Recent comments

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Anon, I'm afraid that trying to define environmental resource values in terms of human activities will not get you very far. Among the most valuable resources on the planet are ecosystems and landscapes providing free services in the form of watershed protection, erosion control, storm buffering, pollution filtering, aquifer recharge, nurseries for commercial fish stocks, etc. To qualify as resources, none of these areas/places require direct human access or exploitation. In fact, they would be resources even if no human ever set foot on them.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   5 years 17 weeks ago

    D-2 your posts lead me to believe that you have no first hand or other actual experience in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreation Area.

    If where you come from you lump everything together as being an "all terrain vehicle" where you come from must be a terribly misguided place. An "off road vehicle" is simply a vehicle that can go some places other than roads, but by no stretch of the imagination everywhere. Overwhelmingly these are the same "family cars" that people use on an everyday basis to commute to work or drive the family places, there simply aren't packs "Yahoos" running all over the park in "ATV's" tearing things up. That type of activity only exists in the minds of enviro extremist types like yourself.

    Another thing those like yourself who draw their conclusions from a few media reports, usually based on a press release from one of the environmental groups; is when you see numbers regarding the "miles" of beach open to ORV's VS. miles closed you must keep in mind that A LINE CONTAINS NO AREA. You have to realize that many of those "miles" are actually little more than narrow corridors, kind of like a "road" and are used to access places for RECREATION like swimming fishing and surfing. In relation to the total acres in the park an incredibly small amount of area is actually open to ORV traffic.

    Another point you might consider is your use of the term "resource". Perhaps you should look up the definition: 1 a: a source of supply or support : an available means —usually used in plural b: a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural c: a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life.

    Enhances the quality of human life? Hmm, wouldn't that mean if we don't make some use of it, it's not a resource? So when they place all the signs and string barriers up banning all human activity within an area THAT IS DESTROYING THE RESOURCE. Parks are for people, the resources need to be managed to ensure their continued existence, THAT is what has been going on in this seashore. It's the environmental groups that have taken management of our parks into the courts and wasted billions of dollars.

    You may also wish to note that "wintering habitat" rules and closures would start each year in JULY!

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Ted,

    I'm not going to defend liberal environmentalism or caricatures of the views of the people I know working on these issues - which are far more diverse than that.

    You are right that the ag/livestock control of politics is far greater than their numbers or even their economic influence in these states. That sector makes up about 1% of the GDP of Montana, where I live. Yet, every politician in every commercial embraces the imagery and mythology of the cowboy. And, something in that imagery that attracts both major parties to adopt it in every campaign ad, that attracts the state's population to elect time after time people who fit out a certain biographical profile unrepresentative of the demographics in the states, does reflect a repudiation of sorts of what you call liberal-environmentalism - a movement that has been poorly represented by the sell out NGOs who spend more time in court, raising money, selling calendars, and schmoozing with the government that westerners so rightly are mistrustful of. That the no growth policies of these groups often shows no class consciousness at all, it's not remarkable to me that people will settle for the ranchers (that they don't care for either) than for an environmentally conscious perspective.

    But, there are also institutional advantages, which help perpetuate the ag/livestock power over these states that have little to do with society around us. They are the ones already in power and have been in power for a long time; it's easy to continue leveraging that power. It's not easy to break a good old boy network. Secondly, legislative sessions are in the winter months, making it much easier for a ranch owner - already rich to begin with - to run for office and serve in the state legislatures. And, thirdly, when both major parties have adopted the mythology, there never really is any choice in the vote - outside of certain urban enclaves. I should mention that fourthly, the broadcast media in the state shows an obvious bias toward the entrenched power in the state.

    All that said, I don't disagree that there's a need to confront and inform the society at large to the extent that power rests first and foremost with the people, though it's hardly exercised by people (except by the sinkhole of electoral politics - which drains people of their power, though it's sold as empowering). That's why in the end, it doesn't really matter if it's Grijalva, Salazar, or Kempthorne. You don't hope to fix entrenched power by playing the game designed by those forces. That was always the contradiction of Obama's candidacy - he called on people to take responsibility, work from the ground up - all to elect someone to the most authoritarian position in the world, to strip away the power of special interests so that he alone could have that power (and therefore not need to make appointments based on the desires of any constituency) - provided on a platter by a grassroots effort. Imagine what that kind of community organizing could do if we actually used that organizing capacity to actually empower people to work toward undermining the entrenched powers that be.

