Recent comments

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Identifies Pre-Nesting Closure Areas For Piping Plover   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Great article, Kurt!

    Thanks for keeping this very important issue alive on the pages of NPT! You have predicted that things may become "Testy" post 3/15/09, and I would say you will be proven correct in time, especially as visitors return to the area as spring fast approaches!

    I would like to take some of the Maps to task, as there are some notable items contained therein that should be scrutinized. See links below:

    Link to Pre-Nesting Closures Maps and Recommendations:

    Please note the extensive closures that are in place on the area south of Cape Point proper, known as “South Beach”, on Map Pages 2 and 3. These closures are massive, even though 2008 data shows not even one scrape in these areas, much less breeding behavior or nesting, and legacy data shows this area to be free of any nests over many years.

    The reason for the lack of activity is believed to be the lack of the tidal mud flats that exist only near the brackish “Salt Pond” that exists most of the time within the Cape Point “Arrowhead”. Since there is not always a stable “Wrack Line” on these beaches, the birds seem to prefer to forage around the salt pond, as their behavioral data and the 2008 map shows. In recent years, vegetation has not been removed from around said pond, which inhibits the Plover fledglings from feeding in this area.

    One of the reasons for not removing vegetation: The possibility of “Seabeach Amaranth”, a protected plant species, being present alongside the other vegetation. (Note: No SBA has been found for many years in CHNSRA, and generally this area does not support growth of this plant species.)

    Also, over-winter closures, pre-nesting closures, nesting closures, turtle nest closures, and all other regulations that remove human traffic from the area have allowed it to naturally become more vegetated, which is counter-productive for the Plovers. The increased vegetation also gives predatory species more cover to hide amongst.

    The Law of Unforeseen Consequences strikes yet again….


    Interesting recent Reg-Neg submittals:

    The below information was submitted to the February 3rd Negotiated Rulemaking Committee by Walker Golder of the NC Audobon Society. (Many of us are wondering if Mr. Golder actually read all this before said submittal, due to its content running contrary to what the AS has espoused all during Reg-Neg).

    (This material has been paraphrased previously by another author. The entire report can be found here):

    Reference Material Discussed - Barbee 1994 (2.2 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Collazo et al. 1995 - part 1 of 3 (4.9 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Collazo et al. 1995 - part 2 of 3 (4.3 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Collazo et al. 1995 - part 3 of 3 (4.2 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Harrington 2008 (3.8 MB, PDF file)
    Reference Material Discussed - Tarr 2008 (736.9 KB, PDF file)
    From Collazo study, piping plovers 93-94;

    Through our observations of incubating adults and adults tending chicks, we found that
    piping plovers are only rarely disturbed by encounters with vehicles, planes or
    humans on foot. More consequential disturbances were caused by interactions
    with natural predators and competitors.

    At this present level of park use, park closures would likely have minimal effect on piping plover reproductive success.

    Storms in the early part of the breeding season cause breeding losses and delays, and high
    temperatures, especially late in the breeding season, impose heat stress that
    may indirectly cause chick mortality. For these reasons, productivity goals set in
    the recovery plan (1.5 fledged chicks/pair/year), established from studies of
    more northern populations, are probably unrealistic for North Carolina.

    Continue vegetation removal at Cape Point along the south shore of the brackish pond. To delay the regrowth of vegetation in these treated areas, it may be beneficial to use raking machinery after disking to prevent vegetative growth from cuttings. Growth of vegetation in other piping plover foraging and nesting areas of CAHA should be monitored; additional areas may need to be maintained. Preservation of interior wet and mud flats on CAHA is critical; otherwise piping plovers may only find suitable foraging habitat along the ocean intertidal zone where human disturbance is a problem.

    (6) At present, beach closures are unnecessary and are not likely to favorably impact breeding piping plovers on the islands.
    (7) Piping plover population numbers and reproductive success must be consistently monitored so that reliable population trends can be tracked as a means to determine how the NC population is maintained.

    Seasonal numbers, distribution and population This is a twice a month drive on the beach to study dynamics of shorebirds on the Outer Banks of North Carolina..

    Chapters I and II

    Surveys were conducted twice per month by vehicle.

    Red Knots;
    .Most Red Knots were seen at North Core Banks (65% of total) and Ocracoke Island (28% of total).Compared to other ISS sites, the Outer Banks ranked last in regional importance to this species

    Barbee from inside Collazo;

    Different human activities had different effects on shorebird behavior. Faster, erratic events such as running pets and children, seemed to upset birds more than slower, regular events such as people walking, or slow moving vehicles. This was very similar to Burger's (1986) findings in New York. Along North Carolina's outer Banks, many shorebirds seemingly ignored stationary humans and stationary vehicles on the beach, often foraging within a few feet of sunbathers and parked vehicles.

    To assure that important sites where nesting birds are successful and where management is possible, we recommend that ORV traffic be allowed in such key colony sites as Cape Point, and Hatteras Inlet.”

    Keep in mind that the data supplied by the NC Audobon Society listed above more closely follows the data presented by the Pro-Access groups throughout the entirety of the Reg-Neg process.

