Recent comments

  • Young Girl Drowns in Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in Seqouia National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    My 23 year old son witnessed this event. He feels terrible, as you can imagine. Our hearts go out the family and friends of the young girl. What a tragedy.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    The idea of replacing cars in Zion Park with the tram car system was a dollar short and a day late if you ask me. I'm sorry it happened after my days of visitation to that park ended. I never found the saturation of visitors to that park to be enjoyable. I remember once when my "window of opportunity" to visit Angel's Landing passed me by. It was around 8am and had I stopped to chat with some hikers just before the final climb, I was quickly overtaken by a busload of french women that were right behind me. I stood to the side making room as about 50 women hiked by, grateful that I wasn't going to share that precarious precipe with all of them, plus the hikers I'd already seen go up! It would have been like a crowded bar, except there was a 1000' drop off on all sides! Many of the hikers were young, inexperienced, and ill mannered in hikers etiquette. It was unsafe in the extreme.
    Same deal when I went to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Absolute pandemonium on the hiking trails. Way overcrowded trails with the occasional mule pack going by making you have to suddenly squeeze against the side of the already too narrow trail... hundreds of feet straight down if anyone lost their footing. Many of the female hikers were wearing high heels!

    Anytime you're letting that many of the general public into a confined area at the same time, you are going to have huge traffic management problems, just as if you're at a parade, the zoo, etc. That many people are like a herd of ill-mannered cattle. I'm happy to see that they've turned Park visitation into a highly profitable venture, but they should manage visitor traffic as well as the visitor/wildlife interaction. There are lots of accidents waiting to happen on those trails.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    To quote Kurt Repanshek:
    "The overriding question that we as a society have to reach some consensus over is how we want the National Park System managed, and not just for today but for tomorrow. Do we value flora and fauna that are finding it harder and harder to survive outside national parks due to increasing urbanization and fragmentation of habitat? Would we rather have the parks turned into visitor-centric recreational playgrounds where we don't worry about the needs of plants and animals or the landscapes themselves?"

    The wording of these two possible alternatives de facto leaves only one choice. A less obviously biased choice of words such as "multiple use management" would lead to a more honest, open conversation about the real issues, rather than sidetracking the debate with the straw man of "recreational playgrounds." Personally I do prefer a middle ground weighted toward conservation, but the one-sided nature of this question is unnecessary and unhealthy.

    ...and the immediately following paragraph from KR:
    "And really, haven't we already created a system by which different public lands are managed for different purposes? After all, the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management long have managed their landscapes for multiple use, for both the birder and the dirt biker, for the cross-country skier and the snowmobiler, for the hiker and mountain biker. Shouldn't the National Park System continue to be managed with an emphasis on conservation and preservation, as well as enjoyment ... but with limits on what forms of recreation should be allowed?"

    This paragraph actually points out the advantages of each approach, and therefore is much more persuasive.

  • Take Care if You're Visiting Alaska National Parks, As Bears Aren't Being Bashful   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Based on the report, it would seem that the archeologists took reasonable precautions to avoid a bear conflict. However, we should wait for the final investigation report before jumping to conclusions.

    During the years spent living with and studying the subsistence practices of Native Alaskans one basic rule impressed upon me was, do not camp on a bear trail or near where bears may be feeding. The mere oder of food and human waste can draw bears. I have seen bears dig up a buried cesspool shredding the log crib. The buildup of human waste near a fixed campsite can attract bears and other wildlife. Faint odors that humans cannot detect can be picked up by bears literally miles away.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    The article would seem to imply that park managers are encouraged and rewarded when it comes to restricting visitor access and activities. That is rarely the case. Park managers who attempt to protect park resources and values, in part, by more closely managing visitor uses frequently face strong political and bureaucratic pressures to be more lenient. Properly managed parks should allow visitors 100 years in the future to see and experience the same resources and settings that gives today's visitors so much pleasure.

  • More Low Water Woes at Lake Mead – but This Isn't the Worst Drought on Record for the Lake   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I just heard from a reliable source that all the concessions at Echoe Bay Marina will be closed by the Park Service around September 1,2009. Is this a fact? Thanks, Jay Lavorne,Logandale,Nevada

  • Reader Participation Day: Are Park Entrance Fees Fair?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Fee's are just another form of Taxation..The only thing sure in life is death and taxes.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I worked one Summer in 06 as a volunteer in Yosemite NP, for the most part the people working there are very nice and helpful, however I did find a lot of the Paid Rangers, if they had it their way would be happy if they could block the roads off and allow no one into the park. It would make their jobs much easier. Afterall then they would not have to do traffic stops on people doing 60 in 35 speed zones, they would be able to relax instead of having to scrape someones body off of the rocks at the foot of a cliff, they would not have to put down a bear that in the process of defending her young did away with an offending tourist.
    It's like the one lady that asked me what did we do with the bears at night? When I said nothing, she replied don't you lock them up at night? Get real people this is not a Disney Movie.

