Recent comments

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Well said Kurt. The political spoils system is not the best way to measure actual need or effectiveness. Let's hope something new comes along to replace the clearly broken system now in place.

  • Surprise Tour Bus Inspections at Yosemite Yield Disturbing Results   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I commend these agencies for the foresight to help prevent any accidents, whether some or none have happened in the Park in the past. During the past year alone, there were accidents on the California highways involving busses carrying international travelers, with horrifying results, so this inspection is justified. As is obvious from the inspection results, the inspection was definitely needed.

  • Rocky Mountain Wrestling: A Long-Distance Runner's Grizzly Encounter in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Also, interesting timing as the news this morning reports a grizzly attack just outside of Yellowstone - http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/articles/2009/06/11/news/20bear.txt . You'd think on this coincidence that they happen every day.

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

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I'll give you an "A," GregS, but only for effort. Double Arch did not appear in the 1975 western Against a Crooked Sky.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I've never seen Double Arch myself, Gerry, but photos like this one have got me convinced it's a "must see." Kurt's promised to take me to Arches (and some other Utah parks) if I get out that way, so it's in my plans. Here in the South you'd say I'm "fixing to" visit Arches and see Double Arch.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Against A Crooked Sky filmed near The Windows

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I do not know the answer to the movie question, but I was at Double Arch two weeks ago. Amazing and beautiful place. Utah does a magnificent job with all of their parks. Great roads, and tremendous facilites that are clean. Plenty of good and knowledgable park rangers to help also. Thanks!

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Nope -- not Thelma & Louise, Courthouse Towers.

  • Surprise Tour Bus Inspections at Yosemite Yield Disturbing Results   5 years 27 weeks ago

    It be interesting to know how many bus related accidents due to unsafe buses have actually occurred in Yosemite. It would be a shame to taint the parks as a law enforcement mechanism when there hasn't been any real problem.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Thelma & Louise, Courthouse Towers

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Vinn: That would be a yes on the place (which has already been identified), but a "no" on the movie.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    At first I though it was Big Bend National Park in Texas but it seems it is Arches National Park in Utah
    The Incredible Hulk

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Bob got in under the wire with the first wholly correct answer on this one, but we'll give Janet credit for an "almost" and Robert credit for "honoring Bob's point." This is indeed a photo of Double Arch in Arches National Park. This fascinating landscape feature made an appearance in the classic 1989 movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (one of many Indiana Jones movies, Janet). Now then, let's keep this thing going a while longer. Can anybody name another movie in which Double Arch also appeared? And can anybody name another arch in Arches National Park that has appeared in a Hollywood film?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Name this oft-photographed attraction
    Double Arch
    The national park in which it is located
    Arches National Park
    At least one of the movies in which it appeared
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Lets go with:
    Double Arch
    Arches NP
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Pretty good, Janet, but you didn't quite nail it. Let's see if somebody can get all three elements of the question answered in a way that leaves me no room to quibble.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 27 weeks ago

    That would be Double Arch which appeared in the Indian Jones Movie and is located in Arches N.P.

  • Update: Seizure Threat Accelerates Land Acquisition for Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 27 weeks ago

    The National Park Service and/or The Families Of Flight 93 have been negotiating with these landowners for nearly five years. Enough already. The landowners say they want to sell their land to help create the Memorial, yet they want to maximize their profit on the land. If they are sincere about supporting the Memorial, then they should sell their land for fair market value as proposed by the National Park Service. The landowners will still make a profit on such a deal. The land in question consists mostly of a reclaimed strip mine and adjoining land not suitable for typical development (or all too typical over development). However, the Flight 93 National Memorial will not only legitimately preserve and honor the memory of the Heroes of Flight 93, but will preserve currently undeveloped land for the use and appreciation of ours and future generations. Throughout our Country's history, private property has been condemned by eminent domain for far less legitimate and patriotic reasons then that for which land is being sought for The Flight 93 National Memorial. It's time to get this done. In fact, getting the Memorial's land acquisition process completed is long overdue. There is a clear and patriotic need to complete this Memorial, as designed, by the 10th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 Terrorist attacks. The Heroes of Flight 93 fought back against the damn fools who attacked our Country. Now we need to fight for them to get this Memorial completed by Sept. 11, 2011.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Rick,

    I'll grant you that "each generation" deserves to add what "its members feel merit protection in perpetuity," but I fear that's not always what transpires.

    The First Ladies National Historic Site? Does this merit protection in perpetuity, or was it a pet project of an Ohio congressman who put his wife in charge?

    Steamtown National Historic Site? I love trains, but couldn't this be run by an NGO or even a private company? There's a world-class firearms museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, that would be worthy of NPS designation but I would hope Wyoming's congressional delegation doesn't introduce legislation to that effect.

    Friendship Hill National Historic Site? A site dedicated to a secretary of the treasury?

    Greenbelt Park? A campground whose website describes such things to do as visiting NPS sites in Washington, D.C., 13 miles away?

