Recent comments

  • What's Blooming In Yosemite National Park?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Kurt, I'm absolutely positive Carl Sharsmith would love this piece on the Yosemite wildflowers. Very nicely put together.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Why is this even allowed? I understand allowing a certain amount of people to hike up at one time, but allowing a whole trail to march up at the same time? Seems irresponsible to me...

  • Desert Solitaire Review   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Darn, where did I leave that Monkey- wrench? Edward Abbey is one of the great misanthropic icons of The American West. I was particularly entertained by his notions of feeling cramped by the closeness of the living things in the woods of the Northwest. Truly 'The Desert Rat'.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 21 weeks ago

    Fred,
    How nice that you are able to protect yourself and your family. I wish I was afforded that "right" myself. Too bad our supreme court doesn't understand the phrase "shall not be infringed." Sign me, unprotected and wondering why....

  • The Essential Arches   5 years 21 weeks ago

    This is a question, not a comment.

    A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited Zion, Bryce and Sedona. We found online a hiking guide to the Sedona area that included turn-by-turn trail instructions, with *photographs* at each stage. The creator of the guide offered a downloadable PDF version for sale at a very reasonable price. We bought it, and it turned out to be very helpful.

    We are now planning a trip to Arches and Canyonlands, and have been looking for a similar guide, but we have not been able to find one. This appears to be a very knowledgeable and authoritative site. Does anyone here know of a source for a guide of this type for Arches and/or Canyonlands, in any format?

    Thanks!

    Fran Fruit
    Winnetka, IL

  • A Church in the Wilderness   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Georgeous! Been there a few years ago and would love to go back.

  • Bryce Canyon National Park: This Small Corner of Utah Packs a Colorful Punch   5 years 22 weeks ago

    These are my thoughts exactly. The highlight of my childhood was a family roadtrip across the U.S. visiting many national parks and other wondrous sights. The entire trip was three weeks, the length of my father's vacation. We did very little hiking but I drank in the magnificence of those places. Now, I try to take my children to see our beautiful country.
    I love hiking, but it is not for everyone. And hiking up a grade at a high altitude is very difficult for many individuals.

  • Desert Solitaire Review   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Re: "Desert Solitaire" review: I too have been touched by the beauty of canyon country and desert lands, but I won't be leaving the old lady and the brats behind on my upcoming trip; I'll be taking my husband and the kids to experience God's earth together.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Sounds like a positive development for this park. This speaks well of the relationship between the park and the local community.

    Perhaps the best news is that both the park and the town benefited, and it sounds like they are working in tandem to compliment, rather than duplicate, efforts. I hope the cost to restore and maintain the donated buildings won't make this a burden rather than a blessing. The town can use some additional "real history" to help offset the touristy stuff along the main drag.

  • Another Yellowstone National Park Wolf Reaches Colorado   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Click-click. (round in the chamber)

  • Alaska Game Officials Being Asked to Ease Off On Killing Bears and Wolves in National Park Preserves   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Whatever insane law that allows the State of Alaska to control hunting on National Park land needs to be changed. National Park lands belong to all Americans, not just Alaskans. National Park lands are for the protection of all native flora and fauna, not for providing trophy hunting under any circumstances !

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Oh but Tom when was the last time you read the 2nd Amendment and the old version of 36 CFR 2.4 in the same sitting? It doesn't take a lawyer to figure out that this is not a 2nd Amendment issue. Granted it makes a nice soap box and people will listen if they think their rights are restricted, but it's just a wolf in sheeps clothing. You had the same rights granted in the 2nd Amendment with the old 36 CFR 2.4 While on the subject of 2nd Amendment rights ask the NRA why you are not allowed to carry with a valid CCW permit at their annual meetings?

  • Presumed 400-foot Fall Kills Man in Zion National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Zion has more abrupt drop-offs than most Parks. Canyon Overlook wouldn't be a hard place to lose your footing and slide over the edge.

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Sabattis wrote, With the budget deficit now proposed to hit 1.75 trillion dollars in 2010, and no sign of a new comprehensive effort to reduce the maintenance backlog, was a once-in-a-generation opportunity missed - despite the change in Administration?

    Are you suggesting that the political party of the president matters little in how national parks are treated? That both parties overlook parks or use them as political pawns?

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I've reflected on this a little more, and realized that the other possible storyline here (i.e. other than the possible storyline about the limits of the NPS to absorb and manage additional spending) is what a phenomenal missed opportunity this was for the Parks. The last time this country faced an economic crisis of this magnitude, the National Parks played a now-legendary role in the stimulus and jobs program that was established to respond to it (CCC anyone?). Surely this role could have made for a strong selling point in addressing the maintenance backlog for the Parks, right? Shortly after the last election many interest groups immediately began gearing up to ensure that their concerns were addressed in the stimulus package. Were Parks interest groups perhaps too distracted by a guns issue that may not ultimately impact most Park visitors to have successfully made that case? With the budget deficit now proposed to hit 1.75 trillion dollars in 2010, and no sign of a new comprehensive effort to reduce the maintenance backlog, was a once-in-a-generation opportunity missed - despite the change in Administration?

  • Presumed 400-foot Fall Kills Man in Zion National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    It appears to me, and I have no facts or figures to support my thinking, that there seems to be more visitor deaths at Zion than other parks.

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I've wondered previously, why other National priorities like education and transportation received much bigger allotments in the stimulus package than National Parks - but the fact that it is going to take the National Park Service and Department of the Interior four months just to figure out where to start spending the money seems to point in the right direction. For all the talk of the $9 billion backlog, one wonders if the NPS really has the backlog well-defined enough to be able to address it, even if they were suddenly given the resources to do so.

  • Alaska Game Officials Being Asked to Ease Off On Killing Bears and Wolves in National Park Preserves   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thank you for an excellent report. You have touched a controversial issue re: the management of wildlife in national preserves in Alaska. In all-too-many instances the National Park Service has failed to be an effective advocate for national preserves, particularly in the management of sport hunting. The tendency has been to allow the State of Alaska Board of Fish & Game to set seasons, bag limits and other regulations related to sex and size with minimal participation by the Park Service. National preserves are fully legitimate units of the National Park System deserving of the highest standards of stewardship within the letter and intent of their enabling legislation and the NPS Organic Act. While some management prerogatives may be shared with the State of Alaska the Park Service must be certain that they do not violate the stated intent of Congress for the affected preserves.

    It should also be noted that the Alaska Board of Fish and Game sets seasons and bag limits for subsistence hunting and trapping in most ANILCA created national parks. Subsistence was excluded from the ANILCA additions to Katmai National Park, but it is an open secret that hunters using ATVs enter parklands and take wildlife.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Sounds like a fabulous center .. nice to see the park service being green!

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The National Park Service runs the program, the Historic Preservation Fund, that the money is being funneled through.

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 22 weeks ago

    * $15 million for historic preservation projects at historically black colleges and universities.

    What does that have to do with NPS?

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Identifies Pre-Nesting Closure Areas For Piping Plover   5 years 22 weeks ago

    One important piece of data--most of the closures apply to all users, pedestrian and ORV alike. And those that did not close areas to pedestrian outright often effectively closed the areas because pedestrians had to wade in areas known for sharp drop offs and undertows to get to the open ares.

    Quite simply, ORV access is by NO means the only issue.

  • Paving the Way to Denali National Park & Preserve   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I am so thankful they made parks like Denali so accessible. Yes, I am torn between preservation of parks and easy access by visitors (leading to environmental degradation), but on the whole, I'd rather people were able to see the beauty of a place than not.

    You can't drive home the importance of preserving the environment if people aren't allowed to experience the environment. I loved my own trip to Denali, a trip made possible because it was accessible to middle-class schlubs like myself ...

    ==========================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Identifies Pre-Nesting Closure Areas For Piping Plover   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Great article, Kurt!

    Thanks for keeping this very important issue alive on the pages of NPT! You have predicted that things may become "Testy" post 3/15/09, and I would say you will be proven correct in time, especially as visitors return to the area as spring fast approaches!

    I would like to take some of the Maps to task, as there are some notable items contained therein that should be scrutinized. See links below:

    Link to Pre-Nesting Closures Maps and Recommendations:
    http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=358&projectId=13331&documentID=26028

    Please note the extensive closures that are in place on the area south of Cape Point proper, known as “South Beach”, on Map Pages 2 and 3. These closures are massive, even though 2008 data shows not even one scrape in these areas, much less breeding behavior or nesting, and legacy data shows this area to be free of any nests over many years.

    The reason for the lack of activity is believed to be the lack of the tidal mud flats that exist only near the brackish “Salt Pond” that exists most of the time within the Cape Point “Arrowhead”. Since there is not always a stable “Wrack Line” on these beaches, the birds seem to prefer to forage around the salt pond, as their behavioral data and the 2008 map shows. In recent years, vegetation has not been removed from around said pond, which inhibits the Plover fledglings from feeding in this area.

    One of the reasons for not removing vegetation: The possibility of “Seabeach Amaranth”, a protected plant species, being present alongside the other vegetation. (Note: No SBA has been found for many years in CHNSRA, and generally this area does not support growth of this plant species.)

    Also, over-winter closures, pre-nesting closures, nesting closures, turtle nest closures, and all other regulations that remove human traffic from the area have allowed it to naturally become more vegetated, which is counter-productive for the Plovers. The increased vegetation also gives predatory species more cover to hide amongst.

    The Law of Unforeseen Consequences strikes yet again….

    *****************************************************************************************

    Interesting recent Reg-Neg submittals:

    The below information was submitted to the February 3rd Negotiated Rulemaking Committee by Walker Golder of the NC Audobon Society. (Many of us are wondering if Mr. Golder actually read all this before said submittal, due to its content running contrary to what the AS has espoused all during Reg-Neg).

    (This material has been paraphrased previously by another author. The entire report can be found here):
    http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document...cumentID=25865

    Reference Material Discussed - Barbee 1994 (2.2 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Collazo et al. 1995 - part 1 of 3 (4.9 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Collazo et al. 1995 - part 2 of 3 (4.3 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Collazo et al. 1995 - part 3 of 3 (4.2 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Harrington 2008 (3.8 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Tarr 2008 (736.9 KB, PDF file)
    From Collazo study, piping plovers 93-94;

    Through our observations of incubating adults and adults tending chicks, we found that
    piping plovers are only rarely disturbed by encounters with vehicles, planes or
    humans on foot. More consequential disturbances were caused by interactions
    with natural predators and competitors.

    At this present level of park use, park closures would likely have minimal effect on piping plover reproductive success.

    Storms in the early part of the breeding season cause breeding losses and delays, and high
    temperatures, especially late in the breeding season, impose heat stress that
    may indirectly cause chick mortality. For these reasons, productivity goals set in
    the recovery plan (1.5 fledged chicks/pair/year), established from studies of
    more northern populations, are probably unrealistic for North Carolina.

    Continue vegetation removal at Cape Point along the south shore of the brackish pond. To delay the regrowth of vegetation in these treated areas, it may be beneficial to use raking machinery after disking to prevent vegetative growth from cuttings. Growth of vegetation in other piping plover foraging and nesting areas of CAHA should be monitored; additional areas may need to be maintained. Preservation of interior wet and mud flats on CAHA is critical; otherwise piping plovers may only find suitable foraging habitat along the ocean intertidal zone where human disturbance is a problem.

    (6) At present, beach closures are unnecessary and are not likely to favorably impact breeding piping plovers on the islands.
    (7) Piping plover population numbers and reproductive success must be consistently monitored so that reliable population trends can be tracked as a means to determine how the NC population is maintained.

    Seasonal numbers, distribution and population This is a twice a month drive on the beach to study dynamics of shorebirds on the Outer Banks of North Carolina..

    Chapters I and II

    Surveys were conducted twice per month by vehicle.

    Red Knots;
    .Most Red Knots were seen at North Core Banks (65% of total) and Ocracoke Island (28% of total).Compared to other ISS sites, the Outer Banks ranked last in regional importance to this species

    Barbee from inside Collazo;

    Different human activities had different effects on shorebird behavior. Faster, erratic events such as running pets and children, seemed to upset birds more than slower, regular events such as people walking, or slow moving vehicles. This was very similar to Burger's (1986) findings in New York. Along North Carolina's outer Banks, many shorebirds seemingly ignored stationary humans and stationary vehicles on the beach, often foraging within a few feet of sunbathers and parked vehicles.

    To assure that important sites where nesting birds are successful and where management is possible, we recommend that ORV traffic be allowed in such key colony sites as Cape Point, and Hatteras Inlet.”

    Keep in mind that the data supplied by the NC Audobon Society listed above more closely follows the data presented by the Pro-Access groups throughout the entirety of the Reg-Neg process.

    Also please note that the data is collected by BioTechs driving vehicles to the various sites, and not walking. It's too far for them to lug their respective equipment as well.

    Backpedaling or mistake on their part? Hard to say….

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 22 weeks ago

    About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained

    I'm not sure it's worthwhile to mortgage our children's economic future, to devalue the dollar, and to prolong the recession to pave roads.