Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the place for colors in the fall. We try to estimate when in October every year for the last 20 years and three out of four times we have not been too far off. However, the temperatures have varied from 32 degrees to 80 degrees. But the colors cannot be beat!

  • National Park Quiz 68: Fishing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Thanks, tomp. Your knowledge of this topic is one heck of a lot deeper than mine.

  • A Silly Way to Die - Friends Don't Let Friends Teak Surf   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Kayleen's mother was not showering and was not using a shower on the boat. She had been in the water behind the boat washing her hair. She was on the back of the boat watching Kayleen and Megan when Kayleen fell unconscious from the ladder on the boat. The reports were incorrect, and just keep resurfacing.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Isn't the point the legality of the activity, rather than the rationale? I may or may not agree with policy, but the best way to change it is probably NOT to continue after "...previously contacted by park rangers regarding his illegal operation."
    I would advise a further evaluation for the reasoning, but studies of anything for the Federal Government cost SO much, in these austere times.
    Perhaps the imposed fine should have included an amount substantial enough to help offset such costs?

  • Too Many Deer in the Nation's Capital? Rock Creek Park Holds a Public Meeting on Wednesday   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I can understand the concern for the over population of deers. However, has anyone thought of why the deer are becoming more populated in this area? With all the new construction in the outer regions that surround DC, deer have no where else to go. A place like Rock Creek park is a safe area that will not have its trees torn town any time soon. Other places that continue to chop down small bits of forrest are forcing animals, including deer, to look for homes elsewhere. My mother's garden and other gardens around her are having the flower beds torn up because deer are now coming in to look for food. And she lives just outside Tysons!

    Look for the source of the problem...not just the problem itself.

  • An Untimely Accident Fatally Injures a Colorado National Monument Bicyclist   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Stan was not only an excellent scholar at a prestigious university known for research scholarship, he was also an exceptionally kind and gentle human being. He was deeply in love with his wife and a great father to his daughter throughout the years. As a university colleague and a friend of his and his family many years ago, I wish to express my sincere condolences to his wife and daughter. Stan was a scholar, a lover of nature and music, and a spiritual man. Although his death was untimely, it seemed to occur in circumstances and in the beauty that he loved. May his soul rest in divine peace.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    No apologies needed, tomp. Total number of species that can be seen in a particular park is not the be all and end all of birding worth. Heck, it isnt even one of my top two considerations. Great Smoky is extra special because of the remarkable mix of northern and southern species. Big Bend is the only place where you can spot a Colima warbler. Congaree is a place where maybe, just maybe, there'll be a confirmed sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago


    87(tie) Congaree Swamp NP 191

    Sorry Bob. But I highly recommend Congaree for the state & national record trees, and the vines/lianas, especially Campsis.

  • Was “Heaven’s Gate” the Worst Movie Ever Filmed in a National Park?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Bob, I don't argue that the file was not a flop/disaster/mistake/etc... It most surely was. But that is not because it was a bad film (except for that 20 minute college graduation at the beginning--yeesh). As was pointed out earlier, it would have made an excellent mini-series. But if we widen the scope of discussion to eliminate NPs, the mere fact that this film has a storyline makes it a better film than 50% of the films debuted this decade. "Heaven's Gate" is to "Taken" what "War & Peace" is to "Green Eggs and Ham" (okay -- I exaggerate a little).

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago


    I'll see your 350 species at Indiana Dunes (353 in the certified species list, although that number includes 47 considered "historic" like Passenger pigeon and Ferruginous hawk, and only 303 currently considered there at least as vagrants) and raise it to 363 at tiny Cabrillo NP (.6km^2, but they cheated & certified species in the entire 4km^2 federal reservation). Numbers can be deceiving: I'd probably enjoy birding at Indiana Dunes more than at Cabrillo, as Cabrillo has great views of the city and bay, but primarily coastal sage scrub habitat, much less diverse than the habitats at Indiana Dunes, and much of their bird list is vagrants occasionally blown far outside of their geographic ranges, and thus unlikely to be seen on any given day.

