Recent comments

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I am wondering what your (all you NPT'ers :-)) definition of Wilderness is, not the "federal" definition but yours personally.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Frank N., I'd accept your proposed Wilderness restrictions in a heartbeat.

    I know the slippery-slope effect worries people, but there's no reason to worry, because the Wilderness Act of 1964 flatly prohibits all motorized uses in Wilderness. (See 16 USC § 1133(c), available on findlaw.com.) The only way motorized uses can be allowed in Wilderness, even such minor things as the use of chainsaws by agency staff, is if an act of Congress for a particular Wilderness authorizes it.

    If you read that code section, you'll see that the Wilderness Act also forbids "mechanical transport." That's the language the Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management rely on to exclude mountain biking. But the Wilderness Act's legislative history shows that Congress did not mean to exclude human-powered travel in Wilderness even if someone used a mechanical device to move under his/her own power. There's an explanation of all of this at this site: http://www.wildernessbicycling.org/bikesbelong/mechanical_transport.html.

    Were it otherwise, there couldn't be rock-climbing in Wilderness. Or using a fishing reel to mechanically transport fish out of a river or lake in a Wilderness. (The language in 16 USC § 1133(c) forbids the mechanical transport of anything, not just humans.)

    So why don't mountain bikers go to court and get the agency prohibitions reversed? We'd love to. But we don't have the money required to hire counsel and so we need a volunteer lawyer to help. So far we haven't found one who's able to do it. The International Mountain Bicycling Association won't get involved in this effort, because it has too much to lose. It's achieved a lot through its partnerships with agencies, notably the National Park Service, and understandably doesn't want to irritate its federal government partners. That's my take, anyway.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Anonymous #3 and Colorado, I see alot of "Law Abiding Citizens" pro carry people now saying they are going to carry no matter what the law. If that is the case, why call yourselves "Law abiding"? I am a gun owner, and was on the fence on this subject but reading these comments about who cares about the law I'm gonna carry anyway, I am leaning on the side of no concealed weapons in the parks. Sounds like you all are going to do what you want no matter what the law is anyway. If there is a no concealed weapons in the Nat. Parks Law in effect and some "Law Abiding Citizen" pulls out their gun... well maybe that would weed out the not so responsible carriers. If your gonna do it anyway why tell everyone? It makes no sense.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    IMTN, consider the captchas nothing more than an eye test;-)

    That said, I have a list of upgrades and improvements for the Traveler, and captchas are on it.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    One off-topic comment, which I hope people will indulge. I'm reading the front page of today's New York Times, which has an article on tent cities that have emerged in unlikely places like Sacramento and Fresno because of the rise in poverty and unemployment. They're latter-day Hoovervilles. This puts our disputes in perspective, I think. It's a luxury that we can debate guns in parks, bikes in parks, and quality of park websites. I suspect most people participating in these debates are OK economically, otherwise we'd be spending all of our time scrambling to find work (or keep our current job) and pay the mortgage or rent. I feel fortunate to be able to contemplate the matters Kurt brings up on these pages.

    But on the other hand, the captchas are getting so subtle (what's a "g" and what's an "8"?) that I'm getting bounced more and more for failing to interpret them accurately.

  • National Park Quiz 47: Spring   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I didn't see that TV program you referred to, Rob, but now I wish I had.

  • National Park Quiz 47: Spring   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Hmmm...I answered just 5 of 10 correctly, but, got #11 correct from having watched a recent Nat. Geog. or NOVA show (couldn't find the title) on forests of the world. Thanks Bob.

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

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Further on the matter of Fort Moultrie. This morning while sorting through some old files I found an NPS tri-fold brochure distributed a long time ago (late 1980s or early 1990s) at Congaree National Park (then Congaree Swamp National Monument). This brochure, a listing of NPS units and Affiliated Areas in South Carolina, not only refers to "Fort Moultrie National Monument," but also provides a phone number and address. There is a separate listing for Fort Sumter National Monument, so there's no mistaking the intent.

  • Spring Openings on Tap for Shenandoah National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks for the update Kurt. Shenandoah N.P. has a lot of great info. on their website. I definitely need to make a photo visit some day. We are getting some much-needed late winter/early spring precipitation in the Pacific Northwest/Crater Lake N.P.

    rob mutch
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Two categories instead of 30 does have a certain appeal! Thanks for bringing the Parks Canada approach to our attention.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Surprised that no one has mentioned Parks Canada, where it's either National Park (primarily natural/scenic) or National Historic Site. Nice and clean and simple!

