Recent comments

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'll strike a blow for the little guys here with one from my personal top ten list: Cedar Creek in Congaree National Park. It lacks the scope and scale of the western rivers that dominate this discussion, but it's a great paddle in a pristine environment about 20 minutes from a capital city. Old growth cypress isn't easy to find these days, and if you're the romantic type that believes (or wants to believe) that ivory-billed woodpeckers still exist, this is often mentioned among the spots where they may have hunkered down.

    I'm sure Professor Janiskee won't mind me mentioning this one. ;-)

    Pics from Cedar creek

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon is a book (I believe there are other "Death in ..." titles as well) that literally goes through every death recorded inside of the park boundaries. Sadly, as RangerLady mentioned, suicide in our parks is not all that unusual. I believe the author had theories as to why that is; perhaps I'll have to get the book back out and read up on his thoughts.

    After looking, it appears that through 2003, there were eleven suicides in nine different cars in park history, ranging back to the late 60's. This was just looking in the suicide chapter...if I recall correctly, there have been multiple accidents involving cars as well, from parents forgetting to set the brake, and having their children roll off the edge, and even people becoming disoriented in parking lots and going the wrong direction. This story above says nothing about suicide, and I'm not trying to infer anything...I just looked in that chapter, because I remember that as being the highest concentration of such accidents.

    It was a fascinating book, and written very tastefully. It is a great resource for someone interested in the history of the area, as it not only gives you stories of tourist, hiker, and rafter accidents, which we can all learn from, but it does a great job of mixing in "real" history, the stuff you'd hear from the rangers, or read about in exhibits. Stories of Powell and early river explorers, the Hyde couple, the skeleton of the "Tanner Man" from 1000-1200 AD, and stories of early explorers who met their maker in the Canyon, such as man who Mooney Falls is named after.

    Also, as I mentioned, there are books under the same "Death in ..." title for at least a few other major parks, which I would assume are equally as informative and well-written.

  • Big Cypress National Preserve Proposal Would Greatly Expand Hunting, ORV Use To the Detriment of Florida Panthers   5 years 22 weeks ago

    "Dead on Arrival" was my comment to a Sun Sentinel reporter David Fleshler on Friday-July 10, 2009. That was done as an attention getter. Kurt has produced a somewhat accurate article on these issues. I will expand a bit on Kurt's thoughts.
    Kurt is correct that the Big Cypress Preserve shut down traditional cultural activities (ORV's, hunting etc.) many years ago due to lack of a plan for the Addition Lands. It didn't have to happen though since NPS could have quickly produced an addendum to the Big Cypress's GMP accompanied by a Wilderness Suitability Assessment and opened the area up to it's long standing Gladesmen Cultural Community who was instrumental in the creation of Big Cypress Preserve as well as the Addition. No, instead NPS saw to it that those folks were banished in order to let the grass grow for many years so as to enable themselves the ability to generate the Wilderness Assessment conclusion of Suitable being used to support this plan's Wilderness Proposal, whatever it is eventually. Many local knowledgable people like myself with decades of experience in this area cannot agree with much of the Wilderness Proposals of this plan considering that Interstate 75 runs through the middle of the Addition with 23.000 semi-s and automobiles per day passing through from East to West according to FDOT statistics. That is a lot of mechanized sound discernable for miles from the highway along with a complete loss of anyones sense of solitude or being unconfined. NPS Wilderness criteria has morphed over the years sadly to the point of allowing this over interpretation to be used to justify this plan's Alternatives.
    Folks also need to know that Panthers are populated so heavily in South Florida now that there are Panther warning signs in urban areas near large cities like Naples and Fort Myers. The cats seem to be everywhere but due to over-protection have lost any instinct to avoid developed areas or they are well over the carrying capacity of available land. Restricting ORV's or proposing Wilderness in the Addition Land will not solve those type problems. The sad result for Panthers is that nowhere else in the Southeastern U.S. wants Florida Panthers reintroduced in their State due to severe negative impacts caused by their Endangered Species status on every human endeavor. NPCA is concerned about fragmentation of Panther habitat South of I-75. I cannot agree with a concept of worry that this animal can't cross a 12 foot wide ORV trail easily. Maybe he misunderstood that the 1/2 mile non-wilderness corridors would be the width of the trail-that is not the case. Existing designated ORV trails in the main Preserve being used now are 12 foot wide. Another misunderstanding by Mr. Adornato from NPCA is that NPS will be putting trails through Mullet Slough. NPS will not install new trails for ORV's: they will only authorize use of existing trails that have been there for decades. In fact many of them are old ox-cart routes from Florida's settlment or old Army trails from many many years ago. I know Mr. Adornato, he's a nice chap but he is a well paid executive of NPCA- a group with a specific agenda that he is well paid to promote and somewhat newly acquainted with South Floridas extremely durable habitats. The Everglades according to a friend of mine's terminology is "John Wayne Tough". That is the real truth whether outsiders can open their minds to accept it or not. The only permanent harm done to South Floridas habitats has been done with a drag-lines and bulldozers.
    Hopefully we all could work together to institute a plan that will afford all Americans with a wide range of physical abilities an opprotunity to experience all the wonders of the Addition Land without seeking exclusive use of an area to the detriment of their fellow Americans.

