Recent comments

  • Updated: Tsunami Waves Slam Into American Samoa and National Park of American Samoa, Leaving Death and Destruction in its Wake   5 years 28 weeks ago

    From InsideNPS Oct 1:
    Shortly before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, September 29th, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck 120 miles from American Samoa, a U. S. territory with a population of approximately 65,000 people. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami that produced several large waves that destroyed the park’s visitor center and offices. All park employees and volunteers are accounted for and are safe. At least one employee's house and four employees' vehicles were destroyed by the tsunami. Fortunately, this event happened early enough in the day that most employees were not yet at work and were in areas of high ground that were unaffected by the wave impacts. The few employees who were at the office were able to run to the safety of high ground, although most of them had to run through water to get there. The park visitor center and all contents, including the park's curatorial collections, were destroyed. The entire park fleet of vehicles was destroyed with the exception of two vehicles. The extent of damage to park marine resources will not be known for some time. Undoubtedly there will be impacts to coral reefs and there will be significant amounts of debris in the water and along beaches. Most of the park terrestrial resources appear to be undamaged. Park staff initially assisted the U. S. Coast Guard with rescue and recovery operations on site and are currently engaged in assessing and providing for the well-being of NPS employees and volunteers. They have also been assessing damage to park facilities, salvaging equipment and cultural resources, and securing NPS property from looters. Park staff will be available to continue assisting with the broader FEMA-led recovery operation in the coming days. Park employees are doing a great job of keeping their spirits up and helping each other and the rest of the community through this difficult event. Special agent Neal Akana from Hawaii Volcanos National Park flew to American Samoa yesterday morning and has been acting as the NPS representative at the FEMA unified command meetings. He is working with superintendent Mike Reynolds to prepare for the arrival of the Western Incident Management Team, critical incident stress management personnel, and other support staff who will arrive tomorrow. A team of cultural resource specialists will be assisting with the assessment and recovery of cultural resources in the park and will likely assist with the broader recovery efforts on the islands.

    Also from InsideNPS: the blog of a park marine biologist & his wife has more descriptions & photos:
    http://tropicalbrowns.blogspot.com/2009/09/tsunami-in-american-samoa.html

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We were in Yellowstone at Lake Lodge. Our reservations were for 9/25 through 9/28. Watching them put the pipes together and seeing the whole operation was really something. We talked to firefighters from Bozeman, MT and CA who were stationed to help protect the buildings. The smoke was really thick the afternoon and evening of 9/26 with ash flying through the air. We decided to go to Old Faithful on 9/27 but packed our stuff before we went just in case the road closed again and we couldn't get back. We watched helicopters dipping water from Bridge Bay to fight the fire and about 15 minutes after we came through to West Thumb, they closed the road. We watched the fire from West Thumb and could see a lot of flames and both white and black smoke. We ended up in West Yellowstone that night because the road was closed and left the park for Casper the following night. Seeing how they manage fires was the highlight of the trip.

  • Update on Razor Clam Harvest at Olympic National Park Set for October 7   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Local papers are reporting tentative clamming dates for Kalaloch as Oct 17-18, noon to midnight; also Nov 4-7, Nov. 14-17, Dec, 2-5, and Dec. 31-Jan. 3: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/2009976423_fish01.html

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 28 weeks ago

    After watching Ken Burns documentary on the national parks and hearing Ranger Johnson speak so eloquently about his personal experiences as a ranger is most touching...this man loves his job. A real natural that reflects the love of his professional work and a genuine affection for all people. I rate him along with Carl Sharsmith (Yosemite's famous deceased ranger) as a top flight professional. Your right Kurt...full circle for Ranger Johnson and it's getting bigger by the day.

  • Mention Officially Designated Wilderness, and How Many Folks Think of Shenandoah National Park?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Fire Island National Seashore remains the only park in the northeast U.S. with wilderness. And, it's the only federal wilderness in the entire state of New York. Who would have thunk it!

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The smoke you saw was actually caused by a fire in the tetons, one edge of which was in the Leigh Lake area. There was also a prescribed burn in the mountains opposite the tetons. Both caused smokey conditions there.

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 28 weeks ago

    A key consideration was the existence of racially segregated facilities in the national parks. Concessionaires were legally able to operate racially segregated facilities in the national parks until shortly after World War II. They were finally ordered to fully desegregate all park facilities in late 1945. (Federal Register, December 8, 1945, page 14866). Still, some concessionaires continued to offer racially segregated facilities for years afterward.

