Recent comments

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Based on 5 years experience of living and working in Yellowstone, I would consider cows and calves to be weaker. Considering the limited area available for grazing, *some* sort of predation is necessary to prevent diseased populations and mass die-offs. Why not wolves? Any male elk that is strong enough to not eat all fall while competing with his fellow bulls to build or protect his harem and then survive the winter too is probably tough enough to drive off wolves. Given that, then the wolves remaining elk prey are the cows and calves. If you have a problem with that, then you have a fundamental problem with nature.

    About those five elk "laid to waste", how did they die and how did you determine that? How many times did you return over the rest of the winter to verify that the carcasses were not eaten by anything and were, therefore, "wasted"? Given that this presumably was in winter or early spring (you were snowmobiling after all), the carcasses would keep for a long time and be available for various opportunistic carnivores and omnivores such as bears, coyotes, foxes, ravens, bugs and bacteria. Such is the circle of life in nature. Given the effort and risk involved, I personally would doubt that wolves killed all five at the same time and place, even if all five were sick and dieing already. Can you provide evidence otherwise? This is not characteristic of pack hunters of any species I am aware of. It *is* characteristic of greedy individual "hunters" such as the poacher you bagged - Goodonya for that!

    Reading your various posts here suggests to me that you mainly dislike the competition for game and view "waste" of game animals as any use the doesn't have humans as the prime beneficiary. If that is the case, you are welcome to your opinion but I would consider it a greedy and selfish one.

  • Bikes in the Parks: A Look At What's Up at Grand Teton and Big Bend National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    There's a substantial difference between the path at Grand Teton and that proposed at Big Bend. The path at GRTE is paved (hence inline skating), so it's a safe alternative to riding on the heavily traveled road it parallels. Its not particularly interesting or exciting for mountain biking, and riders touring on road bikes covering long distances at much higher speed than the walkers and skaters (both of whom can take erratic zags at the wrong time) may find riding with the motorized traffic on the main road a safer option.

    Conversely, my understanding of the proposed Big Bend trail is that it is an unpaved, more or less single track trail that would be much more interesting for mountain biking, impassible for road bikes and skating, but open to hiking and possibly horseback riding. The location has some nice views and interesting plants, but not nearly the wildlife and potential wildlife conflicts as something at the top of the Chisos.

    At the risk of shocking the advocates of ride anywhere and everywhere reading this site, I'd like to see the funding issues resolved and see the mountain bike trail built at Big Bend. I'd even try to engineer the trail so that a second roughly parallel trail could be added later if there is a need to separate mountain bikers from hikers, and so that a second loop could be added further out from Panther Junction to allow longer rides, even if the extended loop has to parallel US385 much of the way. There may be plenty of other bike trails in the vicinity, but there aren't views like that for miles. It should be possible to locate and engineer the trail so that it requires minimal maintenance even with substantial riding use.

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 27 weeks ago

    If you are driving and come in the North Entrance, you can drive yourself along the north side of the park to many good ski and snowshoe access points. This roadway is kept plowed open for two-way traffic all winter to provide the only wheeled-vehicle-access to the small communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana. This is a priority for the NPS, in part because a small school bus travels this corridor every school day to Gardner where SG and CC children attend school. Chief Joseph Pass to Sunlight Basin and points east can not be kept plowed open due to constant drifting.

    Visitors who are interested in cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing on their own schedule will probably find this the most attractive option other than staying at Old Faithful and day-skiing on their own out of there. Since the NPS seems bound and determined to inhibit winter access to the park and have even those small numbers collected in mobile tin cans or herded like sheep, the self-directed and self-reliant visitor is effectively denied access to a majority of the park that they could access on their own in their own vehicle during the main season on the same roads. As things stand, even capable experienced people need to pay through the nose for a babysitter or have the time to ski and winter camp to get into the park.

    While the ski shuttles mentioned exist, they do not get you very far. They only go about 7 or 8 miles, perhaps to avoid competing with their more lucrative half-day tours which likely do not allow skiing. There are all-day ski tours to Canyon from Mammoth (Sat. only) and Old Faithful (Tues. & Fri. only). These are a step in the right direction and possibly could be used as a shuttle for a multi-day camping tour in the area. One hopes that they could expand this by having the existing ski shuttles do a single morning drop/evening pickup run to more distant locations, say to Norris from Mammoth and West Thumb from Old Faithful.

    I lived and worked in Yellowstone (at Mammoth HS) from spring of 1979 through spring of 1984 and did a lot of nice skiing along the north-side road and out of Cooke City. Skiing along the groomed roads was not too bad, certainly better than bicycling on the same roads in the summer with its larger, more frequent and more heed-less traffic. In the early 80's, visitation was lighter during the week than on weekends but probably is similar now. Based on the 2008/2009 Wildlife Responses report http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/upload/Winter%202008-2009%20Wildlife%20Monitoring%20Report%20Draft.pdf there is a morning rush in and an evening rush out (page 10). Other than that, traffic can be considered fairly light and unobtrusive considering that you are ON THE ROAD. At least the wildlife think so. This on-going study again noted that over 90% of observed wildlife had no apparent response (75%) or only a look-and-resume response (18%) to motorized traffic throughout the day; interestingly, these numbers are NOT in the executive summary of the report but are instead semi-buried on page 9.

    The vast majority of the traffic goes in and out through the West Entrance (59% of snowmobiles and 61% of snow coaches) and South Entrance (39% & 24% respectively, calculated from data on page 8). Given the nature of things, almost all of these people likely go to Old Faithful and relatively few do all of the lower loop (past Old Faithful, Lake, Canyon and Norris) as was the case when I worked there. The current park winter info is silent on whether the winter warming hut system is still in service as it was when I was there.

    Yellowstone is a great place to visit in the wintertime, but you likely will need to either put up with package tourism or cowboy-up in a wintry way.

  • Fall and Winter Are Prime Seasons for Camping in These Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Camping in Arches in Utah during the Fall is most pleasant.

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 27 weeks ago

    "on average weaker and injured animals are more likely to be taken."

    Not true, unless you view cows and calves as weaker. They are the primary prey of wolvs in the western US (lower 48). Wolves were a part of the ecosystem when there were 50 million buffalo and what was thought to be 10 million elk. Populations of that size can sustain continued high predation rates. We can't go back and change the make-up that the American west settlers and miners (primary casue of elk reductions) and the documented over hunting by the Amerrican indians changed forever. Wish we could, but don't try and align those activities with todays hunting community.

    I do have a dislike for wolves and stated that in an earlier post ("my dislike for wolves is pretty deep these days"). Have you ever come across a group of animals that have been killed and not eaten? I have, with a group of 5 elk just east of Grand Teton National Park while snowmobiling 3 years ago. Not a pretty site to see such beauty laid to waste. For the record, among other things, I also despise poachers (just turned one in on Sept. 4th), and having all youth soccer kids getting a trophy just for playing.

  • Bikes in the Parks: A Look At What's Up at Grand Teton and Big Bend National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Mixing mountain bikers and pedestrians makes as little sense as mixing cross country skiiers with snowmobiles.

  • Fall and Winter Are Prime Seasons for Camping in These Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    For winter backcountry camping, my favorite is Grand Canyon. One can ski across the North Rim and drop in to
    seldom visited archeological sites, wild waterfalls and caves, even trout fishing. Water and natural shelter are relatively plentiful, so pack contents can be mostly food and warm gear. The short days are pleasantly warm and vibrantly colorful on this sunnier side of the Canyon, but single-digit nights are not uncommon.

    Heed Jim's final advice about the weather, though. Even with almost empty packs, we barely had enough left in the tank to wade through waist-deep snowdrifts back to the rim on one memorable occasion.

  • Where Can You Go to Get Your Post-Ken Burns National Parks Fix?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Also, don't forget to check out the incredible series on National Parks, Monuments and Historical Sites published by KC Publications...The real "Story Behind the Scenery"....

  • Fall and Winter Are Prime Seasons for Camping in These Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I remember passing by the Flamingo Campground during the wet season once. Camping was actually free (no registration or drop box) at the time, which was apparently common during the wet season. I only noticed maybe a couple of tents. There was more than just the heat, humidity, and insects. A tropical storm closed all of Everglades NP for a few days before I visited. Hurricanes are a distinct possibility.

  • Bikes in the Parks: A Look At What's Up at Grand Teton and Big Bend National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I noticed a lot of people using the pathway this summer. All types of users and modes of transportation were on it. I also still saw many serious road bikers using the road instead of the new pathway. And I also saw wildlife jams move from the road to the pathway. In doing so visitors would cross about 20-30 feet of roadside veg.

  • Olympic National Park Boosts Stream Flows to Help Salmon, But Might Not Be Enough   5 years 27 weeks ago

    "The water level may drop too low to allow use of the Lake Mills boat ramp...":
    http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009310049981

  • Organization Forms to Promote Expansion of National Park System   5 years 27 weeks ago

    No doubt there are many locales deserving of National Park status and existing NPS units that need to be
    expanded to succeed as ecologic reserves. More urban and Eastern parks would surely help build support for
    the National Park idea.

    On the other hand, Congress and NPS management have given higher priority to development of new
    infrastructure and new programs than maintaining the existing system. As long as this decades-long pattern
    continues, expansion of the National Park system will worsen the so-called maintenance backlog. This year's
    proposed budget increase for the NPS is just a few drops in that very large multi-billion dollar bucket.

    I believe California and the rest of the country are in the early stages of learning the painful lesson that
    'more' is not sustainable on a finite planet. Sooner or later, the Park Service will have to learn it as well.

  • Bikes in the Parks: A Look At What's Up at Grand Teton and Big Bend National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I'm a little confused by the Grand Teton regulations. Can bikes still use the roads also; or do they have to use the pathways where they are available? I think there are a number of cyclists who would resist using the pathways, where pedestrians can often take up all the room (amazing how wide pedestrians can walk from my experience on many bike paths), where roller bladers are often in the way, where the quality of the road - frankly - is not as good as the asphalt road. Do cyclists get a choice?

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 27 weeks ago

    In any event Elk Lover, I've always been curious why these so called pro elk groups almost never have anything to say about incursions by the livestock industry on elk. Most people know about what the industry has done to keep buffalo out of the wild, but most don't know that the livestock industry in it's war on brucellosis identify elk as a problem and would like to see all brucellosis in elk eliminated as well - that means only one thing ultimately, completely destroying all the elk herds. That's the only way to get rid of brucellosis in Greater Yellowstone. What would you think about that? And, if it offends you like it offends me, what do you plan on doing for elk in this regards? I suspect the livestock industry has far more power to eradicate elk than wolves ultimately do; they're doing quite a number on buffalo already.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • FY 2010 Budget For National Park Service Can Only Go Up   5 years 27 weeks ago

    As a Californian, I fear for the future of our state parks, but it's heartening to know that not all park agencies are completely broke.

  • Lost to Hurricanes, the Flamingo Lodge at Everglades National Park Will be Hard to Replace   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I have some bird watching clients who have asked me to check accommodation at Flamingo Lodge. They and i obviously didnt realise it no longer exists. Can anyone please reccommend a hotel/lodge near the everglades national park ??

    thanks so much karen

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Jim -. I completely got the purpose of the article, which was to highlight the importance of leash laws and keeping control of your dog, no matter what breed. I didn't even think of posting until I read the comments, which is what I was responding to. I assumed the pit bull in the article was one of those hybrid breeds that often pass for pure pit bulls when I saw that it weighed 100 pounds. I really didn't think much of it until I referenced it in my post. Killing a deer sounds exactly like what a pit bull would do, even if it's only 30 pounds; I said nothing about pits not being animal aggressive. I'm sure the attack was violent; describing that in the article would not have raised my ire. Animal aggression is natural for pit bulls (although they can usually be raised to get along with other animals, if they are properly socialized), human aggression is not. They are two separate things. Pit bulls are not more likely to attack a human; they're actually less likely than most breeds. Cocker spaniels bite more than pit bulls. It's just that pits are capable of doing more damage than other breeds, and a lot of people own them that shouldn't. It all comes back to responsible ownership. It's more important with a pit bull than with other dogs because they are animal-aggressive and extremely physically capable, not because they are human-aggressive. You can get away with having a spoiled toy dog, but with pit bulls or any other dog that is very athletic and strong, correct training is imperative.

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Elk Lover, Your post reflects an extreme dislike for wolves. Of course wolves do not kill only sick and diseased prey. Like all natural predators, they are opportunistic and do not check a prey's age or medical records before culling them. However, on average weaker and injured animals are more likely to be taken. In most of North America wolves were an integral part of healthy ecosystems long before Europeans arrived. Insofar as excessive kills of domestic sheep, you might want to check the history of how humans with firearms literally decimated hundreds of thousands of buffalo for "sport" and caused the extinction of countless species of animals. I have watched wolves hunt and take caribou and moose and seen wolves injured in the process. Wolves are part of nature, and nature doesn't operate according to human moral code.

  • Where Can You Go to Get Your Post-Ken Burns National Parks Fix?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    And, if you're interested in a present day war of National Historic Preservation, take the time to learn about the effort to dismantle the Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA that is being spearheaded and financed by The Pew Trusts. Some say that Pew's "Barnes On The Parkway Project" is the greatest abuse of the public cultural trust since the land barons tries to stop the establishment of the National Parks. For more on Pew's and Pennsylvania's dirtiest little secret, check out Barnesfriends.org or the documentary, "The Art of The Steal" - STOP PEW'S "BARNES ON THE PARKWAY PROJECT" - PRESERVE THE BARNES FOUNDATION IN MERION, PA

  • Where Can You Go to Get Your Post-Ken Burns National Parks Fix?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    You've got my vote! The new NPS site is great, but it's basically a promotion tool. If I wanted to skim the surface, I'd go surfing. You guys dive right in. Tell it like it is, I say.

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Ms. Anonymous,

    Sport Hunter? Why does it always go to that? Lack of education on someone's part I guess.

    Over 80% of our Division of Wildlife budget is paid for by hunters here in CO, so without hunters, wildlife in CO would be in the shitter. We (Hunter/conservationists) have paid to help reintroduce multiple species in every US state. Most hunters are not the redneck, tobacco chewing lot of cartoons, but professionals that actually might respect the animals we hunt much more than someone who doesn't and get's their protein from the supermarket.

    I have personally helped to raise over $6M in the last 5 years to support conservation activities here in Colorado. Money that is spent in on-the-ground activities such as habitat enhancement, conservation easement acquisition, public/private land exchanges/purchases (land put into the public domain), wildlife education and others. What tangiable actions have you taken for widlife?

  • Catwalk Tours at New River Gorge Bridge Will Delight Some and Scare the Hell Out of the Rest   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Hmm, maybe by the time it's available I'll have worked up the nerve to try. What an interesting idea, and history of how it came to be. Thanks for writing about it!

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Jim,

    Thanks for the links. I have perused your writings, but will spend some additional time doing so. Some good stuff.

    I am much more of an elk lover, although my dislike for wolves is pretty deep these days. I provided public comment prior to the re-introduction of wolves IN FAVOR of re-introduction. However, even though we are 3-4 times the agreed upon number of wolves, the environmentalists continue to waste taxpayer dollars by filing legal actions against pulling wolves from the endangered species list. All other games species, including predators, can be effectively managed under the north american model of wildlife management, which includes hunting, so why not the wolf?

  • Where Can You Go to Get Your Post-Ken Burns National Parks Fix?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Yes, National Parks Traveler is really not bad, not bad at all. ;-)

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Great Pictures!!!!