    The top 10 NPS units in terms of birds on their certified species lists (present only, not counting probably present, unconfirmed, false report, or historic) are:

    Big Bend NP 412
    Santa Monica Mountains NRA 400
    Death Valley NP 394
    Cape Cod 375
    Cabrillo 369
    Cape Hatteras 364
    Carlsbad Caverns 363
    Padre Island 356
    Everglades 356
    Channel Islands 356
    Point Reyes 348

    #15 Yellowstone 321
    #18 Grand Canyon 312
    #23 Indiana Dunes 303
    #33 Rocky Mountain 260
    #73 Great Smoky Mountains 208

    Being on a major flyway matters; 7 of the top 10 are coastal; BIBE, DEVA, & CAVE are habitat islands. [Long histories of intensive birding also helps with list completeness and rare/vagrants.]

    Rangertoo and other NPS folks can get certified species lists from http:/nrinfo
    Those numbers are different, because they include species of all status types (historic, etc.)

    I hope to have an application for publicly-facing websites including individual unit's websites up by the end of the year. It will have links to NPS information on that species (any technical reports, what other parks it is in, etc.), plus links to good outside resources like FWS t&e status, Cornell's AllAboutBirds, ITIS, etc.. My crude proof of concept is sitting at:

    Suggestions & criticisms are welcome

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I just took a very quick look at Zion's management plan. There is a section on page 26 that explains their rationale, basically some folks think that permitted outfitting will increase overcrowding (it won't if they stipulate when and where guides can operate) and displace non-guided users (again, it won't if they stipulate when and where guides can operate). They also allude to managing the park as wilderness and that's great, but by itself that is not a reason to prohibit commercial guides from operating in the park.

    Again, I spent about 30 seconds looking at the plan, but that is how it appears to me.


    Currently, guided hiking or climbing activities in
    the park are not permitted. NPS staff-led activities
    include visitor center and evening programs,
    and ranger-led hikes. Some visitors and guiding
    organizations have requested that guided activities
    be allowed in Zion, believing these operations
    will enhance many visitors’ experience,
    reduce potential impacts, and help prevent accidents.
    Other people believe that guided activities
    should not be permitted, arguing that these
    operations will increase use in already overcrowded
    areas and displace or impact
    nonguided users. Many questions exist regarding
    what guided services (e.g., guided hiking,
    bicycling, climbing) are appropriate in the park.
    Other questions relate to when and where the
    services should take place and to what extent.

    The wilderness management plan and carrying
    capacity studies will determine whether or not
    to permit guided activities in Zion. Permitting
    guided services will have both positive and negative
    impacts, as noted above.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Good article -- plenty of memories for me as I learned to climb at nearby Seneca Rocks in the early 80s and continued climbing at the NRG during the sport route boom during the late 80 and early 90s. One of my all-time favorite routes is at Summersville Lake: Apollo Reed.

    Regarding the mountain bike loops planned for the NRG, Senator Byrd has earmarked $2 million for the construction of a stacked-loop, shared-use trail system in a new segment of the park. The New might soon be to mountain biking what it already is for paddlers and climbers.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago


    The prescriptions I'm familiar with require some direct measurement of leaf moisture and soil/duff/woody debris moisture right before the fire is set as well as air humidity, local weather forecasts, etc., and not quite so immediate data on fuel loads (LandFire plus some empirical field data). If the soil/duff is too moist, the fire will be hard to keep going, if it is too dry the fire may be too hard to control & too hot. If the vegetation has too much moisture, it might singe and not kill or top-kill (depending on the vegetation type and goal of the burn), too dry and it might torch.

    Also, at least in NPS fire management is it's own self-contained unit, with only broad guidance about goals from the NPS planning folks. The folks writing the prescriptions aren't just desk jockeys with scientific training and rudimentary GIS skills: they're the same people in the field running the crews measuring the conditions and setting the fires, and fighting the fires when necessary. You pretty much have to have your red card (active wildland firefighter ratings) for those positions, although former red card holders may qualify.

