Recent comments

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 29 weeks ago

    As usual, cyclists will be kicked out of places they currently enjoy, and the BLM offers no rational argument for it (mostly because there isn't any).

    These guys seem to get it

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I enjoyed the series, and now that I've seen it, had a couple of reactions to it and to the comments on this story.

    If you look at Ken Burn's other work, it's primarily from the viewpoint of a historian - not a travel writer, or a naturalist - and that's reflected in this one as well. That's his approach, and that's fine. That leaves the field wide open for those who want a different perspective :-)

    This is clearly a subject that offers a lot more material than could be covered, even lightly, in the time available. It's worth remembering that the title was "The National Parks" ... not the "national park system." He had to narrow the focus somehow, and there was acknowledgment of "monuments," and to some extent, other types of areas.

    Like some others, I would have enjoyed a little less emphasis on Yellowstone and Yosemite and more on some other sites, but I certainly learned some things I didn't know about both parks. Since viewing the series didn't cost me anything except a little time, I'm appreciative of the time and work that went into the project.

    The series was a good reminder about how fortunate we are to have the parks and other units in the system that we enjoy today - and how things could very well have turned out differently were it not for the determination of a relatively small number of men and women.

    One key question is whether the series will influence how we respond - as individuals and as a nation - to the issues facing our parks in the years to come.

  • The National Park to Park Highway   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I watched all week the special on PBS about the National Parks it was wonderful. American is so beautiful, I thank everyone that made the shows, the past presidents that made the National parks happen. It is a great place to take children, grandchildren just to sit and be amazed at all what God has created. John Meir how he traveled by foot to see all these wonderful places before cars and all the visitor centers roads were build is so unbelievable. We don't have go far to see so of the most beautiful places in the world, they are here in American.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 29 weeks ago

    The NAS report is available for free download with an email address:

    I think this section goes more in depth about the concerns of the accuracy and corrections to the original report.

    While NPS in all versions of Drakes Estero: A Sheltered Wilderness Estuary
    accurately depicted the ecological significance and conservation value
    of Drakes Estero, in several instances the agency selectively presented,
    over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information
    on potential impacts of the oyster mariculture operation. Consequently,
    Drakes Estero: A Sheltered Wilderness Estuary did not present a rigorous
    and balanced synthesis of the mariculture impacts. Overall, the report
    gave an interpretation of the science that exaggerated the negative and
    overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.
    NPS has issued two documents correcting and clarifying Drakes Estero: A
    Sheltered Wilderness Estuary—
    “Acknowledgment of Corrections to Previous
    Versions of the Park News Document Drakes Estero: A Sheltered Wilderness
    Estuary,” posted on July 25, 2007 (NPS, 2007e), and the September
    18, 2007 document, “National Park Service Clarification of Law, Policy,
    and Science on Drakes Estero” (NPS, 2007d). The Clarification document
    represents the most accurate NPS release of science relating to mariculture
    impacts, although it does not fully reflect the conclusions of this
    committee. It appears that hasty responses to local stakeholder concerns
    by NPS led to the publication of inaccuracies and a subsequent series of
    retractions and clarifications during this process from 2007–2008, which
    cast doubt on the agency’s credibility and motivation.

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    samatha,you must be kidding....pit bulls are the worst dog a person can own,better have good insurance if they go after anyone,and a good are right about other dogs have maimed and mauled people and other animals,but the pit leads the group in attacks...

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Paul -

    Thanks for your comments. There's no question that pit bulls have both fans and detractors, and you're correct: the breed has the reputation of being more aggressive than many other types of dogs. Is that fair? I don't know. Perhaps it's deserved, or perhaps it's merely a combination of the belief that the breed is favored by those who raise dogs for fighting and of media coverage of incidents such as this one.

    Anticipating that my story would raise the ire of pit bull fans, I intentionally omitted several details from the article, including specifics about the aggressive nature of the attack, the extent of the deer's injuries, and that fact that the dog involved in the second incident mentioned in the story was also a pit bull.

    No doubt the short name "pit bull" lends itself to headlines; I suspect most writers would substitute "dog" in place of "German Shepherd" or "Doberman Pinscher" if that had been the breed in this case, although the fact remains – such incidents in park campgrounds are pretty rare, and the dog in this case was a pit bull.

    You're correct that a pit bull would weigh less than the "about 100 pounds" cited in the information I received about the incident. Most people had a hard time accurately gauging the weight of a dog; the point of the reference to the weight was that the dog attacked another animal that outweighed the dog by a considerable margin. I've modified the text accordingly.

    The key point of this story was the opportunity for a reminder about the reason that leash laws exist in parks—for the protection of wildlife, other visitors—and the dogs. Most readers who have made comments have picked up on that theme, so the article seems to have served its purpose.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I couldn't disagree with you more, James. Film producers, playwrights, football coaches, musicians, park managers, and everyone else purveying a product or service (yes, even the people who produce this webzine) need the feedback that critics provide. Taken in the spirit intended, it makes you work harder and smarter. As to the matter at hand, there's little question that the Burns national documentary has some pretty significant flaws. Pretending that they are not there helps nobody.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I am reading through these pages of comments, and it all seems like a pile of negative cynical "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" throwing stones. All of you would criticze John Muir to his face, as well? Certainly you would all stab him in the back for WHAT HE DIDN'T DO. In any film or work of art there's always something that could have been done differently.

    If you ask me, anyone who looks for things missing for the sake of nailing criticism, is missing something within him/herself, and lacks the true depth to appreciate a stream flowing, for simply what it is. Not what it is not.

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Why would the pit bull come after you? Why would you assume that would happen? Pit bulls were bred to be human-friendly. Any dog can be bad if not raised properly, just like people. American Pit Bull Terriers, however, are less likely than almost all other dog breeds to be aggressive toward humans, in many cases even after severe abuse. All dogs should be on a leash in public; the breed is irrelevant. Oh, and I guarantee there are countless more shooting deaths than pit bull attacks. And for the poster who mentioned headlines about pit bull attacks: When was the last time you saw a headline about any other dog attack besides a pit bull? I don't know that I've ever seen one. Do you really think that no other dog is attacking people? Of course they are; the media only reports dog attacks as "pit bull" attacks, whether it was a pit or not. "Pit bull" is a sensational buzz word that gets people's attention, and most of the time it's applied to a dog that has nothing to do with pit bulls. This article is a prime example. Why? American Pit Bull Terriers do not grow to be 100 pounds. They're not that big. If you see a gigantic scary-looking dog, it's not an American Pit Bull Terrier.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I'd just add that after seeing more of the series, they seemed to have gotten Ranger Johnson filmed at various stages of his appearance.

  • The Hunt for Red (and Yellow) October. It's Officially Fall - Let the Quest for Color Begin!   5 years 29 weeks ago

    If you are in the Oklahoma-Arkansas-North Texas area, check out Beavers Bend State Park and the Ouachita National Forest near Broken Bow, OK. Absolutely gorgeous in the fall!!

  • What Bird is This?   5 years 29 weeks ago


    Whichever or whatever it truly is. I call it beatiful and welcome to Yosemite.
    I appreciate and enjoy all the splendor there. Ancient and living.

  • Travel Back In Time to 1933 World's Fair At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I grew up in Beverly Shores. So wish I could be there to attend this. Fond memories of many a party at the House of Tomorrow when Mary Miller (the coolest dame ever) used to own it.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 29 weeks ago

    There was no timetable set in the 1976 wilderness law for removal of the oyster farm. In addition the reservation of use signed in 1972 was set to expire in 2012, but had a renewal clause. All it would take is the signature of Superintendent Neubacher.

    The have also been allegations that the PORE administration was looking for scientific research that would force to farm to vacate before 2012. I heard part of it was that Superintendent Neubacher was also trying to get them to relocate completely to Tomales Bay, but that would have been tricky trying to get all the permits and the cost would have been pretty high too. In the end I think everyone abandoned that as unworkable. Drakes Estero is different than Tomales Bay. The amount of food for the oysters is higher and the water quality is cleaner. Tomales Bay oyster farms have to stop oyster harvesting operations when the bacteria counts shoot up after rains carry runoff from Marin streams that contains bovine fecal waste (sounds yummy doesn't it). They can harvest every day at Drakes Bay.

    Here's the law. It's short and has simple language. It has no specific mention of the oyster farm or any date past 1976. The only assumption we can make that's not in there is that the oyster farm is probably in what marked as potential wilderness in the map that accompanied the act. I can't find a source for the map. There have already been potential wilderness areas that have been converted to designated wilderness, while I'm sure there are other areas that have not.

    Apparently the law was also replicated in some larger law, but that appeared to be some sort of oversight.

    I'm sure that new Director Jarvis was well meaning, but there have been allegations that the content of the original report was more than just a mistake that could be corrected.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Bill, it wasn't just the Scot-Irish who were moved out. The Cherokee were evicted as well, and their connection with the land went back much longer.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I watched the Ken Burns series on the National Parks and was somewhat disturbed over the amount of attention paid to Yosemite and Yellowstone when, indeed, there are less visitors to those parks combined than to the Great Smoky Mountains alone. At the end of the series I thought that had I thrown a dime into a bucket everytime I heard the word "Yosemite," I would have had to paint my house 10,000 times to get enough buckets.

    It is obvious that we need more National Parks east of the Mississippi.

    I had not known, however, that money from children was used to pay for some of the property to make the park. Creating the Smokies is about displacing a people, the Scot-Irish who had inhabited the mountains for upwards of 200 years. I have known many people who were forced to move out of the area to make the park.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Anon & Observer - Why not tell the entire story? Was there a question about whether the oyster farm is harming the ecology of Drakes Bay? Yes - but that's not the point. Go back to the law - the law that was passed in 1976 that called for elimination of the oyster farm in 2009. The present owner bought the oyster farm with full knowledge and acknowledgement in the deed that they had to cease operations in 2009. So now he whines and wants the lease to be extended and you blame Jon Jarvis for that? Rediculous.

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 29 weeks ago

    As a former DOI employee the exchange between Anonymous and Editor caught my eye. I'm afraid editor's comment tht the "report contained errors" is not entirely accurate. As a matter of fact the National Academy of Sciences was brought in to review the entire episode and documentation and concluded the Park Service "...selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information...". That suggests more than a report "containing errors". This is a sad chapter in the history of the NPS.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 29 weeks ago


    I've heard that comment about mountain bikes not impacting the land any more than hikers, and I'd like to see visible proof of that. I'm not questioning your information or trying to spur an argument, but from personal experience, I don't see how that's possible. All the multiple-use trails I use (and where I live it's hiker-biker, with only an occasional horse) are quickly ground up by bikes, the top soil kicked off and the underlying rocks erupting. I just don't see how it's possible, with switchbacks and the braking that goes on on straightaways and going into turns, that mountain bikes don't have a greater impact than a hiker.

    Perhaps Mark E. can weigh in on this.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I never had the pleasure of riding in Utah, although I'll make it a point of doing so at some point. I take exception with your comment of lumping together OHV and cycling. There's a slight difference between a 2 ton SUV and a 30# bike. Last I checked we don't impact the land anymore than hikers.

  • Bridge Over Needed Waters: Contract Awarded for Tamiami Trail Bridge at Everglades National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Listen, you may be able to hear it. The Everglades: "Ahhhhhhhhhh."

  • Judge’s Ruling on Drilling Noise May Bode Well for National Park Soundscape Protection   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Thanks to that judge for good sense. Let's hope this means protection of the peace and quiet I look for in Nature.

  • U.S. House National Parks Subcommittee To Consider Red Rock Wilderness Act Legislation   5 years 29 weeks ago


    Are you asking about single track that exists as a track already ridden, or are you asking about riding anywhere that isn't a wide enough track for a jeep, including cross-country over untracked land?

    Looking at the bigger map, at least in the the areas I know, I'd say almost no single track is being closed. I don't think that there's single track on the west side of Desolation Canyon, nor on top of the Book Cliffs, where they're proposing wilderness. If you ride there, you're busting new trail over crust, and I have a big problem with that.

    In the Moab area, Behind the Rocks WSA is included, as is Negro Bill Canyon, but the Behind the Rocks trail, Cane Creek, and the areas to the south where I know of single track are not in the proposed wilderness, nor are the La Sals. The mountains west of Price are wide open (I've only been there once, but it was great).

    If there's extant single-track in the proposed closures, point it out. Existing single-track should be respected as non-wilderness. More single track riding trails should be established elsewhere on public lands in the Colorado Plateau so we can get away from folks when we ride. There's plenty of less-sensitive land left that BLM should designate for trail riding, and (slightly) develop (e.g., parking areas at trailheads). The majority of public land in the Colorado Plateau is not in current or proposed wilderness, even counting this proposal. But I think that large hunks of sensitive lands should be closed to our bikes as well as to jeeps and OHVs.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    They haven't done an exclusive story only about the units with the "National Park" label. They've gone quite a bit in depth about the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the power it gave to the President to declare National Monuments. They've touched on Horace Albright's move to consolidate National Battlefields from what was previously under control of the War Dept into the National Park Service.

    Gerard Baker is heavily featured in the series as Superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

    There also should be no doubt that the crown jewels of the NPS should get a lot of airtime.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    As usual Burns has done an excellent job with his subject. The series will no doubt build support for, and increase visitation in the parks FROM THAT SUBSET OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC THAT WATCHES PBS! That subset is unfortunately not the group that will be leading (and voting in) our society in 50 years. If the parks do not reach out to these groups that will make up the majority of our population in the coming century then the parks will eventually go the way of the passenger pigeon.

    I also feel that the concentration on the big well-known parks (and just the 58 "parks") does a huge disservice to the rest of the units that make up the 391 UNITS of the park system. This just confirms the public's mistaken impression that the Park System is just those "big, natural" areas. This was a missed opportunity to relay to folks that the Park System is SO much more than Yellowstone and Yosemite or for that matter those "58" national parks.