Recent comments

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    What is elitist about wilderness? It requires one to leave one's car and be in a modicum of shape with a modicum of planning. Certainly the vast majority of Americans can enter wilderness areas on at least day trips of some sort. Equality of opportunity - yes. Equality of accomplishment is up to you.

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    You're absolutely correct, Dottie, that National Parks are for all people to enjoy. As one of the "people", I enjoy hiking into the roadless, structureless, machine-less backcountry. Just because you don't enjoy or are unable to explore the wilderness doesn't mean everyone shares those desires or limitations. The parks are for everyone, not just you.

  • Investigation Of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Finds Cybertracks to Pornographic Images   5 years 30 weeks ago

    As a former long-term NPS employee I am grieved by the extent and by the general sleezieness of Latschar's conduct. The fact that the Bush-era "ETHICS" board would have approved such a clearly unethical arrangement is beyond belief. The fact that Latschar could have downloaded that much porn when rank and file employees could not even get on to many legitimate research search engines just goes to show how far NPS has sunk and how currupt the system has become. HELLO Obama Administration, time to take the NPS back to being a government agency above politics and curruption.

  • Investigation Of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Finds Cybertracks to Pornographic Images   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I am a to each his own type person. However there is a time and place for everything. Latschar should really use some of that $145,000 salary to buy a personal laptop. He seems to think he can do what he wants when he wants.

  • Should A National Park Ranger Countermand a Parent?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Interesting situation, but being fearful of heights myself, I'm glad the ranger spoke up for the child. There are parents that just push too much. Firefly was right, the stairs are the ranger's responsibility. Was there conversation about the child's safety or why she did not want to go up? We don't know the cooperation levels between mom and child. If the child was rebelling, let her miss out on something so beautiful, she will think about it later in life. Too many unknowns, so just on the possibility of a fear of heights and the dangers/problems that can produce, I side with the ranger.

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    In many ways I think the way "wilderness" has been designated under the 1964 Wilderness Act has been haphazard with all sorts of exceptions thrown in. I've seen pictures of Lake Aloha in Desolation Wilderness in the Lake Tahoe Basin. It's clearly within a wilderness boundary by I've seen photos of it with a big dam and understand that the water is stored there for irrigation purposes. I've personally visited Gilmore Lake with what's definitely a small man-made dam. I've seen maps of several wilderness areas showing narrow corridors in some wilderness areas where existing roads were left in place or large-scale commercial interests or frontcountry campgrounds were left in place within hundreds of feet of designated wilderness.

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    A place like Yellowstone has a whole lot of nuance to the backcountry. My understanding is that they effectively operate most backcountry areas as designated wilderness would be. However - the status as is allows for certain historical structures (which would otherwise need to be removed) to remain in place, such as the Observation Peak cabin, which I fell short of reaching.

    I'm wondering what an official wilderness status would do for Grand Canyon. Would that mean the demise of Phantom Ranch as a non-conforming use? I do understand that there are some small-scale facilities that exist in designated wilderness areas. I'm familiar with Yosemite and there's a big 'ol outhouse at Little Yosemite Valley, although I'm not 100% sure if it's outside the designated wilderness. At the very least there are the High Sierra Camps (with tent cabins and small lodges) which clearly are in the wilderness boundary.

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Kirby--

    Be encouraged!

    At least for natural resource inventory & monitoring, NPS already collaborates with NGOs and universities. TNC, or more often NatureServe, the spinoff from TNC that does science, does quite a bit in collaboration with NPS. Some natural resource inventorying and monitoring is contracted to NatureServe, particularly in areas where they have local expertise in complementary to that of the local NPS folks (e.g., vegetation monitoring where the few NPS scientists have expertise to cover the water quality, air quality, and animal aspects of park nautral resource monitoring). Similarly, a fair bit of work in Everglades is contracted out to university folks (graduate students are very cost-effective).

    But alas, I suppose be disappointed, too.

    Unfortunately, NatureServe doesn't have TNC money to fund work in national parks (NatureServe was spun off from TNC to become a self-funding recharge shop), and while they have some good scientists and naturalists, they don't have very many. That's pretty much the same with Wilderness society or any other NGO: they don't have resources or funding to give to work in parks, but can either be cost-effective for NPS or be great collaborators when NPS can bring some resources to the table.

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Are you suggesting that wilderness designations be tossed out and that roads be built through these areas, Dottie? Should there be a hotel built on the promontory between the South and Southeast arms of Yellowstone Lake that you could drive to for a different view of the lake? Or perhaps a tea house should be built in the high country above Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park and a tram installed for a better view of the park?

    Wilderness isn't about elitism. It's about preserving a small slice of America's landscape as near as possible to its original appearance so all generations -- today's and tomorrow's -- can appreciate them. Whether they do that in person or vicariously is beside the point. As Robert Marshall put it so well, "Just a few more years of hesitation and the only trace of that wilderness which has exerted such a fundamental influence in molding American character will lie in the musty pages of pioneer books..."