    The latest perimeter map for Big Meadow is at:

  • National Park Quiz 68: Fishing   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Dead minnows & shiners can still have viable fertilized eggs & embryos (remember, minnows are live bearers, but all the nutrients mom gives the developing fry were put in the eggs at the beginning, so freshly dead mom can have viable fry). They also can have fungi and viruses that would be introduced to the waters of the Everglades. An argument could be made about the numbers of exotic species of fish already in the Everglades meaning a couple more fish species won't matter, but the diseases could be an issue for all species presently there.

    One of the trickier issues in the Greater Everglades Restoration Program is sport fishing for bass, primarily in the water management areas just north of the park. Bass are mostly in the deeper canals, which need to be filled to fix the flow of water. One plan was to fill short sections of the canals every mile or so, keeping most of the deep habitat for the (introduced) bass, but blocking the rapid flow of water. Unfortunately, those shallow bars would also prevent deeper draft bass boats (deeper draft than airboats) from going long distances via the canals. I'm not sure what the current proposed engineering solution is, but I'm confident that recreational fishing for bass and other introduced gamefish will continue. I hope the methyl mercury (driven by sufate) issues can be cleaned up so that folks can safely eat the fish they catch.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    We're looking into that, Marshall. Stay tuned.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    What's the rationale for not allowing any guiding services in the park? The only reason I can think of is the liability of inexperienced people in places they shouldn't be. Are there others? I'm assuming so, but just can't think of them right now. Thanks in advance!

  • National Park Quiz 68: Fishing   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I would like somebody to explain how a dead minnow/shiner can reproduce and pose a threat to the indigenous marine population of the Everglades. I have been to the Everglades and there's water everywhere that evidently comes from outside sources.Should we block those sources to avoid contamination? My point is that the sport of fishing is now being controlled by environmentalists. I have been fishing for over 65years, 20 years in salt water. And I have seen, over the years, the restrictions imposed on the average fisherman. Restrictions placed on size, limits, and type of bait used. Some of the restrictions make sense, to control over-fishing of some species. But other restrictions make no sense to me, other than to satisfy the whims of the "green" people. What's next? Insects and nightcrawlers? I'm betting the makers of artificial lures are smiling all the way to the bank.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is absolutely beautiful in the Fall and we would highly recommend it. Voyageurs is a water-based park where you must leave your car and take to the water to fully experience the lakes, islands and shorelines of the park.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Bob: Agreed.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I've visited each region (except Pacific Northwest) in the fall. Although for variety of tree species it is difficult to beat Shenandoah in the fall and Great Smoky Mountains in the fall, my favorite is still Acadia because of the vegetation found in more northern latitudes, such as berry plants. In general, the Western Parks lack red maples, which add an essential color to fall colors.


    National Parks images

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Thk you for your reply to my comment.....
    I hope the acadian park serive learns from this unfortunate event that not all tourists understand the risks of the ocean and how storms can create a sudden larger waves than the prevoius ones. The park needs to concentrate on safety and not just tourism.
    I also would like to thk the kind couple that assisted me. My friend and i had trouble getting some one to help me at first. i needed to be pulled up away from the rocks where i had landed and everyone around seemed to just stand there, not willing to help. If the nice couple is reading this blog-- i have your tennis jacket you loaned me while i was freezing due to the cold wet water

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    The National Park Foundation has put out a Special on their website announcing the the showing of the documentary on PBS on 9/27. You can read about it here:

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Last year we were in Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes during peak color. We hiked in both parks and were surrounded by vibrant color. We took the boat tour along pictured rocks and loved seeing the beautiful rocks with the colorful trees. Definitely would love to return somday. We also went all through Keweenaw and although we were late for color, it looked as if it had been great as well.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I saw part of this last night.....amazing footage and great stories. I can't wait to see more! Makes me want to get in the car and see some of these places for myself. We are blessed to have so many wonderful spots to visit in our country.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I get your point, Rangertoo, but I have a problem with your use of the term "missing the boat." The Audubon Field Guide in the current edition of Audubon magazine is not an Audubon top 12 list or anything like that. These 12 national parks are simply among author Kenn Kaufman's "personal favorites."