  • Big Cypress National Preserve Proposal Would Greatly Expand Hunting, ORV Use To the Detriment of Florida Panthers   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm usually against ORVs, but in South Florida I can understand the need for them. I worked 3 winters down there and it would be next to impossible to hunt without them. Hunting can be a good thing if done responsibly and it's a great way to get rid if the invasive hogs while providing some yummy food. But like the articles says, it isn't regulated very well. As with all NPS sites, there's a shortage of rangers and the poaching is terrible. In the time I was there we had a bobcat and an alligator shot right outside of the education center. One law enforcement officer had to move to another park because he caught some big wig poaching and his life was in danger. I definitly think they need rangers before even thinking about opening more trails.

    As for the panther, they really have to do whatever they can to help this animal. When I talked about the panther, people would often comment "it's just a mountain lion, those aren't even endangered. This is just a subspecies." Then those same people would be up in arms over protecting the key deer. Why are predators always put on the backburner? They are essential and this is the only predator in that area. There is almost no habitat left and as it is, 5-10 are killed on roads every year. Lets not put more roads with noisy machines that scare animals away right in the middle of theit habitat

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I greatly enjoyed my trip down the Colorado downstream of Hoover Dam. It's a real treat to paddle into a little cove and find a hot spring leaking from the rocks. Concessions at Lake Mead NRA provide guided raft trips and kayak rentals.

  • Upgrades Coming to Logan Pass Visitor Center in Glacier National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    A worthy project!

    I suspect many of us have wondered if it's worth the time and effort to submit comments on government projects, so I was encouraged to note the following in this story:

    Public comment was instrumental in park management’s decision to change the preferred alternative to use of solar power as a primary energy source
    .

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The famous/infamous scene from Thelma and Louise was shot at Dead Horse State Park, located just outside of Moab Utah. If you have never been you should go. It rivals the Grand Canyon.

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I think it's happened a few times, and not only in Grand Canyon. A few people have driven over the edge in Death Valley...usually they aren't found until the military flies overhead. I've often wondered why people love to commit suicide in the parks.

  • Of Death Marches, Rain, and Misdirected Envy in Death Valley National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    If you go to DEVA in the spring, be very careful where you camp if you use a tent! Strong daily heating & cooling produces strong morning & evening winds, especially near the moths of canyons. Mesquite Spring up by Scotty's Castle has some sheltered sites.

  • Of Death Marches, Rain, and Misdirected Envy in Death Valley National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The only time I'd been to Death Valley was for less than 3 hours. It was 126 deg F at Badwater late afternoon in late June. I got a couple of Icees at the Furnace Creek Store. You wouldn't believe how fast they started melting.

    I will return one of these days when the weather is more conductive to hiking. I've heard every year they find some tourist who dies from heat stroke while hiking. For some reason, European tourists seem to want to trying summer hiking in Death Valley. Especially Germans.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    FYI - the NPS canned the waiting list for non-commercial Colorado River launches. It's now a weighted annual lottery system, where those who were on the old waiting list get more chances. I'm thinking a lot of people remember the scene from "Into the Wild" where Christopher McCandless is at the Lees Ferry ranger station, and finds out the wait for a launch date will be over a decade.

    https://npspermits.us/grandcanyon/river

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Holy sh*t!!! This is both sad and scary at the same time. Has anything like this ever happened before?

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Reinharden, you're definitely right about the Middle Fork being a fabulous river. But, alas, it's not in the National Park System, which is the area this post focused on.

    Now, if the Forest Service wouldn't mind swapping that section of the forest to the NPS, we'll definitely add it in next year's Top 10 list!

    As for the Buffalo River, yes, it's a great stream, but I'm told it can get awful boney during the summertime, making it a chore of sorts to paddle.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I just realized that you left of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River as well as the Main Salmon, the Lower Salmon, and continuing even further downstream, Hells Canyon (although technically at that point, we're back on the Snake).