  • Comment Now: General Gun Regulations for Areas Administered By the National Park Service   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Brief background on myself:
    59 y/o raised in the country, had guns since I was 14 years old. I was a hunter at one time, now I do my hunting with camera. Ex-military, served in Vietnam, Former Scout Master, avid outdoor person hiking backpacking and canoeing. Do I carry a weapon? Yes. Why? for self-protection, From what? the two leg beast that inhabit our world. Am I a chomping at the bit killer? No. Have I ever used my weapon (other than war) No. Would I use it? Yes if it meant protecting my life or a loved one's life.
    Have I ever carried a weapon into a National Park? Many times, but I keep it out of sight.
    I for one am glad that you can now legally carry a weapon into Parks.
    Some people are scared to go into a National park, some love to visit, some people are too stupid to be allowed out of the house and put their self in the way of danger. Natural Parks are just that natural, you are in the animals home, not your cosy little home. Get real people this is not Disney World, that's not Bambi and Yogi Bear. The fact is you are at more danger walking down the street of some big city than you are in a Park.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    As a frequent visitor to national park units, including national monuments, seashores, and recreation areas, especially here in California, I have always found the park staff to be very helpful and welcoming to visitors. Remember, people visit the parks to experience the natural qualities. They should not be administered as amusement parks. There are beaches near where I live that are closed at certain times of year to accomodate the nesting/breeding needs of birds and seals/sea lions. I have no problem with this. We humans need to realize that this world belongs to all species, not just our own.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I think the premise is nonsense. The parks are a preservation system, not a recreation system, especially not a motorized recreation system.

    Visitation is down because people's tastes have changed, not because of bans on snowmobiles.

    Anonymous' post above mine is spot-on.

    ================================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Rescue Father and Son From the Snake River After Their Raft Springs a Leak   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Actually, the location is not that remote when it comes to cell coverage. Jackson, and cell towers, are a short distance away.

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Rescue Father and Son From the Snake River After Their Raft Springs a Leak   5 years 27 weeks ago

    How is it possible that a person can make a cell phone call while near drowning in a rushing river? How is it possible that there was even a signal in such a remote place. I wonder.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    "museums roped off" ?? In the past year and a half, my family has visited over 50 National Parks. In that time we have:

    taken rock climbing classes in Joshua Tree
    kayaked in caves at Channel Islands
    ridden bikes all through Acadia
    hiked all around Rocky Mountain
    watched a sea turtle release at North Padre Island
    canoed through Big Thicket
    water skied in Lake Powell
    walked to Rainbow Bridge
    watched fireworks at Mount Rushmore
    toured Tall Grass Prairie
    gone on many hikes in undeveloped caves in Carlsbad Caverns
    watched a full moon in White Sands
    went windsurfing at North Padre Island
    hiked in Grand Canyon
    walked miles of pristine seashore in Cumberland Island NS
    gone rafting in Dinosaur
    gone jeeping in Canyonlands
    attended the wildflower festival in Cedar Breaks
    visited countless sites in the DC area

    and visited countless smaller National Parks where we have hiked, attended ranger programs, walked through museums and enjoyed history, scenery and wildlife. What part of this is a "museum not to be touched"?

    In addition, I have watched people throw coins in thermal pools in Yellowstone, through trash in canyons, climb fences "because the picture will be better 10 inches closer", walk off trails destroying cryptobiotic soil, pick HUGE bouquets of wildflowers, pet wildlife, feed wildlife, and the list goes on and on. No wonder we have to keep other parts of the parks roped off...

    I believe the National Parks offer a huge variety of ways to enjoy and experience our parks. A few rules and regulations to try and preserve our parks? Ok with me...

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    There is a definite mindset among many NPS rank & file employees that tends towards misanthropy. The focus of their careers more and more seems to be a holy crusade to save the parks from the ravages of humanity who are seen to be the ultimate destroyer of nature and all that is wild and beautiful.

    This attitude is coming from a variety of sources, not the least of which is the educational training prospective rangers receive in our government funded universities which strongly stress radical ecosystem management, gloom and doom environmental education, draconian law enforcement and all sorts of other agenda laden programs that have gradually replaced an old-fashioned grounding in natural science, history and regional culture. The young ranger to be comes out of these politically correct gulags on a mission to preserve and save the land from the pestilence that is humanity and as a testament to this I often hear modern day rangers refer to developed areas of a park as a "sacrifice area" that is there to bait the masses into concentration so that the rest of the park can be wrapped in a protective cocoon of strict preservation, i.e. NO HUMANS ALLOWED!

