Recent comments

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Juveniles? This looked like a nesting pair after the kids had flown!

    My wife's thought -- and she just might have nailed it -- are that these are "Mexican" ducks. The clincher is the blue swatch on the speculum with the white borders.

    If so, is this new to Yosemite, as it doesn't appear on the park's bird list.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Feel better?

    Perhaps you should go back and read the story. Mr. Anderson points out that even if all 9.4 million acres were designated as wilderness -- and that would be a stretch -- there still would be 17,000 miles of ORV trails in Utah. Any idea how many there are in Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and the other western states?

    Some things to ponder:

    * The Chief of the US Forest service named unmanaged recreation, especially OHV recreation, as one of the top four threats to the nation's public land. Source: National Trails Training Partnership, a subsidiary of

    * Outdoor Industry Foundation (OIF) began tracking participation among Americans age 16 and older in outdoor recreation in 1998 measuring 13 core activities including: backpacking; bicycling on paved roads, dirt, and single track; car camping and camping away from car; canoeing; cross country/Nordic skiing; hiking; rafting; snowshoeing; Telemark skiing; and trail running. Since the study began, OIF has added 9 additional activities including: bird watching trips; climbing on natural rock; artificial wall climbing; ice climbing; fly-fishing; non-fly fishing; sit on top kayaking; touring/sea kayaking; and whitewater kayaking.

    Despite stiff competition for the attention, time, passion and resources of Americans, the 13 core human powered activities were more popular in 2004 than in 1998 by a wide margin. However, they were down from their high in 2001. A comparison of 1998 and 2004 participation levels reveal an increase of 6% and a net increase of nearly 15 million people as the Participant population for the 13 core activities grew to 141 million people. Over this 7 year period, participant levels were up for kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing, Telemark skiing, and trail running. Three activities saw a decline over this period: backpacking, paved road biking and car camping. Consistent with prior years, the majority of participants recreated by biking, fishing, hiking, or camping. Source: Outdoor Industry Foundation.

    * OHV recreation has become an important policy issue on public lands because these vehicles can have negative impacts on the environment by increasing soil erosion, decreasing water quality and impairing wildlife and visual aesthetics. Attempts to regulate OHV use on public lands are not new. Executive Orders E.O. 1 1644 (1 972) and E.O. 11989 (1977) addressed safety and environmental concerns with OHVs by authorizing the Forest Service to manage OHV use so as to protect the land as well as the safety of all users of those lands. Within the past few years, however, the Forest Service has recognized the need for greater authority in managing these recreation areas and has proposed to amend the OHV regulations in an attempt to mitigate unacceptable environmental damage to Forest Service lands (USDA Forest Service 2004). Source: From Benefits and Costs of Resource Policies Affecting Public and Private Land: Papers from the Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah, February 14-15, 2005.

    Finally, it's interesting that the above comment by "anonymous," and the "anonymous" comment on the "Clash of Viewpoints" post pertaining to those who "destroyed this country" mentions lack of consideration and respect for other opinions and yet, he/she doesn't appear to embrace that opinion.

    There are many, many viewpoints and interests in this country when it comes to public lands recreation. Key in arriving at sound management plans is respectful discourse, dialog and even negotiation. And, too, I think it must be kept in mind that wilderness characteristics on that landscape is quite finite -- once it's gone, it's gone.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 28 weeks ago

    What has truely destroyed this country are the single minded, self-serving and lack of consideration for others. There you will find some of the richest people in our country along with the liberals. All these people think they know what is best for everyone and make every attempt to force their ways upon others without any consideration or respect to anyone, but themselves.
    [This comment was edited to remove a particularly insulting remark that will get the poster banned from this site if he keeps it up.]

