Recent comments

  • By the Numbers: Memorial Day Weekend at Yosemite National Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    When I left that weekend it sure was a mess.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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 24 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.

  • More Low Water Woes at Lake Mead – but This Isn't the Worst Drought on Record for the Lake   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I think it's kinda cool the lake is going dry, It is like mother nature fighting back after a brutal and merciless attack, Also I don't think las vegas needs a lake it may also influence some of the unwanted californians and other unwanted new comers to las vegas to return to where they came from, After all cities like Barstow, Baker, Elko, Ely, Wells. Winnamucca do just fine without a lake... Looking forward to a dry basin.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Frank C, Interesting info. It implies that mass transit is inherently less economical than travel via private auto. That conclusion is based on assumptions that I believe do not reflect the full cost of driving. Please check out the following: http://www.commutesolutions.org/calc.htm . If a person drives approximately 11,400 mi. per year the true cost of private auto travel would be $1.34 per mile for an annual cost of $15,365.00. Note, that total includes direct and indirect (hidden) costs. When oil sold for $147 per barrel the cost of gasoline increased accordingly. People drove less and used public transportation more. The more people who shift from private autos to mass transit the more cost efficient mass transit becomes. The same is not true for the reverse.

    The free market will indeed dictate how people travel. As the cost of energy goes up people will eventually shift to more cost effective ways of travel - or they will simply travel less. The cost of oil closed above $70 today; an increase of more than 40% in just the space of a few months. When the economy really begins to recover it will likely run head on into rapidly rising energy costs. National park visitation will be affected.

  • Yellowstone Poacher Loses Hunting Privileges for Life   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Yellowstone of all places, with the amount of visitors he is just lucky he never shot a tourist. I personally belief we all have the right to bare arms, and purchaces hunting license. Poaching is such a crappy crime, the ____ is lucky, he lives in todays world. He only lost his right to bare arms, he could have been taken out and linched a hundred years ago. Montana has had enough illegal poaching going on for years, codos to Gallitin County, Montana for adding some justice in this world!

  • House Approves Measure to Direct North Cascades National Park to Stock Barren Lakes. What Do You Think?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    1) The NCNP Fisheries Management Plan is based on 12 years of ecological studies. Kurt claims "science, not emotion, should be the driver" while utterly ignoring 200 pages of science in the EIS which do not support his position.

    2) The National Park Service has designated Alternative B as their Preferred Alternative. Kurt's statement "park managers believe continued stocking is contrary to their mission" is patently false.

    3) Under this preferred alternative, of the 91 lakes, 29 are currently fishless and would remain so, 20 would no longer be stocked and would become fishless, and 42 would continue to be stocked with trout, as they have been for almost a century. Only non-reproducing species will be stocked.

    4) This alternative would have no adverse effects on federally or state listed species, or species of special interest, including salamanders, frogs or insects. If further studies find any adverse impact in a lake, stocking would stop.

    5) The only reason there is a "no stocking" alternative is that Congress has not given the National Park Service clear authority to either continue or discontinue stocking, so the NPS is explicitly requesting that Congress clarify its authority.

    6) Kurt asks "Should science or political pressure be the guiding hand of national park management?" while ignoring the science and advocating uninformed political intervention against the Park Service's preferred alternative. The only one word for this: hypocrisy.

    7) Finally, Kurt makes the amazing claim that stocking is "not cost effective" based on Park visitation. Stocking costs the Park nothing; it costs the state only $18,000 per year, paid entirely by permits. Instead, he is advocating a new $3 million unfunded Park program to eliminate these fish. Incredible!

    Why does Kurt's article mention none of these facts? Why does it not point readers to the EIS, where they can learn more? His article would have done so if its purpose was to inform and serve NPT readers, rather than to advocate his predetermined opinion.

    It is important to realize that our National Park system encompasses an enormous variety of ecological and historical resources, and that "one regulation does not fit all". With NCNP, each of the 91 lakes studied is unique, and the single management prescription Kurt advocates does not fit all. More broadly, it is important for NPT to realize that Park visitors seek a wide variety of experiences, and angling is one such experience valued by many. It is not in conflict with wilderness values; for many hikers and fishermen, it is integral to them. Finally, this Park was created with pre-existing commitments to facilitate continued traditional uses of both Native Americans and Americans, and stocking is one of these. Let NPT be inclusive of all who love our Parks, not exclusive.

    - Rod Farlee, member of the Board of Directors, Friends of Olympic NP

  • Trail Jogger at Glacier National Park Walks Away from Encounter With Two Grizzlies   5 years 24 weeks ago

    This is my father. He has the utmost respect for bears and their habitat. He simply enjoys the same kinds of places they do. He has spent thousands of hours in the back-country and has successfully avoided encounters with bears probably a dozen times. He was running on a well-traveled trail, on a Sunday morning with the intention of meeting up with a group of 5 other people from his running group. He always carries bear spray... and the only reason he didn't this time was because he was planning to be in such a large group. These bears did not have cubs... they were two young males and Grizzlies do not commonly come down that low. I wish you had as much respect for my father as he does for the bears whom he encountered on the trail. Pease think before writing a comment about someone whose kids might easily see.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Keep hoping. Won't happen as long as the NPS remains a political spoils system in collusion with corporate concessions.

    Couldn't have said it better Frank.

    Mussolini spoke of our current governmental structure quite well when he said that "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Instead of the large numbers of private vehicles entering a park, greater numbers of people will almost certainly arrive via bus or, hopefully, a resurrected national and local rail system.

    Implicit in this and your other statements is that public transportation uses less energy than private vehicles.

    When Amtrak compares its fuel economy with automobiles (see p. 19), it relies on Department of Energy data that presumes 1.6 people per car (see tables 2.13 for cars and 2.14 for Amtrak). But another Department of Energy report points out that cars in intercity travel tend to be more fully loaded–the average turns out to be 2.4 people.

    “Intercity auto trips tend to [have] higher-than-average vehicle occupancy rates,” says the DOE. “On average, they are as energy-efficient as rail intercity trips.” Moreover, the report adds, “if passenger rail competes for modal share by moving to high speed service, its energy efficiency should be reduced somewhat–making overall energy savings even more problematic.”

    Also consider the cost of construction:

    The environmental impact statement for a Portland, Oregon light-rail line found it would take 171 years of annual energy savings to repay the energy cost of construction.

    If we really wanted to save energy, we would privatize transit, privatize Amtrak, and sell highways to private entrepreneurs who would have an incentive to reduce the congestion that wastes nearly 3 billion gallons of fuel each year.

    Hat tip to The Antiplanner.

    Hopefully, the National Park Service ... will begin the process of planning and preparing for a future with a generally reduced supply of conventional energy.

    Keep hoping. Won't happen as long as the NPS remains a political spoils system in collusion with corporate concessions.

  • Yellowstone Poacher Loses Hunting Privileges for Life   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Big deal - a poacher by definition does not need "hunting privileges"

  • Is the National Park Service Wise to Be Promoting The Use of Segways?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Dan, the NPS would not be overstepping its mandates, or infringing on anyone's liberties, by saying Segways are fine rides outside the National Park System.

    And in light of the agency's past stance on healthy outdoor education -- back in 2006 then-Director Fran Mainella reported on efforts the Park Service was taking to "advance the physical and mental health of the American public by encouraging additional, appropriate physical activity during visits to national park units" -- I don't see the problem with 1) banning Segways from the parks if their role is to reduce one's exertion level while speeding the riders through the park of their choice, or 2) banning individual park units from providing links to such activities, a de facto marketing endorsement.

    New Jerseyan: Segways can travel at speeds up to 5 mph, which is a bit more than your average wheelchair, motorized or not. There's also the issue of the impact these make when they're traveling in groups.

  • House Approves Measure to Direct North Cascades National Park to Stock Barren Lakes. What Do You Think?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Rod, science, not emotion, should be the driver, and it's the science that this story was based upon. The story revolves around the question of whether politics should guide management decisions in the national parks, and that's exactly what is going on with fish stocking in North Cascades NP.

    One of the EIS-related documents you cite points out that environmentally preferred alternative calls for fish stocking to be discontinued and also notes that "NPS cannot authorize an activity, in this instance stocking of fish into naturally fishless mountain lake ecosystems, that would derogate the values and purposes for which North Cascades was established, except as may have been or shall be directly and specifically provided by Congress (original emphasis).

    Furthermore, according to those EIS documents:

    Though recreational fishing is widely regarded as an important and traditional use of wilderness, the role of stocking to create and maintain an artificial fishing opportunity in naturally fishless mountain lakes is viewed by many as an artificial manipulation of both wildness and naturalness. These views are informed by a wide body of scientific research into the impacts of fish stocking, including findings specific to lakes in the North Cascades Complex.

    So the science, not emotion, certainly seems to show the best environmental scenario for the 42 lakes would be to do away with the fish stocking. Additionally, North Cascades Superintendent Chip Jenkins pointed out to the Traveler earlier this year that the stocking of non-native fish is against the Park Service's Management Policies:

    "Our Park Service Management Policies specifically say that we will not stock non-native species, we will not do anything that is in derogation of the values or the resources of the park unless specifically authorized by Congress," said North Cascades Superintendent Jenkins, who also believes the stocking runs contrary to the National Park Service Organic Act and the Redwoods Act of 1978. "So if this is something that Congress wants us to do, then we need that authority to implement. If we don’t get that authority by July 1, and that’s where I think tension is rising, then we will move to stop the practice."

    Delve deeper into the EIS documents and you'll find the following:

    Congressional action to allow fish stocking would also honor various verbal commitments in support of stocking that were made by federal officials prior to the establishment of the Complex but never codified in law.

    Keep reading the documents and it's not difficult to figure out that those "verbal commitments" stemmed from arm twisting on behalf of Washington state officials. Again, here's a snippet from the collection of EIS documents that holds up that point:

    After North Cascades Complex was established, a conflict over fish stocking emerged between the NPS and WDFW. The conflict was driven in part by a state versus federal jurisdictional dispute over fish and wildlife management authority, and by fundamental policy differences: NPS policies prohibited stocking in order to protect native ecosystems; WDFW policies encouraged stocking to enhance fishing opportunities. Early attempts to phase out stocking at North Cascades by park managers were abandoned in the face of strong objections by the state of Washington (emphasis added).

    Finally, the documentation shows that there are an estimated 1,000 people a year who head to North Cascades's 65 "fishable lakes, or roughly 15 per lake per year. So on top of the science that goes against fish stocking, you have the economics. Is this a cost-effective program?