Recent comments

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Well, at Grand Teton the hunt was actually provided for in the park's enabling legislation. There are wolves, mountain lions, and even the occasional grizzly bear in the park, but not in numbers necessary to keep the herd in check.

  • Organization Forms to Promote Expansion of National Park System   5 years 33 weeks ago

    There may only be three people at the head of this particular effort to preserve new national parks in upcoming years, but there are thousands of us who more than support their cause and will rally to their support. The New National Parks Project is just beginning.

  • Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Why don't we introduce wolves (mountain lions, etc.... if their not already there), and that will solve the problem.

  • Organization Forms to Promote Expansion of National Park System   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I'd like to make the case for 2 areas in Oklahoma.

    First, the Ouachita Mountains in southeastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. The area nearly became a national park in 1920 but Calvin Coolidge vetoed the legislation. These mountains are the most significant range between the Appalachians and the Rockies, but are largely overlooked. They are full of recreational potential, including whitewater rafting, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, and scenic driving. The Talimena Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway, and the much of the area is part of the Ouachita National Forest (the oldest NF in the south). Beavers Bend State Park (OK), Winding Stair National Rec. Area, and Queen Wilhemena State Park (AR) are highlights of the area. There are also 2 large areas designated as wilderness. The area is also rich in history, dating back to Spanish exploration in 1541. I would like to see a Ouachita National Park in this area.

    Second, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma. This is the oldest National Wildlife Refuge in the country but unlike most NWRs, there is much more to do than wildlife viewing. At 59,020 acres, it is among the top 50 largest Refuges (out of 584). The rocky, rugged Wichita Mountains are some of the most unique natural areas I have ever seen. The only thing close is Joshua Tree. The area is one of the southwest's major rock-climbing meccas, drawing avid climbers from all over the region and even other countries. There are also extensive hiking trails, some official and some not. Extremely clear lakes are popular with scuba-divers. Charons Garden Wilderness Area, covering the western section of the refuge, is a maze of crags, boulders, and rocky peaks. The area is deserving of at least a National Recreation Area designation, in my opinion.

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Just a couple of comments in re: to pit bulls. Pit bull weight may range from the mid 20's to as much as 110 pounds. On average they are usually in the 40-to-50 lb. range. I have never owned a pit bull, but I have several friends who do own them. The ones I know have a tendency to be vigorously playful, demand attention and are protective of their owners. Dogs are bred for both physical and behavioral characteristics. The pit bull was not originally developed for simple human companionship. One problem with some pit bull owners is that they have more dog than they are able or willing to handle. It takes training, frequent exercise and steady discipline to keep a pit bull or other large, active breeds of dogs. A pit bull recently ran into my yard and killed one of my chickens. I did not blame the dog, but I gave the owners a piece of my mind for letting it run loose where it could go onto private property and attack pets and livestock. I made them pay for the loss of the chicken. They seemed shocked that their pet would actually attack another animal. The question is, what if the dog had run into a yard where small children were playfully running around and perhaps wrestling? Would that have triggered an instinctive attack mode?

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I agree that mules provide accessibility to those who wouldn't otherwise have it; and I also understand that Phantom Ranch could not exist in its present form without mules (even removing the tourists - the ranch has to be supplied with food, tools, etc.); and the Park Service could not do their work without mules (trail construction supply, inner-canyon ranger station supply, etc.).

    However, we have to remember that as mentioned in the article; we taxpayers are incurring the cost of damage and repairs to the trail, caused in large part by mule traffic. What we need to decide is how much use are we willing to pay for a commercial operator to make money at Grand Canyon? Are we taxpayers willing to spend a multi-million dollar per year maintenance cost so that Xanterra can make money? Are we happy to spend our tax dollars on trail maintenance so that someone else (the relatively few who get reservations for a mule ride) can have that experience?

    Removing the mules would dramatically reduce the maintenance cost on trails maintenance. Without mules, these trails could last decades and have a relatively low cost of maintenance. With mules, Americans are paying millions per year for relatively few to enjoy the experience and so that one single company can make a profit.

    Things to think about. Mules = great cost to the taxpayer, less mules = less cost to the taxpayer.

    I believe we need a balance. Trips as are should be limited because of the huge price tag and the continual need of repairs, and the general overall condition of the trails do largely to mule traffic. But I don't think they should be eliminated completely. How about continuing the overnight trip but discontinuing the plateau point trip? How about an alternate rim trail being constructed? I don't want to remove mules from Grand Canyon, but I also don't think the price we are paying for it right now is fair.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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.