Recent comments

  • Joshua Tree National Park Nabs Man Accused of Scattering Thousands of Golf Balls in the Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Have you considered the cost of 3,000 golf balls? Assuming the poor guy does not live next to a golf course with a sharp dogleg hole abutting his backyard or one of those 3-pars completely surrounded by a deep pond, he had to shell out for them.

    At $25 a dozen for 250 dozens, that comes to $6,250!

    Throw in the cost of tennis balls and cans of fruit and vegetables, plus transportation and the value of his time, hasn't this guy already paid his debt to society? Free Joe Zarki!

  • Joshua Tree National Park Nabs Man Accused of Scattering Thousands of Golf Balls in the Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Well I certainly hope that [person] will pay %100 of the cleanup cost instead of being sloughed back onto the taxpayer. Good job in catching him! [comment edited slightly]

  • Woman Drowns In Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I just heard about this sad incident. I sent the article to my husband since he and his brother hiked a 6 day trip through the Bechler River System in 2006.

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 32 weeks ago

    DM -

    Thanks for the information. I've modified the closing of the story in response to your comment.

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 32 weeks ago

    SPOT does offer a Cancel function on both Help and 9-1-1 emergency modes. This is useful if it becomes clear that third party help is not needed. It sends a cancel message to the appropriate recipients including the emergency response center who monitors SPOT emergency signals if the 9-1-1 button was pressed.

  • Too Many Deer in the Nation's Capital? Rock Creek Park Holds a Public Meeting on Wednesday   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Attempting to artificially control the population of deer in Rock Creek is an exercise in futility. Even if possible the cost would far outstrip the benefit. Deer and other wildlife do not recognize human boundaries and will fill whatever favorable ecological niche is available. The removal of wolves and woodland panther reduced natural population controls on deer and other game, leaving only humans, disease and periodic starvation to cull the deer herds. Unfortunately, these controls are less effective and fail to select for the maintenance of healthy populations. The coyotes are simply moving in to take advantage of the vacuum created by the removal of other predators.

    I used to think of Nature as fragile. In the short term it often is. However, over the long haul nature will virtually always win. Attempting to create and maintain a "civilized" wilderness with an artificial mix of wildlife compatible with human ideals is ultimately a loosing proposition. It would be far more effective and efficient to simply let nature takes its course along the Rock Creek strip and learn to live with the natural dynamics. It will eventually happen anyhow.

  • Too Many Deer in the Nation's Capital? Rock Creek Park Holds a Public Meeting on Wednesday   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Both Mr. McDonald and you are correct in describing Rock Creek Park and it's layout and what will happen with selected sharpshooting. Trust me, there is plenty of illegal hunting going on throughout the Washington metro area (we certainly have it in our park which is off limits to hunting and someone recently circulated a flyer asking to bowhunt from properties in the neighborhood!). Sadly, this entire problem is not a deer problem, but a human problem. Deer were obliterated from the State of Maryland with far less population than we have today. They had to be reintroduced. Bear were hunted so severely (predator of fawns) that a moratorium was held on hunting them (although Virginia just opened season on Black Bear). This all speaks of mismanagement to me. Gee, coyotes tried to get a foothold in Montgomery County and were wiped out. They would take a fawn as well, but are not effective against adult deer, but they would benefit from roadkill. Actually, Maryland and Virginia have all out war against coyotes.

    The deer are being managed like they were cattle in a stockyard. These are animals that have routines that follow the seasons. They have effectively adapted to our encroachment of what used to be their territory. And they will continue to do so. Contraception works with feral dogs and cats (and coyote...effectively in AZ). In herbivores, it is more difficult. I understand the hesitancy there by officials to spend the money on an animal that will most likely expire from the tranquilizer. In addition the last injectible/implantable contraceptive was only effective for a year and it would be a waste of manpower and money to trap and tranq these animals annually. Castration might be solution. Both goats and cattle grow horns when castrated, I can't see how much impact that would have on deer. A 'true' hunter shouldn't be hunting for the antler anyway, but the meat.

    My worry is in this random removal of deer, the impact it has on the overall herd health. You are killing adult animals that know how to safely maneuver roadways with fawns (because if they don't, they are all dead) and it is true, once established deer are killed, new deer who have been run off their property (ICC) will relocate happily and won't know their way around. So you are in fact creating a vacuum effect.

    I once suggested to MCNPPC about tagging fawns to follow, vs. the random radio collar (too expensive to track many deer). They don't have to be tranquilized, males could be castrated on the spot, the plastic ear tags are easily seen by anyone, it would tell you where deer go and how far and with whom. Blood samples drawn from fawns would correlate maternity/paternity and keep an eye on Chronic Wasting Disease (not established in MD yet). Besides the price of the ear tags, applicator, lab supplies and blood spin/test, this could all be done by Biology and Veterinary students from UM, Tech, etc.