    I don't think that's a liberal point of view. But, is it environmentalist? It's at least non-anthropocentric - why it is is an essay in and of itself.

    In any event, from the standpoint of an organizer, Grijalva would have given us a better chance of success. The choice of Salazar only further clarifies that our efforts on some of these issues are in resistance and not in partnership. The dam would have simply broken a little easier with Grijalva in power.

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

  • Did Mount Rainier National Park Leave Contractor Holding The Bill?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    It is doubtful this is a 'Parks issue'. The building trades - and many other businesses, like logging - use the General Contractor and Sub-Contractor model. The roofing-contractor would most likely have no relationship with the Park whatsoever - his agreements were with the GC.

    Unless there is some major, unusual detail that alters the overall picture, this is a fracas between the roofer and the General Contractor ... with the roofer putting up a smoke-screen and fabricating media-interest by seemingly dragging the Park into it.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    MRC notes:

    "... solid 100% from the American Wilderness Coalition in consecutive years looks impressive to me ..."
    AWC is a land-acquisition organization, i.e., aiming to buy up private land, making it sound like a 'wilderness' score. The success of certain early-adopters (Nature Conservancy, et al) of this 'model' has encouraged a proliferation of knock-offs both local and national. They are essentially 21st C. versions of the great timber companies, amassing land as a worthy goal in itself ... and sweet-talking the public into tax-deductible contributions to fund their purchases! These organizations show a clear inclination to both conservative politics, and Conservation - as opposed to Preservation - environmentalism. Ken Salazar suits their purposes & aims, just fine ... but these are not 'tree-hugger' outfits.

    Jim M. said:

    What initially turned me off [to Ken Salazar] was his early support for Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyo. for the Interior post, a person who would be a disaster and has fought hard for Wyoming's draconian policies on wolves.

    In these parts, the agricultural and livestock interests people have never shown any ability to get around wildlife issues. So called progressive ranchers like Gov. Schweitzer, for instance, have done absolutely nothing for the problems in Yellowstone they have say in, particularly bison. But, also that can be stretched to apply to wolves and elk, as well.

    To be involved in "agriculture" or "livestock" in the Rocky Mountain & Western States, one must own considerable amounts of real estate, and capital infrastructure. It's expensive, big-time. People who own those kinds of resources range between truly wealthy and unimaginably wealthy. As such, they constitute a tiny (demographically, electorally insignificant) portion of the population.

    The constituencies who are swinging ballot-issues contrary to your preferences (and those of many regulars on this website), are not "agricultural and livestock interests people" because there isn't anywhere near enough of them. Instead, it is the more-ordinary citizens who occupy a broad range the full spectrum of positions & roles in society who's votes are enacting the policies that you (and many others here) oppose. Wealthy ranchers etc often provide the leadership & seed-money, yes, but it is 'real' people who provide the votes that establish policy in Wyoming, Colorado, and other Western regions.

    It is widely perceived that a major purpose & intent of the introduction of wolves, buffalo, etc, was from the beginning to undercut & challenge the social & business bases which exist in Western regions. The Spotted Owl was about damaging logging in the Pacific Northwest. Nobody with two brain cells still talking to each other, ever imagined that Yellowstone buffalo would confine themselves to the Park boundaries. Wolf-proponents don't want healthy populations of wolves, they want Sacred Cows to which all other interests & factors must bow-down.

    In manipulating & misrepresenting issues as they have, liberal-environmentalism has earned the ire of large portions of the ordinary folk throughout the West ... and that is why we see the success of figures like Ken Salazar. The problem you find yourself confronting is not "agricultural and livestock interests people", it's the very society around you.

    Now, the question why President-elect Obama would see fit to pick a figure like Salazar to be Sec. of Interior is another, and also intriguing matter ...

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    If you look at the American Wilderness Coalition ratings, that can't be based on more than 3 to 4 votes because the ratings are either 0% 33% 50% 66% 75% or 100%, which is not a telling rating at all.