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    There has been a fire in the Tetons going at the same time. As a counter-point to Colorado Cowboy, one blogger wrote this "Yellowstone pyrotechnics benefiting Mount Moran."

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

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I am loving it!

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    There are fires at Jackson Lake as well, and those are much more likely to be the smoke you see around Jackson town. We were at the West Thumb geyser basin on Monday 9/27 and while we could clearly see the smoke to the north across the lake, we could not smell it from that point. Perhaps the wind has changed, but on that day at least, none of the Arnica smoke was headed south.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    So far so good. I have enjoyed it, especially finding more out about some fo the people behind the scenes, for which so many spots in parks are named. I only wish they would talk more about other parks, like Glacier (even though they mentioned it tonight), verses spending so much time on Yellowstone and Yosemite.

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Were African-Americans allowed entry into our National Parks from the earliest of their establishment? If not, perhaps that may explain their sense of alienation with our parks. Hope someone can reply to this query. I am interested to know more about whether or not we had segregation in our national parks until the civil rights legislation was enacted. I know that several parks in Baltimore city were closed to African-Americans until the mid 1960s.

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I can't believe that only 1 month after our family's visit to Yellowstone that it's snowing! We had such great weather at the end of August, sunny in the 70's during the days! Weather sure changes fast in the mountains...

  • Demolition Update: It’s One Down and One to Go at Gettysburg   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Besides the National Tower, that "banjo" cyclorama has always been the most hideous thing on the field. Restore the historic character of the park to the 1860's and haul this "architecture" of the 1960's out with the trash. There must be a deserving landfill somewhere closeby.

  • Wintry Weather Knocking Down Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    My wife and I were at Jackson Hole, WY visiting the Grand Tetons National Park when this fire broke out. We thought the fire was at the Grand Tetons because the mountains were almost completely obscured by the smoke. The smoke was so bad that we left Jackson Hole a day early because we were both coughing so bad. We were surprised when we learned this smoke came from Yellowstone. I feel sorry for the Jackson Hole residents who had to breath that nasty smoke and for the disappointed Yellowstone visitors whose visits were turned upside down by the road closures caused by the fire.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Mountain bikes aren't allowed on the vast majority of NPS unpaved trails. The only ones I know of that do allow mountain bikes are essentially unpaved roads wide enough for motor vehicles.

    I would note that backcountry users (i.e. backpackers) also pay special fees in many national parks, including use and reservation fees. Yosemite actually doesn't charge for backcountry permits if they're not reserved. At the very least, backpackers face quotas in some of the more heavily used backcountry areas.

    In addition, campers are effectively limited by the number of available campsites.

    It's not as if there aren't any precedents for special use (backpacking, camping, snowmobile) limits.

  • Gloryland Brings Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson Full Circle   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks for the info. After seeing this in my morning net routine I was able to get a hold request in on the book at the local Seattle library.

    The more I see of this fellow - here, online, in Burns' documentary - the more I admire him.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I think the reality is that the American public, through taxes, pays for the bulk of the park and those salaries. Snowmobile permits are a small, small pool of revenue in the overall picture, particularly when you factor in how much summer entrance fees generate for the park vs. winter entrance fees. Hikers and mountain bikers do pay entrance fees, too, when they come into Yellowstone.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The reality is that permits for snowmobiles pay for the park and those who maintain the parks salaries. Are the mountain bikers paying anything for stickers? Hikers paying for stickers for their hiking boots...?
    I don't think so.
    Snowmobiles should be allowed on public land. We as outdoor enthusiasts deserve to use the park in the winter just as we are allowed to drive into the park in the summer!
    Do they limit campers or cars in the summer?

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 28 weeks ago

    George,

    At Yellowstone you have to ski shuttles to choose from:

    From Mammoth, they run you south to the Indian Creek Trailhead.

    From Old Faithful, they run to both Divide Trail and Fairy Falls.

    You can find some details at this site: http://www.travelyellowstone.com/winter-activites-dates-rates-5563.html#snowcoachtours -- though pricing hasn't been set. Also, the times of departure from Old Faithful's Snow Lodge are off by 15 minutes. They should read 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., etc.

