Recent comments

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Re "When ever man tries to manipulate mother nature there are unforseen problems." You're right, but man has been manipulating nature for a long, long time -- and the park service and other public land managers have to deal with the problems we have already caused.

    Across the Plains and the West, the bison were exterminated to the brink of extinction, beavers were trapped by the millions and in some places, the inhabitants of former fox farms, mink farms, etc. were simply loose when fur coats went out of style. The passenger pigeon, once North America's most common bird numbering in the billions, went extinct in 1914. Large-scale manipulation

    The recent Ken Burns documentary series on PBS devoted a deal of time to the Yellowtone/Grand Teton area. Man manipulated nature there when the Army was in charge of Yellowstone and soldiers were ordered to eradicate the resident wolves --ranchers' dreams come true. Without wolves, coyotes were long Yellowstone's top-level predator. Coyotes are smaller and usually cannot take down big game. Grand Teton National Park originally consised only of the mountain areas, with ranches dominating the Snake River Valley. Ranchers initially opposed the addition valley land to the park, but of course, ranching had already been an introduced use of the land.

    A lot of mistakes have been made, and the effort to redress those mistakes also has its costs -- but IMHO, the cheapest way to keep a species in check is not necessarily the best. It is true that predators will seek out very young, very old, very sick or injured prey, but hunters want the biggest, healthiest and best of each species. That, on balance is not always the best way to control overpopulation of a particular species.

    Claire Walter, Colorado

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 24 weeks ago

    My girlfiend and I just got back from the Yellowstone - Teton area. While we saw large quanitys of elk near Mammoth, they seemed scarce through out the rest of the park. We stayed 3 nights in Mammoth and 4 nights in West Yellowstone. While in W.Y. we talked to 2 ranchers about the wolf problem. They claim that the elk population in Yellowstone has been cut in half since the wolves were brought back. I had read somewhere else that it was estimated that the elk population had not suffered much. I'll guess that it's somewhere in between.
    Trying to use wolves to keep the elk in check in the Tetons would be a mistake. When ever man tries to manipulate mother nature there are unforseen problems. There are too many ranches around the edges of the Tetons. Wolves will take the easier kill. I consider myself a nature lover. I've never hunted in my ilfe. However, hunting is one of the best ways to keep an animal population in check. I live in the esat. The deer populations here are higher than they have ever been. Deer may be be cute, but they are also pests. Hunting has been the best, and cheapest way to keep them in check.

  • Echoes of the Cold War in the Tropical Warmth of Everglades National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    any one know anything about the old nike site located right about honey hill road and flamingo road on dade broward line?ive been out there before it was fenced off again and its as cool as it gets guard gates launcher magazines storage buildings underground tunnels even guard dog of what i think is a bunk house has a old painting of a nike missle on it. would like to hear more on this one.

  • Judge Blocks Wal-Mart SuperCenter From Opening Near Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    There is one Joshua Tree National Park. There are endless cities for Walmart.

  • National Park Service, Advocacy Groups Reach Settlement Over Merced Wild and Scenic River Litigation in Yosemite National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    It is my hope that the Park Service will use modern technology such as computer or tele-conferencing to involve more of the supporters of the park in discussions and presentations during the planning process. Usually, meetings are held at the Park, 4 hours from the largest populaton base of visitors - the San Francisco Bay Area metropolis. Many cheap and effective tools exist to let us participate without driving up to the park.

  • Bronze Spike Ceremony Marks Trail Completion at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Is there a good map showing the trailheads in and out of the park ect.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    On Montana PBS, I just saw a short 30-minute documentary entitled "Before there were parks: Native views on Yellowstone and Glacier." If too brief, it was well made and offers what I think is an interesting counter-balance to the Burns story. I think it offers a different, even contrasting view of the parks; and if people have a chance to see it, I suggest they do.

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

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Well, at Grand Teton the hunt was actually provided for in the park's enabling legislation. There are wolves, mountain lions, and even the occasional grizzly bear in the park, but not in numbers necessary to keep the herd in check.

  • Organization Forms to Promote Expansion of National Park System   5 years 24 weeks ago

    There may only be three people at the head of this particular effort to preserve new national parks in upcoming years, but there are thousands of us who more than support their cause and will rally to their support. The New National Parks Project is just beginning.

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Why don't we introduce wolves (mountain lions, etc.... if their not already there), and that will solve the problem.

  • Organization Forms to Promote Expansion of National Park System   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I'd like to make the case for 2 areas in Oklahoma.

    First, the Ouachita Mountains in southeastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. The area nearly became a national park in 1920 but Calvin Coolidge vetoed the legislation. These mountains are the most significant range between the Appalachians and the Rockies, but are largely overlooked. They are full of recreational potential, including whitewater rafting, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, and scenic driving. The Talimena Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway, and the much of the area is part of the Ouachita National Forest (the oldest NF in the south). Beavers Bend State Park (OK), Winding Stair National Rec. Area, and Queen Wilhemena State Park (AR) are highlights of the area. There are also 2 large areas designated as wilderness. The area is also rich in history, dating back to Spanish exploration in 1541. I would like to see a Ouachita National Park in this area.

    Second, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma. This is the oldest National Wildlife Refuge in the country but unlike most NWRs, there is much more to do than wildlife viewing. At 59,020 acres, it is among the top 50 largest Refuges (out of 584). The rocky, rugged Wichita Mountains are some of the most unique natural areas I have ever seen. The only thing close is Joshua Tree. The area is one of the southwest's major rock-climbing meccas, drawing avid climbers from all over the region and even other countries. There are also extensive hiking trails, some official and some not. Extremely clear lakes are popular with scuba-divers. Charons Garden Wilderness Area, covering the western section of the refuge, is a maze of crags, boulders, and rocky peaks. The area is deserving of at least a National Recreation Area designation, in my opinion.

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Just a couple of comments in re: to pit bulls. Pit bull weight may range from the mid 20's to as much as 110 pounds. On average they are usually in the 40-to-50 lb. range. I have never owned a pit bull, but I have several friends who do own them. The ones I know have a tendency to be vigorously playful, demand attention and are protective of their owners. Dogs are bred for both physical and behavioral characteristics. The pit bull was not originally developed for simple human companionship. One problem with some pit bull owners is that they have more dog than they are able or willing to handle. It takes training, frequent exercise and steady discipline to keep a pit bull or other large, active breeds of dogs. A pit bull recently ran into my yard and killed one of my chickens. I did not blame the dog, but I gave the owners a piece of my mind for letting it run loose where it could go onto private property and attack pets and livestock. I made them pay for the loss of the chicken. They seemed shocked that their pet would actually attack another animal. The question is, what if the dog had run into a yard where small children were playfully running around and perhaps wrestling? Would that have triggered an instinctive attack mode?

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I agree that mules provide accessibility to those who wouldn't otherwise have it; and I also understand that Phantom Ranch could not exist in its present form without mules (even removing the tourists - the ranch has to be supplied with food, tools, etc.); and the Park Service could not do their work without mules (trail construction supply, inner-canyon ranger station supply, etc.).

    However, we have to remember that as mentioned in the article; we taxpayers are incurring the cost of damage and repairs to the trail, caused in large part by mule traffic. What we need to decide is how much use are we willing to pay for a commercial operator to make money at Grand Canyon? Are we taxpayers willing to spend a multi-million dollar per year maintenance cost so that Xanterra can make money? Are we happy to spend our tax dollars on trail maintenance so that someone else (the relatively few who get reservations for a mule ride) can have that experience?

    Removing the mules would dramatically reduce the maintenance cost on trails maintenance. Without mules, these trails could last decades and have a relatively low cost of maintenance. With mules, Americans are paying millions per year for relatively few to enjoy the experience and so that one single company can make a profit.

    Things to think about. Mules = great cost to the taxpayer, less mules = less cost to the taxpayer.

    I believe we need a balance. Trips as are should be limited because of the huge price tag and the continual need of repairs, and the general overall condition of the trails do largely to mule traffic. But I don't think they should be eliminated completely. How about continuing the overnight trip but discontinuing the plateau point trip? How about an alternate rim trail being constructed? I don't want to remove mules from Grand Canyon, but I also don't think the price we are paying for it right now is fair.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 24 weeks ago

    As usual, cyclists will be kicked out of places they currently enjoy, and the BLM offers no rational argument for it (mostly because there isn't any).

    These guys seem to get it

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I enjoyed the series, and now that I've seen it, had a couple of reactions to it and to the comments on this story.

    If you look at Ken Burn's other work, it's primarily from the viewpoint of a historian - not a travel writer, or a naturalist - and that's reflected in this one as well. That's his approach, and that's fine. That leaves the field wide open for those who want a different perspective :-)

    This is clearly a subject that offers a lot more material than could be covered, even lightly, in the time available. It's worth remembering that the title was "The National Parks" ... not the "national park system." He had to narrow the focus somehow, and there was acknowledgment of "monuments," and to some extent, other types of areas.

    Like some others, I would have enjoyed a little less emphasis on Yellowstone and Yosemite and more on some other sites, but I certainly learned some things I didn't know about both parks. Since viewing the series didn't cost me anything except a little time, I'm appreciative of the time and work that went into the project.

    The series was a good reminder about how fortunate we are to have the parks and other units in the system that we enjoy today - and how things could very well have turned out differently were it not for the determination of a relatively small number of men and women.

    One key question is whether the series will influence how we respond - as individuals and as a nation - to the issues facing our parks in the years to come.

  • The National Park to Park Highway   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I watched all week the special on PBS about the National Parks it was wonderful. American is so beautiful, I thank everyone that made the shows, the past presidents that made the National parks happen. It is a great place to take children, grandchildren just to sit and be amazed at all what God has created. John Meir how he traveled by foot to see all these wonderful places before cars and all the visitor centers roads were build is so unbelievable. We don't have go far to see so of the most beautiful places in the world, they are here in American.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 24 weeks ago

    The NAS report is available for free download with an email address:

    I think this section goes more in depth about the concerns of the accuracy and corrections to the original report.

    While NPS in all versions of Drakes Estero: A Sheltered Wilderness Estuary
    accurately depicted the ecological significance and conservation value
    of Drakes Estero, in several instances the agency selectively presented,
    over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information
    on potential impacts of the oyster mariculture operation. Consequently,
    Drakes Estero: A Sheltered Wilderness Estuary did not present a rigorous
    and balanced synthesis of the mariculture impacts. Overall, the report
    gave an interpretation of the science that exaggerated the negative and
    overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.
    NPS has issued two documents correcting and clarifying Drakes Estero: A
    Sheltered Wilderness Estuary—
    “Acknowledgment of Corrections to Previous
    Versions of the Park News Document Drakes Estero: A Sheltered Wilderness
    Estuary,” posted on July 25, 2007 (NPS, 2007e), and the September
    18, 2007 document, “National Park Service Clarification of Law, Policy,
    and Science on Drakes Estero” (NPS, 2007d). The Clarification document
    represents the most accurate NPS release of science relating to mariculture
    impacts, although it does not fully reflect the conclusions of this
    committee. It appears that hasty responses to local stakeholder concerns
    by NPS led to the publication of inaccuracies and a subsequent series of
    retractions and clarifications during this process from 2007–2008, which
    cast doubt on the agency’s credibility and motivation.

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    samatha,you must be kidding....pit bulls are the worst dog a person can own,better have good insurance if they go after anyone,and a good are right about other dogs have maimed and mauled people and other animals,but the pit leads the group in attacks...

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Paul -

    Thanks for your comments. There's no question that pit bulls have both fans and detractors, and you're correct: the breed has the reputation of being more aggressive than many other types of dogs. Is that fair? I don't know. Perhaps it's deserved, or perhaps it's merely a combination of the belief that the breed is favored by those who raise dogs for fighting and of media coverage of incidents such as this one.

    Anticipating that my story would raise the ire of pit bull fans, I intentionally omitted several details from the article, including specifics about the aggressive nature of the attack, the extent of the deer's injuries, and that fact that the dog involved in the second incident mentioned in the story was also a pit bull.

    No doubt the short name "pit bull" lends itself to headlines; I suspect most writers would substitute "dog" in place of "German Shepherd" or "Doberman Pinscher" if that had been the breed in this case, although the fact remains – such incidents in park campgrounds are pretty rare, and the dog in this case was a pit bull.

    You're correct that a pit bull would weigh less than the "about 100 pounds" cited in the information I received about the incident. Most people had a hard time accurately gauging the weight of a dog; the point of the reference to the weight was that the dog attacked another animal that outweighed the dog by a considerable margin. I've modified the text accordingly.

    The key point of this story was the opportunity for a reminder about the reason that leash laws exist in parks—for the protection of wildlife, other visitors—and the dogs. Most readers who have made comments have picked up on that theme, so the article seems to have served its purpose.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I couldn't disagree with you more, James. Film producers, playwrights, football coaches, musicians, park managers, and everyone else purveying a product or service (yes, even the people who produce this webzine) need the feedback that critics provide. Taken in the spirit intended, it makes you work harder and smarter. As to the matter at hand, there's little question that the Burns national documentary has some pretty significant flaws. Pretending that they are not there helps nobody.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I am reading through these pages of comments, and it all seems like a pile of negative cynical "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" throwing stones. All of you would criticze John Muir to his face, as well? Certainly you would all stab him in the back for WHAT HE DIDN'T DO. In any film or work of art there's always something that could have been done differently.

    If you ask me, anyone who looks for things missing for the sake of nailing criticism, is missing something within him/herself, and lacks the true depth to appreciate a stream flowing, for simply what it is. Not what it is not.

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Why would the pit bull come after you? Why would you assume that would happen? Pit bulls were bred to be human-friendly. Any dog can be bad if not raised properly, just like people. American Pit Bull Terriers, however, are less likely than almost all other dog breeds to be aggressive toward humans, in many cases even after severe abuse. All dogs should be on a leash in public; the breed is irrelevant. Oh, and I guarantee there are countless more shooting deaths than pit bull attacks. And for the poster who mentioned headlines about pit bull attacks: When was the last time you saw a headline about any other dog attack besides a pit bull? I don't know that I've ever seen one. Do you really think that no other dog is attacking people? Of course they are; the media only reports dog attacks as "pit bull" attacks, whether it was a pit or not. "Pit bull" is a sensational buzz word that gets people's attention, and most of the time it's applied to a dog that has nothing to do with pit bulls. This article is a prime example. Why? American Pit Bull Terriers do not grow to be 100 pounds. They're not that big. If you see a gigantic scary-looking dog, it's not an American Pit Bull Terrier.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I'd just add that after seeing more of the series, they seemed to have gotten Ranger Johnson filmed at various stages of his appearance.

  • The Hunt for Red (and Yellow) October. It's Officially Fall - Let the Quest for Color Begin!   5 years 25 weeks ago

    If you are in the Oklahoma-Arkansas-North Texas area, check out Beavers Bend State Park and the Ouachita National Forest near Broken Bow, OK. Absolutely gorgeous in the fall!!

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 25 weeks ago


    Whichever or whatever it truly is. I call it beatiful and welcome to Yosemite.
    I appreciate and enjoy all the splendor there. Ancient and living.