    What concerns me in what I have read about Salazar are all the specifics raised here and elsewhere, that he has a history even on those issues he has supported of working for the concerns of certain constituents in Colorado rather than the environment at large.

    What initially turned me off was his early support for Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyo. for the Interior post, a person who would be a disaster and has fought hard for Wyoming's draconian policies on wolves.

    In these parts, the agricultural and livestock interests people have never shown any ability to get around wildlife issues. So called progressive ranchers like Gov. Schweitzer, for instance, have done absolutely nothing for the problems in Yellowstone they have say in, particularly bison. But, also that can be stretched to apply to wolves and elk, as well. Anyone who has a 25% rating from an organization as lukewarm as the Humane Society of the United States (perhaps I should disclose that my ex-wife is an employee of HSUS) has got to be troubling for an interior position.

    The fact remains that a huge number of western environmental groups signed a letter in support of Grijalva. He was an early favorite, and then something happened. Then, Pelosi supposedly offered him a position in Ways and Means to appease him (rumor on one site has been that he turned it down). It's not clear who is served by this choice. It's doubtful that Republicans are enamored with him; it's clear that environmentalists wanted someone else.

    Now, I don't really care; I would have been skeptical even if Grijalva had been chosen because I'm distrustful of government entirely when it comes to these issues. So, you could have gone all the way to Grijalva, and you would have at best begun to thaw my cynicism. However, that much would have provided just that much more hope and motivation that someone very knowledgeable on parks and interior issues and sympathetic to the mismanagement of the last eight years would have been in charge. And, if he of all people failed, that would have made just much of a stronger case for the need for a much stronger grassroots movement to deal with all the ills in our world as opposed to a reliance on government to fix everything.

    I mean, look, I left a blank ballot for President; what we are getting from Obama is exactly what I expected. He never claimed to be anything except exactly what he is. However, the choice of Grijalva would have been an unexpected and welcome surprise.

    With Salazar, we are merely going to get an adjustment on business as usual, which isn't enough when a lot of things are quite dire. We can't simply measure things based on the alternatives in the two-party system; that may be politically pragmatic, but it's not environmentally pragmatic. The world needs more, and if it can't get more from the politicians (and even if it can), it needs more from us. And, that had better be practical or we live in a truly cynical and doomed world, not one I wish to be a part of. Luckily, at heart, I'm the eternal optimist when it comes to the possibility of all us to do more and be empowered to take effective action.

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

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    The Denver Post reports that Sen. Ken Salazar is our new Secretary of the Interior. Here in Colorado the Senator has served as Attorney General, and had his eye on the Agriculture post, presumably because his family is in that business. It will be interesting to see how he balances the needs of agriculture and conservation/preservation.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    What are yur issues with Salazar?

    I did not follow his track record so far, but solid 100% from the American Wilderness Coalition in consecutive years looks impressive to me: http://www.votesmart.org/issue_rating_category.php?category=30&go.x=13&go.y=13&can_id=1541&type=category

  • Comment Now: Yosemite National Park, Merced WSR Draft Outstandingly Remarkable Values Report   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I love the Merced river valley in Yosemite for its deep clear pools, calm power, and the meanders.

    The riparian botany there is unique and beautiful. Little I've known compares to a (prohibited) night under the stars in 'the meadows.' Or a misty morning walk through the dogwood blossoms.

    West of the park the rapids seem unnavigable and are truly impressive - again, that power, but with a speed not seen in the Valley.

  • Is Florida's Blockbuster Sugar Deal to Help the Everlgades In Danger of Collapse?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I'm improvising here - brainstorming sort of...sugar cane is in the graminae family - grasses/river of grass. Lawns - agritoxins in water, unnatural species - what works there works there and can probably be integrated into the community gardening/aesthetic needs.

    Water management remains the key. How to? Surface techniques...

    Carry on then.

  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Working on Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Nabesna Road is a major Native inholding area & community on the north side of Wrangell-St Elias. WRST has become the poster-child & test-case for both subsistence issues and ORVs (4 wheelers, mainly, as snowmobiles are less controversial). WRST has well over a million acres of inholdings - more than most of our 'big' Parks, just as inholdings!

    Management largely 'stiffed' subsistence for a long time, but they about-faced in recent years, and opened up the action to the extent that even tourists can now rent ATVs and run around by themselves ... albeit on designated trails & routes.

    It's always a hairball trying to know what's really going on with lawsuits like this, but the fact it's Nabesna - which is primarily about Native interests, lands & activities - is suggestive. Recent-years background supports a relatively permissive resolution.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Ken Salazar's "Environmental Record" on Wikipedia reads:

    "As Colorado's Attorney General, Salazar actively opposed endangered species listing of the black-tailed prairie dog, which, despite its population declines, is still listed as a "pest" by Colorado.[2]

    In 2005, Salazar voted against increasing fuel-efficiency standards (CAFE) for cars and trucks, a vote that the League of Conservation Voters notes is anti-environment. In the same year, Salazar voted against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major oil companies. [3]

    In 2006, Salazar voted to end protections that limit off-shore drilling in Florida's Gulf Coast.[4]

    In 2007, Salazar was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the US Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects.[5]

    According to Project Vote Smart, Ken Salazar received a 25% vote rating for 2007 by the Humane Society of the United States [6], a 0% vote rating for 2005-2006 for Fund for Animals [7], and a 60% vote rating for 2007 by Defenders of Wilderness [8].

    Save a copy, before the edit-army hits his entry. ;-)

    [P.S. I am having a discouraging experience with the CAPTCHA routine on this site. Seriously, I am not blind or illiterate ... but you'd never guess it from the hassle I'm getting...]

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Jim, c'mon, let's get some specifics. I didn't read all 46 comments, but the few I did were tossing around glib generalities.

    I probably didn't read far enough down, but I didn't see one mention that he's pro guns in the parks. That's a strike against him.

    Nor did I see any mention that as director of Colorado's DNR he "authored the Great Outdoors Colorado Amendment, which created a massive land conservation program of which he became chairman. Salazar also created the Youth in Natural Resources program to provide for environmental education in public schools. In his cabinet role, he established reforms that forced mining and oil operations to better protect the surrounding environment." Those should be three positives, no?

    Also, he was the first Senate Democrat to speak out against Paul Hoffman's handiwork with the Management Policies and he cosponsored legislation to fund the NPS centennial. Another plus.

    True, he publicly was friends with Alberto Gonzalez and Joe Lieberman, probably not two of his better decisions.

    No doubt there are stronger voices, those with higher public profiles. This isn't an endorsement, but really, wouldn't anyone picked by the incoming administration be better than the most recent Interior secretaries?

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    An interesting conversation about Salazar going on here ... http://wolves.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/it-looks-a-lot-like-ken-salazar-as-secretary-of-interior/#comments .

    I don't know if two steps up from the bottom rungs of hell is good enough. As the conversation at the link makes clear, I think the lesson in this is that the template for change and leadership has to come from the bottom rather than from the top.

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

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Jim, perhaps you could specifically cite your concerns with Salazar. Frankly, anyone the new administration selects should be a step up from the last two Interior secretaries, no?

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago
  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    And, it looks like Salazar may indeed been offered the job -- see http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/dec/15/ken-salazar-mum-possible-interior-secretary-appoin/ .

    The AP's new list of possible appointments has taken down Grijalva's name from its list -

    INTERIOR SECRETARY
    Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.
    David J. Hayes, head of Obama's transition teams for energy and natural resources agencies and former deputy interior secretary under Clinton.
    John Berry, director of the National Zoo

    Reuters also lists Salazar as the top candidate: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE4BC14N20081215 .

    And, I don't think everyone will be none too happy with this selection, at least those who care.

    Wow, and we almost had Grijalva -- God help us.

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

  • Is Florida's Blockbuster Sugar Deal to Help the Everlgades In Danger of Collapse?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    There are several important points missing in your article - the price tag of close to $3B after interest on the certificates of particpation - the halting of projects in the works because the district will not have money for any projects - the possibility that an further downturn in the economy (property assessments) could bankrupt the agency. While Everglades Restoration is important all of ENP currently receives water at the 10 ppb P mandate. It is only the water conservation areas that were created for just that purpose and now are Everglades Protected Areas that need refining. Everyone from Orlando south changed the Everglades - forever. The price of restoration should not include the demise of inland communities to be sacrificed for coastal water supply and pay for a plan that is not a plan. You see it will take years to come up with one and the remaining acres for restoration 65,000 (more than those of USSC) aren't in the deal. The dream of restoration under this deal will turn into a nightmare.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Obama is just another hack politician spawned in the infamous and mightily corrupt Chicago machine; which has, down through the years, given us the likes of Richard Daley, Dan Rostenkowski and now Governor Rod Blagojevich to name but a few.