    On the bright side, with a virtual CWD-free population, other states may have to kill off their deer. This is not an optimum solution as it narrows the gene pool down to zero. Of course when you only think of deer as meat on the hoof, who cares, right?

    For the Lyme proponents who want deer killed because of the ticks. This doesn't get rid of the ticks (still in the woods, folks) or the real villains (mice and rabbits whome you shouldn't eradicate because that will really offset the whole scheme of things) who carry the bacterium. NY/NJ/CT States tested a new paracitide (acaricide) along the lines of CO/NM/AZ with their Bubonic Plague issues. This didn't involve killing either...except fleas, and in our case ticks. Food stations were established and posts with 'drip baffles' (used with livestock) were treated and the deer applied the insecticide themselves...taking it back to their beds and causing a 68% drop in Lyme in the area. This was a 6 year study conducted by Yale University.

    I think we need to learn more about deer and their real habits vs. what we are spoon fed by the media to make an educated decision on their future.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 32 weeks ago

    There are some places that have specific passes. I think most NPS sites with entrance fees have their own annual passes that cost less than the full interagency pass. In Hawaii the only option short of the full interagency pass is the "Tri-Parks Pass" that's good for the three NPS sites in Hawaii with entrance fees.

  • Historic Railroad Bridge in New York State Becomes Part of National Trails System   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Are federal funds going to keep up maintenance on the bridge? It will probably need a coat of paint now and then to keep it from rusting away.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Sorry about all the typos and proofreading errors.

    I would note that the standard $80 ATB beautiful pass doesn't give any amenities (camping, tours, boat launch, etc) discounts. It's only valid for entrance (and some use) fees. I thought that the same went for the older National Parks Pass or Golden Eagle passes.

    I recall that the Senior Pass (or the older Golden Age pass) is only valid for US citizens or legal permanent residents. I've heard of foreign visitors 62 or older coming for extended trips, but who had to pay for the regular pass.

    As for the regular passes, I think the key to maximizing validity is to get it on the first of the month, in which case it expires at the end of the same month in the next year. That would give up to 13 months use on the same annual pass.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I think the $80.00 fee for an America The Beautiful pass is way too much. I had a National Parks pass just before the change and used it regularly mostly in national parks and monuments in Colorado. I very rarely use other agencies camping areas. I will wait until I turn 62 in 15 months and buy the permanent $10.00 senior pass. The age for the senior pass should also be lowered to between 55 and 60.

  • Various Care-Taking Projects Under Way in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Bobby Mcgill writes "Wasn't the cabin work completed or mostly completed prior to the wilderness designation earlier this year?"

    True, but irrelevant. National Park Service policy is to administer any potential or recommended wilderness area as if it were designated wilderness. 94% of RMNP has been recommended wilderness, and has been administered as defacto wilderness, since 1974. The actual wilderness designation in 2009 causes no change in administration of RMNP.

    The (re)construction of Chasm Creek Patrol Cabin (a new building of all new materials, in a rustic style) within Park wilderness is precisely what was ruled illegal by the 2005 Burgess decision in Federal District Court for Western Washington, which is binding only on Olympic, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades NPs. In both cases, NPS performed full Environmental Assessments, and found the structures essential for the safety of Park visitors and administration of the area, and these findings were not challenged. Simply the construction of a new structure within wilderness was outlawed here.

    As historic structures, many built by the USFS, long predating the designation of these National Parks or wilderness areas, are lost to the ravages of time and weather, they can be replaced in any National Park... except Olympic, Rainier and North Cascades NPs. That's the effect of this court ruling.

    We need a single, uniform, national wilderness policy. We don't have one. And we need these historic structures... they save lives.

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Yes, there needs to some some sort of verification before anyone is deployed, or we are going to have a serious "boy who called wolf" problem, and eventually it will not make sense to respond to all calls, including real emergencies.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago


    Alas, its not quite that simple. At least for chaparral, we (almost certainly) need more fire on the landscape for ecosystem reasons, but more burns probably won't reduce the intensity, size, & danger of future fires the way it does in other forests. If you're interested, google Jon Keeley USGS: either his USGS or his UCLA website has links to pdfs of some of the most recent research and thinking about fire in chaparral.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Your memory is spot on re the Golden Eagle Pass offering the same public lands access as the $80 ATB.

    For what it's worth, there have been efforts in the Senate to restore the $50 National Parks Pass. Not sure how successful they'll be, however.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I remember that I was planning on a trip to Yosemite just after Christmas 2006. I didn't have any reservations, but that wasn't the peak season and finding a place to stay outside the park is easy. My employer shut down for a week and I had two full weeks off. It was going to be about playing and hiking in the snow.