    Also please note that the data is collected by BioTechs driving vehicles to the various sites, and not walking. It's too far for them to lug their respective equipment as well.

    Backpedaling or mistake on their part? Hard to say….

  • About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained   5 years 26 weeks ago

    About That Stimulus Package for the National Parks: Nothing Worthwhile Is Easily Attained

    I'm not sure it's worthwhile to mortgage our children's economic future, to devalue the dollar, and to prolong the recession to pave roads.

  • Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo   5 years 26 weeks ago

    You've got a good memory, Anon. That zoo on Dot Island in Yellowstone Lake was shut down 102 years ago after operating for about 10 or 11 years.

  • Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Yellowstone also had a zoo at one time. The boat concessionaire E.C. Waters set up a zoo on Dot Island in Yellowstone Lake.

  • Paving the Way to Denali National Park & Preserve   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Agree with Jim B. that shuttle bus is critical to protecting Denali. I used it when out there in 2005 so things may have improved since then, but my one complaint is that it's too bad they use the noisy, smelly "school bus" instead of something quieter, cleaner, and with MUCH better viewing windows like the shuttle in Zion. Maybe some Stim budget money for a new shuttle fleet at this jewel of a park!

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Well said Ray, I am in 100% agreement!

  • Tredegar Ironworks: A Civil War Icon Preserved at Richmond National Battlefield Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I'll surely visit Richmond before too long, but not to "set a spell." My wife insists that I need to do at least 10,000 steps a day if I'm to have any hope of getting rid of this paunch.

  • Tredegar Ironworks: A Civil War Icon Preserved at Richmond National Battlefield Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I suppose it must have changed a good bit since 1964?

    To say the least! It's changed dramatically since the 1990's, so for you it would almost be like you'd never even been here before. The extensive renovations to the riverfront area alone would be worth the trip.

    Sounds like you're overdue, so why not come on down and set a spell?...


  • A National Park Service Regional Director Shares His Priority List for 2009   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Mr. Schundler you've hit the nail on the head. A bigger question is how the National Park Service is going to keep the leaders they have for tomorrow. This is a very serious situation and one that needs immediate attention. Sadly, in the past two weeks the declining economy is the only answer I've heard for strategic advancement in this area. You see when times are rough; the government is a good bet. We'll see more people applying for jobs and less of our folks leaving for greener pastures. We'll also be "bailed out” while we stimulate the economy. But what happens after that? Did we really fix the problem, or simply put a Band-Aid on it? I'm hoping we stretch ourselves beyond this. Much of the infrastructure in need of repair is a living testament to this exercise already. We need to seriously consider an overhaul with regards to recruitment and retention and quit self imposing barriers that leave our supervisors and mangers very little option to reach out and pull in talent or keep it for that matter. Much of it exists in OPM; we’re discouraged to use it. There are many young leaders in place who I believe are moving us in the right direction. Regional Director Snyder has considerable talent in the field who I assure you have a plan. That's a start. Your feedback is critical and greatly appreciated. I hope you and your wife continue to be seasonal employees, in many ways they are the back bone of the agency.

  • Another Yellowstone National Park Wolf Reaches Colorado   5 years 26 weeks ago

    When I was in Leadville last summer, there was an un-confirmed report of a wolf sighting in the Mt. Elbert - Mt. Massive area, which leads me to believe there might be more wolves in Colorado than people think.


  • Paving the Way to Denali National Park & Preserve   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Bob - great information and background on the park - and the highway.

    With benefit of hindsight, it's a good thing the park started the shuttle bus service shortly after the highway was completed, and therefore kept the number of private vehicles in the park under control. My one experience with the shuttle bus was very positive - and I shudder to think of how different the park would be today if all of those visitors drove into the park by private car or huge tour bus.

  • Bryce Canyon National Park: This Small Corner of Utah Packs a Colorful Punch   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Many National Parks have some sort of statistic about how some large XX percent of visitors stick to paved roads, walkways, and boardwalks. At first, as an avid hiker, I was fairly aghast at those numbers. However, I've since more or less made my peace with them. Consider, for example, some of the factors that would apply to Bryce Canyon:
    - the first thing that jumps out at me is that with a number like 99.9%, I wonder if part of it is related to the fact that Utah Highway 12 passes through the Park, and whether or not all those through-travellers are counted as visitors
    - many visitors may be elderly, disabled, or traveling with small children, all of whom for which a hike down into a canyon in the Utah desert is simply not an option
    - many visitors to Bryce Canyon are from Asia, Europe, or even just the East Coast , and are making what is essentially a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Colorado Plateau... even leaving aside that if they are on a tour bus, the bus schedule may not leave enough time for a hike, the sheer number of things to see may lead to the decision to see Bryce from tour road in order to have enough time on the trip to take in places like Zion, Arches, Mesa Verde, or the Grand Canyon

    Sure, part of me wishes that ever American shared my enjoyment of hiking, but rather than be sad about how few visitors are taking to the Trails, in an era of declining Park visitation, I prefer to be happy that they are visiting the Parks at all.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    We are glad to hear that the existing structures will not be destroyed. The local NRP station in Knoxville reported that the building would be torn down. My Great Uncle worked for the CCC before enlisting in the US Army during WWII. Those structures built by the CCC must remain as a legacy to those hard working men who built them!!