    To think that Mr. Obama possesses a vision that is more sophisticated than the art of backroom political maneuvering, shady cash infused deal-making and altruistic sounding taxpayer shakedowns is nothing more than pure hope-filled naivety on the part of any NPT readers that think otherwise.

    He will pick the most politically expedient people for ALL of his cabinet positions, regardless of their qualifications. The politicking has just begun and the ways of the Imperial Presidency will now reflect the modus operandi of Crook County, dead voter rolls and all.

    If you're well connected enough he can probably get your cousin a superintendency somewhere out West that he won't even have to show up to work for.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    Things are pointing today, unfortunately, to Ken Salazar being appointed. According to the Denver Post, this is likely. I think you'll hear from a lot of environmentalists who would have wished they had Mike Thompson, if they knew they'd get stuck with a guy like Salazar.

    Is it too soon to talk about the re-emergence of the Green Party four years from now? I don't think Obama realizes the degree to which he will anger people with this Interior choice. The sense a lot of people have is that Obama has no understanding of interior issues at all, which is why this selection process for interior has been so bungled and contentious.

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

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 17 weeks ago

    I agree with d-2. One of the attractive features for Democrats of the suggestion that Raul Grijalva from Arizona be appointed is that there is little chance that they would lose that seat in a new election.

    I heard Rep. Grijalva speak this weekend at the annual meeting of the Association of National Park Rangers in Santa Fe. His message of the restoration and reinvigoration of the National Park Service was refreshing to hear. I know there are frequent posters on NPT who believe that government agencies such as the NPS are incapable of managing a complex system of protected areas. I don't buy that. Given sufficient support and resources, the NPS can manage the National Park System. But, as d-2 points out, it will take enlightened leadership at the DOI and the appointment of a first-class professional as the Director of the NPS to make that happen. We can't afford to have political affiliation or geographic location be the determining litmus tests.

    Rick Smith

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 18 weeks ago

    I would think Mr. Obama would want to hold on to Democrats, like the Udalls, in previously Republican seats. Too dangerous to re-open those seats.

    But it is interesting that so few substantial candidates are in the mix for the Secretary of the Interior's job. Once held by distinguished statesmen like Harold Ickes, Rodgers Morton, and Cecil Andrus, you would hope the Obama people could identify a stronger field of candidates.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 18 weeks ago

    Tommy Franks...let's get a military man in there to shape things up (or perhaps he would be better as NPS Director). The parks were run extremely well in days past when the military ran them. Sharp-looking rangers in sharp uniforms, who had good core values in service to the American people. "Yes sir", "yes ma'am" versus "yeah, dude."

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 18 weeks ago

    As a Liberal, I disagree with Bush 95+% of the time. However, I like this regulation change. I believe in all the Bill of Rights, not just those that are supported by the left or right. You are also fooling yourself, if you think that people aren't already bringing concealed weapons into National Parks for self protection. Another misconception I hear is that gun owners are looking for a fight. I think the reverse is true. Every CCW holder knows that if they use their weapon to protect themselves they could still face some legal and certain civil repercussions even if it is for self defense.

    I am a father of a 7 and a 9 year old daughters and CCW permit holder. When I go camping, I am always thinking of how to avoid confrontation with other campers and animals. I am more concerned about people than animals. If the lives of my family are seriously threatened, I intend to ensure they walk away alive. It is better to be judged by 12, than have your child carried by 6.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 18 weeks ago

    I would second the Udall connection and suggest newly-elected Senator Mark Udall from Colorado. As the former head of Colorado Outward Bound and a long-time congressman from CO as well as a whitewater kayaker, he understands the West, the public lands, and politics. I had the privilege of paddling the Yampa River years ago with Mark Udall as well as one of my heroes Mo Udall. Of course Stewart Udall was a great Sec of Interior during the 60's. It would be great to see Mark continue the family legacy.