    Preservation is obviously an important concept but the instilled and institutionalized disdain of your fellow homo sapiens is not only wrong but downright dangerous as a concept. The modern NPS needs to be more open to encouraging human contact with the entirety of its holdings and to maybe turn back the clock to a warmer and more friendly era of hospitality and human interaction.

    Nice photo of Chesler Park, Kurt!

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Kurt, has this exactly right. I have pictures of climbers on Devil's tower. The reason people want to snow mobile in Yellowstone rather than Ohio is because of the wildlife and scenery they might encounter. Mr Gray needs to realize that the area is for everyone, and that means (take care of it). The Obama's sailing in Cape Hatteras or horseback riding in Yellowstone, or even hiking Half Dome would show a responsible visit that preserves our park for everyone.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 27 weeks ago

    A sure way to evaporate common sense is to mix politics and money and I agree with Mr. Gray.

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Charles. I love the story of the Brighty statue, and I really don't mind that I get one little piece of the story here, and then another there, and....

  • Another Entrance-Fee-Free Weekend in the National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Made me smile on Twitter this morning...

    From AlaskaCenters: "A NPS fee-free weekend (7/18-19) is like fat-free ice cream... but better. The whole family can enjoy it, but it lasts a lot longer."
    http://twitter.com/AlaskaCenters

  • Dining At The Parks: Mesa Verde National Park's Chef Ensures The Southwest Flows Through his Dishes   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Yum! Where's the recipes? MB

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Capt. Ardy said this may effect the Bright Angel Trail. It's a little further to the west and will likely have no impact.

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    The statue of Brighty was a gift to the Grand Canyon Park from motion picture producer Stephen F. Booth, upon completion of the film, not a left over. As the one comment said, Brighty resides at the North Rim Lodge with photos of the real Brighty taken in the early 1900s. The burro in the film was named Jiggs and was owned by Marguerite Henry, the author of "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" Very good articale on the wild burros!

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 27 weeks ago

    It seems that no matter which park I've gone to, there is a tendency for people (regardless of their age) to ignore the warnings and take chances (e.g. people hiking without adequate supplies). Maybe it's just part of our social nature to try and look cool and not worry about anything even when it involves bodily injury and/or death, or it's just the thrill of doing or seeing something that alot of others haven't.

    I think we are gamblers by nature and that no matter how much information is out there about the danger of this or that activity some people are going to play the odds. Most win because the odds are highly in their favor, but occasionally they lose. It's these RARE incidents of injury and/or death that generate so much disproportionate publicity and discussion. Besides, most people probably take their biggest chance by driving the Interstate Highway system to GET to Yellowstone.

    The only way for the parks to combat this is to make winning less likely by handing out severe fines when seeing someone break the rules (regardless of the outcome), especially when there behaviour is endangering the lives of those in their care. But stopping these incidents altogether would take alot of manpower and patroling and who wants to visit a natural park when it feels like a police state. Mostly people have to be left to make their own mistakes in these places, even though it truly is a tragedy when someone who doesn't realize the danger (especially a young child) is hurt or killed.

    Nevertheless, when I come to Yellowstone this summer, I plan to stay as far away from the bison as I can.
    Besides, we have plenty in KY. Now a moose on the other hand...

  • Let's Start a Tradition: "Thank a Ranger Day"   5 years 27 weeks ago

    John Lison

    I am a National Park Service volunteer. I am a fulltime time summer volunteer, working 21 weeks, 4 days a week, mid April thru Mid September. I've done this for three summers since retiring at age 62. I'm currently at my third NPS unit. Sometime we are called Rangers;sometimes not. The visitors all call us Ranger whether NPS officially calls us that one or not

    Personally I get thanked all of the time. Visitors often put their hands out to shake mine. More and more , they notice my Master Ranger Corps volunteer patch as well as my name tag and call me by name. Mostly I work the VC and go out of my way to make the Jr Ranger awards as memorable as possible for the kids. Not only do the kids love it but parents are often blown away with the seemingly extra attention paid to their kids. Few volunteers I've known require much recognition--we do this for the "grins" , both the visitors and our own.

    The Rangers I've worked with who feel underappreciated are usually those who bring the barest minimum to their jobs because that's all it is to them -a job. Those who do this work "For the Love of the Game" usually feel appreciated by NPS' visitors. 99% of the visitors I've run into are appreciative and wonderful to be able to help. Admittedly , there is the 1% but that's life.

    NPS has official Comment forms at every unit. You'd do more to recognize a good experience with an NPS person by seeking out that form & actually spending the time to fill it in and submit it.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago