Recent comments

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Bob got in under the wire with the first wholly correct answer on this one, but we'll give Janet credit for an "almost" and Robert credit for "honoring Bob's point." This is indeed a photo of Double Arch in Arches National Park. This fascinating landscape feature made an appearance in the classic 1989 movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (one of many Indiana Jones movies, Janet). Now then, let's keep this thing going a while longer. Can anybody name another movie in which Double Arch also appeared? And can anybody name another arch in Arches National Park that has appeared in a Hollywood film?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Name this oft-photographed attraction
    Double Arch
    The national park in which it is located
    Arches National Park
    At least one of the movies in which it appeared
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Lets go with:
    Double Arch
    Arches NP
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Pretty good, Janet, but you didn't quite nail it. Let's see if somebody can get all three elements of the question answered in a way that leaves me no room to quibble.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 23 weeks ago

    That would be Double Arch which appeared in the Indian Jones Movie and is located in Arches N.P.

  • Update: Seizure Threat Accelerates Land Acquisition for Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 23 weeks ago

    The National Park Service and/or The Families Of Flight 93 have been negotiating with these landowners for nearly five years. Enough already. The landowners say they want to sell their land to help create the Memorial, yet they want to maximize their profit on the land. If they are sincere about supporting the Memorial, then they should sell their land for fair market value as proposed by the National Park Service. The landowners will still make a profit on such a deal. The land in question consists mostly of a reclaimed strip mine and adjoining land not suitable for typical development (or all too typical over development). However, the Flight 93 National Memorial will not only legitimately preserve and honor the memory of the Heroes of Flight 93, but will preserve currently undeveloped land for the use and appreciation of ours and future generations. Throughout our Country's history, private property has been condemned by eminent domain for far less legitimate and patriotic reasons then that for which land is being sought for The Flight 93 National Memorial. It's time to get this done. In fact, getting the Memorial's land acquisition process completed is long overdue. There is a clear and patriotic need to complete this Memorial, as designed, by the 10th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 Terrorist attacks. The Heroes of Flight 93 fought back against the damn fools who attacked our Country. Now we need to fight for them to get this Memorial completed by Sept. 11, 2011.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Rick,

    I'll grant you that "each generation" deserves to add what "its members feel merit protection in perpetuity," but I fear that's not always what transpires.

    The First Ladies National Historic Site? Does this merit protection in perpetuity, or was it a pet project of an Ohio congressman who put his wife in charge?

    Steamtown National Historic Site? I love trains, but couldn't this be run by an NGO or even a private company? There's a world-class firearms museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, that would be worthy of NPS designation but I would hope Wyoming's congressional delegation doesn't introduce legislation to that effect.

    Friendship Hill National Historic Site? A site dedicated to a secretary of the treasury?

    Greenbelt Park? A campground whose website describes such things to do as visiting NPS sites in Washington, D.C., 13 miles away?

    Out of 391 units, I would guess that there are more than the above four sites that were added to the NPS not because a generation of Americans wanted them preserved for perpetuity but rather because a member of Congress wanted an NPS unit in their home districts.

    I sense at times that there is no firm measuring stick for what is added to the park system and what isn't. More so it seems to come down to how much seniority the congressperson who is introducing the measure has. It's kind of like the NFL or MLB hall of fames. Once you start letting in every placekicker or shortstop with a .250 batting average and nary a Gold Glove in sight the entire hall loses its luster.

    Frankly, until Congress figures out how to properly fund the Park Service so it can manage the sites it already has, I wouldn't object to a moratorium on additional sites.

    As to better efficiencies, perhaps you're right that a better word would be "effectiveness." I don't believe in farming out programs just to save money. I believe the Park Service has a strong science mission that should be invested in and used to the benefit of the entire country. I also don't believe volunteers should be behind the desk at visitor centers.

    But I've also read comments on the Traveler and heard from others that money spent in the system is not always done in the name of either efficiencies or effectiveness. Shouldn't we taxpayers demand that those matters are looked into?

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    My boyfriend and I were at Zion on May 24. He had wanted to do the Angel's Landing hike since we first started planning and I did not. I planned all along not to go further than Scout's Landing and waited there while he went to the top. While I am not particularly afraid of heights (being on the cliff edge didn't bother me) I am not very sure-footed and could really envision myself slipping. Also, it was Memorial Day weekend and there was a tremendous number of people all over those chains. However, when we got most of the way back down the trail and looked back, I had the most awful sense of failure that I hadn't completed the hike. It seems I did all the drudgery of climbing so high for nothing. It has been really hard for me to let go of this and I feel the only way to fix it is to go back and do it. But I can't say I really want to. It's quite a dilemma.