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    One has to bear in mind the legal and business contexts of these decisions. As mentioned in the article, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires land management agencies to consider all applications for the installation of cellular equipment on NPS lands. The burden of proof in these cases is on the agency to demonstrate harm to resources if it is to deny a permit to a telecommunications provider. In a case where the proposed installation is in an already-developed communication site, it is rightfully difficult for an agency to demonstrate resource impairment from an additional antenna or tower structure of a height consistent with the existing development. In terms of business, telecom providers require a certain customer-density to make these things pay. They are targeting developed areas - busy road corridors and areas with lodging or residences. The bars you might get on a backcountry trail is a happy or unhappy accident, depending on your perspective (I don't carry a phone in the backcountry, but I don't mind if you do). So I see little risk that cell towers will proliferate in remote areas. The profit just isn't there. All this said, it seems reasonable to expect land management units to develop NEPA-approved plans that provide clear guidance for assessing resource impacts from proposed facilities. This will give agencies a much stronger basis to deny a permit when the proposal would create unacceptable adverse impacts on park resources.

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Can any reader explain whether snowcoaches will drop a passenger off at a suitable trailhead for snowshoeing or skiing? If you could do that, then catch a later snowcoach for the return trip, it would be a real advantage. I remember a snowshoe trip I made up Hurricane Hill in Olympic NP 50 years ago -- the great mountain view, and the quiet. (This was before snowmobiles in the parks.)

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I wrote an essay on what I thought - see A critique of national parks as "America's best idea" at http://www.yellowstone-online.com/2009/09/critique-of-national-parks-as-americas.html

    The opening paragraphs:

    Anyone who has been watching the epic Ken Burns six-part documentary on PBS entitled The National Parks: America's Best Idea cannot help but be swept up by the places captured by his camera. When I see Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, I want to drop everything and plan my next adventure, discovering new places I have never seen. When I see familiar video and old pictures from my beloved Yellowstone, a flood of pleasant memories overwhelms me. For evoking such responses in a well-traveled man like me, for doing so to a large number of people for whom the national parks is but a sketchy mystery, Ken Burns should be applauded for that alone.

    Ken Burns does many things well both at the sweeping level as well as in minute points (for instance, one I quickly noticed was in not sharing the discredited story that the national park idea was dreamed up at Madison Junction in Yellowstone back in 1870). What I'm writing from hereafter shall be critical, but I don't want to take more away than I will in the following paragraphs. By all means, if you've never visited a national park, if you want a basic primer on the history, if you want to see beautiful things and be inspired, please take the time to watch this documentary. I can't imagine watching it and not wanting to visit some of these places, not wanting to know them more, and not having a greater sense of many of the complicated issues that surround the parks. It is worth at least some of your time.

    My biggest problem with The National Parks: America's Best Idea, filmed by Burns but written by Dayton Duncan, is that we are left with a generally positive view of American history. Whether we are talking about the "national park" idea itself, the process by which national parks were "saved," or many of the characters involved - coming to mind right now are Teddy Roosevelt and John D. Rockefeller Jr. - I am afraid to say that I believe that the story is far bleaker. That we can be inspired still by these lands is less a testament to the so called "national park idea" so much as the accidental force of American history that allows them to be temporarily saved while everything else is ripped to shreds.

    More at http://www.yellowstone-online.com/2009/09/critique-of-national-parks-as-americas.html

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

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, nothing was left on the cutting room floor! Compared to Ken Burn's previous work, this is a bloated turkey. Rambling, repetitive, tediously paced, poorly edited. Needs to be condensed by half, and could be an interesting, compelling story with more continuity, not a snooze.

    The stunning contemporary photos aren't shown enough; while the historical photos are great to see, the same one's are shown again and again.

    I agree with the other poster re: more comments from Park Rangers.

    I'll watch the remaining episodes because I don't want to miss the good parts, if I can stay awake.

  • Coalition Calls for Sen. Feinstein's Rider Extending Life of Oyster Farm at Point Reyes National Seashore To Be Stripped   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Richard Smith:
    It would be a wilderess with too many people, planes overhead, and ships going by. Not untrammeled by man.

    Not to mention a heavily used road (which sits right against the edge of Drakes Estero) with cars, motorcycles, etc taking visitors to/from the lighthouse, Chimney Rock, and beaches. There's also lots of commercial traffic to/from the dairy farms and cattle ranches.

    Once I went to the Chimney Rock area for a scheduled ranger guided hike. We had to take the shuttle ($5) from the Patrick Visitor Center because it was peak whale watching season near the lighthouse. They nice enough people, but there was a large group riding at least 15 Harley-Davidson motorcycles. As that group passed by Drakes Estero, I'm thinking the noise must have carried at least 2 miles. If there's any negative impacts on wildlife, that kind of noise would be it and not the relatively quiet 4-cycle boat motors that Kevin Lunny uses for the oyster farm.