Recent comments

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Send a medivac chopper at $10.000 plus, per call, to help them out. Evac once the button is pushed, should not be oprional. If they refuse to evac they must surender all PLB's and still pay the $10,000.

  • What Would Teddy Think?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I had the "privilege" of teaching with Rob Bishop in Box Elder County, Utah when he taught at Box Elder High School in Brigham City. All the while he was "teaching" he was also moonlighting as a member of the Utah legislature. Besides being a terrible legislator, he was also a very mediocre teacher. He was consumed by his passion for personal power which he found in the perks of legislation. He enjoyed the illusion of greatness brought by his high office. But his students suffered because of his frequent absences from the classroom as the handled "legislative business."

    Other teachers and most parents found him to be a self-centered and pompous ass. Many of us believed he remained a teacher only because his political power in the state made it dangerous for any administrators to try to crack the whip on him and require that he meet his obligations as an educator. It was not unusual to hear comments that Mr. Bishop was probably in the teaching profession only because it was one of the few jobs from which he could take frequent leave -- substitutes were always available. But when students have a string of subs rather than the stability of a regular teacher, they suffer seriously.

    The Utah political system is set up in such a way that one party rules with an iron fist -- and that party is controlled by a very small number of professional politicians and few hacks who swing a lot of weight through generous use of nefarious tactics and a firmly bedded system of good ol' boys. The good ol' boys are men of wealth and power who are desperately clinging to their handholds in the halls of political power play. Their greed and clutching cynicism is something to behold!

    No, those of us who know Rob personally are not surprised at all.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Abe, good point, though dogs are already prohibited in national park backcountry. And in the front country they have to be on leashes.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Aren't hikers more likely to bring DOGS with them?
    And aren't off-leash dogs one of the primary vectors of wildlife disturbance?

    If it's a Wilderness area, then let's boot the dogs also.

    I'll give up riding my mountain bike in Wilderness areas when hikers give up bringing house pets into the woods.

    Abe

  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    As a volunteer S&R responder, the pluses and minuses of this technology are obvious. When used correctly, it is a godsend . . . when misused, it unduly taps limited volunteer resources who should remain "in the barn" ready and rested for the "real" rescue. S&R is not in business because of the well trained and experienced outdoors enthusiast, we consistently go looking for and rescuing the ill prepared, inexperienced, or unhealthy. Regrettably, there is no shortage of these individuals, and this technology will only increase their number. (The standing joke in S&R is "We return the dumb ones to the gene pool.")
    For companies like the makers of Spot to promise the buyers of their product that people such as myself and my team will come and rescue them in the event of an emergency that they caused . . . it would seem only fitting that such a marketing promise would not come without a cost to either the guarantor or the customer. In my state, the County Sheriff is mandated with the responsibility of providing search and rescue services . . . it is well within the purview of his authority to charge an incompetent or reckless individual for recovery of costs of an operation. That is rare in our county, it is generally only done in the event a law was broken in the course of the emergency (or leading up to it). However, should the inappropriate use of such devices continue to rise, I would expect to see the "cost of recovery" option be more frequently pursued. The old axiom, "the few ruin it for the rest of us" will likely come into play at some point, particularly as department and agency budgets are further cut.

  • Can't Connect to Some NPS Websites? Don't Take it Out on Your Computer   5 years 30 weeks ago

    What you need is the phone number of the guy who invented internet firewalls, or of the network technicians working for the outside contractor who still don't have our firewalls & dmz configured correctly.

    Or, in this particular case, either the person who wrote Windows Server, or the person who designed a system that requires rebooting rather than service stop / service restart. My guess is that you hit the patching and rebooting of all the servers running MS windows server as the os. A record stack of patches was released 2 weeks ago. The Denver & Fort Collins servers (including nature.nps.gov & science.nature.nps.gov) all patched & rebooted Wednesday evening. I believe the DC servers cycled Friday after COB their time, and between getting the servers rebooted in the correct order and testing, it would have taken several hours and possibly into Saturday. If any addresses changed, it could have taken an additional 24 hours for local router tables to flush the old addresses in their cache.

    nps.gov/olym works Monday morning, although it is pathetically slow from here.

  • National Park Service Announces Superintendent Vacancy At Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I saw this kind of personnel action at several of the Air Force bases I served at during a 26-year career. Just as I saw at an overseas base, at which a squadron commander was canned for fraternizing with a subordinate female, the now-former super of Gettysburg has simply been handed a quiet "retire now" notice. I'd be surprised if he doesn't do just that.

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Well, there is obviously still a lot of emotion and obscurity on 'both' sides of the dune shack issue at Cape Cod.