    Alan Hogenauer

  • House Consideration of Massive Public Lands Bill Could Involve Gun Amendment   5 years 22 weeks ago

    That makes two of us, Old Ranger. I've been meaning to have a talk with him about national park issues, but figure he'd just want to mine them.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Good news out of Washington for a change! Zebulon, nobody hates bike riders. No matter how many acres are designated Wilderness, there will still be millions of acres for bike riding. Frankly, I wouldn't be opposed to allowing mountain bikes in Wilderness areas if it was done smartly: strictly restrict bikes to trails and not allow them prior to July first (when most trails have dried enough to avoid rutting). The thing I worry about most is the slippery slop effect; "well if you allow bikes then you should allow ATV's, snowmobiles etc."
    Now, if we can just get more wilderness designation here in Montana.

  • Park History: Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Does anyone remember the ld hotel at Mamoth Cave ? I stayed there as a young girl when my family was on a Spring Field Trip. The Park Service was very proud that the hotel was 'nautrally air conditioned' from the air in the cave. Then sometime in the late 70s or early 80s the hotel was closed because the air from the cave contained radon gas.

    I would like any information on the hotel. Does it still exist? Did they remove it? Anyone have any pictures of the old hotel? Thanx in advance.

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Yellowstone's plan for surplus wood disposal sounds reasonable if the fees cover the administrative costs.
    It's certainly preferrable to that of Olympic NP in the 80's & 90's. The large trees that fell across Park roads would be bucked to dumptruck length and stockpiled in the many utility areas (dumps). These windfalls would be put up for bid periodically. Apparently these sales were not very well advertised, because the Road Foreman's brother was almost always the one who showed up with a portable sawmill.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm very excited that the National Landscape Conservation System now has a permanent place in America's portfolio of protected public lands. The system has some real gems out there, many of them here in my home state of Arizona.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Wonderful, cyclists are getting kicked out of even more areas. Bike haters on the bike rejoice. More trails you won't have to share courtesy of the government...

  • House Consideration of Massive Public Lands Bill Could Involve Gun Amendment   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm ashamed to admit that Rob Bishop represents me. Sorry about that. But at least with President Cheney out, our parks finally have a chance at survival.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for the suggestions on places to ride where mountain biking is allowed. I have ridden in the Sawtooths, assuming that's where the Williams Creek and Fisher Creek trail loop is located, the one between Ketchum and Stanley on the east side of the highway. Fine trails. I had to share them with a group of motorcyclists but they were polite, albeit unavoidably loud. I've also ridden some of the trails to the west of the highway that links Ketchum and Hailey.

    Regrettably, Wilderness advocates want to lock up parts of that area so mountain bikers can't ride there (maybe the Wilderness bill that just passed achieved this?):

    http://www.imba.com/news/news_releases/06_04/06_22_idaho_wild.html

    The San Rafael Swell, for those who don't know, is a majestic north-south-running escarpment (I hope that's the right term) that causes I-70 to drop from about 7500 feet in central Utah on the west side of the swell to about 3500 feet on the east side, which is near Green River. I've heard there are two or three worthwhile trails there. And I drive through there every summer on my way to Colorado's fine high-altitude mountain biking. Unfortunately, it's always 100 degrees at the lower level, where I think the trails are, so I keep going—too hot!

    Regrettably, Wilderness advocates also want to lock up the San Rafael Swell so mountain bikers can't ride there either:

    http://www.amazon.com/Struggle-Over-Utahs-Rafael-Swell/dp/0816526699

    http://www.suwa.org/site/DocServer/LtrSizeMap.pdf?docID=1821

    But apparently they're not making much headway (indeed, they have to rely on a New York representative and Illinois senator to push for it!):

    http://www.hcn.org/issues/179/5818

    Good suggestions. We'd better ride these areas while we can do so legally. Sad, isn't it?

    I admit I'm more interested in access to Wilderness than the national parks. The parks are rather regimented anyway, and I doubt they're going to grow much. (Still, I support the NPS proposal, it goes without saying.) Wilderness keeps expanding and it now contains much of America's most majestic scenery.

    What I would like to do, however, is be able to ride all of the Pacific Crest Trail someday, including where it may run through a national park. As mentioned before, most of the PCT is engineered for cyclists: it's not steep and it's rather wide. It is dramatically different from the Appalachian Trail in those respects; now that is a footpath, or at least large parts are. Right now, it bears repeating, cyclists have zero access to the PCT. And that's how this thread started, lo these many words ago!

  • Designations Just One Example of Disparities Within the National Park System. Web Sites Are Another   5 years 22 weeks ago

    For the most part, NPS Web content is principally driven by 1) a dedicated/interested
    NPS employee (and in a few cases, employees, plural) and/or 2) a dedicated/interested
    volunteer. This is pretty much consistent whether the park be large or small, old or
    new. In many cases existing Web content was created by that NPS employee and/or
    volunteer, who is no longer associated with a given park and additions to Web
    content then grinds to a halt.

    Compounding that problem is a general lack of apprecation on the part of many
    NPS managers to expend resources to expand parks' Web offerings. THE primary
    focus is the park visitor who walks into the front door of the visitor center
    or entrance station and 'electronic visitors' don't count. That tends to
    discourage dedicated/interested NPS employees (and volunteers) from devoting
    more time to expanding a park's Web site.

    A case in point is the NPS History Web site (http://www.nps.gov/history/history).
    The electronic library (3,000+ documents online) is principally (though not
    solely) the work of one NPS employee and one volunteer; the only funding
    Management has provided is the salary of that one NPS employee.

    The old Expanded Web sites (mentioned previously) was an example of pre-CMS Web
    development efforts, most of which were done by people no longer associated
    with those parks, with no one left (or who has time) to migrate that content
    into CMS or 'expand' upon what was already performed. This content has been
    migrated to the 'archive' Web site, which is slated to be taken offline in October.
    If you think Web content is lean now, wait until October when tens of thousands
    of person-hours of Web development simply vanishes (if you have a favorite Web page
    in the archives, you better save it to your local computer now before it's gone).

    Practically, however, even under the best of circumstances, Gauley River NRA
    (or Fort Bowie NHS or Minidoka Internment NM, as examples) will never
    equal the content of units in the Park System that have been around for
    100+ years; the amount of research that has been conducted over the years,
    the plethora of resource specialists that exists in the larger/older parks,
    and the general level of funding that national parks will always garner versus
    smaller/less-visited park units will simply yield far more opportunities for Web
    content for the Yellowstones/Yosemites/Mount Rainiers than the
    Gauley Rivers/Fort Bowies/Mindoka Internments.

    Hopefully NPS Management will someday come to recognize the value of having
    BOTH a strong Web presence, in addition to the traditional in-park visitor
    experience, so the Gauley River's in the System will offer something more
    electronically than it does today.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I get this message when trying to view the bill: "This bill is very large, and loading it may cause your web browser to perform sluggishly, or even freeze. This is especially true for old and/or bad browsers. As an alternative you can download the PDF of the bill or read the text on THOMAS."

  • NPCA Applauds National Park System's Cut of Stimulus Package, But Says Much Remains to Do   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I am not sure "a lot of money" spent within the National Park system is money well spent (But I guess that wasn't the premise upon which the stimulus package was built). The hierachy within the National Park system has in the past stepped on many a Senator/Congresman's toes whenever one would question what was going on within the Park. How many times can you step on one's toe (especially if he/she holds the purse strings) before they will withhold the funds that create the "power to be." Well, its' happened. Learn to work with people rather than against people and you may get what you want.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I wish that the bill had included final wilderness designation for millions of acres of parklands in Alaska.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 22 weeks ago

    This collection of bills sounds like money well spent. Perhaps we can squeeze some money into the next set to upscale the web presence of some of the smaller units. ;)

  • House Consideration of Massive Public Lands Bill Could Involve Gun Amendment   5 years 22 weeks ago

    House passes bill to expand wilderness in 9 states

    By MATTHEW DALY
    From Associated Press
    March 25, 2009 2:52 PM EDT
    WASHINGTON - Congress on Wednesday set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness - from California's Sierra Nevada mountains to the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

    The legislation is on its way to President Barack Obama for his likely signature.

    The House approved the bill, 285-140, the final step in a long legislative road that began last year.

    The vote came two weeks after the House rejected the bill amid a partisan dispute over gun rights. The measure was brought up again in the Senate and approved last week, setting up Wednesday's vote.

    The bill - a collection of nearly 170 separate measures - would be one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in a quarter-century. It would confer the government's highest level of protection on land in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

    Supporters called the bill landmark legislation that will strengthen the national park system, restore national forests, preserve wild and scenic rivers, protect battlefields and restore balance to the management of public lands.

    Opponents, mostly Republicans, called the bill a "land grab" that would block energy development on vast swaths of federal land.

    "After nearly a decade during which our parks were taken for granted and our range lands were scarred by a spider-web of roads and (drilling) well pads," the lands bill "represents a new dawn for America's heritage and American values," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

    Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and other Republicans complained that the measure would lock up millions of acres of land that could be explored for energy and used for other development.

    "Our nation can't afford to shut down the creation of jobs for jobless Americans, and we can't afford to become even more dependent on foreign sources of energy," Hastings said.

    The bill "even locks up federal lands from renewable energy production, including wind and solar," he said.

    Hastings and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to allow visitors to national parks to carry concealed, loaded weapons. A federal judge last week struck down a Bush administration rule allowing loaded guns in parks and wildlife refuges.

    Because of a parliamentary rule adopted in the Senate, the House took up the bill under a rule that blocked amendments.

    Land to be protected in the bill ranges from California's Sierra Nevada mountain range and Oregon's Mount Hood to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

    Land in Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan and Zion National Park in Utah also would win designation as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers in nearly a dozen states would gain protections. The proposals would expand wilderness designation - which blocks nearly all development - into areas that now are not protected.

    The bill also would let Alaska go forward with plans to build an airport access road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge as part of a land swap that would transfer more than 61,000 acres to the federal government, much of it designated as wilderness.


    Rick Smith