Recent comments

  • What Lurks Beneath the Surface of National Park System Waters, A Diving Guide   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Thank you Rick for an outstanding article. It was a very interesting and informative read.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Black Bears Racking Up Property Damage In Yosemite National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    In 1993, while backpacking and camping above Vogelsang Lake in the Yosemite backcountry, a bear had its way with the contents of our food cache, which we made sure to tie up high above ground, beyond reach of anything on two or four legs. We had no trouble with this technique at any of our other backcountry campsites, including several at lower elevations where bears were abundant.

    Evidently this bear at Vogelsang learned to untie knots. We searched for our food the next morning, only to find the remains of our plastic garbage bag several hundred feet away from our campsite, with all contents neatly opened and consumed, including several days worth of freeze-dried breakfasts, lunches and dinners, along with a few packets of expensive gormet beef jerkey and powdered tang. We restocked at the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. The storekeepers at Vogelsang were very willing and able to help us out. We never saw the bear again.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I've never been lost in the Wilderness, I've always known where I was - I just couldn't remember where I parked my car :-/

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Thank God there are people in this world that realize that we are adults. We make our own decisions. If we make stupid or bad decisions the consequences are bad. Yes, I feel incredibly sad for the family that lost their daughter. It is a tragedy, an accident, a mistake. The loss of a family member is always difficult. Let the family mourn and hopefully as they heal they will see it as it is and not place "blame" where it doesn't belong.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Steve, exactly.

    The biggest concept that needs to be grappled with here is that nature is dangerous and unpredictable. We live by this idea that it is not our job to keep us safe in situations we don't fully comprehend. It is indeed dreadful that a small child was lost and her lose should not be trivialized in this debate. What her lose shows us evermore, is that individuals are responsible for the dangers they expose themselves to. No, the park rangers should not simply ignore the dangers represented by the waters and I've seen their efforts in countless places to inform of those dangers. It is not their job to line up in right gear with clubs, tears gas and rubber bullets marching along clearing the rocks of oblivious wave-watchers. Nature is truly powerful. That power draws most of us out of our little dark boxes called apartments to see it, feel it, and learn from it. That doesn't mean that most of us ignore the dangers of even an innocent day hike in the woods. My 3 year old niece isn't old enough to know that just because the water is way down there right NOW...it might not stay that way. The knowing part is my job. The rangers do their job, I do mine and hopefully no one gets hurts. Blaming the park rangers for that little girls death or any of the other injuries from this weekend is like blaming the rangers for the twisting of my ankle on a tree root while I was hiking. They should have know better than to leave tree roots in the forest.

  • Black Bears Racking Up Property Damage In Yosemite National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I've made a few food storage mistakes in my day in Yosemite. Fortunately nothing bad has happened to me yet, but I still try my best to avoid those mistakes. I remember once seeing a car parked overnight at Yosemite Lodge with a warning ticket that there were "cleaning supplies" stored in the passenger compartment that **might** attract a bear.

    There probably are a huge host of reasons why Yosemite bears break into cars. A strong smell of food may be the first reason. I've said before - if there's 20 lbs of BBQ ribs in a cooler stored in the trunk - that bound to say "jackpot" to a bear. Maybe a sealed energy bar doesn't present as strong a smell to a bear, but then again the NPS doesn't want the bear to get a "reward" for the effort if there's a random breakin. I doubt there's a single car parked in Yosemite that doesn't have some sort of faint smell of food or toiletries (remember that some bears have been seen eating soap thinking it was food). I've been told that leaving bottled water inside the passenger compartment wasn't OK since it's a visual cue to a bear, but in the trunk was OK since it didn't smell like food. I remember talking to a lodge employee in the Sierra where there were bears breaking into cars, and she said that you have to do what you can, but in the end bears aren't going to put in the effort just because of a faint smell of something food-like which all cars have.

    If anything, bears are creatures of habit. Once a bear scores food at a certain campground, it's probably going to come back. The stories I've heard of are "specialist" bears that form their own niche. There was "Snaggletooth" which was named for its teeth after developing a skill at biting through canned foods. At least until it tried doing that with a can of pressurized whip cream and the resulting embedded shrapnel it its mouth. Or "Camaro Bear" - one particular bear that found a good stash in a Camaro and proceeded to break into about 20 more of them over the course of that summer.

    I found it far different in Mr Rainier. The rangers told me that it was acceptable to store food in plain sight in the passenger compartment. Apparently the bears aren't big on raiding campgrounds and haven't been known to break into cars.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Steve - You are so correct in everything you said. Your post should be nailed to the entrance of every Park.

