Recent comments

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Bob, I used to work in the Everglades and I was present when the python swallowed the alligator and I want to clarify something. The newspapers (as usual) got the facts wrong. The python did not burst as a result of eating the alligator. The swallowed gator was actually partially digested so the python swallowed it successfully, but with that full belly it was moving rather slowly and another gator came along and ate part of the python. The body burst as a result of decomposition, not the gator it ate.

    Invasive species has been something that I have worked to educated the public on. In every park I have worked at (7 total) Ailanthus altissima has been present in every single one. If you drive the BLue Ridge Parkway now, you can't see the view from most of the overlooks because this tree blocks the way. It stops the growth of any other tree and has no value to wildlife at all. In many parts of Virginia, this tree is the only one that can be seen for miles.

    For Bruce, who says we should just accept them, invasive species wreck havock on native ecosystems. They are a major problem and cost millions of dollars. They usually have no predators in the area they are invading and will completely take over. Go to www.nps.gov/ever/forteachers and check out the curriculum guide Don't Let it Loose. Yes it's for kids, but it has a lot of background information on the problem.

    I should also mention Python Pete. Everglades biologist Lori trained this little beagle to sniff out pythons. So far he's doing a great job!

  • National Park Mystery Photo 1: Wow – This is One Big Boulder!   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Our mystery boulder is located in Yellowstone National Park. More specifically, it's situated along the road leading to the Inspiration Point overlook on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. About 80,000 years ago, an early Pinedale Glacier transported it from the Beartooth Mountains to its present location.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 1: Wow – This is One Big Boulder!   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I think this boulder is in Yosemite.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 1: Wow – This is One Big Boulder!   5 years 24 weeks ago

    It's the Glacial Boulder, situated at the trailhead of the Sevenmile Hole trail in Yellowstone. As I recall, it was dropped off by a glacier several thousand years ago.

  • Snowbound Couple Rescued From Fire Tower at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 24 weeks ago

    This topic was covered on another thread and I found out that there is overtime pay involved in some search and rescues but other than that all the full time employees are on the payroll and all the equipment is paid for. Part of the job is to do search and rescue, which is usually dangerous, but that is part of the job that you are paid for.

    The tax payers pay EVERY DAY for this and other services so none should belly ache when the tax payer utilizes the service.

    These people weren’t stupid, they made decisions under the conditions that were not as good as they could have made. Let’s see how Anonymous fares under the same circumstances.

    "Unpaid volunteers - some of the often unsung heroes of the search and rescue world." I'll second that.

  • Snowbound Couple Rescued From Fire Tower at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt is correct, although in this case, only one NPS ranger and the two county deputies were likely on the payroll. I believe all of those other folks were unpaid volunteers - some of the often unsung heroes of the search and rescue world.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I did the hike when I was 17 and 21. One of the most exhilirating things in my life. Whoever suggested shutting half dome down because it is risky is an idiot! Take all the risk out of life and what you are left wirth is oatmeal. Tasteless, lifeless, boring, predictable, utterly mind sucking..but safe. Anyone who suggests this kind of thing should stay home in their nice cozy little houses and leave the adventures to the adventurerous.

  • New Lodge Gives You an Opportunity to Better Know Kenai Fjords National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    If you visit the lodge, please let us know what you think.

  • New Lodge Gives You an Opportunity to Better Know Kenai Fjords National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I've been researching an Alaska trip for a couple of years now, and finally will have the opportunity to travel north. As I was doing my research, I found this place along with it's company "Alaska Wildlands Adventures". There's the old saying, "if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is" I think from everything I have seen online and read from various sources, this may be the exception. I really hope it is when I go up there, to this lodage and many others, this August. I look forward to the experience.

  • Snowbound Couple Rescued From Fire Tower at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Taxpayers of America....

  • Snowbound Couple Rescued From Fire Tower at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 25 weeks ago

    And who gets to pay for this stupidity ??

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I also have difficulties with my knees and could never hike the PCT, however I would love to see it on my bicycle.

    I hope that it happens someday.

  • Damage from Tropical Storm Hanna Created Expensive Repair Problems at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    An excellent question.

    Unless something has changed since I retired from the NPS in 2001, here's the answer:

    The federal government doesn't have insurance for such damage - repairs have to be covered out of existing agency funds, or in many cases, by funds appropriated via special legislation to cover repairs from storm damage, fires, earthquakes and similar incidents.

    The theory is that the government saves money by being "self-insured" (in other words, uninsured), because the cost of paying for such repairs on a case by case basis is assumed to be less than the cost of premiums to insure the large number of government-owned facilities.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Dottie, that's fine. I just then want to see every article mentioning any kind of animal list in detail the ways it could kill you. I feel Bob is using the tactic of describing python feeding behavior to engender distaste for their presence here, when explanations of the facts about the potential ecological damage would serve better. My argument isn't with his facts - which are accurate. It's the delivery. I always appeal to the intellect first before resorting to tapping the emotion - and when that emotion is fear, I try to avoid it altogether. Fear is too powerful, too easy to misuse, and too easily backfires, marginalizing both the message and the messenger.