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 26 weeks ago

    My wife and I got married in 1999 and began our honeymoom in Jackson Hole, spending time in Grand Teton and then further north in Yellowstone. I cant put into words the beauty we bestowed. It was mid August and the temperatures were 30 at night and 70 during the day. After 10 glorious day our perspective about what is majestic and beautiful was forever changed. Truly, this part of our country is one of the most beautiful and inspiring I have ever seen. Over 400 photos in 10 days still could not capture the sights seens, but hey, I certainly tried!

  • You'll Find Tuff Blocks, Fibrolite Axes and Squirrels with Tufted Ears at Bandelier National Monument   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments - and the trail recommendation!

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 26 weeks ago

    A national forest and a national park are two entirely different critters. I suggest that you read the NPS Organic Act. National parks are generally held to a higher standard of conservation and maintenance of the unimpared character of its units. Each park has its own special enabling legislation that sets forth exceptions to the guidelines of the NPS Organic Act. In general, national parks are not considered multiple use conservation units. What may be appropriate in a national forest or a national wildlife refuge might not be permitted in a national park. There is a dynamic tension between the goals of preserving park resources and values for future generations and providing for visitor enjoyment. An earlier commentor spoke of the tendency for people to have a different attitude when armed. I have found that to be true. A gun can too often give someone a false sense of security and power, and he or she may push their luck when it would be wiser to simply back away. A gun can become an extension of a person's ego and can exacerbate a situation rather than minimize it. As stated earlier, if you feel unsafe without a concealed weapon go where it is permitted to carry.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 26 weeks ago

    If one has a concealed weapons permit one is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in the jurisdiction in which it is issued including its national forests. Would someone explain to me why a national park is any different? For that matter why is it any different for a non-concealed weapon? A park is a park is a park!

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Rick Smith wrote on February 22nd, 2009:

    I vote we give gun topics a rest on NPT.

    I concur.

    Search for gun on National Parks Traveler, and you'll get 9 pages of results. With over 500 comments on the articles pertaining to the rule change on the first two pages alone, I agree with Mr. Smith that it is indeed a topic that has been shot to death.

    However, those 500 comments show that people flock to the debate. All those comments generate content for the Traveler, and that content increases traffic from search engines, and, presumably increases readership.

    As such an unofficial contributor, I would like to humbly ask for some consistency in comment moderation on the gun debate and on other topics, too. Many ad hominem attacks and vitriolic comments go unchecked while others are monitored for merely their tone. (Search for "idiot" on NPT and you'll get a few pages of results; six on the first page comment on the gun debate.) I agree with Mr. Repanshek that ad hominem attacks only detract from the debate, and I hope to see fewer on the site in the future.

    At any rate, the debate will rage on, and it should take place on the Traveler. This webzine provides the best and most popular discussion on national park issues and politics on the entire web. Its slick, easy-to-use design and coverage of issues are unparalleled. Its readership is broad and deep. My many thanks to the editors for their hard work and efforts to maintain this site.

  • National Park Quiz 43: Names   5 years 26 weeks ago

    We try to include something for everybody, including people who enjoy a cheap shot now and then. ;-)

  • National Park Quiz 43: Names   5 years 26 weeks ago

    9 out of 12. That Little Bighorn bit was a cheap shot. :-P ;-)


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • You'll Find Tuff Blocks, Fibrolite Axes and Squirrels with Tufted Ears at Bandelier National Monument   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Bandelier was beautiful this past fall. I loved how evident the man + volcano link is at the park: if it weren't for the tuff from volcanoes of ages past, man couldn't have lived in the canyon. Pretty cool when you think about it.

    I recommend the Frijoles Falls trail down to the Rio Grand. :-)


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Mountain Pine Beetles Chewing into Grand Teton National Park Forests   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I'm afraid there's another beetle that's deadly to Engleman Spruce -- the aptly named Engleman Spruce Beetle. And a little Internet research shows that the "western spruce budworm is another potentially damaging insect that attacks both Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir."

  • Mountain Pine Beetles Chewing into Grand Teton National Park Forests   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Are Engleman spruce affected by Mountain Pine Beetle? In Winter Park, Colorado, lodgepole Pines are greatly affected, but I haven't noticed any Engleman spruce affected even though they are surrounded by dead lodgepole. Is there a possibility that the Mountain Pine Beetle will attack Engleman spruce in the future?

  • Spammers Are Targeting National Parks Traveler   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I am convinced that most readers of this blog will never even consider the idea that the National Parks Traveler might actually be a spam outlet. Thanks again for putting so much effort into this blog - and no need to apologize for the bad behaviour of other people...

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    It's funny that almost all the individulas that are in support of guns in parks have never even been to a national park, while virtually all regular visitors to national parks are opposed to concealed carry in the parks.