Recent comments

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    If you can stand one more comment from me, I'd like to say how mystifying it is to me to see the huge RV's complete with TV, internet, all the comforts of home at the campground. It's like bringing your house with you! IMO that's not camping. And when I go camping I don't care to hear their generators or their loud music, thanks very much. I like my gadgets and all - i'm still learning how to use my GPS, for example - but as far as I'm concerned, i go camping to lighten my burdens. Why on Earth would anyone want to tote it all along?

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Northern Flying Squirrel and other Threatened Mammals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Global warming is real. Human culpability is undeniable. The rate of change is increasing and may be on the verge of a tipping point that will send it beyond any hope of mitigation. Denial seems to be a common human response to an unpleasant reality. Many European Jews in the late 1930s could not believe that the German Nazis could be capable of the Holocaust. It was literally unthinkable. Denial contributed to the death of millions. This time its consequences could be infinitely greater.

  • The New National Parks Index: 2009-2011 is Now Available Online   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The index is revised every two years to reflect congressional actions.

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I think the nighttime is best - so much is happening! So many animals come out at night to feed and hunt. And high-elevation stargazing has got to be the greatest show on Earth.

  • The New National Parks Index: 2009-2011 is Now Available Online   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Question: How often is the Index published? Every three years? Every five? Just curious...

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Why would anyone be asleep after 6 a.m.? Early morning is the best part of the day, especially in most national parks.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Northern Flying Squirrel and other Threatened Mammals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The science exists to inform us that the warming is accelerated. And the scientists with the International Panel on Climate Change say it's "very likely" (in their definition, greater than 90% chance the result is true) that humans are behind the current global warming. That has been debated, and will continue to be debated.

    As for taking "the cars off the road and planes out of the sky," that's not the goal of this report. Rather, the hope (and this is my personal interpretation; I'm not speaking for the NPCA or any other group) is that examples such as these will prompt both policy decisions in Washington, business decisions, and even personal decisions that result in a lighter impact on the environment.

    And really, shouldn't we be doing that regardless of the climate?

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Northern Flying Squirrel and other Threatened Mammals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Another statement listed as a fact that has not been proven in this excerpt. "But what will these species do in response to the prospect of higher temperatures resulting from accelerated unnatural climate change?" How do we know accelerated? How do we know unnatural?

    For every scientist that says this is so, there is another that says it is not so.

    We could take the cars off the road and planes out of the sky and then less people would be able to visit these great parks we have. Under your scenario, the animals might fare better, but who would know?

    Earlier this summer I drove 1,000 miles in my SUV (needed to fit the family) to North Carolina to visit GSMNP. Spent several days there. Had a great time hiking several days and also doing some driving to see the sights. I did not feel guilty about the driving, although based on reading above, I maybe should have stayed home and read about it in a book so I would not add to the pollution.

  • The New National Parks Index: 2009-2011 is Now Available Online   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I remember what's now Giant Sequoia National Monument probably used up most of Sequoia NF's human resources. There are several campgrounds, Hume Lake, Boyden Cavern, and a few lodges. It would have been a pretty huge blow to the FS if they took that out of their jurisdiction and handed it over to the NPS. If there was to be NPS jurisdiction, I would think that might happen if there was congressional action collapsing it into SEKI. FS jurisdiction does also allow for some more relaxed rules regarding weapons, collecting, and private uses (like Hume Lake Christian Camp).

    I've been to the area, and there has to be a lot of cooperation between the NPS and Forest Service because of its location between Sequoia and Kings Canyon NPs. I remember visiting the Grant Grove visitor center in Kings Canyon, and they had a Forest Service ranger there with the NPS rangers. He pointed me to the log for wildlife sightings (check out the cubs in my avatar). They also issued California campfire permits, which are typically only handled by FS, BLM, or Cal Fire.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 12 Revealed: It's Voyageurs National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    After seeing this picture I'm almost sorry that I turned down a winter seasonal job there. At least until I remember that it gets down to -40!! I would love to visit that park when it's nice and warm though! I don't think it's mentioned often enough

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Listening to nature? Got plenty of that at Upper Pines in Yosemite. The birds at 6 in the morning make it next to impossible to sleep unless heavily sedated. That and the harassment techniques (paintball guns, rubber bullets from shotguns, and pyrotechnics) employed by the bear management teams.

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    There are a lot of "camping lite" experiences out there. There are the so-called "tent cabins" where most of the stuff is provided and semi-permanent. A lot of concession or NPS employee lodging is of the same type.

    Some people do hard core backpacking which is self-contained with all food (incl animal resistant containers), clothing, shelter, etc packed. Then there are things such as Yosemite's High Sierra Camps. There you get a tent cabin in the middle of the backcountry along with provided meals. Once you've got the reservation, no backcountry permit is needed. They provide most of the stuff needed except for towels and sleep sacks (I guess one can bring a small sleeping bag). This makes it possible for people to overnight in the backcountry with only a decent sized daypack with maybe extra clothes, snacks, etc. They provide dinner then breakfast, followed by a takeaway lunch if ordered. They've even got hot showers on a water available basis.

    http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accomodations_HighSierraCamps.aspx

  • The New National Parks Index: 2009-2011 is Now Available Online   5 years 32 weeks ago

    tomp,

    I'm trying to remember all the way back to when I took a resource law course and if my memory is correct, Clinton decided those monuments to be administered by other agencies because he wanted them to get a better reputation for conservation attempts.
    I could be wrong though...