    As for people equating pythons and rattlers - I guess I spend too much time in public education of environmental issues. Convincing people that all snakes aren't evil is quite the uphill battle. That's especially true for adults.

    Bob, do understand I'm glad you got this topic up here. The points I'm arguing are just some philosophical questions about writing/education that have been on my mind lately. I had a respected expert slam me for sensationalism on one of my freelance pieces last month, so I've been chewing on this topic a lot.

  • When Will the Super Volcano Beneath Yellowstone National Park Erupt?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I see - so not the hot spot was in Nebraska 12 mya but ashfall from an eruption 12 mya can still be found in Nebraska. That is certainly perfectly consistent with the established theories even though it requires a pretty big bang around that time, that sent ashfall some 1500 miles east of the plume as it was in that time frame. Thank you, Kurt, for the explanation.

  • When Will the Super Volcano Beneath Yellowstone National Park Erupt?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    MRC, perhaps that sentence wasn't constructed as clearly as it might have been. The spot Mr. Breining went to was 1,000 miles east of Yellowstone and its hot spot. It was there that ash from a previous eruption of the Yellowstone volcano had been found.

  • Damage from Tropical Storm Hanna Created Expensive Repair Problems at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Isn't this the kind of damage covered by insurance?

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    And why shouldn't we know how the python would kill us? Man has survived by knowing how other animals, fowl, reptiles, etc., act. I do not believe that 80% of our population is so stupd that it will equate a rattlesnake with a python. Knowing actions and reactions has been known as survival of the fittest, and I for one, would want to know the actions of this python. Dottie F

  • When Will the Super Volcano Beneath Yellowstone National Park Erupt?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I'm not familiar with Breining's book, but if he claims that the Yellowstone hot spot moves (relatively to the earth surface) east to west and was in Nebraska 12 mya, then he is in contradiction with everything established about the origin of the Yellowstone volcanic activity. The usual explanation of volcanism in the Yellowstone area is that it is caused by a hot spot moving (relatively) west to east, caused the Snake River plain basalt, the Craters of the Moon eruptions over Idaho's Great Rift and moved to the Yellowstone about 650.000 years ago.

    Wikipedia's graphic at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/46/HotspotsSRP.jpg is based on USGS publications that are digested at http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Yellowstone/description_yellowstone.html (scroll down to the hot spot chapter).

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Bob,

    I think I failed to articulate where I was going properly. My point was indeed that the Burmese python is a completely different case than the diamondback rattler. One should be protected and one exterminated. I was saying that sensationalisitc accounts of snake problems do nothing to help the cause of the snakes that need protecting. To many folks a snake is a snake and it's a scary, dangerous animal. Reinforcing a fear of Burmese pythons (painful suffocation, eating men whole...) isn't good PR for the rattlers in the eyes of 80% of the public that is ignorant of the value of protecting indigenous species. Let's discuss the ecological impact of invasive pythons without the lurid details of how they'd kill you if they chose to. That's all I'm sayin'. :-)
    .

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    WE WANT TO KEEEEP THE EVERGLADES FOOOREVER PLEEEASE

  • Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    yes, it would be very sad. :(

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I guess this is my response to your list of "American this and that," from my previous post: "We humans need not always intervene unless the ecological balance will be way out of whack as a result." Some on your list definitely meet that criterion, from what I have heard and read (I am no expert). OK, I will read with an open mind your second installment about how disruptive this snake can be to the Everglades and beyond. That should include demonstrating how this new predator will be putting other walks of life out of business. Given the low survival rate of newborn pythons that you cite and the deteriorating ecology in general (a much bigger story) that may be hard to do, I think. Not meaning to challenge your expertise, obviously, just interested in a discussion.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    If it "does well", accept its presence? Let me see: American climbing fern, American swamp eel, American piranha, American walking catfish, American snakefish, American python, American anaconda..... :-) In a more serious vein, you make a very good point about doing a better job of explaining the disruptive effects of the Burmese python. (Weaselspeak alert!) I will be doing that -- also discussing control strategies and tactics -- in the promised second installment.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 25 weeks ago

    As I was reading this article, for the first time I questioned the idea of "indigenous species." It seems that we often seek to protect certain "indigenous species" because we find them more desirable than, say, a big snake.

    However, if the Burmese python does so well in the swamps of the southeast U.S., why not rename it the American python and accept its presence? Yes, we don't like the idea of a species being introduced in a new environment by pet owners dumping their unwanted animal toys, but what about the other ways that species can spread to new habitats naturally?

    I guess what I am groping toward here is the idea that newcomers need not be badcomers just because they are new to an environment or introduced in a way that we deem "artificial." We humans need not always intervene unless the ecological balance will be way out of whack as a result.

    You do not make a strong case for that here. You do make a case that this new animal is dangerous to child and man. Heck, I would not venture, nor allow my child to venture, into such areas because of the alligators and other nasties that already inhabit those swamps.