  • Is It Too Early To Plan A Winter Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Naaaahhhh.   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Rocky Mountain is very accessible in the winter, while Glacier is rather limited (and a little frighteningly remote).

    Also, living in Boulder gives me convenient access to Rocky Mountain NP. Very easy for the park to grow on you :)

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    National Parks are for all people to enjoy, even as limited access as backcountry may be, it is still for all peple to enjoy. Wilderness eliminates all but the chosen few who can venture forth to see and enjoy it, so the chosen few are the ones wanting wilderness status. Back to elitism, aren't we?

  • Is It Too Early To Plan A Winter Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Naaaahhhh.   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Perry,

    Your preference for Rocky surprises me! Perhaps we need an out-the-field comparison, eh?

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I certainly hope scientific integrity is the goal. Director Jarvis has been accused of backing up employees who presented information that was incorrect with some people severely questioning the scientific integrity of several NPS reports that he signed off on.

    http://www.hcn.org/issues/41.13/what-we-got-here-is-a-failure-to-collaborate

  • Have You Seen the National Trails System Map?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Did you know...

    There is another category of national trails called National Side and Connecting Trails. After some digging I found that to this date, only 2 have been designated, both in 1990: The Timm's Hill Trail, which connects the Ice Age Trail to Wisconsin's highest point, Timm's Hill, and the Anvik Connector, which connects the Iditarod Trail to the village of Anvik, Alaska.

    Why only 2? I am not really sure. Actually the better question is why these 2 were designated at all. The designation does not seem all that significant as far as I can tell.

  • Updated: Searchers Spot Missing Backpackers On Ledge In Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    My son is Officer Rogers. He is a very level headed, analytical, responsible man. He received NOTHING but support from fellow officers with San Bernardino Police. He chooses his friends also of strong character. These three men did nothing wrong except get caught in a storm. I could think of many, many things young people could do in their spare time that is irresponsible or shameful. Our families celebrated their safe return yesterday. No, we did not consider the cost of their rescue prior to notifiying park officials; we didn't hesitate when they were late. Even if we were told the cost would be astranomical; we wouldn't hesitate. Paying the cost would be challenging, but these men; who both families considers a blessing; would be well worth any cost. Not everyone can say that about their family members. We are blessed and very grateful of the outpouring support we have received from friends, colleagues, and well wishers. Thank you everyone.

    As for the comments about the cost of their search and rescue; I am a government employee; State of California employee. During this time of budgetary crises, I can appreciate citizens looking to reduce costs in our state budget; there are other areas to consider cutting in our budget. Life and safety concerns should not be targeted before examining other less essential area.

  • Is It Too Early To Plan A Winter Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Naaaahhhh.   5 years 30 weeks ago

    As usual, great insight provided here, Kurt.

    Rocky Mountain National Park has been getting dumped on and is such a great winter destination :)

    Personally, I think it's even better than Glacier in the winter.

    http://www.glacier-national-park-travel-guide.com

  • Should A National Park Ranger Countermand a Parent?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    When it comes to sweet talking to momma or papa about public safety in the national parks, regarding the rules, regulations or guidelines...give me a break! When you have hundreds of tourist running all over place and peppering you with all kinds of questions and in the mean while, your watching over the public safety with vigilance....you definitely have your hands full. It's crowd control vigilance for public safety while conducting your tour of duty as ranger. Your not a babysitter or a verbal mouth piece to handle all domestic disputes, but your hired as a ranger to teach, educate and enhance the wilderness experience. That's your job to be a professional ranger and not a family counselor. Agreed manners, tact and diplomacy is a good virtue but to a point.

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Readers with long memories will remember that in the years just after the Wilderness Act became law, top leaders of the National Park Service in Washington DC were not sympathetic to wilderness designation. Some had ideas of building more roads and developments to "take the pressure off" the heavily used sites. Later generations of NPS managers have had more appreciation for wilderness as an added protection against forces hostile to the parks. Early minimalist wilderness recommendations have been revisited and expanded to include most of the backcountry. Now it’s just a matter of when the congressional delegations are favorable, and when supporting citizens’ groups are ready to help. Zion and Rocky Mountain got their wilderness designation when President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act on March 30, 2009.

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 30 weeks ago

    In the months ahead Dr. Machlis plans to travel about the country, visiting units of the park system...

    What a horrible job to have! :-)

  • Should A National Park Ranger Countermand a Parent?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    There is far too little information presented to make even the most general assumptions about the appropriateness of the ranger's behavior. The whole argument is an exercise in fantasy, pending more facts. It should be classified as "observation of an awkward moment" and left at that.

  • Wilderness Designations And National Parks Don't Cross Paths Often Enough   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This is sad. I've been saying for years that the roadless areas in GSMNP should be protected forever with wilderness now. I'm not sure what the hold-ups are. There is no further funding needed to do this, as far as I know. I was not aware of the situations in Glacier and Yellowstone but this is surprising and should also be remedied.

  • Should A National Park Ranger Countermand a Parent?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    At one time my husband and I had five teenagers at the same time and we routinely had to "drag" them on family vacations. Now that they are all grown they all look back on those family vacations fondly and since my husband and I remember quite a few "fights" we are amazed that they seem to have conveniently forgotten them. There were many times when we informed the kids that they would do certain things whether they liked it or not. If I had been asking my kids to do anything that would have endangered them then I would certainly have welcomed it if a Ranger felt the need to step in and point out any potential dangers, BUT, if a Ranger thought that he had the right to step in between me and my teenager because they decided that they didn't want to do something then the Ranger would have needed some serious medical help by the time that I was through with him. As a mom I was very aware of any "fears" that my kids had and I also knew when they were just pushing my buttons. Since the Ranger had no clue as to what was going on between the mother and the teenager it would have been much more appropriate for him to have spoken to the mother privately rather than doing it in front of the teenager. It is hard enough for a parent to assert their authority to a teenager in the best of circumstances, but with the way that the Ranger interfered he made this mother's position intolerable and I can guarantee it that he made the situation between this mother and daughter very tense for quite some time.

  • What's Brewing in the U.S. Senate In Terms of National Park-Related Legislation?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hello, As I read these bills, it continues to amaze me that the site where Abraham Lincoln lived from March of 1830-March of 1831 is not a national park.

    I am writing to you today to implore you to consider
    visiting a forgotten and ignored part of
    Abraham Lincoln's heritage--right here in the Land of
    Lincoln. The site is the first home of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois--now "memorialized" as
    the Lincoln Homestead State Park, about 8 miles west of Decatur,
    Illinois, just 30 minutes east of Springfield, or about 3 hours
    south of Chicago.

    Yes, this was Abraham Lincoln's first home in
    Illinois where he lived for one year with his parents--from March of
    1830 to March of 1831. There he nearly died of
    malaria, nearly died of starvation (had to forage in fields for
    food), and nearly froze his feet off. He had the "Illinois
    shakes"-- a form of malaria, and nearly starved during the Great Winter
    of 1830-31. While recuperating from severe frostbite,
    he was given a copy of the Illinois Statutes to pass
    the time while he recovered in the home of his
    neighbor, the first Sheriff of Macon Co., thus beginning his law career.

    Today the park is the second least visited state park
    in Illinois, and is a travesty of an unsecured law
    enforcement problem, not up to ADA codes, and not
    taken care of by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

    Yet it is a place where Abraham Lincoln experienced
    life-changing events and character-building moments
    that shaped his future career. He split thousands of
    rails out there for neighbors and his family, and they
    were still out there in 1860 when delegates gathered
    some and triumphantly held them over their heads as
    they entered the convention hall to nominate him for president in Decatur.

    Today, if we were to visit, we could very well be
    the only visitors there for the day or days on end, as
    all that is out there is a rock and a plaque. However, at one time,
    the US Department of Interior planned to make it a national park and
    projected, "millions of visitors" to the site. I think you would be
    surprised at how pristine the site is, and would be able to almost
    imagine yourself as Lincoln on the edge of civilization in
    1830. There is no nearby Wal-Mart or strip mall, just the sound of
    the beautiful Sangamon River.

    Of course, I have written to dozens of historians, politicians, and the like to implore that something be done about this site. This site is the only place that Abraham Lincoln ever lived that is not preserved, protected, or interpreted. The site is a disgrace and has a long history of ups and downs in attempts to preserve and maintain it. I would sincerely appreciate your response or feedback on the how the NPS feels about this site and its potential to be a national park.

    Thank you sincerely for your time and response.

    Carol Scott

  • Should A National Park Ranger Countermand a Parent?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I am not sure that you can assume the child was lazy if you cannot assume the child was frightened.....sort of a double standard. I believe you are correct when you say we are assuming too much about the situation based on the information but unfortunately, you do the same thing by assuming simply because she is a teenager, she is lazy.

    I believe we have too little information to be forming any opinions one way or another. We weren't there.....we don't know the relationship of the parent and child.......we don't know any of the physical nuiances that could give us a lot of information......simply, not enough information to make any kind of judgement.

  • Dr. Gary Machlis Has Ambitious Plans As Science Advisor to National Park Service Director Jarvis   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It would be encouraging to see collaboration between NPS and any of the various NGO's that have the scientists already in the field and the money to pay them. The Nature Conservancy comes to mind as one example. TNC isn't operating on Park Service ground, but they study and manage their properties often in close proximity to NPS units. They also have less of an acrimonious history with the federal government and the National Park Service than some of the conservation groups that are more litigious.

    In Kurt's interview with Jarvis, the new director said he's expecting better collaboration between NPS, BLM, and the Forest Service that should lead to better creation and management of protected areas such as migration corridors. Even if informal, an open exchange of ideas with a land acquisition group like TNC could only come to good.