    There are several broad policy jumbles tied up in this Cape Cod thing as well. For example, in the early days of environmental and historic preservation review, for NEPA and for section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act, many in the NPS did not seem themselves as targets of those laws. To some extent, they assumed they were targeted at people they saw as polluters or destroyers of national landmarks. Removing non-conforming structures from a scenic or natural area, or a beach perceived as being set aside for recreation and scenic enjoyment was often Job-1 when new parks are established. The beach shacks at Cape Cod were not seen as much different, inside the NPS. The assumption (usually) had been that the point of setting aside a national park for all the people was to eliminate the privatization that undercuts public use. But state historic officers and the National Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, several of whose staff were disgruntled former NPS employees, were riled by the NPS' sense of exceptionalism, and wanted to take it down several notches.

    So park managers were not ready to handle the environmental review and compliance required to properly analyze the shacks as historic structures and their removal as major federal actions. Therefore, Cape Cod was an easy target, because the apparently typical complaints of the private users was amplified when attack dogs in the state and national historic staffs described the shacks as historic objects, not beach junk.

    These state and federal agents had the power to provoke a real confrontation and stop the demolition.

    Park staff are directed to interpret federal law to protect a certain scene of what they understand to be the primary park values: in the case of Cape Cod, these were the scenic, recreation, and natural resources of beach and dune systems.

    In the case of the state and federal historic preservation officers, they do not distinguish between one period of history and another, and were trying to demonstrate their power to make federal agencies reconsider the value of the resources they managed. Cape Cod was a poster child of this political goal.

    In the meantime, the National Park Service laws were changing in ways that would snag the simpler, more direct approach to park management of the past. The general authorities act that passed in the 1970's, combined with other laws, was intended to make the law protect all parks equally. Resources on recreation areas or historic areas had to be treated just like the natural areas designated National Parks. This was an attempt to stop the overdevelopment and neglect going on in some areas. It would enable the NPS to close sport hunting on all recreation areas not specifically open to hunting by law, for example: all parks were managed the same, unless a specific exception was granted in the law. This had the unintended affect, along with the new aggressive enforcement of historic preservation reviews, of suddenly elevating all historic resources to the same level, even in natural areas, even if the law enacting that park never mentioned historic resources.

    The old Hartzog-era Handbooks, one for Recreation Areas, one for Historic Areas, one for Natural Areas, were undermined. The clarity of the purpose of a specific park was undermined. Park managers had to learn to anticipate challenges like the dune shacks on Cape Cod as one more grenade over the wall of trying to preserve a park as Congress intended.

    Finally, I think PRC is wrong to lump the dune shacks in with Congress' intent to protect the Cape Cod "way of life." Congress included clauses in the Cape Cod legislation that in effect offered a deal to local governments and local landowners who were already in the boundary when the National Seashore was established. The idea was that the NPS would not take the private land and the local governments would pass laws preventing new development within the park boundary. 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. Congress said nothing in the Cape Cod law of providing some exception for a few privileged individuals to in effect take control over lands set aside for all the people. But, guess what? The local governments did NOT restrain the new development, so the Cape Cod of old was destroyed by the greed for new development, wholly out of character or impact with what the situation was in Cape Cod in the early 1960's. At a time of the Sagebrush Rebellion, of the National Parks Inholders Association, of the "war on the west" and right-wing reaction everywhere, the NPS lacked the power or the guts to get the money to buy up the developments. Cape Cod, not just inside the Seashore boundaries, became so overdeveloped because of this greed, that soapsuds started bubbling up from underground water sources.

    It is true that Cape Cod had with one short-lived exception, several recent and past superintendent's with very little political skill to anticipate and stand up to these challenges.

    If the NPS had acknowledged the historic value of the shacks and prepared environmental reviews and plans, it would have been in a better position to propose what shacks should go, what shacks should stay, and prepare a pro-active plan for management of the remaining shacks. But with superintendents equipped only with skills of interpreters or natural resource environmentalists, the kind of smart political savvy was not there to take on the actually pretty commonplace situation of a few individuals trying to convert a national resource to their own private benefit. Or, take on state and national historic interests who are less concerned with the success of the innovative Cape Cod legislation, than they were for increasing the political power of their agency. In fact, a recent superintendent had to opportunity to purchase a large block of undeveloped private land within the boundaries, land about to be developed, and did not even put in a request for funding. These are not the kind of skilled heroes you saw on the Ken Burns film, who worked to save the original national parks.

    Political power won over the original intent of the Seashore law and poorly equipped park managers. This is not the "traditional" place Congress intended. This is private interest wrapped in the flag of historic preservation and heritage.

  • Traveler's Checklist - Big Bend National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Last December was my first trip to Big Bend. I loved it and will return some day. The day long south rim loop hike was amazing to me. We also saw a family of bears about 300 yards from the Window trail.