  • What Lurks Beneath the Surface of National Park System Waters, A Diving Guide   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Having received my basic diving certification through PADI, in a drysuit up in Alaska, and then some subsequent diving in the Navy, I feel your ice-diving pain Rick. The Channel Islands are a particularly beautiful place to dive (especially off Anacapa Island) and is relatively peaceful and quite, especially when you consider the size of the nearby metropolitan areas. I would be curious to hear from other divers who might have dived in National Park waters.

    Thanks Rick,

    rob
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Updated: Hiker Killed In Fall at Glacier National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I knew Bill and his son Chris, and they are both seasoned mountaineers. The route was definitely not a simple hike. These guys were traversing between 9-10k peaks where I suspect only a few people have been.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    You are completely incorrect with your account of what happened. I was there when it did happen and the tourist were acting ... ignorant..... The park rangers were attempting to tell the idiotic tourist to get the hell off the rocks and some people were blatantly ignoring them to "get a picture". One ranger had to chase a person through the woods to get them back on the road and the guy was laughing....but he "got his picture".
    It is the responsibility of an ADULT parent to get their kids off the rocks when they were told SEVERAL times to get away from the storm surge. Who the hell would put their kids in harms way like that? What were they thinking? Anyone .... could see this was a very dangerous situation and to get the heck out of the way... SO MANY PEOPLE were not listening and the thousands of people on the park loop rd well out numbered the rangers. They were adults and they were told....so don't blame this ... on the rangers....it was bedlam and the rangers did everything they could short of physically removing people or arresting them.

    This comment was edited.--Ed.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Mick, I'm sure that you are definitely feeling the sting of being so close to something so tragic, and I understand your assertion that the rangers should have done something more in clearing the area of tourists. But one thing that you must realize is that we, as individuals, have a responsibility to ourselves and to those around us to make our own judgments as to levels of imminent danger and approaching doom. Sometimes accidents just happen. At the very moment that this tragedy happened, we were in another Federally-run place - the Plum Island Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where the waves were tremendous. We were wading and occasionally body-surfing, and we had 2 kids there with us, and we let them do a little bit of wading and surfing as well. But here's the key, we only let them do a LITTLE bit of that, and only let them go out a very short way, because the surf was huge and the undertow was powerful. There were signs as we entered the park telling us about the undertow and that we were only to swim AT OUR OWN RISK.

    When will we stop laying blame on others instead of accepting the fact that individuals are responsible for their own decisions and actions? If my nephew had gotten swept out to sea and drowned, heaven forbid, I wouldn't be blaming Fish and Wildlife for allowing us to be there. I would be blaming myself for being the one for letting "stupidity and bad judgment" rule my decision to let him go too far out. And if not everyone understands the dangers of nature as much as frequent Park-goers, then where does that leave us? Who knows the most about rogue waves? A marine biologist? An oceanographer? I'd lay money down that even they couldn't predict that a single giant wave that's bigger than all others around it would approach the shore and take out that family.

    But the inherent risk was there - even when you were standing there on the shore yourself Mick, and it's a risk that we all take in going to a place like that. You said yourself that the waves were unpredictable and that some of them were reaching the tops of the cliffs where the people were. At what point does common sense enter into the picture? We can't take the risk and then after something bad happens say that it's someone else's fault. It's a horrible accident! It's a rogue wave that came in and swept people away and this poor little girl was horribly taken from her family. It's terrible, and it's very sad, but it's NOT the fault of any individuals at the Park. They closed the area off when they felt the wave action was getting worse but they can't be held accountable for an individual wave's size that came in just after that.

    The moment this incident happened, the Plum Island Refuge where we were, was closed and I think that sets a bad knee-jerk reaction precedent. No one could go into the Wildlife Refuge (even to bird-watch, let alone go onto the beach) because there was a tragic death on the coast of Maine 4 hours north of there. The Feds, in effect, took common sense and free decision-making and responsibility out of our hands and simply closed everything. Hey, it's what they felt was the right thing to do at the time, and I respect that. But again, it eliminates a certain amount of freedom for those of us who are willing to make our own choices about our own personal safety and the safety of those around us, especially our little ones.

    Everybody sues everybody these days, and it's killing us. A drunk driver isn't responsible for the 2 people he runs over - nope - it's the guy who sold him the alcohol. A person isn't at fault when they slip on the ice in front of City Hall and break there leg during a snowstorm - nope - it's the City's fault for not throwing salt down soon enough.