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Let's just lock up everything from OHVs, camp trailers and etc. Let's just literally kill any demand for these products and the supporting jobs behind them. You guys are so naive when it comes to recognizing where much of the money comes from to manage these areas in the first place. Seems like another clueless Liberal Democrat movement in the works. Seems you people are all for yourselves and without regard for any other interest, but your own. Bet you are believers in one religion, one language too. (Of course you wouldn't admit this.) Additionally, I doubt 5% of those pushing for this effort have really seen the true beauty of the outback. This truely validates my recognition that anyone can go to school to obtain their undergrad, graduate and doctorate degrees, but still lack any common sense intelligence. What a pathetic bunch. OPEN YOUR MINDS AND BE RESPECTFUL TO ALL, not just your self-centered group.

  • Judge’s Ruling on Drilling Noise May Bode Well for National Park Soundscape Protection   5 years 28 weeks ago

    There's been no final ruling in this case, but the preliminary injunction is certainly very encouraging.

  • Judge’s Ruling on Drilling Noise May Bode Well for National Park Soundscape Protection   5 years 28 weeks ago

    A fantastic precedent for the protection of the planet's tranquil wild areas. Let's hope to see more such cases

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

    Many of today's urban African-Americans grew up in the rural south doing farm work, or their parents did. Once those people escaped to the city, they had no desire to go out into "Nature." And they have passed that on to their children, grandchildren,,,, which is too bad for those children who miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the parks. I speak as one who grew up in a small rural community in the south, but was lucky enough not to HAVE to do farm work. Many of my contemporaries were not so lucky. Curiosity has led me into many "nature" experiences, but even my own family considers my excursions odd.


  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 28 weeks ago

    What a tragedy for the nation. Under his watch federal employees ... attempt(ed) to ruin a perfectly legitimate and licensed business at Pt. Reyes. Mr. Jarvis should have insisted that these employees .... be fired for their actions. In the private sector such behavior would not be tolerated. One can only guess what he will tolerate (and encourage?) in his new position. A sad day for scientific honesty and the American taxpayer.

    Editor's note: Portions of this comment were edited due to their potentially libelous nature. While it is true that a report the National Park Service prepared on the impacts of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. contained errors, as the agency acknowledged, they were corrected.

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

    I have loved the series thus far. I have learned alot about the history of the parks and been truly inspired by the passionate people who helped create them. Shelton Johnson has been my favorite commentator thus far. I would love to take a hike with him one day.

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

    It's a Ken Burns documentary. In many ways it's more about people and researching that obscure, personal story that can be captivating.

    I'm glad there wasn't a complete whitewashing of the saga of people displaced when the Park Service took over lands. Or the influence Gifford Pinchot had on the damming of Hetch Hetchy partially because the national parks didn't have its own agency.

    If one really wants a travelogue with oodles of footage of our national parks, just check the Travel Channel listings.

    I (as UC Berkeley graduate) find it fascinating that the three people most responsible for the founding of the National Park Service (Mather, Albright, and Lane) were all UC Berkeley alums (although Lane did not graduate). I think I already knew that, but it was interesting that it was mentioned in the series.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 28 weeks ago

    As the Gov admits, these lands are owned by all the American people and as one of those owners I say Utah has no right to claim the resources. Greed has destroyed so much in this country already. Protect the uniqueness of this area.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 28 weeks ago

    All this talk about billions of billions of dollars being spent on the attempt to cut down the population of non-native problems is idiotic. There is no proof of anything in which a burmese is held accountable in the wild other then...raccoons, dogs, cats ect. No human in North america has been killed by a wild burmese ever. They are not the biggest predator and nor do they thrive souly on protected animals. They have the same diet as a aligator...and need i remind you there are 1,000,000 estimated aligators in the everglades. Aligators, snakes, panthers whatever presents it's self. They do not target particular animals. Anytime an american can muster up a way to earn a buck they pin the blame on something. Now my question is merely this....when burmese pythons become threatend and are on the verge of nothingless...will we then put them in wild to help build numbers?