    Then I went down with cold symptoms that didn't improve for 10 days. By then it was too late. I wasn't able to schedule a trip until mid February. By then they'd switched over from the $50 National Parks Pass to the $80 America the Beautiful Pass. That was an additional $30 that didn't do me an good since only used it at NPS sites and I didn't use at all in the tail months of its validity. Now that I think of it, I probably could have saved $3 that I could have used to go to Muir Woods NM the same month, but I wasn't sure if my boss was going to approve my vacation. I did end up getting at least $80 worth out of it, with later trips to Yosemite and SEKI, as well as several NPS visits near home.

    The $80 got my wife and myself to quite a few places over 13 months starting August 2008. We actually got to use it at Mt St Helens. Still - I thought the older "Golden Eagle" passes were only $65 with an option to buy a National Parks Pass and buy a $15 endorsement sticker that made it effective the same thing.

  • Gustavus Moose Hunt: If You're Heading to Alaska for a Moose Hunt, You Might Want to Read This   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The same way someone shot a llama thinking it was an elk. Inexperienced hunters who just want a big trophy. Will I love your description of a moose. In A Walk in the Woods they were described as a cow drawn by a 3 year old.

    Ranger Holly

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 32 weeks ago

    YPW, you're right. My mother loves to visit the parks but she is not very well off. She usually avoids all the parks except for the ones I work at so she can get in for free. She simply cannot afford the entrance fees. I know when she turns 62 she will be all over that pass so that she can get into the parks without me.

    I consider the $80 pass to be too expensive. I'm also not very well off (lots of student loans!) and it is hard for me to afford that although I scrimp and save to do so. Even though it's only $30 per year difference I miss the old pass. I only visit parks and I perfered having the option to get an inter-agency pass instead of having to get it.

    Ranger Holly

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Anonymous, the only way you legally can carry weapons in the parks is if you're licensed to do so. My guess is that since you live abroad you'd have a hard time qualifying.

    As for going "deep" into the Rockies and Yellowstone, I've been doing it for three-plus decades and have never needed a weapon.

  • Update: Seizure Threat Accelerates Land Acquisition for Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I just can't believe that the designers and approvers of this 2,200 acre memorial site had the nerve to carve such a large site plan without knowing in advance that the property would be available, and now the audacity to force the owners of the property to sell or have their property condemned.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I am british, so I won't get in to this discussion as I have no right to discuss what happens in you're country.
    I was attacked in my tent by a group of men whilst I was camping in a national park in England. I was badly beaten & had a lot of gear stolen, fortunately I'm male, I think it would have turned out much worse if I'd been female.
    We have practically no right to defend ourselves, with the victim getting harsher punishment than the criminal if they try to defend themselves.
    We have no 2nd Amendment, so only the criminals are armed.
    I work as an outdoor instructor & spend most of my free time in the outdoors, so I will not let this incident ruin my life. So in not wanting it to happen again I must break the law, by carrying a hunting knife & a trench mace. ( Normal people don't have access to firearms.)
    If this has happened to you, then it makes no difference what the laws are because it has'nt happened to the people that made those laws, they just can't understand & I definately don't want it to happen to me again.
    By the way, if you are allowed to carry a firearm in your national parks, would that apply to foreigners too?
    I want to take a trip deep into the Rockies & Yellowstone, but would worry about 2 legged critters if I can't carry. (Probably 2 barrel shot gun as its easier to get a licence for.)

  • Update: Seizure Threat Accelerates Land Acquisition for Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Absolutly....I went to school with some of their family members that own that land and no one should have to sell their land if they want to. I just hate the gov't thinking they can use their power to get whatever they want no matter who gets hurt.

    I know the girl who quit the council because she too believed it was wrong to just take someone's land. I don't care if it is for a memorial or not. They have no business sticking their nose in other people's business.

    If the gov''t don't get what they want, they just take what doesn't belong to them!!! As always!!!

    I pray they do not win this argument.

    [This comment was edited.]

  • Free Firewood At Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Camped at Mammoth Cave last Dec. and they had all the firewood you could use at most campsites. So I guess free firewood is not new to this park. We also took the cave tour. It was packed, all "3" of us had what I guess you could call a personal tour.

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Jim, This doesn't surprise me. After all, we live in a country where people will call 911 because they can't find their car keys. Your last sentence is spot on; both SPOT and EPIRB units need alert and cancel buttons. Along with GPS, these devices are tools that need a person using their brain to use them.

  • Fatality Reported on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    For the brave hikers who reach too the stars, they are not forgotten. The abiltity too experience solitude and accomplish a hikers dream..priceless. Although there is risk, these brave souls will never be forgotten. In short memory of the most recent hiker.....may u never be forgotten...prayers go out....