    Park Service employees are stewards of the Parks they work at. They are not baby-sitters and they are not the parents of all who enter! We are our own keepers, and we need to step up to the plate and take responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones. I do not for one minute blame the poor father of that child, but there was a risk present on that walkway where he was standing and sadly nature prevailed and was too powerful for everyone who was there. It is not the Park's fault! I'm proud to sing that song of "people need to be held accountable for their own stupidity and bad judgment." I would go one step further and say that sometimes even judgment doesn't enter it, and accidents simply happen!

  • On Politics, Bureaucracy, and "Glamping" In the National Park System   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Several years ago Joseph Sax gave the Horace Albright Lecture at UCBerkeley. In it he addressed management of recreation on the public lands. His last paragraph addresses the issue of introducing non-campers to the wild:

    The challenge is to resist seeing the public lands as a static resource in which various visitors simply find a comfortable niche, and instead to manage the lands as part of a progressive experience over time. Nearly forty years ago, the Forest Service published a book entitled Forest Outings, in which the task of mediation that faces public management officials was captured precisely, spelling out policy objectives that steer the middle course between making the lands familiar and unchallenging to the novice, and ignoring his needs altogether. The goal, it said, was "to provide graded steps through which the individual may progressively educate himself from enjoyment of mass forms of forest recreation toward the capacity to enjoy those demanding greater skill, more self-reliance, and a true love of the wild. Most men or women previously unacquainted with the forest in its natural state would experience discomfort and fear.... But if progressively they may experience the urbanized forest park, the large forest campground, the small camping group, the overnight or week-end hike, and so gain a sense of confidence in their own resourcefulness and lose the fear of wild country, then the final step is simple and natural,"

    For the whole lecture visit: http://calforestry.cnr.berkeley.edu/lectures/albright/1978sax.html

  • Do People Who Get Lost Really Walk in Circles? New Research Offers an Answer   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Once got lost in DC in the dark on the way home from a meeting; because of construction, decided to take an unusual way home that had me catching a bus in an area I didn't usually catch one. It was an area I was actually very familiar with, however. I got to the bus stop but saw that I had just missed one that wouldn't come again for 45 minutes. So, I decided to walk home, crossing Rock Creek Park and into my neighborhood in Mount Pleasant. Rock Creek Park is an NPS unit, and as you can imagine, is quite dark at night; however, there's a bridge right across between the neighborhoods. Anyhow, I crossed the bridge into my neighborhood but somehow made a wrong turn soon after crossing the bridge. Before I knew it, I was back in Rock Creek Park completely unsure of where I was. I decided to head in what I thought was the direction of home, but the pollution, the dark, the trees, made most everything invisible. I even went down a hillside in the woods where I saw another road below me. I eventually found a way out of the park, climbed a hill, and much to my deep surprise, I was back on the road I had started on. I completed the loop, waited for the bus, and finally got home.

    I've almost never been lost in my life - been able to drive through almost any place without a map, even in the dark in places I had never been. So, I was definitely taken aback to get lost in my own neighborhood and more so to have traveled in a circle.

    In this case, once I was lost, I had to keep moving - you don't stop in Rock Creek Park in the middle of the night; it's a skinny park - you will find a way out. However, it was deeply strange to discover that I had gone entirely the opposite direction than I thought I was going.

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

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    My wife and I and child were at Thunder Hole at about 11 am yesterday as well. There were clearly marked warnings not to proceed any closer to view the waves due to dangerous conditions. I agree with Mick (and both my wife and I were surprised) that there were NO park rangers there at all when we were there. There were many people far too close to the edge, seemingly thrilled by getting splashed by them. IDIOTS!! I fault first and foremost the parent(s) of the little girl, the Park Service at Acadia for no presence, and also everyone who was stupid to ignore the posted warnings and snuggle as close as possible to the waves, giving some poor souls the illusion of safety.

  • On Politics, Bureaucracy, and "Glamping" In the National Park System   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Frank, laugh away, but some folks actually like to see a variety of information on the parks, be it SARs, things to see and do, climate change topics, or even lodging deals.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I think common sense should prevail, the 7 year old had a parent there. It is indicated at all time in Acadia that you must go on the ledges and rocks at your own risk.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    We were at Thunder Hole yesterday. We left about 45 minutes before the tragedy at about the time the rangers closed off the walkway to Thunder Hole. There were still hundreds of people who were below the level of the walkway on the adjacent cliffs. The rangers made no attempt to tell them to get off of those cliffs even though they had closed off the walkway and even though those people were within one hundred feet from the top of the walkway. This is one of the most blatant examples of why the Park Service should NOT have blanket immunity from suit in situations where people are hurt or killed in a park. When the Park Service's employees are obviously negligent, there should be accountabilty.

    As he cleared people from the walkway, one ranger said "That's all I can do." To me it was obvious that people should have been told to leave the cliffs and that a few more rangers should have been assigned to the area to deal with the crowd. The waves were unpredictable and some had already reached the tops of the cliffs where people were standing. I guarantee that at least some of those people probably felt that, if there was any real danger, the rangers would have told them to get off the rocks.

    Can anyone say that a seven year old girl would know that she was in danger on those cliffs? If the rangers had told her father to move, I am certain that he would have. People were quite cooperative with the rangers when they closed the walkway.

    I love the parks and I respect the rangers and the difficult work they do. However, they - and more importantly - their supervisors in the Park Service - need to be held accountable when an imminently preventable tragedy like this occurs. Immunity breeds negligence. I know that we will hear the same old song from some people - "people need to be held accountable for their own stupidity and bad judgment." Ask yourself these questions: First, do you really want to blame a seven year old for "stupidity and bad judgment"? Second, do you realize that not everyone understands the dangers of nature as well as those of us who frequently avail ourselves of the wonders of the parks? Should the penalty for their inexperience be death? Should the penalty for stupidity be death? These questions will really haunt me, particularly because I saw how easily this tragedy could have been prevented.

  • On Politics, Bureaucracy, and "Glamping" In the National Park System   5 years 31 weeks ago

    As long as the NPS maintains roads, this is what they're asking for. If you can drive it in, expect to see it in a national park. If you want people to get back to nature in national parks, you've got to remove all un-natural roads. And lodges, too. Funny how this site on one hand promotes lodging deals, while in another post lamenting that "glampers" won't be able to see the stars overhead. Absolutely laughable.

  • Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road Open End to End   5 years 31 weeks ago

    And by the way, how dare the NPS tell me to reduce my CO2 footprints when these behemoths unnecessarily plow alpine roads? Come on. Total hypocrisy.

  • Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road Open End to End   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Plus, just because you have one good winter doesn't mean the long-term trend isn't pointing to a warming trend.

    Come, on Kurt. You just pointed out that July was the warmest on record. One warm month is weather, not climate. And then you try to have it both ways by making this statement.

    I still haven't seen anyone try to correct my facts and cited references on the red knot article's sea-level-rise propaganda.

    Fear, fear, fear. Big Brother needs your fear and will manufacture any crisis to get it.

  • Black Bears Racking Up Property Damage In Yosemite National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    A good reminder of what happens when people don't follow common sense - and regulations - concerning proper storage of food in "bear country." Anyone planning a visit to Yosemite needs to be aware of the park's regulations on food storage, which have in fact resulted in some pretty impressive progress on this problem.

    According to a 2008 study published in the journal Human–Wildlife Conflicts,

    During 1998, there were 1,584 bear incidents, resulting in over $650,000 of property damage [in Yosemite.] Of those incidents, 85% involved damage to vehicles by bears in search of food.
    .

    Those numbers prompted some major changes in the park's approach, and make this year's stats look pretty good by comparison. That's probably not much consolation to those whose vehicles were damaged this year, but the responsibility for helping solve this problem still lies with every visitor to the park.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I have been at Thunder Hole during conditions like this. It amazes me how stupid people can be. They will climb over and around gates that have been closed to keep people back. Just to get to the top of a rock at the edge of the ocean. They can clearly see the waves crashing all around them. I feel bad about the 7 year old. She did not know any better. ...

    This comment was edited. -- Ed.

  • Young Kayaker Rescued in Glacier National Park, But Not Before A Nap in a Hollow Log   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Someone taught this boy well. When boating wear your safety gear. I bet is he rides an ATV he wears all the proper gear too. Great Job of Training up your Child.

  • On Politics, Bureaucracy, and "Glamping" In the National Park System   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Beamis, it's the swampy climate. It turns their brains to mush. Politics is a rich man's game, and so they don't have to care. Here's hoping Mr. Jarvis spends most of his time OUTSIDE of Washington. I'd hate to see good talent go to waste.

  • Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road Open End to End   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, that last post is not directed at you or anyone in particular. thanks, max