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

    MikeD, the essay I wrote that I linked to also has the criticism of the overall point of view of the work, focused somewhat on criticizing what I take to be Burns' view that history is made by dynamic, even if complicated characters, and that the national parks in part arose because some of these peculiarly inspired and energetic people went against the grain and made it so. I think that view is ultimately wrong - and not simply because it's a tad melodramatic - but because I think that the national parks arose out of the same strand and forces that were at the same time destroying everything else. That may seem subtle, but I think it's an important distinction because ultimately in the Burns view, we don't know what to make of all these complicated and unsettling anecdotes of atrocities and conflicts and paradoxes (they seem to be for the next generation of inspired and creative Americans to discover). So, his view chugs along mostly happily without much analysis of the many complexities he (to his credit) throws in there. My view is far darker about American history but hopefully more coherent, thus ultimately suggesting ways through this forest. If we understand the causes of the national parks as something within the flow of our history, I think we have a better sense of why these injustices have happened through the history of the parks.

    (As for all the talk about more rangers, I find that they are over represented, but that's me - as a critic of the Park Service, you would expect that. I'd rather see much more about those not thought of at all in the national parks experience - the bell hop at the hotel, the waitress, the child, and much more than the token treatment of native peoples.).

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

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Could be a juvenile mallard. Juvenile and non-mating vs. mating plumage colors are what often throw me with bird identifications.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • 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

    bull's eye !

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

    I am enjoying it. It may seem to jump from issue to issue, park to park but it is following the timeline.

    A comment regarding Garvins' comment, remember "someone" lived in a lot of the national parks. Remember the native americans !

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

    I'm enjoying it, but agree that it would have been nice to hear more from the Rangers. Shelton is doing a nice job, but there is a lot of passion (and great storytellers) out in the field and I would have like to have heard other voices.

    On a side note, I've found it really interesting to see the "after market" on NPS memorabilia explode on ebay. I guess that people really want to learn more about Muir, Roosevelt, etc. after watching the documentary.

  • Trails I've Hiked: Bryce Canyon National Park's Under-the-Rim Trail   5 years 28 weeks ago

    While researching the Reef Bay trail on St. John I happened upon your site. We will be in St. John in a few weeks and are considering hiking this trail on our own. I am reading mixed reports on how strenuous the hike up is and was hoping you might be able to offer us a relative comparison? We have been to Bryce Canyon and hiked the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop between Sunrise and Sunset Points. I think the Under the Rim trail stops just short of Sunset Point. Do you feel you could offer a comparison of hiking Bryce versus the Reef Bay Trail? While I have confidence in our fitness level, I need to better understand the possible strain of the uphill climb as my husband has asthma. We live in Arizona where it is very dry and climate change can cause him to struggle a little with his breathing and a good hike is not worth the risk.

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!

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

    First off, as for the continuity, I wonder how the DVD will be since the program is divided into what I'd more or less call episodes. I can't help thinking that if you want to later watch it on DVD it will seem odd to have it this way with each "episode" sort of recapping the previous one.

    But I'm surprised no one has mentioned, or complained about, the bias. For me personally, the bias matches up pretty closely with my own views but you can't deny he's pushing a particular perspective and view about what the parks should be, their value, history, etc... There are clear good guys and bad guys, and some figures who he wants to avoid labeling bad guys (i.e., people who got kicked out of their homes) are kind of glossed over. Is this slant a good thing or should the film have been more apolitical? I think "rooting for the parks" is a nice perspective personally, but obviously in pushing this view, a lot is left out of the story.

    Also, given how much time was put into this, I am surprised how little footage of the parks we see. Burns is really interested in the story of how these places became parks, but has next to nothing on the natural and human history of the places that made them worthy of that designation. I expected this to be a grand showcase of what the parks have to offer and show Americans why they should visit them, as well as tell their story, but it's much more the latter than the former. I understand this is his style and that much of that has been and probably will be done in other films, but I can't help thinking that the story might be told a little better by showing what makes these places so unique and special, and not as many old photoraphs of the buildings and people, photos which, as has been mentioned, get shown over and over.

