Recent comments

  • Philatelists Rejoice: New Stamps Honoring Zion and Grand Teton National Parks On The Way   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The Zion stamp shows not exactly an iconic landmark of the park, so I doubt it really can raise the attention it would deserve. The Teton Range over Jackson Hole is a classic and the image with fog raising from Snake River is beautiful.

  • Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    "How much have the national parks changed since you were a kid? Have they changed?"
    May 2008 I had the pleasure of accompanying a family to Angel Arch.
    The father was a ten year old when his dad took a 4x4 tour up to Angel Arch. This father returned to bring his own sons (young teenagers) to experience a journey he recalls fondly from his own youth-hood.
    Angel Arch is in the Needles District Of Canyonlands, ten miles up the Salt Creek from Peek-a-boo.
    Peek-a-boo is the last vehicle access and requires a permit to enable passage through a locked gate.
    Once open to 4 wheeling; Salt Creek closed in 1998 to protect the perennial stream coursing there.
    The family undertook a bare bones back pack overnight trip to fulfill the father's nostalgic longing.

    This park visitor got something different. And it falls far from the inspiring writer's comment, "Most parks look more like New York City than anything I remembered".
    http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/upload/needles.pdf

    Michele Hill
    Facility and Events Promoter
    Moab Area Travel Council
    http://www.discovermoab.com

  • Ahhh, When it Snows At Bryce Canyon National Park....   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The silence was golden,only the awakening ravens caws was heard.

  • Ahhh, When it Snows At Bryce Canyon National Park....   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Can you imagine the aromatic fresh air after a nice snow like this...as John Muir would say--"delicious"!

  • Building a Tour Boat For Voyageurs National Park Can't Be Done Overnight   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Good question, DK. Here's the answer:

    The boat will be trucked on two semis. The top half and the bottom half each on a vehicle. The marine company will then take about two weeks to put it together at the park or at a local yard. That will be followed by another two weeks of testing and Coast Guard certification.

  • Accessibility in the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Thanks for the ideas.

    I've hiked a few of these, including Arches, Kolob Canyon and part of the Needles District of Canyonlands, which I found rough going. Previous warnings kept me away from the Great Gallery, but now I'm reconsidering. Your suggestions also got me interested in Mt. Rainier, which I will be visiting in a few months.

    Anyway, I keep track of these excurstions on my essay page at www.myhandicapparking.com, and I look forward to venturing into as many of these as possible.

  • Building a Tour Boat For Voyageurs National Park Can't Be Done Overnight   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Interesting.

    What I was interested in while looking at it is how will it be delivered to Voyageurs? Is it trucked ?

  • How Valuable Are Fossilized Mammoth Bones To the National Park System?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Because the park service has managed the resources at DINO so well, getting rid of 2 of the 3 paleontologist and not fixing or taking care of the quarry building in a timely fashion. I think giving the NPS Cleveland-Lloyd would be a horrible idea.

  • How Valuable Are Fossilized Mammoth Bones To the National Park System?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    "But is this site unique enough to be added to the National Park System...?"

    The career professionals at the National Park Service have apparently answered "yes" to this question, and a quick read of their Final Report makes it clear why. The report can be accessed here:
    http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=442&projectId=12000&documentID=24485

    Here is a key passage from the executive summary:
    "The combination of both in situ articulated skeletal remains and the excavated specimens from the site represents the nation’s first and only recorded discovery of a nursery herd of Pleistocene mammoths. The
    resource possesses exceptional interpretive value and provides superlative opportunities for visitor enjoyment and scientific study."

    The Special Resource Study goes on to evaluate a number of management alternatives, including a non-NPS alternative, but concludes that the current lack of resources to accommodate visitation is insufficient for a site of such prominent National significance. This would be an important distinction for this site from places like Monticello and Mount Vernon that have well-developed visitor resources.

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Spending Their Days Rescuing Skiers   5 years 20 weeks ago

    So searching for lost citizens shouldn't be a taxpayer's expense, but war and country building should? As should bailing out failing multi-billion dollar corporations? What about those idiots? I'd rather see tax dollars spent rescuing a million kindred spirits who took a wrong turn, and besides that providing these kinds of services are exactly why some of those rescuers became rangers in the first place. They wanted to help people and spend time outside.

  • How Valuable Are Fossilized Mammoth Bones To the National Park System?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    This would only be appropriate in the National Park system if there were very unique geological characteristics associated with the site. Simply because there are a lot of fossils here - and they are apparantly readily accessable - is not sufficient reason. There are lots and lots of places around the country with fossils of all types. If we accept a national park for mammoth fossils, then I can see dozens of other sites that should also be national parks because they have fossils of other types of extinct animals/reptiles/etc. Let's not saddle the National Park system with another unfunded mandate.

  • How Valuable Are Fossilized Mammoth Bones To the National Park System?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    While Monticello is no doubt significant, consider that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation "as a private, nonprofit organization . . . receives no regular federal or state budget support for its twofold mission of preservation and education". If a private, nonprofit is able to preserve and educate without taxpayer funds, why should it be placed in a political system that cannot maintain its current historic holdings?

    Monticello is a model for how NPS historic sites could be operated, and the management of NPS historic sites serves as an anti-role model.

  • Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    For Canyonlands/Arches, in the summer I highly recommend camping up in the La Sal mountains in Manti-La Sal NF, and day-tripping into Arches (& Fisher Tower). The Squaw Flats campground in Canyonlands (Needles district) requires arrival well before noon to obtain a campsite, especially one of the isolated sites where you won't hear your neighbors' generators. Both have wonderful dark sky at night for stargazing.

    In the southern Sierra, as an uncrowded alternative to Sequoia, try Mountain Home State Forest (not state park). Even the first weekend in August the campgrounds (classic overbuilt picnic tables, fire rings, pit toilets, and water every few sites) were half full, although the Tulare county park campground at Balch Park (with flush toilets & showers) was full. Biologically interesting: sequoias in mixed stands with giant cedars & sugar pines (well over 6' diameter), as opposed to sequoias in groves in filled in meadows nearly everywhere else.

  • Bear Grass in Glacier National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I can confirm that some years there is definitely as much beargrass in Glacier. And, yes, it's cyclical. Wish I could remember the cycle!! ;)

    Jane

  • Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    And for NPS sites, it's hard to beat smaller, out-of-the-way national monuments like Sunset Crater, Wupatki, and my favorite, Lava Beds. These places are relatively empty even during summer months, and if you go in the off season, prepare for extreme solitude. On many occasions, I've driven the twenty-some miles through Lava Beds without seeing another vehicle on the road.

    There's lots of solitude waiting for those willing to venture beyond the asphalt and away from visitor complexes.

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The truth is that what you've got in the Washington office are mainly bureaucrats, agency wonks and simpering sycophants all with spines of linguini. If y'all are looking to WASO for some faint signs of hope or the promise of systemic change you really need to learn the ways of the Imperial City and try to understand that it no longer works and the parks need a new set of stewards.

    I know you're tired of hearing it from me but your faith in Leviathan to do the right thing is misplaced at best and downright pig-headed at worst. So far, just the taxpayer money wasted to keep a dying General Motors afloat for an additional three months would've been sufficient to erase the entire NPS maintenance backlog in one fell swoop. Why was money given to the rusting Detroit monolith instead of the NPS? Where do you think the average taxpayer would've preferred these confiscated funds to have gone? GM or Yellowstone? That's an easy one to answer. Why did the mandarins in DC do otherwise?

    Do y'all really think these clowns care about the parks? If they did it has certainly been within their power for them to act in concrete ways. Why haven't they? If you don't start realizing that the national parks are not a genuine priority at any level of the federal government, your faith in them is nothing but a suckers game. Nuff said?

  • A Look Back On Search-And-Rescue History In Grand Teton National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I was lucky enough to sit in on a brown bag lunch presentation by Ranger Renny Jackson while attending training at Grand Teton National Park. Ranger Jackson is in incredible speaker and shares his vast amount of experience with an ease that can only come with complete confidence in your training. I highly recommend listening if you have the opportunity - it will swell your chest with pride knowing such amazing people wear the green and grey.

  • Comment Now: General Gun Regulations for Areas Administered By the National Park Service   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I personally am a skinny 25 year old that backpacks alone in pursuit of landscape photographs. I am always very scared in our National Parks as I'm almost always alone. Bear spray doesn't cut it- so why can't I protect myself with a pistol my dad got me so he didn't have to worry about me getting mauled, robbed, or whatever. I think there should be extremely strict penalties and mandatory fines for misuse. And If anyone shoots at a ranger there should be mandatory jail time. I don't know if it would be possible to monitor but convicted felons with guns in national parks should a top concern.
    zack weinstein

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    "We need patriots again in the Washington Office of the NPS, people who believe that Congress meant it when it passed the 1916 Act establishing the NPS, people who are dedicated to making sure the parks have what they need to carry out that Mission."

    Thank you.

  • Bear Grass in Glacier National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    T J Hileman's photographs are wonderful. He was a member of my HILEMAN family.

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    To Sabittis:

    "What Went Wrong?"

    Well, for starters, we have had two NPS Directors in a row who spent their time teaching the NPS staff to cut out ESSENTIAL parts of the Mission, rather than fighting for the needed funding. NEVER has the NPS had such listless and ill-prepared leadership.

    Beneath these Directors, the staff responsible for the NPS budget and the Congressional staff constantly hammered the parks to find ways to live within these impossible restrictions, rather than take the kind of aggressive action the great Directors (like George Hartzog) and and the previously-competent NPS and Hill staff took to make the case to get the needed money.

    It is not rocket science to make the national park areas a national priority. Americans believe the most important places that tell the American story are important, and it is one of the easiest selling jobs in Government.

    Rick Smith and others are right, of course, that the NPS could use good staff in Washington to make the case to Congress and to all the Interest Groups in Washington. But, numbers alone will not matter if the NPS is not willing to take the bit in the teeth and make a real effort. A big Washington staff that just kow-tows to the geeks in OMB (who get brownie points for shackling rather than promoting the government agencies under their thumb) is no use at all. We need patriots again in the Washington Office of the NPS, people who believe that Congress meant it when it passed the 1916 Act establishing the NPS, people who are dedicated to making sure the parks have what they need to carry out that Mission.

    But if we have anything like a repetition of the last two Directors, and the kind of people they appointed to key positions, don't expect a handful of legislative staff to make the sun rise.

  • Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The country is large and it is quite easy to get to places that are quiet and isolated. You don't need to seek out national parks exclusively because there are state forests, state parks and a myriad of other lands (in the West you can't beat BLM properties) that offer the solitude and open space that many are searching for.

    It doesn't matter if you're looking in the pine barrens of New Jersey or the Appalachian highlands of Alabama, the live oak forests of Florida, the sand hills of Nebraska or the thick hardwoods of New Hampshire. There is a lot of territory out there to enjoy.

    My favorite place for sheer size and the immensity of quiet is Yellowstone. A few minutes from the road and the natural world is your oyster.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Hiked Angels Landing last Sunday, March 1st. Made it to the first set of chains. This is NOT an amusement park and I would question the intelligence of any parent taking a child under the age of 16 on this hike. Even at 16 I would want to make sure as to the maturity of the child involved. Even though I made it to only the first set of chains, there is enough excitement and danger in the hike to that point. Anyone making it up to Scouts lookout after Walters Wiggles has certainly accomplished something. For me it was the hike of a lifetime. I don't feel bad about not making it all the way. In fact, I am pleased that I made it as far as I did. I am 62 and have gone through 6 heart bypasses (at one time). If I can make it, anyone can, BUT exercise extreme caution. This is not expedition everest at disney. This is real.

  • Can You Still Get Off the Beaten Path in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    In almost any decent-sized national park area, once you are a half mile off the road, you are virtually alone. This does not include, of course, highly popular trails like Vernal Falls or Shoshone Lake, but choose wisely and you will have all the solitude you want.

    Rick Smith

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I thought some of you would be interested in the following statistics from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is amazing how many protected areas there are in the world. Unfortunately, some are not very well protected pr managed. And, as the report notes, and as Gary Davis argued a few weeks ago on NPT, we have a lot of work to do with marine protected areas.

    Worldwide Coverage of Protected Areas
    According to IUCN/WCPA data, as of 2007, there were 106,000 protected areas covering some 18
    million km2, or about 11.63% of the Earth‘s surface (need to add source – and update with latest numbers before publication). While estimates of marine areas under protection are complicated because country reports may contain some land area, best estimates as of 2007 were that there were 4,435 marine protected areas covering 2.35 million km2, or only about .65% of the ocean surface. Particularly alarming from those figures was the fact that critical marine ecosystems were severely under-represented.

    Overall, however, significant progress has been made in growth of protected areas over the past
    decade. IUCN records show that in 1962 there were 9214 sites covering 2.4 million km2. By 1992 these
    figures had grown to 48,388 protected areas covering 12.3 million km2. As of 2003, the UN List of
    Protected Areas (the most recent issue at this writing) contained 102,102 protected areas covering more
    than 18.8 million km2, or about 12.65% of the Earth‘s land surface (UN List, 2003, p. 21), notably
    slightly more than the 2007 in terms of surface coverage but less in terms of numbers. As these data
    show, growth between 1992 and 2003 was significant, with a doubling by number and surface area. As
    noted above, 2007 shows further growth in numbers.

    However, not all protected areas were being effectively managed and even though more areas are
    being protected, the proportion of species threatened with extinction continued to increase. As concluded by the 2007 Millennium Development Goals Report, ―Despite increased efforts to conserve the land and seas, biodiversity continues to decline…. ―Unprecedented efforts will be required to conserve habitats and to manage ecosystems and species in a sustainable way if the rate of species loss is to be significantly
    reduced by 2010.

    Rick Smith