    Not a comment on whether or not NPS should do anything, I know.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Kurt--

    I am interested in your comment that you are in favor of "lopping off some units and looking for efficiencies from top to bottom across the system." The problem with that kind of statement is who is going to do the lopping? What you miight consider "lop-worthy" I might consider one of the real jewels of the National Park System. And again, I would like to mention that each generation of Americans adds to the National Park System what its members feel merit protetion in perpetuity. As a matter of generational equity, I believe we owe these areas the highest standards of care. And once the lopping begins, where does it stop?

    No, I can't get behind that idea. Looking for efficiencies is another problem. What is wrong with the various "core mission" and "competitive sourcing" studies is that they look at the wrong problem. What we should be striving for is effectiveness. Once we achieve that, we can work of being efficient at being effective.

    I lived through various reorganizations of the NPS, all designed to make us more efficient. Not one of them made us more effective. In fact, the opposite almost always happened; we became less effective. The real goals of every park are to preserve and protect resources, provide high qualiity visitor services, and to maintain effective relationships with park stakeholders. If the park staff can achieve those three goals, then that park doesn't belong on your "lop list".

    Rick Smith

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    You raise many good points, and it's the next-to-the-last day of the school year, and I'm totally drained, so I probably won't address them all.

    But consider that many visitors already view national parks as "nothing more than merchandise on the shelf." I've worked my share of concession-managed parks and have seen people spend more time in the lodge and tacky gift shops--buying cheap plastic crap from China--than they've spent at the Grant Tree, for instance.

    With the free market--and conservation trusts--at least most of the revenue would support park operations, and shareholders or members would be rewarded for investing in parks. As it stands now, some large multinationals siphon profits away from parks, returning only a minuscule percentage for the services they receive from the federal government. We've had this conversation before, and I don't expect to convince you. I'm a squeaky wheel.

    As far as cars in parks go, my thinking is constantly evolving and I'm constantly questioning my beliefs. My vision of a traffic-free, facility-free national park system resembles what Jack Turner described in The Abstract Wild and what Edward Abbey details in his polemic on industrial tourism in Desert Solitaire.

    But Beamis makes a good point about how a natural and efficient balance would emerge without central planners at the helm.

    That's all for now. Papers to grade.

  • By the Numbers: Memorial Day Weekend at Yosemite National Park   5 years 23 weeks ago

    When I left that weekend it sure was a mess.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Beamis, not sure I'd like to toss the National Park System open to the likes of Wal-Mart and watch where the chips land. Should the national parks be viewed as nothing more than merchandise on the shelf and we simply adjust the pricing to move it?

    I prefer to think that parks really are special places that capture both spectacular landscapes as well as poignant moments in the country's history that should be preserved for the entire country for what they represent and what they stand for. I'm not sure the free market is capable of doing that. Think snowmobiles in Yellowstone would still be an issue a decade later if the park's managers only had to cater to one constituency?

    That said, I wouldn't mind lopping off some units and looking for efficiencies from top to bottom across the system.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    "I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers from, but $1.34 per passenger mile for autos seems highly inflated." Frank C.

    Did you check the link included in my previous post?

  • Trail Jogger at Glacier National Park Walks Away from Encounter With Two Grizzlies   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Don't be so sensitive. I am sure the runner dude, if he still has a sense of humor, would call himself an idiot and laugh along with others mocking him. He's also a brave dude for fighting those bears. Now he has a great story to tell about the time he was an idiot dumbass who fought a bear. Yay for him!

  • Update: Seizure Threat Accelerates Land Acquisition for Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 23 weeks ago

    This is exactly what the state of Virginia did for Shenandoah and it has created hard feelings since the 1930's. Didn't we learn our lesson then? I am someone who had my home taken through "condemnation" and it is just as bad as having it simply taken. How can we, a supposedly civilized democratic nation simply take someone's home away simply to build a memorial?

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I don't have any statistics in front of me, but I thought that the number of visitors in the major national parks had been decreasing for years. Maybe the economy simply amplifying a long term trend.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    While Ed Abbey's view of what the park system has become strikes a chord with many, is there not a need for some balance between pure wilderness and visitor-friendliness in the park system?

    Kurt, the answer lies in the free market, which provides a Wal-Mart for some and Whole Foods for others, the Escalade and the Prius, Ballpark Franks and free range chicken. The park system is no different and if it were to transition to different forms of stewardship, beyond the limits of petty political partisanship and the current corporatist governmental administration, I think you would see this ideal of a balance emerge in a much more natural and efficient way.

    I know most NPT readers are passionate defenders of the present system of federal oversight with its multi-leveled bureaucracy and Congressional pork trough. They think the free market is full of vicious wilderness rapers and vile exploiters of our sacred lands, but the truth is that many of the crown jewel parks were the direct result of millionaires who possessed a deep sense of earnest philanthropy towards their fellow citizens.

    It's a broken record of mine, but I intend to keep playing it. The free market works better.

    Besides, the Bozos on the Potomac are now flat busted broke. They will not be able to take care of much as soon as the world stops buying their worthless debt. (Which is coming to a theater near you very soon!) It's high time we plan to get new stewards of the nation's treasures before they are sold off in a debt induced fire sale.

  • Trail Jogger at Glacier National Park Walks Away from Encounter With Two Grizzlies   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I think its a learning experience for all of us to express ourselves about what happened, that way we all learn and educate others.

  • Suicide? Murder? What Secrets Lie in that Grave on the Natchez Trace?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Kira Gale
    Thanks for your story! I urge readers to get a copy of our new book, The Death of Meriwether Lewis: A Historic Crime Scene Investigation by James E. Starrs and myself. It contains 20 documents, the entire historical record concerning the death of Lewis, the transcript of the Coroner's Inquest held in Lewis County, TN in 1996, and my narrative, "The Case for Murder."

  • Trail Jogger at Glacier National Park Walks Away from Encounter With Two Grizzlies   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I am from the area and know the gentleman. That is a highly trafficked area of the park. I've lived here for 22 years and worked in the park and only seen one bear in that area. Though we all agree that the bear spray he normally carries would have been helpful, he really did nothing else wrong. The key point to me is that the bears were frightened of the dogs in the area (which are prohibited) and were running scared. He did the right thing by attempting to fight back, ensuring that those bears will likely retain their fear of humans. This encounter ended extremely well under the circumstances with no severe injuries to Mr. Nerison and no bears being destroyed. I'm surprised that people even feel the need to attack him at all. It isn't as though he didn't admit that carrying his spray would have been better, and he did say he was attempting to meet up with a group of people. Every local person who enters the park is fully aware of the risk involved and accepts that. He seems to be accepting of that, didn't blame the bear or say it was acting in an overly aggressive manner, so it seems that all efforts to criticize him are done by people not fully aware of his feelings or the situation. Let's just be thankful he's okay!

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    This certainly has evolved into an interesting discussion.

    Perhaps to nudge it in a slightly different direction, but one with great significance for the parks, I'd like Frank to outline his vision of a traffic-free, facility-free national park system. For instance, would visitors be dropped off at gateway communities and have to walk or ride horses into parks? What would be done with all the existing infrastructure, ie roads and buildings? Would there be a threat that, if folks couldn't enter parks except by their own muscle power, the park system would lose its constituency and hence its relevance?

    While I certainly appreciate wilderness for its limits on human-engineering, I wonder how national parks could survive without some form of ready access.

    While Ed Abbey's view of what the park system has become strikes a chord with many, is there not a need for some balance between pure wilderness and visitor-friendliness in the park system?

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 23 weeks ago

    I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers from, but $1.34 per passenger mile for autos seems highly inflated. Numbers from DOT, Federal Highway Administration, and Bureau of Economic Analysis show the cost to be $0.22 per passenger mile. Even when social costs are factored, using data from a study by UC economist Mark Delucchi, driving costs rises to 29.3 cents per passenger mile, a far cry from the seemingly invented number you reference.

    "Transit also has social costs. Buses produce far more ozone-producing air pollution per passenger mile than cars. The coal-fired power plants needed to supply electric rail transit with energy also pollute. Total social costs might be less than for cars, but they are still more than zero."

    Transit is currently very inefficient and is only "affordable" because of heavy subsidies. It's hardly a "free market" alternative.

    Get government bureaucrats, central planners, and social engineers out of the transit, and the cost might come down. We might see fewer trains to nowhere and fewer projects that go billions over budget.

    Wishful thinking.

  • House Approves Measure to Direct North Cascades National Park to Stock Barren Lakes. What Do You Think?   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Rod, I think the EIS, and the sections I pointed to, speak for itself.

    As to the Park Service's position, reread Supt. Chip Jenkins' comments and read the NPS's 2006 Management Policies.

  • Trail Jogger at Glacier National Park Walks Away from Encounter With Two Grizzlies   5 years 23 weeks ago

    Anon 6/9, here at Traveler we've tried to make it clear that we don't condone personal attacks and the use of patently offensive or abusive language. Generally, we do a darn good job of intercepting such comments and either deleting them or editing out the inappropriate content. (You can easily check that out for yourself by scrolling through the comment sections of recently posted articles.) It looks like this is a case of something slipping into the gray area. I hope you understand and don't think of us too harshly. BTW, I see that the media coverage of your father's encounter with the grizzlies is receiving generally sympathetic coverage. A good example is this article in today's Daily Inter Lake. I'm glad to hear that your father wasn't badly injured and should recover in fairly short order.

  • Update: Seizure Threat Accelerates Land Acquisition for Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 23 weeks ago

    The land acquisition process for the Flight 93 Memorial is an emotionally charged issue with powerful arguments on both sides. Whether and how the federal government should use its eminent domain authority in the broader context of establishing and expanding NPS units is something that we'll want to explore in greater depth here at Traveler . Watch for a feature article on this topic in the near future.