Recent comments

  • Condors To Be Released into the Wild at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument   5 years 24 weeks ago

    In Pinnacles National Monument, California, a number of condors were released in January and February and more are scheduled for this year. You can follow the program there on http://www.nps.gov/pinn/naturescience/updates.htm - the Pinnacles condors formed a joint population with those released at Big Sur, where the further release is halted because their holding pen was destroyed by a forest fire last year. All condors in the pen at the time of the fire could be moved to safety on time. You can find more about the Big Sur condors at this slightly outdated website: http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/condors.html

    The third population - beyond Arizona and Central California - is situated on the Californian/Mexican border. Unfortunatly I can't find a comprehensive website on the program there.

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Just make it like old west and let everyone open carry! Ok everyone who is legally entitled to carry. This concealed is crap! Makes me look like I got a hip tumor!!!

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for stimulating us with your thoughts on the funding realities the NPS faces. You are correct that the American people hold the future of the NPS and its mission in their hands. Many may say that's an obvious answer with an easy solution, but it presents a huge dilemma for the Service. I am reminded of the Legendary Service training video Bill Wade appeared in while he was superintendent at Shenandoah NP several years ago. In it, he reveals an important finding regarding visitor perceptions of the quality of NPS services. Basically, Wade reported that the key to raising visitor ratings of services - and programs - was to make sure all the bathrooms stalls had toilet paper. A good supply of TP translated into "better" resource education/interpretation, resource management, law enforcement, etc., etc. During my 36 years of service as a volunteer and employee in the NPS, I can assure you that the last thing to go was facility and grounds maintenance. In other words, the Service oversold the visiting public that everything was fine. The last thing to go was the well-stocked bathroom, until the really tough years set in. SO we are left with a public that thinks things are fine. Even today, the Visitor Survey Program, part of the Government Performance and Results Act from the early '90s, constantly reinforces that the vast majority of visitors are quite satisfied with the "quality" of their National Park Service -the only consistent weakness revealed in those surveys has been in concessions operations. Somewhere, there is a huge disconnect between what the NPS is and how it is perceived by most visitors. Part of the problem lies in the fact that most visitors only see developed or "public" areas and not the rest of the "iceberg." A better analogy is Disney World and the underground city that supports it. I could go on about the dependence on volunteers, cooperating associations, and external groups for interpretive services and resource management activities. In addition, resource education/interpretation itself seems to have lost much of its power of advocacy and direction and become a buffet where the visitor chooses his conclusion. I could go on, but this is not the time or place. I'll close by saying that the NPS somehow needs to develop a visitor interface in the park setting that gives them a realistic picture of conditions and needs without alarming them. If the Service can't do it, the NPCA, NPF or other groups need to do so. Adding about 20 positions to NPS's Legislative Branch would be a good start.

  • March 1st was a Big Day for More Than One Park   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Great article about the Buffalo National River. Our family really enjoys going to this area often. Especially in the fall when the trees are changing. We like to find nice, isolated cabins to stay in and go hiking around the area. Hawksbill Crag is one hike that brings you to a rock cropping that sticks out from a bluff. The nice, slow pace and beautiful scenery makes the Buffalo National River a true gem!

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I have read the book and absolutely agree that "..it wasn't particularly important for the history that follows..", but that doesn't mean that some sort of BS session conversation didn't occur. "Hey, sure would be a shame to see a town sprout up right here. Should be some kind of park or something...." Move on to other topics and forget about it until years later. No one alive today can know for sure.

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I believe that Rockefeller was responsible for other NP and Banff in Canada, Acadia in Maine. He was a great lover of the beauties of America and since he was a very rich man( no income tax) was able to bestow much of the land that has become our NPS.

    We owe a lot to the rich robber barons that built lodges and loved the wild places and wanted to protect them for the future.

    Acadia has a similar story that they had to force the NP to take it on. The various landowners were worried about logging and wanted to preserve the area and felt that his best method was for it to become a NP.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Read the book; the case is pretty convincing. That doesn't mean that it didn't happen; what does seem evident is that it wasn't the way Langford describes it in the book. They did not immediately set on making the idea happen; Haines traces it to a message from Jay Cooke and Co. to Hayden (I think). The other really sketchy thing is that the actual journal entries for that period are missing, very odd for a guy who took meticulous notes. There's a lot more besides that makes the actual campfire story very sketchy at best - and even in the best case scenario, it wasn't particularly important for the history that follows.

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

  • Of Gray Whales, National Parks, and Climate Change   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Bob -

    A nice, and timely, piece. I've not had the chance to see whales from the California coast, but it sounds like a fun activity.

    Thanks for the update.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    At the last NRA convention. People were allowed to carry with a CCW. The only venue that disalllowed was when McCain spoke due to Secret Service rules for security. This convention was held in Lousville KY which allows open carry and conceal carry. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/may/18/blogging-gun-porn-nra-convention/

    Sorry to have to make this correction but this allegation was false at the last convention.

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 24 weeks ago

    It is a great and beautiful place. Thanks for the great history lesson about Jackson Hole. It is a very controversial thing that happens when lands are "closed off" and "protected". I too am glad that this place was handled the way it was and continues to be.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Who's to say whether such a conversation ever took place? I have sat around enough campfires to know that most of what is discussed is quickly forgotten. And how many fires did these gentlemen sit around on this trip? Even Mr. Hedges writes that he had the suggestion..." little dreaming that such a thing were possible." Likely, if it did occur, the other members of the party quickly dismissed the idea as little more than a fanciful daydream of no more importance than fantisizing about some saloon girl they had all met. Perhaps too, it was more of a private conversation between Langsford and Hedges. Perhaps it never took place at all. We will never know for sure.
    Who among us hasn't had some thought or idea that we figured was a good idea but impossible, so we dismissed it; only to have it come true later. Of course we are scoffed at when we say, "Hey I thought of that!" Years before microwave popcorn came out I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to pop popcorn in the microwave. I only mentioned it to a few close friends because I didn't want to be labeled a nut case. Later, when it came out, I remember saying that it was "my idea", to thunderous laughter of course.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 24 weeks ago

    MRC, Whittlesey and Schullery cited Huth's paper in their footnotes. Had time allowed, I would have delved into it and noted the annual "Madison Junction Pageant" that he objected to. Thanks for providing the link.

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 24 weeks ago

    All I can say is thank goodness this area was saved and the national park was created ! How can anyone who has ever seen this spectacular place not be thankfull to all who helped make it happen ? It is indeed a grand place !

  • Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I'll bet there are hundreds of similar photos out there. (I vaguely recall seeing a photo of a ranger petting a deer in that Yosemite "zoo.") I'd especially like to see a photo of kids with the mountain lion.

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Whittlesey and Schullery's book on the creation myth is a pretty good one that goes not only into the myth but the history of trying to debunk the myth. Previous Yellowstone historian Aubrey Haines had to deal with a lot of angst within the Park Service to publish against the myth that men like Horace Albright worked so hard to keep in tact. And, it still is in tact to some extent; there's still this horrible plaque outside the Madison Visitor Center looking toward National Park Mountain.

    My only beef with the book is that they go on to defend this myth, not as history, but as myth. And, while I think myth is deeply important, I think this particular myth is not the kind of story we should be perpetuating. On this and myth making in Yellowstone, I spent a lot of time writing, as I find the whole thing fascinating. See Re-mythologizing Yellowstone for a lot more.

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

  • The "Yellowstone Creation Myth": A Good Tale, But Little More Than That   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Are you familiar with the once influencial essay "Yosemite: The Story of an Idea" by Hans Huth from 1948 in the Sierra Club Bulletin? It is obviously almost forgotten, Richard Sellars doesn't even mention it in his history of the National Parks. It is at least not prominently named in Heacox "An American Idea", so I didn't find it thumbing through. Fortunately it is online one the somewhat obscure Website yosemite.ca.us at http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/yosemite_story_of_an_idea.html and worth reading it, more then 60 years later.

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I was on Cottonwood Wash Road in October of 2008. We had a great drive from 89 S to Tropic. It was a bit rough in Kane County section, but smoothed out. There is no reason to trust any kind of electronic navigation system unless you are with the CIA or the Army out in the backcountry west. You need to use a good map and a compass. I also have an altimeter in my car and a car compass (they are not fancy but they work and are reliable) and pay attention to my senses, odometer and judgment. I do not even understand why you would try this (entering addresses and looking at an electronic map). It's a waste of energy, just get a good map, ask around about conditions.

    We saw the AP article in Kanab BLM station about those people from California that dead-ended staring at their GPS units. I'm glad its finally up on the internet where all can learn from their pathetic arrogance.

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I was on Cottonwood Wash Road in October of 2008. We had a great drive from 89 S to Tropic. It was a bit rough in Kane County section, but smoothed out. There is no reason to trust any kind of electronic navigation system unless you are with the CIA or the Army out in the backcountry west. You need to use a good map and a compass. I also have an altimeter in my car and a car compass (they are not fancy but they work and are reliable) and pay attention to my senses, odometer and judgment. I do not even understand why you would try this (entering addresses and looking at an electronic map). It's a waste of energy, just get a good map, ask around about conditions.

    We saw the AP article in Kanab BLM station about those people from California that dead-ended staring at their GPS units. I'm glad its finally up on the internet where all can learn from their pathetic arrogance.

  • Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo   5 years 24 weeks ago

    I have a picture that was in a box of old family photos, of a woman in a 1920's era dress, feeding a bear standing on it's hind legs from a presumable Coke bottle.

  • "Give A Lincoln" To Help Preserve National Park Service Sites Tied to the Former President   5 years 24 weeks ago

    A nice effort - hope it will pay off.

  • What's Blooming In Yosemite National Park?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Kurt, I'm absolutely positive Carl Sharsmith would love this piece on the Yosemite wildflowers. Very nicely put together.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Why is this even allowed? I understand allowing a certain amount of people to hike up at one time, but allowing a whole trail to march up at the same time? Seems irresponsible to me...

  • Desert Solitaire Review   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Darn, where did I leave that Monkey- wrench? Edward Abbey is one of the great misanthropic icons of The American West. I was particularly entertained by his notions of feeling cramped by the closeness of the living things in the woods of the Northwest. Truly 'The Desert Rat'.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 24 weeks ago

    Fred,
    How nice that you are able to protect yourself and your family. I wish I was afforded that "right" myself. Too bad our supreme court doesn't understand the phrase "shall not be infringed." Sign me, unprotected and wondering why....

  • The Essential Arches   5 years 24 weeks ago

    This is a question, not a comment.

    A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited Zion, Bryce and Sedona. We found online a hiking guide to the Sedona area that included turn-by-turn trail instructions, with *photographs* at each stage. The creator of the guide offered a downloadable PDF version for sale at a very reasonable price. We bought it, and it turned out to be very helpful.

    We are now planning a trip to Arches and Canyonlands, and have been looking for a similar guide, but we have not been able to find one. This appears to be a very knowledgeable and authoritative site. Does anyone here know of a source for a guide of this type for Arches and/or Canyonlands, in any format?

    Thanks!

    Fran Fruit
    Winnetka, IL