Recent comments

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    First mainstream press on the bison deaths:

    http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/articles/2009/04/16/news/10bison.txt

    Looks like it wasn't a Honda but a Ford Fusion as had been told to me - http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/articles/2009/04/16/news/10bison.txt (says there were minor injuries in the first incident, and the car totaled - which I had heard from a resident of West Yellowstone who talked to the woman who crashed her car)

    Three vehicles, two incidents apparently near each other - which helps explain to me why someone from BFC told me 2 incidents and someone who lives on Horse Butte had said she had heard of three separate incidents on the scanner.

    What the article doesn't say is how awful the deaths of some of the animals were; apparently, after the first incident, some bison lingered on throughout the night until a DOL agent finally put them out of their misery. I guess it's one of the first times I had wished the DOL had been there to kill a bison earlier.

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

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Kurt is right about your best bet to see wolves is in the Lamar Valley - or wherever you see large groups of people with spotting scopes. The wolves follow the elk herds; a lot of wolves leave the park in the winter to follow the herds; they will return as the elk return. Wolf numbers in the park are lower this year, however. Diseases like dysentery and mange have really hurt Yellowstone wolf populations in the last year.

    As for activities, it's going to be moist or snowy, a lot of trails will be closed because of snow or bear management - check with a visitor's center. Your greatest activity will be to witness a really neat time of year when you can see large chunks of Yellowstone that still look something like winter but which you can now reach with your car. Boardwalks may have layers of snow on them that you'll have to walk on a couple feet thick; so even geyser watching isn't as relaxing as it might be later in the year. You might try snowshoeing, but if it's warm, the snow will just stick to them. It's beautiful, but it's probably the least accessible time of year - even the dead of winter is easier to get around - at least then you can hop on skis and snowshoes and navigate through fine powder while bears are denning. Spring is probably the yuckiest time of year in these parts; muddy and slushy with unpredictable weather - however, it is beautiful - on one of the Traveler Forums, I posted some pictures from the first weekend last year.

    As for an update on the bison, look for an article this Friday in the West Yellowstone News. A Buffalo Field Campaign source heard from someone at that paper that the Montana Department of Transportation plans on changing the electronic signage to refer specifically to bison on the roadway and to announce that 15 bison have been killed. They seem open to working on ensuring a safe passage for buffalo crossing the road.

    Letters have started going out; I'm going to wait until tomorrow to post a letter signed by several groups (local and national) on our Web site - http://www.buffaloallies.org - 's Web site. I'm going to wait until it's likely that the government officials have received their email. To preview it, it calls for better signage, for reducing the speed limit until at least June 1 on that stretch of road from 55 mph to 45 mph, calls for more enforcement of existing laws, and more prevention. I know that Buffalo Field Campaign has some people certified to flag and some signs - they are now out there at night - but they don't have the authority to help the buffalo off the road; this would call on agencies to do that.

    A lot of these demands, though, feel a little farcical to me since those same bison are going to be forced by Montana well inside the park after May 15; to date, though, bison have not been hazed west of the park, and the trap at Horse Butte hasn't even been set up - there is more tolerance this year under adaptations to the Interagency Bison Management Plan. However, bison are likely to still be calving after May 15; so they will be pushed off the roads into the park, and so there won't be quite the same danger on US 191 after June 1. So, it's ironic to push for transportation regulations with June 1 in mind, knowing what the management of bison is.

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

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I just heard about this tonight from the "cool moms" webmail thread. I would love to take my son and since I was laid off from my job of 18 years -camping is all we can afford this summer for a getaway. I think he would love to camp at Camp Long which is in our neighborhood! super idea!

  • Sour Economy Has Created Lots of Availability At Yellowstone National Park Lodges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Your suggestion in re: to using a credit card to make a reservation is a good one. I have had the experience of having reservations on an airline that went out of business. Fortunately, I used a credit card. Even then it took awhile to get the charge removed. Here on Maui the tourist industry is truly hurting with visitation down more than 20%. In Hawaii, when tourism is cut everyone bleeds.

  • Sour Economy Has Created Lots of Availability At Yellowstone National Park Lodges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I appreciate Strykers comments. This is an opportunity for all us USA'ers an others to support our parks. Get out here. Spend some money and save some at the same time. Our parks employees and services need our visitation. Its a great time to show our kids our natural treasures and instill the wonders and value of our National and State Parks.

  • What's The Latest On Search For New National Park Service Director? No One's Saying   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I nominate Bill Wade or Rick Smith.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Very well stated, Frank C. Wildlife attacks in national parks resulting in serious injury or death are rare. A park visitor is far more likely to be injured or killed by auto accidents, severe weather, falling, rock falls, dehydration, etc. The most important thing to remember about wild animals is that they are wild. The less wild they are the more likely they are to be involved in confrontations with humans.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Well, you're definitely hitting it between seasons, as they say. Still, you might be able to find some good snowshoeing in some areas of the parks.

    It's probably too much of a ride, but if you're an early riser, Grand Teton rangers are leading tours to watch strutting grouse:

    Strutting Grouse Tours provide an opportunity to acknowledge the seasonal change and the chance to watch a fascinating ritual as grouse congregate to perform animated mating displays on their traditional lek (mating arena) located just off the Antelope Flats Road. Ranger-led tours start bright and early at 5:30 a.m. on weekend mornings from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Depending upon snow conditions, the first tour is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 11; there will not be a tour on Easter Sunday. Other tours will be held on April 18-19, and April 25-26. Reservations are required and participants are advised to phone the Discovery Center at 739.3399 to reserve a spot and to get information about what to wear and bring along on these April tours.

    Just north of downtown Jackson is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. It's a great way to spend a couple of hours if you like art and wildlife. Downtown Jackson has more than a few art galleries as well.

    In West Yellowstone, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center offers up-close looks at both wolves and grizzlies in natural settings. And West Yellowstone also has an Imax. The Yellowstone museum in town also is interesting.

    You might also check with the Teton Science School to see what Wildlife Expeditions they might be offering.

    And if you check each park's website and look under "Things to Do" you should be able to find a list of outfitters that offer various activities in the parks, such as wildlife tours, photography tours, etc.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Thanks Kurt,

    I'll keep my eye out for them. Do you know if there will be any activities going on next week both in Yellowstone and in the Teton areas. I looked into snowmobile's and they've already shut down for the season. I also looked into some horseback riding but appears they're not open yet. Any other suggestions that my wife and I might be able to do during our week long visit.

    Thanks again,

  • What's The Latest On Search For New National Park Service Director? No One's Saying   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Aside from the serious resource and science issues, the new director will face some daunting fiscal challenges over the next four to eight years even with the so-called stimulus money. The maintenance backlog will continue to grow, budget growth will be minimal at best, and the Service will face declining revenue and support from its non-profit and private sector partners as the federal government seeks to increase control and taxation of these historically generous groups. In addition, the new director must deal with the expectations of an enthusiastic, reawakened environmental community, one that has been marginalized for the last eight years. This director will need to finesse many unrealized expectations in the first term. I agree, Kurt, there will be no lack of challenge and opportunity for the next director. My preference? I'd like to see the Service led by an NPS grunt with a resource management background, one who defends employees and holds them as important as resources, and a team player who can build lasting community partnerships as an alternative to reliance on federal funding. That's a big order, but there are a few folks out there who could qualify.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Mike, I've always had great luck in the Lamar Valley. It's big and open, home to several wolf packs, and full of elk and bison and, at this time of year, has its share of winter-kill.

    There are two packs -- the Nez Perce and Swan Lake packs -- that divvy up the landscape on the west side of the loop road between Norris and Mammoth, so you might luck out and see some along that stretch.

    Good luck!

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Hey Jim,

    Thanks for all the detailed information. My Wife and I will be on vacation in West Yellowstone at the Wyndham Resort this weekend. I've always wanted to see Yellowstone with a blanket of snow and my wife has never been, so she won't know exactly what the difference is from the summer months. However, I was inquiring about the wolves. Have they been spotted yet and where might the best accessible location be to spot wolves?

    Thanks Again

  • National Park Quiz 50: Wilderness   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Bob--

    I had to get out a map and look at all the states west of the Mississippi before I got #11 right. I missed #3. I thought the USFS has more designated wilderness acres than does the NPS. Good question! Hard quiz.

    Rick Smith

  • National Park Quiz 50: Wilderness   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Bob --

    Once again, another great quiz. Me, I'm just proud of getting the Gates of the Arctic-Noatak question right !

    And, as always from you guys, a great photo, too.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    generally speaking, I agree that the current location is already a bit ugly with stuff. I dont like the 80 foot height - seems to be double anything else on the same site. But more importantly, why is it necessary to run this tower with propane during an era when we understand that burning fossil fuels generates CO2 emissions which cause global warming? Lots of companies are running remote facilities with photovoltaics. Is the problem here that the tower requires so much power than the land mass needed for photovoltaics is also large?

    If that is the case, I would prefer no tower - not because of the aesthetics, but because of the polluting power source.

  • Clock Ticking On Decision Regarding Stocking North Cascades National Park With Non-Native Fish   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Frankly I'm shocked that this is still going on. I thought we had learned better. How many millions have been spent trying to remove lake trout from Yellowstone Lake? I can't imagine a democratic congress intervening in this. Hope I'm not wrong.

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Even though the NPS has to go through Whistleblower training, they break the law and punish the whistle blowers. I was accused of not being a "team player" and had bad references given by one park where I worked. I had turned in a coworker of mine for having "relations" with her LE boyfriend in an historic house. She got to keep her job and I had this poor reputation follow me for a few years.

  • By the Numbers: President Bush’s National Park Legacy   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Great Sand Dunes National Park is Clinton's legacy. It just didn't take affect until Bush was in office.

  • National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations   5 years 19 weeks ago

    As the original story confirms, a taser is a valuable tool that provides an alternative to a firearm.

    Yes, it has to be used correctly, and use of a taser occasionally has unintended consequences - but the odds of both the ranger and the subject surviving the incident are much higher than if a firearm were used.

  • National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Tasers are very dangerous and overused. Ive had friends who were tased without warning in protest situations, and they can do some real damage. At least with a gun, the law enforcement officer thinks twice before doing it.

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

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Most animal attacks (with the exception of those involving sick animals) are the fault of humans. Not necessarily the human that was attacked. Possibly other hikers had seen this young bear, felt sorry for it, and had been feeding it. A recipe for disaster. It is even possible that this family had been feeding it. I'm not saying they were, but we will never know. The point is that somewhere, somehow, a human being (or more than one) was most likely responsible for this attack. The bear pays with its life, before ever getting a real chance to live. People aren't defending "the animals more than "human life & safety"" as someone says above, they are simply seeing the tragedy in all of this. The boy should not have been hurt. The animal should not have been killed. The two principals here are innocent victims; yet someone is at fault: The parents? Other hikers? We will probably never know.
    The rangers reported "strange behavior" from the bear. Good "buzz words" to justify shooting it. Most likely, killing the bear was the quickest and easiest "solution". Hazing or relocating (or preferably a combination of the two) would be costly, time consumming and probably not politically correct when a child was involved. Far easier to announce to the world, "We've killed the "monster" and the woods are once again safe for little children; when, of course, the woods have never (and never will be) 100% safe for anyone. I remember always telling my own children that the moment they step out of the car and walk into the woods, they have made a conscious decision to become a part of the food chain. Be smart, be aware, and you will be fine. Walk out there with the attitude, "I'm a human being! Nothing's gonna happen to me!" and you may be hurt or worse. Make like Bambi, because you are one of the smallest, most vulnerable creatures out there.
    On more than one occasion I have seen people throw food out of their car window at roadside bears in Yellowstone. I don't know if these people are just stupid, uneducated or they simply don't care. In any case, fines should be quadrupled and education programs increased. Perhaps a "wildlife safety test" should be given to all vistors. Fill in the answers and return to a ranger station to receive a pin or perhaps a coupon for 15% off at park gift stores.....something.
    Finally, I will say it once again. Wildlife attacks are very, very rare. At least when we are talking about mega-fauna (insect attacks are, of course, pretty common!) Attacks by bears, mountain lions etc. make the news because they are rare, not because they are common. Thousands of domestic dogs attack children every year. Many children die from such attacks. Yet we do not hear anyone saying that there are "too many dogs" or that "something needs to be done". Nor do these stories usually make the national headlines, because they are common. In Yellowstone, for example, I am told that your chance of being struck by lightning or being killed by a bear are about the same! Millions of people visit our parks and forests every year. A few dozen are injured by wildlife. Let's put this into perspective.

  • National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Great with tasers killing people all over the country why not in the national parks too! Yogi and boo boo packing electrical heat I FEEL SO SECURE.

  • Clock Ticking On Decision Regarding Stocking North Cascades National Park With Non-Native Fish   5 years 19 weeks ago

    This is one of those unfortunate retuals started years ago with "what is the harm" attitude. My opinion is if the they continue to allow this in North Cascade NP, then some other park/wilderness area will want to do this and the door will be open. Great Basin NP has gone to great lengths to reindroduce the native Bonniville Trout and get rid of the non native species in its streams and high country lakes. To much success I might add. There are always unintended consequences when the natural/native landscape and or animal population is altered and then we spend millions restoring it.

  • National Park Quiz 50: Wilderness   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Thanks to several readers for bringing to my attention some problems --now fixed -- with the original wording of items #5 and #6. The salient facts are these: Yellowstone National Park has no federally designated wilderness, and Denali National Park & Preserve has very few miles of maintained trails.

  • Sour Economy Has Created Lots of Availability At Yellowstone National Park Lodges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Sadly, many of the National Park hotels, as well as local lodging outside the parks, are really suffering in our current down economy. On a recent visit to a smaller park concession in California we found the staff had been cut to a skeleton crew and were badly demoralized. Services were extremely minimal, when compared to past levels. Management was trying to put on a happy face, but it was clear the operation was close to shutting down. With that said, I think this is a great time to visit the parks, particularly if you can get a discount deal and are willing to lower your service expectations. But I also am suggesting that you make reservations using a credit card, as in most cases this will allow you to recover your deposit in the event the concessionaire is financially forced to shut down prior to your visit. Larger corporations with deeper pockets, such as Xantera or Delaware North, are probably safer than the smaller operations like the one I visited.