    But *no* river list for the US can be complete without the Middle Fork of the Salmon. That's probably the crown jewel of continental rivers. Right up there with the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

    If we're hanging out in Idaho, we should also probably mention the Selway (which is impossible to get a permit for)...

    #####

    A sleeper candidate that's astounding, but much harder to catch, is the 50+ miles on Arizona's Salt River. The day trip is nice, but the full trip through the Salt River wilderness area is spectacular.

    reinharden

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Seems like any list that doesn't include the Buffalo National River system in Arkansas is somewhat lacking. Not many rivers in the lower 48 states that allow for 7+ day trips down a river with no dams.

    reinharden

  • Of Death Marches, Rain, and Misdirected Envy in Death Valley National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    In Death Valley, the months from November through March are best for cooler temperatures because all of the other months have daily maximum temperature averaging 90 degrees or higher. As you've pointed out, Easter vacation is not a bad time to be there. Easter falls on different dates from year to year (it was most recently April 12), but it's usually before uncomfortably hot weather sets in. If you make it back to DEVA, consider taking an evening meal at Furnace Creek Inn. It's a tad pricey, but a very memorable dining experience. A cheaper, but still very satisfying experience is to grab a comfortable seat in the lobby and enjoy a glass of wine or mixed drink from the bar.

  • Free Digital Photo Workshops at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Hi, Jeremy -

    Thanks for the update! I apparently snagged info from a press release that is out of date. I'll make some corrections in the story.

  • Does the Federal Government Really Want to Seize Six California State Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    >> Carving away at the state budget has gone way past the fat-cutting stage and is now deep into muscle, sinew, and bone. Everything is painful. Nothing is safe.

    Wow. What ignorance. How about $100K+ pensions for thousands of retired (or double-dipping) government workers and billions on services to illegal aliens?

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The Alsek River at the northern tip of Glacier Bay National Park has to be in the top 10.

  • Of Death Marches, Rain, and Misdirected Envy in Death Valley National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I remember camping in Death Valley with my parents and brother and sisters back in the very late 50s, early 60s. We always went over Easter vacation from our home in the bay area. I can say that I have checked off most of the sight as you did but we never ate at the hotel. I clearly remember the frost that covered the folks car in the mornings but the afternoons were nice and warm...great for sighseeing.

  • Free Digital Photo Workshops at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Hi Jim,

    I wanted to let you know the program is alive and well in the Grand Canyon, but some of the details in your article are a bit out of date. Rob and Ann are not leading the program this year. There are, however, 8 very talented photographers that teach the courses to the small groups. There is a lot of opportunity for one on one interaction with the instructors.

    After wrapping up in the Grand Canyon on Jul 27, the program moves to Yellowstone National Park (Aug 2 - 9). Then, the program wraps up for the summer in Acadia National Park (Aug 20 - 27).

    For more detailed location information, as well as a list of the Explorers of Light scheduled to lead, check out the official schedule here - http://usa.canon.com/parks - click the 'workshops' tab after it loads up. I've been involved with this program the last two years and can tell you it is really a lot of fun.

  • Night Sky Viewing Programs at Acadia National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks Jim. Nice write-up. Yes, let's have more night sky programs at other national parks. The night skies are an integral component of our national parks, many of which, have terrific viewing conditions.

    rob
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Jon Jarvis Finally Nominated to be Next Director of the National Park Service   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Those of us with a special love for Crater Lake National Park applaud the Obama appointment of Jon Jarvis as the next NPS Director. Jon served Crater Lake as resources managment specialist during the early 1980's. This was a special time when Congress initiated directed funding for lake monitoring and research.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Wolverine Photographed in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm impressed by the photographic evidence that remote camera picked up in the Cascades. Quite a menagerie! The yellow lab was almost as surprising as the wolverine.

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I am deeply sceptical. My opinion is that America (especially Hollywood) has done precious little favours to great American literary works over the years. I think Panama Red and Rudolf the Red have it right. This film sounds like a good idea, but in the end true justice will not be served, leaving this Bible for the Champions of the Underdog, the defenders of the American West from the slow, stranglehold of Walmart death that is gripping the last fabrics of the fragile quilt that is/was the American Dream, a scar that shall never heal. Much like our fabled Route 66, what seemed like a timeless, right of passage, TMWG has now entered the doldrums of Pop Culture Nostalgia. At least Robert Redford went horse back riding with Edward Abbey; he could probably give a little grit to a film that already sounds like its missing teeth. Cathy better get it right.