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Kurt, when I worked education in Death Valley we purchased several large coleman tents for the visiting school groups. The first time I was putting up the tent I noticed this extra little flap that I had never seen in any tent I used growing up. I laughed and called it a doggy door, but then it was brought to my attention that this little door was for electrical cords for the radios, tvs, and those satellite dishes for inside the tent. I was shocked! To me if you aren't going to sleep listening to nature (usually not heard in busy campgrounds) you aren't camping. When I go into the backcountry, I often don't even take a tent, just sleeping under a tarp so I don't miss any part of nature.

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Nature Can At Times Be An Equalizer For Predator and Prey, As Evidenced By An Incident in Glacier National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Amazing event!

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    It's a hard question. I'm not opposed to an air mattress instead of sleeping on rocks, or a DVD player to get you through that drive through Illinois. Nor do I have a problem with sending a quick email home to say I'm doing OK. But some of this goes over the line - when you pay someone to set up a tent and grill for you, it just seems like a manufactured experience. I think it's more rewarding to do it yourself. I don't quite see the point in camping if you're only minimally invested in the experience (although $25/night is still cheaper than a hotel). But I have to admit if it gets people outdoors, then OK. I will say though that I'd feel a little emasculated doing the pre-set up camp site and watching someone in the next site do it himself, so, to each his own.

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    MM> I wonder how many of the "visits" to Great Smoky Mountains NP consist solely of driving US 441 from Gatlinburg to the casino in Cherokee - and back?

    http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/park.cfm?parkid=316

    The casino opened in 1997. I don't see any huge trends.

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    My approach to camping includes a variety of battery powered devices. Vinyl air mattresses have been around since forever, but I found the inflation was aided with a battery powered inflator from Coleman. It's essentially just a blower which reached a maximum inflation point that wasn't quite enough - but that's 80-90% of what I needed. I could finish off with a hand pump which was quieter and useful for topping off each night after the inevitable loss of air.

    As for other creature comforts - I had to find a place in Yosemite that had internet access. The public access at Yosemite Lodge is a very low $5.95 for up to 7 days and 7 "logins". They don't have it at the campgrounds, but I did find it useful for checking on finances and email. The employees didn't seem to mind, and I think they recognized us on our return visits. I think the location for internet access was intentional. At the Ahwahnee the access was for guests only, as I don't think they really want too many people hanging out there who aren't guests.

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I wonder how many of the "visits" to Great Smoky Mountains NP consist solely of driving US 441 from Gatlinburg to the casino in Cherokee - and back?

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    For those who haven't clicked the link, it's to a story that tells about the arrival of most creature comforts for family campers:

    The Coleman outdoors company sells air mattresses with built-in alarm clocks and night lights, and tents outfitted with "integrated lighting systems" and auto-roll windows. For those who can't bear to be unplugged for any length of time, DirecTV has a portable satellite and Kampgrounds of America offers wireless Internet at most of its camp sites.

    And for a small fee, employees at Montgomery County's Little Bennett Regional Park will set up a fully furnished campsite, complete with tent that sleeps four, chairs, propane stove and lantern. Marshmallows are optional.

    And...

    "There's an expectation of a certain level of comfort or people won't go outside,'' said Jeff Willard, senior vice president of global marketing and new product development for Coleman. "It needs to be comfortable. Otherwise, people are going to stay inside and do Facebook."

    I'd be curious to what other Traveler readers think of this approach to camping. While this might bring folks into the parks and forests, is it really accomplishing the end goal of introducing them to nature? Can you hear the crickets chirping or the wolves howling or the owls hooting if you're inside your battery-powered tent (yep, there are tents out there that come complete with battery packs that you can plug your electronics into) playing video games or watching videos?

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Speaking of drawing people to the parks, this is a great piece for a story here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/17/AR2009081701621.html?hpid=artslot

  • Traveler's Checklist: Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Great recommendations, Kurt! This park definitely takes two or more days to cover everything. I would recommend visiting each section in chronological order: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. You didn't mention the Spotsylvania section--I would encourage folks to visit the Bloody Angle where some of the fiercest hand to hand fighting of the war occurred over several hours. You can see the site of a 22-inch tree that was felled by small arms fire. Some of the original earthworks remain.

    You can also check out where they want to build a Walmart by the Wilderness battlefield and judge for yourself what an impact this will have on the park.

  • Picking a Lot of Apples This Day Helps Keep the Bears Away in Yosemite National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I guess "historic" is a matter of interpretation.

    I consider the Ahwahnee Hotel, or the LeConte Memorial Building to be historic. They may pale in an age comparison to a giant sequoia or granite monoliths, but that doesn't mean that they're still not historic.

    I'd sooner they just raze the fruit trees and replant them with more suitable trees like oaks. There are a lot of things that were allowed in the past. The Firefall is a thing of the past which went the way of the daily bear feedings. Perhaps set up an interpretive plaque with photos and an explanation of why they were removed.

  • Picking a Lot of Apples This Day Helps Keep the Bears Away in Yosemite National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Returning to my car in the orchard parking lot on the edge of Curry Village, after wandering in wonderment lost among the tall sequoias, ancient stone walls and waterfalls of Yosemite valley, to call these apple trees historic is meaningless to me.
    Anyway...

    "FORTY THOUSAND SUNSETS : THE APPLE ORCHARDS OF
    YOSEMITE VALLEY — Forty-thousand days . That's about how long
    they've been here . Not long, considering the Sequoias or the
    Bristlecone Pines . But for apple trees, no mean achievement,
    especially in the western United States . Certainly in Europe there
    must be apple trees much older . I wonder how old an apple tree
    can become."

    Continue reading (.pdf file)

  • Our National Parks: "For the Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People" (If You Don't Mind the Entrance Fee)   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Tomp, I do believe you're right. I was just cutting to the chase;-)