount Rushmore.

    Arches National Monument in the early 1970s. Kay Forsythe took a group of us on a full moon hike through the Fiery Furnace. She knew to say as little as was absolutely necessary. The moonlight, rock and shadow did the rest.

    Yosemite National Park, late September 2009. David Rose, seasonal ranger, gave the Glacier Point sunset talk. Half Dome and and the mountain peaks played out their part in the changing light of the setting sun, but David Rose gave the best ranger talk I ever heard. He wove into his talk of scenery and Glacier Point history an eloquent and simple presentation of "park purpose and policy", without relying on those words if he used them at all. The stopping of the Fire Fall at Glacier Point, the stopping of dredging to maintain Mirror Lake, the "decision" to not rebuild the Glacier Point Hotel after it burned. (To make no decision, is in itself a decision. I think that is what happened regarding the hotel.) All those decisions were moves toward making Yosemite the park it was intended to be, steps in line with changing law over the years, a park closer to the one Muir and Olmstead envisioned. David Rose sold that vision to his audience. His talk also struck home with me because I was a park ranger in Yosemite at the beginning of my career, and I was there when the events I have highlighted occurred. I have long known that Yosemite is a part of me. In thinking afterward about David's talk, I realized that I am also a part of Yosemite.

  • Winter Lodging Specials at Sequoia National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Just booked our trip. Never been to this area and we are looking forward to it!! Thanks for always keeping us informed!

  • Wolves, Moose, and Nutrient Flows at Isle Royale National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I'm not sure that "ecosystems" are something to believe in or not. If you believe in conservation of matter (P and K and Ca don't appear or disappear, and N has the slight complication of nitrogen fixation and denitrification back to the atmosphere, which is ~80% N2), then this is simple accounting. Elk take up those elements from what they eat across a wider area; their decomposing carcasses (as well as their feces and the feces of wolves that eat them) make higher-concentration clumps of nutrients on the landscape.

    Different species of plants that are better competitors at higher nutrient levels grow in these hot spots, and even plant species found elsewhere tend to have higher tissue nutrient concentrations, and thus are more nutritious and tastier (based on elk feeding preference studies).

    The same thing is known for bison in prairies: bison urine patches are several square meters (yards) in size and again provide higher soil nutrient levels that last a couple of years; you can visually detect them months to a couple of years later as patches of greener grass, and bison preferentially eat those patches the following year when they migrate back through.

    If anyone wants to see the Isle Royale paper or a couple of the bison papers, reply here and I can put pdfs on a server.

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Years ago I stood in silence on the edge of a vertical pit that dropped down into a cave at Lava Beds National Monument and listened to Park Ranger Gary Hathaway talk about the small ceremony he always performed before entering the cave. He explained that he had learned the ceremony from local Modoc Indians, who considered the cave sacred. Gary said that I and our other companion did not have to follow his example, but that he at least, never felt comfortable entering this particular cave without going through this small ritual.
    I felt a little uncomfortable with all this mystic preparation, and stood looking mostly at my feet, hoping to avoid Gary's eyes. I was not sure what our other companion, Jim Nieland, cave specialist from Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was thinking. At that time my caving career spanned over a quarter of a century, and never had I been very reverent before entering a cave. I had stood at cave entrances and been in awe, in great good humor, dead on my feet, and a wide variety of other states of mind, but it had never been suggested, or occurred to me, that I should be reverent before entering a cave.
    From a small pouch Gary extracted three small sprigs of aromatic sage and passed one each to Jim and me. Holding his own piece of sage at chest level he began to turn until he had faced the four directions. Having completed the circle, Gary simply placed the sprig of sage onto the ground and started down the ladder into the cave. Jim followed his example and was also soon on his way down the ladder into the cave.
    This did not seem to be a very difficult or overly long ceremony, so I too held out my little sprig of sage, turned slowly around, and putting my sage into my shirt pocket, quickly climbed down into the cave. Once off the ladder I found myself in a world of magnificent emerald green ferns growing in the sunlit area just below the cave entrance. I also found the cave to be warm, friendly and worth much more than the little effort required to gain access to it.
    The walls, stretching away into the darkness, were covered with ancient paintings which seemed to whisper to you to be alone and quiet and pause a while on your headlong journey toward the future and let your soul be taken away by this magic place. You could almost feel the presence of the people who had made the drawings on the cave walls. Feel their spirits, hear their voices and know their great respect for the earth and all of its treasures.
    With Gary there to interpret what we were seeing, I became lost once again in the wonder of a cave. Lost in place and time, with no thoughts of the outside world intruding into my mind, lost with all the time in the world before me and nothing to do but feel the softness of the darkness.
    Gary told us that he had been in the cave with the Modoc people, and had observed the great reverence they had for the cave. As I looked around I understood that reverence, not in an analytical way, but with my heart, and finally found myself not wanting to leave this place, and only with great reluctance climbed back up into the world of the sun. Gary has since past away and I have now been involved with caving for well over 40 years but I will never forget that one trip with Gary.

  • Sky-High Ginseng Prices Boost Illegal Harvest in Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Interestingly enough, Ginseng harvesting came up on a trip I just returned from. From what we were told, locals have been harvesting wild "Seng" on their own private property for over a hundred years. He told us last year the price dropped quite a bit, and this year it's fallen below $100 a pound. Hopefully, the falling value and the prospect of jail time will end this criminal activity in our beautiful parks.

  • How Many Wolves Are Enough In Washington State?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Wolves are also controversial here in Wisconsin. In northern Wisconsin's north woods region, this year has seen a big spike in wolves killing dogs used for bear hunting. The DNR here apparently sets money aside to compensate people whose dogs are killed by wolves, but this does not stop the chorus for more management.

  • A New Day Dawning   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Beautiful. All of the parks are awesome, more pics here.

  • Report Details Errors That Led to The Death of A Young National Park Firefighter   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I must add my condolences to the family as well. I am a former EMT and Army medic but have been out of it for many years so am unfamiliar with current practices. I do feel however that this fatality was avoidable.

    Any injury involving the femoral artery requires instant action due to possibility of bleed out. If pressure bandaging or pressure point application does not stop bleeding use of a tourniquet seems called for. Due to time involved this may have resulted in permanent damage to the limb but at least it would have left this young man with enough blood in his body to survive.

    I would think training would include at least basic first aid which would call for tourniquet in cases of uncontrolled bleeding and of course treatment for shock, which can also kill.

    While I wont second guess what caused the accident it does seem with basic injury treatment the fatality could have been avoided, if that is, death was caused by loss of blood and/or shock.

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    My most memorable interpretive program was a campfire talk in Arches NP, many years ago. The same ranger led a hike through the Fiery Furnace the following day. Together they gave an incredible insight into the geology and the ecosystem of on of the most amazing places on earth. And I really liked the guided tours in both cave parks, I've visited so far: Timpanogos and Oregon Caves. Both guides obviously loved their parks.

    Curious: When visiting Waterton Lakes NP in Canada, just north of the border and next to Glacier NP, an evening program was done by an exchange ranger from the US and Glacier NP. She was really great in showing the common issues of both parks that form together the "Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park" and the differences in environmental, touristic and (in brief) administrative regards.

  • Skiing On Mount Rainier, Where You Really Earn Your Turns   5 years 24 weeks ago

    For a view from the far left edge of the backcountry skiing opportunity spectrum at Mount Rainier, check out this ten minute helmet-cam video. Jumping crevasses in sketchy late-season ice conditions seems exciting enough, but skiing the Emmons glacier from the summit, twice in one day? I love his long dancing sunset shadow at the start of the second descent: