Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    While visiting Mintue Man in Mass. we went on a tour of the Wayside House. The Ranger (Ed Wilder, I believe) was so passionate about his talk. He made the place come alive. He knew his stuff and shared it with great intensity. If you had not read Alcott and Hawthorne before the tour, you would certainly be reading these authors after the tour. Ed did an absolutely fantastic job.

    We also attended a Ranger talk on hiking in the Grand Canyon. The Ranger brought different tents, different water bottles, etc etc all to explain the options of hiking in the canyon. He was extremely informative and interesting to listen to.

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Rick, I'm sure he had a fiddle, not a violin;-)

    Seriously, that does sound like a great program. I fiddle around a bit, but no way I'd take it out in public. Folks would stone me.

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Two summers ago when I was volunteering at the Ranger Museum in Yellowstone, I attended an evening program at the small camground at Norris Junction. The topic for the evening had to do with the history of Yellowstone NP. The seasoal interpretive ranger giving the talk was also a concert violinst and brought his instrument to the campfire circle. At various times throughout his talk, he would say something like this: "During the time the US Army patrolled Yellowstone before the creation of the National Park Service, they always had a fiddler. If you had been a soldier, this is what you might have heard." He then played a fiddle tune on his violin. He did this several times throughout the program, playing music that his audience might have heard when the concession employees put on evening entertainment for visitors or music they might have heard after WWII when parks tried to lure visitors back.

    I estimate that I attended 200 or so evening campfire programs during my career with the NPS--even gave some myself. I thought I had seen everything, but this experience proved I hadn't. I had seen guitars at evening programs but never a violin. The audience loved it!! It was a program to remember.

    Rick Smith

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    We visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield in 2006 and greatly enjoyed a battle talk given by one the seasonal rangers who also teaches at a college in Texas. Very informative and entertaining. My husband and I still talk about it and would like to hear it again.

    We visited Glacier on the same trip and took a hike with a ranger (I think his name was Denver) who introduced us to thimbleberries. My kids loved them and I think they will always remember that hike.

  • Reader Participation Survey: What Was Your Most Fascinating National Park Interpretive Program?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    A long time ago, we did a ranger led snowshoe hike in Yosemite. I don't remember anything the ranger said or exactly where we went. I just remember how magical it felt to be able to be out there. No one else was out and about; it was just 4 of us including the ranger. It was the highlight of the trip. That, and stepping outside the cabin in the morning to see chunks of ice flowing in the creek/river just below one of the falls.

  • Here's Your Window Into the Second Century Commission On National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    The second century of the National Park System almost certainly be far more challenging than the last. Both as a nation and a planet we will confront the full brunt of climate change, energy resources limits, an economy that must transition from one of exponential growth to one of sustainability and the likelihood of less per capita disposal income. The management of the national parks will have to make major adjustments to adapt to the realities and demands of a much different world.

  • Great Smoky’s Highway 441 to be Closed Temporarily for 75th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony   5 years 26 weeks ago

    For updated road and weather information, call the park at this number: (865) 436-1200. Once you hear a voice, dial extension 631 for road information or extension 630 for a weather forecast. You may wish to write this number down when traveling to the area for handy reference for road and weather updates.

  • Great Smoky’s Highway 441 to be Closed Temporarily for 75th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony   5 years 26 weeks ago

    What is the best way to find out 441 road conditions--traffic, closings for weather, etc--throughout the period that I40 is closed?

  • Missing Hiker Found Deceased on Flanks of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Never quit moving - and never stop having adventures. I had a dear friend who died while windsurfing in big waves on Maui. He was 72. He knew he was taking chances, but he was doing something he loved. Indications are that he probably had a stroke and drowned in the turbulent water. Another windsurfer happened to see his body and tried to pull him onto his board and revive him. Lifeguards were notified and went out to retrieve him from the surf. Had he stayed on shore and simply watched others sail he probably would be alive today. Those who tried to help would not have put themselves in harms way. Was he wrong to go into challenging conditions? I guess that depends on your point of view. His wife misses him terribly, but she said that he went the way he would have picked if given the choice. The people who knew him agreed. He is missed but not mourned.

  • Missing Hiker Found Deceased on Flanks of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    replying to you ANONYMOUS:: Let us not be so judgemental, do you have any facts or realize he was a husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle etc. He has had many triumphs throughout his life, not only be being a Dr. saving lives, but by experiencing life to its fullest. How do you know Wade was warned of dangers?? Everyone is grateful to the people and animals whom searched for him. Why did you keep yourself anonymous?

  • Missing Hiker Found Deceased on Flanks of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Well said Kurt.

    As a long-standing member of another California SAR team, we always have the option of whether or not we respond to a SAR op, but we're never forced. I make that conscious choice every time the pager goes off...and take into consideration many factors...just like many other SAR members from other groups. If a SAR field member is "risking his own life" for someone else, that's his/her choice. Some of us hear a higher calling...and that's just what we do.

    I too salute Mr. Brunette, and all of the others who have reached older adult-hood and continue to hike, climb, mountain bike, etc. and not just roll over.

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I think there probably needs to be a little bit of understanding why the NPS committed to some of these studies when they were already having difficulties with funding and probably couldn't commit to the most rigorous studies to address everything.

    My understanding is that the previous PRNS Superintendent was likely to have extended the Reservation of Use, but that changed under current Superintendent Don Neubacher. In many ways he's been spearheading the rush to remove anything that was "non native" including the non native deer as well as plants that were human placed.

    I've heard that Neubacher and Kevin Lunny used to have a pretty good relationship at one time before Lunny bought out the old Johnson's Oyster Farm. They had to get along since Lunny's family owned one of the historic Letter Ranches for 4 generations and are current leaseholders of ranchland. I believe Neubacher was probably pretty happy that the Lunnys took over the oyster farm since the Johnsons apparently had some serious problems with the conditions and maintenance backlog. Neubacher probably made it clear that he wasn't planning on renewing the ROU. Supposedly Neubacher even said that it would be no problem for the Lunnys to secure some required permits that the Johnsons had been operating without.

    The gloves seemed to have come off after the Lunnys had looked into the terms of the RUO, contacted their attorneys, and came to the conclusion that the RUO could be extended. Then the Lunnys sought out the help of local politicians (Feinstein as well as the Marin Board of Supervisors).

    It's been a wild ride since. I heard that Neubacher then noted that he wasn't about to sign off on the required permits unless the Lunnys agreed in writing that they wouldn't seek to renew the RUO. Apparently he didn't sign off on them until Sen Feinstein intervened. There were indications that Neubacher might have offered up the Lunnys a chance to relocate the operation in Tomales Bay, although that's not ideal since they had a good location already. I don't think that PRNS was likely to have commissioned the study that eventually painted the oyster farm in a bad light had they simply agreed to pack up and leave in 2012. One of the more serious allegations was that PRNS was looking into using their studies to force out the oyster farm before the ROU expired.

    In the end I think all this may be moot. The express authorization for the Secretary of the Interior to extend the Reseervation of Use is in a rider in the appropriations bill that just passed and it was signed into law last weekend. It may not be a slam dunk that the Secretary signs off on it, but it effectively changes the dynamic. Previously the Interior Dept had an internal legal opinion that they couldn't extend the ROU under the terms of the Wilderness Act. The ride gives the Secretary expressed authorization to do so and should theoretically override any other opinion. It also noted that the NAS report was to be considered.

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I have read the full report and have been following the story closely for about three years.

    Your comments suggest you are biased toward the Park Service in this matter. Either that or you are really bad at seeing the forest for the trees. To cite just two examples:

    1. It is not at all correct to say "the NAS report addressed the Becker et al. paper by arguing that correlation is not causation."

    The report says: "it is important to recognize that the analysis showing a relationship between mariculture activities and a decline in the mean seal attendance at two of three haul-out subsites in Drakes Estero does not demonstrate cause and effect."

    This has nothing to do with correlation. The seal data is bad, and the Park Service analysis is wrong. As the Academy says in the very beginning of the report: "NPS selectively presents harbor seal survey data in Drakes Estero and over-interprets the disturbance data which are incomplete and non-representative of
    the full spectrum of disturbance activities in the estero."

    2. It is not at all correct to refer to the Academy's mention of the historical role of oysters in the estero as an "evidence-free assertion." They cite *three papers* as evidence.

    Furthermore, your comment about sedimentation suggests you are missing the point of this aspect of the report. The issue being addressed is that the Park Service has conducted a misinformation campaign designed to make the oyster farm look bad. As the Academy's report says: "none of the NPS documents released to the public acknowledges that oysters were part of the historical baseline ecosystem before substantial human intervention and that oysters typically have largely beneficial biogeochemical functions in estuarine and lagoonal ecosystems."

    In other words, the Park Service documents in question--the ones the Academy of Sciences was asked to review, along with all the available scientific literature--consistently failed to mention that oysters are good for the estero, and that the commercial oyster farm provides the benefits that native oysters did in the past.

    The basic facts are clear. The oyster farm is not causing any harm. The oysters clean the water.

    As the NAS report says: "Our review of available scientific information fails to demonstrate any empirical evidence of food web shifts in response to oyster farming in Drakes Estero. The scientific literature on the effects of culturing oysters and other suspension-feeding bivalves does not support a broad characterization of degradation of function, especially in physically well flushed estuaries and where stocking densities are relatively low, as in
    Drakes Estero."

  • With Year-End Holidays Not Far Off, Consider These National Park Escapes   5 years 26 weeks ago

    You might be interested in an article about a winter trip to Yellowstone that Kay and I wrote for RV Life in December 2008. The web site is at www.rvlife.com. To access the library of past articles place your cursor on "Featured Articles" and click on "Travel." It is one of the articles listed on the third page.

    We found Yellowstone to be delightful during the winter. We encountered a huge snowstorm so bad that the park actually closed for a day or so. We flew to Bozeman and took a bus to West Yellowstone where we spent a day snowmobiling. Then into the park and a night at the Snow Lodge and a couple of nights at Mammoth Hot Springs. It was a trip we will never forget.

  • Missing Hiker Found Deceased on Flanks of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    A lot of unnecessary anger and bitterness here, folks. I hope I have the stamina and ability at 73 to go where Mr. Brunette was going. He obviously wasn't a rookie and he obviously had a love for the mountains. I'd much rather have my time come in such a setting, as opposed to crossing the street and being run over.

    As for those search-and-rescue teams that went in search, that's their job, and they do it with the hope they can save someone's life or lead someone to safety, and with full understanding that they could be putting themselves in harm's way.

    I say raise a glass in honor of Mr. Brunette's spirit and determination, and in thanks for the SAR crews ready to go out at a moment's notice. (And a donation to your local SAR organization wouldn't hurt, either...)

  • Missing Hiker Found Deceased on Flanks of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    This shouldnt have happened......the main problem is hiking alone.....this also put the 100 searchers in danger with the winds and cold temps.....Mr Brunette died doing what he loved.....only soo many of us will be that lucky.....like I tell everyone else....enjoy life, but if you do something stupid, make sure it hurts or kills you ONLY....no one else.....my thoughts go to his family who have to deal with the aftermath.......

  • With Year-End Holidays Not Far Off, Consider These National Park Escapes   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Connie
    Hi sight-seer! As Park Enthusiasts, our family goes to Yellowstone at least twice a year but we made our first ever trip to Y-stone in Winter this past January and fell in love with the solitude that comes from a Winter experience! We ended our trip by going for an all day dog sled ride based out of Chico Hot Springs, MT. Our son graduated high school in June and loves Y-stone every bit as much as his Dad and I do. Our gift to him is Christmas in Yellowstone this Dec! We will actually wake up Christmas morning at the Snow Lodge. This will probably be a memory that will last a lifetime for all of us! We are all so excited and are counting down the days until we leave!

  • Visiting Zion National Park in November? Here’s the Fall Schedule for the Free Park Shuttle   5 years 26 weeks ago

    This is the normal situation at Zion, they curtail the shuttle in November after the leaves lose their color. It hasn't been that long that there was no shuttle in November. Increased visitorship made it helpful to have the volunteer shuttle.

  • Man Pays $2,500 For Mussels at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, But They Weren't The Main Course   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Speed boating, diesel belching, fat friended miscreant! Ad Hominum anyone?

    Just sounds like a thoughtless scofflaw, actually.

    Oh, where can you get one of those diesel speed boats?

  • Movie Nights At Valley Forge National Historical Park Bring Revolutionary War Films Into View   5 years 26 weeks ago

    What a great idea! I wish I lived closer to the park to take advantage of this. Other parks should look at this and consider something along thet same lines if their facilities support it and their are suitable films, ets to show. GREAT!!!

  • Researchers Survey Some of Mammoth Cave National Park's Many Cemeteries   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I noticed "Little Hope Cemetery" on a visit and stopped to wander through it. Anyone know the origin of the cemetery's name? My assumption has been that it is not a reference to the eternal outlook of those buried there!

  • Visiting Zion National Park in November? Here’s the Fall Schedule for the Free Park Shuttle   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Two weeks ago, parking conditions were quite crowded in Springdale, UT and the availability of the shuttle buses helped a lot. Many buses were filled to capacity and had standing room only available.

    Now that the Zion shuttles are being reduced to a voluntary system only, I worry that traffic congestion will occur in the upper portions of Zion Canyon, especially on weekends when visitation increases to levels commensurate with that seen in early October.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • With Year-End Holidays Not Far Off, Consider These National Park Escapes   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I have not had the opportunity to see Yellowstone in the winter. It is one of my favorite places, though. Considering the beauty during the summer, I can only imagine how great it would be in the winter.

  • What Would Teddy Think?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Dennis...

    It might be the reason. It's equally valid to wonder if the reason I left my last wife was her recipe for oyster stuffing. It was lousy stuffing, but Occam's Razor probably shaves closer to the bone.

  • Worth Considering: A Trip To Canyon de Chelly National Monument   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Do you know whether there's snow in the Canyon in early April? When is the earliest in the year that we can be pretty assured of not hiking in the snow?