    Out of 391 units, I would guess that there are more than the above four sites that were added to the NPS not because a generation of Americans wanted them preserved for perpetuity but rather because a member of Congress wanted an NPS unit in their home districts.

    I sense at times that there is no firm measuring stick for what is added to the park system and what isn't. More so it seems to come down to how much seniority the congressperson who is introducing the measure has. It's kind of like the NFL or MLB hall of fames. Once you start letting in every placekicker or shortstop with a .250 batting average and nary a Gold Glove in sight the entire hall loses its luster.

    Frankly, until Congress figures out how to properly fund the Park Service so it can manage the sites it already has, I wouldn't object to a moratorium on additional sites.

    As to better efficiencies, perhaps you're right that a better word would be "effectiveness." I don't believe in farming out programs just to save money. I believe the Park Service has a strong science mission that should be invested in and used to the benefit of the entire country. I also don't believe volunteers should be behind the desk at visitor centers.

    But I've also read comments on the Traveler and heard from others that money spent in the system is not always done in the name of either efficiencies or effectiveness. Shouldn't we taxpayers demand that those matters are looked into?

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    My boyfriend and I were at Zion on May 24. He had wanted to do the Angel's Landing hike since we first started planning and I did not. I planned all along not to go further than Scout's Landing and waited there while he went to the top. While I am not particularly afraid of heights (being on the cliff edge didn't bother me) I am not very sure-footed and could really envision myself slipping. Also, it was Memorial Day weekend and there was a tremendous number of people all over those chains. However, when we got most of the way back down the trail and looked back, I had the most awful sense of failure that I hadn't completed the hike. It seems I did all the drudgery of climbing so high for nothing. It has been really hard for me to let go of this and I feel the only way to fix it is to go back and do it. But I can't say I really want to. It's quite a dilemma.

    Not a comment on whether or not NPS should do anything, I know.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Kurt--

    I am interested in your comment that you are in favor of "lopping off some units and looking for efficiencies from top to bottom across the system." The problem with that kind of statement is who is going to do the lopping? What you miight consider "lop-worthy" I might consider one of the real jewels of the National Park System. And again, I would like to mention that each generation of Americans adds to the National Park System what its members feel merit protetion in perpetuity. As a matter of generational equity, I believe we owe these areas the highest standards of care. And once the lopping begins, where does it stop?

    No, I can't get behind that idea. Looking for efficiencies is another problem. What is wrong with the various "core mission" and "competitive sourcing" studies is that they look at the wrong problem. What we should be striving for is effectiveness. Once we achieve that, we can work of being efficient at being effective.

    I lived through various reorganizations of the NPS, all designed to make us more efficient. Not one of them made us more effective. In fact, the opposite almost always happened; we became less effective. The real goals of every park are to preserve and protect resources, provide high qualiity visitor services, and to maintain effective relationships with park stakeholders. If the park staff can achieve those three goals, then that park doesn't belong on your "lop list".

    Rick Smith

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    You raise many good points, and it's the next-to-the-last day of the school year, and I'm totally drained, so I probably won't address them all.

    But consider that many visitors already view national parks as "nothing more than merchandise on the shelf." I've worked my share of concession-managed parks and have seen people spend more time in the lodge and tacky gift shops--buying cheap plastic crap from China--than they've spent at the Grant Tree, for instance.

    With the free market--and conservation trusts--at least most of the revenue would support park operations, and shareholders or members would be rewarded for investing in parks. As it stands now, some large multinationals siphon profits away from parks, returning only a minuscule percentage for the services they receive from the federal government. We've had this conversation before, and I don't expect to convince you. I'm a squeaky wheel.

    As far as cars in parks go, my thinking is constantly evolving and I'm constantly questioning my beliefs. My vision of a traffic-free, facility-free national park system resembles what Jack Turner described in The Abstract Wild and what Edward Abbey details in his polemic on industrial tourism in Desert Solitaire.

    But Beamis makes a good point about how a natural and efficient balance would emerge without central planners at the helm.

    That's all for now. Papers to grade.

  • By the Numbers: Memorial Day Weekend at Yosemite National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    When I left that weekend it sure was a mess.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Beamis, not sure I'd like to toss the National Park System open to the likes of Wal-Mart and watch where the chips land. Should the national parks be viewed as nothing more than merchandise on the shelf and we simply adjust the pricing to move it?

    I prefer to think that parks really are special places that capture both spectacular landscapes as well as poignant moments in the country's history that should be preserved for the entire country for what they represent and what they stand for. I'm not sure the free market is capable of doing that. Think snowmobiles in Yellowstone would still be an issue a decade later if the park's managers only had to cater to one constituency?

    That said, I wouldn't mind lopping off some units and looking for efficiencies from top to bottom across the system.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 27 weeks ago

    "I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers from, but $1.34 per passenger mile for autos seems highly inflated." Frank C.

    Did you check the link included in my previous post?