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Susan,

    Check out this page. You'll find a place to apply.

    http://www.thecompact.org/html/fowler.html

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    i just had the great fortune of discovering these shacks...have been reading about them for the past 20 years,and on 2 previous trips to the cape,couldn't find out where they were......happenstance to see the eugene oneill path,and followed it..............................do you have any information on how to apply for a week of painting there? they are just lovely...thanks...susan

  • KHV Virus Implicated in Lake Mohave Carp Die Off   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I just moved back to the Lake Mohave area this summer. I couldn't believe how the carp just seemed to disappear from the Marina's. Hopefully in time we will see a return of the carp. There are always a fun fish to catch.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: Hauling Your Gear Around   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I wonder if there's any chance you (or Kurt) could add a photo or two to your description. I'm having a hard time formulating a mental image. Thanks

  • How Does Your Congressional Representative Rank on Environmental Issues?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Mine got a 30 and a 12. I think the 30 is a record high. I often send comments to him, but the comment form on the website has you click which topic you're writing about. I figure every time I click "Environment", it goes right into his spam filter.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Mount Rainier has the annual RAMROD bike circuit, normally sixty miles within the park with no vehicle closure:
    http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/RAMROD/RAMROD_course_information.html#Rider_Support

  • Keep An Eye Out For Bears During Your Fall Hikes in the National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Very good advise to always carry a can of bear pepper spray close at hand and to know how to use it.
    This could save your life!

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Death Valley Borax Marathon:
    http://www.envirosports.com/events/event.php?eventid=2409

    Badwater Ultramarathon:
    http://www.badwater.com
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badwater_Ultramarathon

    Death Valley 49ers Wheelbarow Race:
    http://www.deathvalley49ers.org/wheelbarrow_race.html

    These are really any sort of competetive event where they shut down the roads.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I wonder to what extent organized sporting events are permitted in other national parks?

    Crater Lake has a Rim Run. I believe marathons have been held in other parks as well. Which have held, or allow through travel for, bicycle races?

    Personally, I'd rather see parks managed for the enjoyment of the preserved natural and cultural resources than used as stage settings for organized sporting events. There will always be a conflict, however, between managing parks as sanctuaries and promoting them as economic engines to support the local tourist industry and organized recreation.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Investigation Of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Finds Cybertracks to Pornographic Images   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Dear Anonymous (no relation !) on your point about the reassignment under the cultural resources Associate Director.

    Rather than 'not a good sign,' my reading of the way the bureaucracy works is just the opposite. This is a non-job, under an appointee of and prior friend of removed Director Mainella. The job is stationed in Frederick, MD., a non-place as far as the government Headquarters are concerned.

    Again, this is a non-job. If as some say above that Mr. Latschar's transgression is not in itself a cause for removal, it is a place to go awaiting resignation, with no authority and no staff. Because of the nature of government rules, retirements usually occur at the beginning of the calendar year. There would have to be transition out of park housing. If you want to accomplish something with minimal fuss, minimal hoopla from someone who tends to speak too imphatically in interviews, this is a way to do that.

    The person who thinks this superintendent is being protected, compared to an average employee is clearly wrong. No person who has had and used authority with the kind of zeal Mr. Latschar had wants to be in a place with nothing to do. He has lost his position immediately, while a usual case would involve employee counseling, training, performance reviews, and a chance to demonstrate improvement. They would keep their job. Mr. Latschar has lost his position and authority; unless there is truth to the rumor that he is either covering for someone else or his acceptance of the charges did not include some of the worse charges, his career is over.

  • Glacier National Park Officials Developing Battle Plan For Lake Trout in Quartz Lake   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Hi: In looking over my comment to you on 10/2209, I see that predator and gill are not spelled correctly. Sorry about that! AGP

  • How Does Your Congressional Representative Rank on Environmental Issues?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Environmental protection ratings based on voting records don't provide a perfect yardstick, but they are a lot better than nothing. With each passing year, it becomes clearer that people should take environmental issues into account when deciding who they should vote for. I note with a complete lack of surprise that my own Congressional representative (Joe "You Lie!" Wilson) scored 10 (year 2008) and 8 (110th Congress) out of a possible 100 for environmental stewardship.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 31 weeks ago

    There is a professional boat race every summer day in Grand Canyon National Park. The winner gets the best camp downriver, and the winner usually has a motor.

  • Castle Rock Cut at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Open For Boaters   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Castle Rock used to be an island, but due to severe drought, the water has receded exposing the land that used to be covered with water.

  • Investigation Of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Finds Cybertracks to Pornographic Images   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Latschar's reassignment as special assistant to the NPS associate director for cultural resources is ironic. The National Academy of Public Administration report on NPS cultural resources highlighted the need for new leadership. That new NPS director Jon Jarvis would transfer Latschar to support the current associate director for cultural resources is not a good sign.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Hmm. Sounds vaguely familiar.