    But overall I'm enjoying the program a lot. I'm looking forward to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt area and to the stories of some of the later-established parks.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I hiked that trail in 1983 and made it most of the way, but my God, is that trail terrifying and dangerous!

    I remember thinking at the time I was hiking it, "People have definitely died here".

    And they have!

    I am not surprised.

    Another scary trail is the "Buckeye Camp Trail", on coastal HWY 1 in California,
    right near the boundary of Monterrey County. There is a sign on the right & a parking area.

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

    As history, it works; I'm learning a lot I didn't know. But as story-telling, it falters a lot. Conflicts are built up -- Cameron vs. Mather! Stay tuned! -- but then done away with by a few sentences on the following evening. At the same time, troubling issues like the forced removal of people in the creation of Smoky Mountains National Park are barely touched on.

    This approach is a problem largely because the filmmaker has decided to make his documentary a narrative -- and then stops and starts the story over and over. It's largely a script problem, and makes me wonder if a less chronological approach might have been more interesting.

    Beautiful images, of course, but often no indication of where the shot was taken -- unless of course it was Yosemite or Yellowstone, which we see over and over. I agree there are too many writers interviewed and too few rangers. Who are these writers? What did they write?

    I'll keep watching because, as I said, I'm learning things. But there are history lessons that are necessary and history lessons that are compelling; this one seems more necessary.

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


    It is more likely that the smoke over J hole originated from the Bearpaw fire in the park. My wife and I dayhiked the Paintbrush/ Cascade loop (In GTNP) last saturday 9/26. The smoke was present, but not overwhelming as we headed up. It didn't seem to affect some bugling elk along the way who headed towards the smoke. At about 8500 feet, we rose above the cloud and breathed the crisp air we expected upon embarking. As the day went on, the wind direction shifted, and the northern flank of the Grand which was veiled in gray, cleared out nicely, providing us resplendent views heading down to Cascade canyon from lake solitude.

    The following day, we embarked on a 3 day journey to Heart Lake in Yellowstone's SE corner. In the afternoon we watched as the plume from the Arnica fire grew and shifted with corresponding changes in wind strength and direction from the trail as it rises above the Heart Lake Basin. For the better part of the day, the reach of the smoke tended to the ESE- towards the Thorofare part of the park. As nite fell, we noted difficulty in breathing, similar to what we encountered during the Paintbrush hike. Mt Sheridan could barely be seen behind us and the moon looked yellowy in the sky.
    It was possible that some of the smoke may have reached the J hole that nite on a northerly wind.

    Monday, we climbed Mt Sheridan on a mostly smokefree day. We hit the top (10,300') about 1 pm. This is a phenomenal vantage point in which to see both parks layed out in their entirety below. It was relatively calm on top with only slight breezes out of the west. The tetons were obscured, but still visible with billows of smoke filling the Hole. In Yellowstone, the Arnica fire was split into several plumes with lingering low smoke only covering the Bridge Bay area. A huge plume was rising in the valley east of Mts Doane and Stephenson at the far east end of the park.

    We enjoyed a lovely clear nite, with a bright white moon hovering over us to the south (in the direction of the Tetons). Tuesday, we hiked out by way of the upper Snake River to the South boundary RS. A long, but lovely hike that we would recommend to any junkie who loves the Teton/Yellowstone backcountry. The air we breathed was high quality National Park excellent! About a mile from the end, we walked out of the woods on to a classic Yellowstone meadow borne of thermal and glacial origins, and were greeted by another view of the tetons. Once again, the pall of smoke seemed to be local in origin, as above us were storm clouds mixed in with strikingly clear and blue skies. None of Yellowstone's smoke was drifting south.

    Check into the Bearpaw fire as the source of your disappointment.

    Hope to see U out there next summer!

    RT- Elmhurst Ill.

  • 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:

  • 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: