Recent comments

  • Evergreen Lodge Near Yosemite National Park Offering Holiday Packages   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Is the tree really that big? To have a holiday in such a place one would rarely be in the lodge with such amazing surroundings! Also looks like a great place to go skiing or snowboarding, would hate to hit one of the trees though.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I do a helluva lot of online research prior to and during [when possible] trips.

    On a trip to the USS Arizona Memorial and others I found the 'Oahu Revealed" book and it's sisters to be quite helpful.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Sharpie, Kurt. It will rub off if you wipe it or get it wet immediately after writing, but after several minutes it's usually permanent unless you wipe it with acetone. And since I rarely fall into acetone-filled streams, it's all good.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I am all about the guidebooks -- not only can I dogear, bookmark, mark things I want to do and stick things between the pages, they look awfully nice on my bookshelf as souvenirs of my travels.

  • Understanding Mountain Lions at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Gets A Boost From New Lion   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I have been hiking in the Santa Monicas for over 30 years and have never seen a mountain lion but have seen their tracks. Although my hiking partners disagree with me, it would absolutely make my day to see one of these beautiful, illusive creatures. Unfortunately, I suspect I never will. They are much more aware of my presence than I am of theirs.

  • What Now Becomes Of Fort Hancock At Gateway National Recreation Area?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Not far from Sandy Hook/Fort Hancock, the Edison National Historic Park recently reopened after a $12 million restoration funded in part by General Electric and Sony. Obviously both corporations saw the tremendous public relations value of preserving the birthplace of the technologies that drive or influence many of the products they now sell. In a similar vein, is there an opportunity for the NPS or a "friends of" group to solicit restoration funds from defense contractors and other corporations that have had connection to Fort Hancock in the past? Perhaps this isn't an option given restrictions placed on government contractors, but it's certainly worth investigating.

    I do agree that it's hard to raise funds for historic properties with so many basic human needs go unanswered. At the same time, is there an opportunity here for job training a la the CCC of the 1930's? Can a job corps be set up to teach people the skills to repair some of the more blatant damage to these structures? These buildings are literally falling apart from neglect. The Park Service has put up "Hard Hat area" signs between the homes on Officers' Row. Porches are rotting away. Window panes are falling out and sashes are dropping.

  • Death Valley 49ers Gear Up for 60th Encampment   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Wish this would have been included in the new park website http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/plan_your_visit/index.htm. The site isn't going to do any good if it's not updated and kept current/accurate. I know the Traveler is not repsonsible for this site - just venting...

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Only in the crazy political world does 3,000 override 150,000 ! Forget the needs of the many as a politician has a need, might as well be another "road to nowhere'.

  • Adding to the National Park System: Here's One List Of Possibles....   5 years 27 weeks ago


    Erica Rosenberg is so RIGHT !

    The effort to try to force the NPS to stop looking at New Park Areas was a political strategy of the right-wing, anti-environmentalis starting in the Reagan Administration. The idea was to divide the managers of the existing parks, from the strong preservationists in the national park service. By slowly squeezing the money for parks, they tried to make park people think they must choose between barely managing existing parks, and trying to protect more.

    The national park service in fact was always strongest when it was growing. It attracted the brightest people, the most skillful people, people who believed there was something spiritual in the best places in America. The Reagan Administration wanted to turn the NPS into bored bureaucrats with none of the zeal that animated the history of parks in America. So, they, and the Bushes that followed, sought to extract the soul of the park people and turn them into just any campground or land managers and contractors.

    NOW is the best time to be thinking about protecting more places, both private lands within existing park boundaries, and making new parks. We are in an economic crisis, and land is becoming available at reasonable prices. If the critical lands are not acquired by the NPS, remember that bad things can happen to these resources during economic downturns. People who before never would overbuild, build badly or build at all may clutch at any opportunity to get any money from the land.

    So if there are important natural or scenic resources or historic landscapes out there, with real or potential development threats, make them park land NOW !

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    You make a great point, prc, about "The Outermost House," as a character-defining feature of Cape Cod.

    And, I should have made the point better that Congress was clearly concerned about any new developments or subdivisions and new construction, but if proper local zoning would protect these areas from development, NPS could not take the land. This was what was broken, when proper local zoning did not achieve these purposes. I think the idea was that non-commercial, improved properties of around 3 acres would not be purchased if the local government protected the area from development.

    And yes, I believe there were references throughout the bill, indicating that the present state of Cape Cod (early 1960's) would be preserved, and that the Secretary of the Interior could designate historic structures to remain.

    This seems to say that the Secretary, through the NPS, could determine which structures of merit would remain and which removed. But all of that is subject to providing for appropriate public use, as the Secretary deems appropriate. The way I think this was meant to work is some, not all, of the structures could remain if the Secretary decided they were significant, but only if they did not undercut the highest and best opportunities for public use.

    If I recall correctly the Cape Cod law provided that the NPS could acquire freeholds, but that the owner of the freehold would then have the right to remain in the property. Also, owners of both land and structures whose interests were acquired by the NPS would also be able to elect to remain. All these retained occupancy rights were for non-commercial use only. In some cases, the occupancy right would run for 25 years, in some for the life of the previous owner or even to the next generation.

    It seemed Congress wanted to provide for those people living at the time, mostly for their lifetime. They would only retain the use of the structures and so much land around them as necessary, generally at least 3 acres, but the areas for beach and public access would be excluded from the control of these tennant estates.

    It would seem the NPS was expected to eliminate some of these structures it acquired, when public use required it, if:
    - there was NO freehold owner,
    - or if the freehold or fee owner took all the money instead of retaining a right to use the property for whatever term
    - or at the end of the term of use or occupancy
    - or if the occupant violated local zoning rules
    - or if the owner used the property for commercial purposes.

    But you are right, the NPS/Secretary had the right to determine to retain some structures, if the Secretary deemed it to be appropriate and if it did not compromise the most appropriate public use. But, at the same time the Secretary was to avoid compromising the use and enjoyment of the private holdings. So, I assumed the Congress expected the Secretary/NPS to plan a way to work around both, but by no means an absolute thing either way, but the Secretary/NPS would decide on appropriate places for public use in accordance with the law, after a review by the Advisory Commission.

    Anyway, yes, the Secretary must allow law-abiding OWNERS of 1961 and their immediate family the right to occupy the structures for 25 years or their life. And yes, if the Secretary/NPS believes it appropriate, it could retain some of these structures, presumably including the beach shacks, if they do not compromise important public use opportunities.

    I am not sure what the law said, if it said anything, about continued USE of the shacks after that.

    My guess is, what the law intended was that if the NPS wanted to continue some use of designated-to-remain properties, the Secretary/NPS could use existing authorities, like leases or employee housing to do it.

    Face it, it is extremely difficult to preserve some prior use and character, but stop what was then seen as the coming over-development of Cape Cod. It was never completely one thing or the other.

    BUT: There were reasons the Seashore was created, real threats to its integrity, and Seashore was created to stop it. Enough people in Massachusetts and the Cape must have been very worried or the Seashore would never have got through Congress: the threat was real. Most existing occupants were grandfathered in, but restrained. Beyond those original, existing occupants, Congress seemed to want to leave it up to the NPS which and how many significant structures would remain, provided that the original "Character" of the Cape is retained.

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Thanks Anonymous. Again, politics makes strange bedfellows. What's interesting, of course, is that on one hand he supports the bill, but on the other he doesn't want to tell the Park Service what to do. Can he have it both ways?

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    STEPHEN MATHER WILDERNESS AND NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT -- (House of Representatives - October 26, 2009)

    Mr. INSLEE. I am not the author of the bill, but I have worked with Mr. Hastings. Thank you for that compliment.

    Mr. Speaker, I want to speak in favor of this bill, and I thank Mr. Hastings for his working with us to perfect this bill in a couple of ways.

    We have made the bill clear that we have constrained the Park Service's definition of where a potential road could be built. Mr. Hastings and I both felt that it was important for Congress to retain some authority over where the wilderness boundaries are so that we would not give unfettered control to the Executive branch. We also make clear in the bill that the passage of this bill is not intended, in any way shape or form, to instruct the Park Service to change their prioritization on what roads to build or not to build in the Park Service.

    There are many needs in the Park Service. We know there is a constrained budget situation. We know there are many roads that have been washed out and that there are trails that have been washed out, and we do not intend in this bill to change any priority array as to what could be done to the Park Service.

  • National Park Service Announces Superintendent Vacancy At Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    The job posting is up at usajobs:
    http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=84194380&FedEmp=Y&FedPub=Y&sort=rv,-dtex&vw=d&re=134&caller=basic.aspx&lid=18314&jbf574=IN*&AVSDM=2009-10-27+00:03:00&rc=2&TabNum=6

    GS14/15, $102-153K, status applicants only (3 years federal service, including veteran status). The KSAs appear to be generic for superintendent of a major unit-- they don't have anything specifically about the Civil War or Gettysburg (getting a specific position description approved would have taken several months). My money is on a superintendent from a mid-size, mid-profile historic/cultural park moving up to this job.

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Anonymous,

    Rep. Inslee's comments seem to speak to his opposition, and on the thomas.gov page they're clearly labeled as "dissent." Can you point to a different sentiment from the congressman?

  • Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    You guys are pretty organized. I like the idea of using sleeve protectors with printed pages of specific maps/trail descriptions. Kirby, what do you use to make notes on laminated sheets? Don't they rub off?

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    While I agree with many of your original comments here, you are wrong that Congressman Inslee is opposed to the bill. In fact he spoke in support of it on the House floor during debate. From his comments, it sounds like many of the problems you have had with the bill were addressed in negotiations between Congressman Inslee and Congressman Hastings. Whatever they did to it meant that Congressman Inslee was able to publicly support the legisaltion in the House.

  • Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I'd say both also. We usually make a small notebook of things we want to see or check out, phone numbers of guides and outfitters, etc. Most of the back-up information is on the computer or books that stay in the car. Once we leave the trailhead it's usually just a laminated USGS topo with notes scribbled on it. I laminate them now, after seeing what a stream-crossing gone awry can do to a paper map.

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I was a bit surprised to read former Acting Director Wenk's testimony that the Park Service opposes the legislation, in part "because of...our position of not rebuilding roads in parks in the Cascades after natural disasters where no visitor facilities are found along or at the end of the road,"

    He also mentions "inconsistency", which would also seem to exist in the case of the Westside road at Mount Rainier. This unpaved spur is a remnant of a never-completed attempt to build a road around the mountain in the 1930's. It is also subject to frequent flood damage and for the past couple decades, it has been closed to public vehicles at about Mile 3 from the Nisqually road. This policy turned some of the best former day hikes in the park into multi-day expeditions.

    It doesn't necessarily require Congressional meddling to produce inconsistency, since the Westside road has been repaired almost every year for "administrative use", despite the lack of visitor facilities, except trailheads. The presence of a historic fire lookout with radio repeater and four backcountry ranger cabins suggests to me that NPS management convenience sometimes trumps public access.

  • National Park Quiz 72: Forts   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Thank you for #10!

  • Reader Participation Day: Is Your Guidebook Actually Bound, Or Do You Prefer Pixels?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Both, but I tend to print the digital versions. I have a Trails subscription I use to grab trail descriptions either I don't own the books for or that I want to print to take with me. I love when I can access the digital version of a book I own. For actual travel, I keep it low-tech and easy to access: I take a notebook full of sleeve protectors stuffed with maps and printouts of trail descriptions from Trails, web pages, etc. to supplement the one or two trail guides I take. For backpacking, I sometimes print one trail guide two-up so I have a tiny booklet to keep in my pouch.

  • Alexander Hamilton's "Country Home" on the Move in New York City   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I always thought it's impressive to be able to move a home from one place to another and that's not an ordinary home, is an old home with a cultural value. How many engineers did it take to finalize the action? Obviously this is not a job for regular movers... I hope there is a video too, I want to see that house moving on rails.

  • Death Valley 49ers Gear Up for 60th Encampment   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Thank you Bob for helping to bring attention to the 49er's, We are looking forward to seeing you all!

  • House Passes Legislation That Could Lead the National Park Service to Rebuild Road at North Cascades National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    It's always embarrasing when politics trumps science & the public's best interest. How do these guys sleep @ night?

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    great to see someone was reading my comments...

    regarding the dune shacks. lepanto says 'Protecting these pre-existing inholders was a benefit for people owning land in the boundary, not people squatting in shacks owned by the federal government.' guess what? the dune shacks were not owned by the federal government at the time of the 1961 legislation. they were taken from owners by the federal government. an eminent domain taking. a condemnation taking with the intent of destroying the cottages and thus returning the landscape to wilderness. that was never the promise or the stated intent of the supporters of the seashore. hundreds of private homes are inside the boundaries of the cape cod national seashore. it sounds like lepanto has a problem with that fact.

    lepanto has largely ignored the major reality of this matter. the cape cod national seashore was created as a seashore. the word park was removed from the legislation because cape cod residents were promised they could keep their homes inside the proposed boundaries. the 10 or so remaining dune shack owners were assured by the first superintendent that they would be able to keep their cottages. most of the remaining dune shacks were on privately owned land. these cottages were not inside the historic provincelands. they are on land that had been purchased from previous owners. and as to squatters that term may sound rather sketchy but even those shacks which had that term linked to their history were very much owned by the people who claimed them.

    and finally... lepanto suggests the way of life congress intended to protect was not related to the historic dune shacks in provincetown or truro. lepanto is wrong on that issue. the dune shacks have everything to do with the way of life that existed on cape cod in the early part of the century. the way of life that we treasure on cape cod is expressed best in the book henry beston wrote. the outermost house is what the way of life was all about. i suggest lepanto read it. cape cod national seashore would not exist without a small simple dune shack as its model for what our way of life is about. prc

  • Conservation Easement Protects Nearly 1,500 Wooded Acres Rimming the Blue Ridge Parkway   5 years 27 weeks ago

    This is GREAT news! Glad to see some true conservation taking place.