Recent comments

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Why all the focus on Delaware? It is NOT the only state without a national park, not even close. (Look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_National_Park). There are in fact only 58 national parks, about 20 of which are located in 3 states (Alaska, California, and Utah). By my count, there are about 25 states without national parks, including every state on the east coast except Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maine.

    Are you perhaps referring to all national park sites, including National Historic Sites, National Wildlife Refuges, etc.? If so, then what is Delaware's distinction exactly?

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Oh please, anonymous...

    I don't know one person that visited a park WITHOUT a concealed firearm. This was before CCW holders were allowed to. When you encounter hikers on a trail, I would place money on at least half being armed.

    I would take that bet in a heartbeat. One thing that's funny is that those who own and carry weapons with them regularly are more likely to feel threatened or in danger in normal every day situations...like say hiking in a national park.

    Do you want to meet a group of smugglers, or covert marijuana growers 20 miles from the trailhead?

    You better be one helluva shot or be carrying an uzi, because they're going to have much more firepower (and a willingness to use it) than you. Whipping out a gun would likely result in your own injury, and certainly could intensify the situation for all the other hikers on the trail. And here's a quick note: drug smugglers smuggle drugs...they aren't looking to make contact and certainly aren't going to risk their load on a hiker in a random national park.

    I've been hiking and camping for 25 years, and I have never, yes never, encountered a ranger on a trail. So, I know I can't count on that to protect me. Any personal protection has to come from me.

    Never encountered a ranger? Wow, that's tough to do.

    I was camping in an established campground in Washington, walking to the restrooms at night. Three dogs of a "notorious vicious breed" charged me out of a campsite full of drunken campers.

    Oh, great, let's start shooting in the dark in a campground - great idea. I wonder how long it'd take those drunk campers to whip out their own and "defend" their dogs with shots back in your direction. Bet that would make for a "safer" campground for you, the drunk campers, and the rest of the campground inhabitants.

    The ban on firearms has more to do with the problems of poaching than safety. Allowing loaded guns in national parks makes it far easier for those poachers and more difficult for the park service to control poaching - both of which are violations at the core of what it means to be a national park.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Just a few thoughts to add (though this is almost a year old, it stays relevant):

    Lone Hiker, you seem to be very vocal about billing the victims. That stance assumes that the rescue is their fault in the first place. Having just finished reading a list of Mount Ranier SAR reports (I'm currently doing research for a paper), there are numerous circumstances where even extremely experienced, well-prepared hikers/climbers have bad luck- a rock fell in the wrong place at the wrong time, an avalanche, they just happened to SLIP. To charge a fee for any of these would be ridiculous.

    So there are a couple of options that do not involve hundred-thousand dollar debts for unlucky joes. The first, obvious in our capitalist society, is insurance. Let those who want to get insurance coverage and those who don't have insurance are gambling with their lives and finances. This could be a reasonable stance, but for the fact that the uninsured would know that requesting a rescue could leave them with a hefty debt. Also, even the insured would think twice before calling for rescue, since their premiums would skyrocket. There's also the question of whether or not this insurance would be profitable enough to be offered by a private lender: how much could they reasonably charge to be able to afford the bill of two or three expensive accidents?

    Then you have the flat rate on park entrance, or a fee placed on the more dangerous routes. This may be the best charge-the-users option. First of all, those who need SAR will know that they will not be charged; this may lead to abuse of the SAR system, but you have the same situation with all 911 calls. If someone makes a prank call, they're fined. The same system that covers those emergency departments should be considered for extension to SAR. Second, if you charged every entrant to the park, the amount would likely be insignificant since so many are paying it. Kath's second post above is very well said.

  • National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    You've convinced me, Kevin. I'll go back and fix that one. Although the Claron Formation does contain sandstone (also mudstone, siltstone, and dolomite), it is mostly limestone, and it's just wrong to call the hoodoos sandstone formations.

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    In response to the first post.

    For the DOI, or this may not even be an issue of visor safety.

    As hard as it may be to hear, the documents that formed the NPS and help protect the parks that Americans love, put the rights of the park and its inhabitants above those of people that visit the park. That is not a bad thing. If we let people do what ever they wanted the resources would quickly become damaged.

    It also means that all decisions made in the parks must undergo a level of scrutiny that is in someway equal to the potential level of impact. And Encouraging people to carry defensive mechanisms that are capable of killing wildlife could have an environmental impact in some parks.

    If the EIS finds no significant impacts than you will likely be awarded your right to carry.

  • Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Liz, I'm afraid that I can't answer your question. I do know that there's an Elephant Rock in Yosemite! I also know of a book that may be of some help. In his classic Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness (1990), Alfred Runte discussed the Yosemite zoo, and I think he included some photos of it as well. (BTW, I reviewed that book for a journal back in 1992, but I no longer have the review copy; I think I may have given it to a student.) Runte covers a lot of ground in the book, but there's a good deal of information about the park's management in the 1920s. If you can't get that book through your library, you'll find copies available through Amazon.com and other sources.

  • National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    According to the NPS website the Claron Formation is limestone.
    http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/index.htm

  • Another Black Bear Put Down, This One In Yellowstone National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    because he was a threat to the well being of all humans in the park or even in the areas that they may have relocated him to.

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Another backdrop in this issue is the recent controversial decision by Obama's Justice Department to defend the lawsuits.

    Does one hand know what the other one is doing here?

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    "Environmental Impact"? People armed in a National Park will have no more impact than staying on a marked trail. To the chagrin of those who flap their arms in panic at the thought, I don't know one person that visited a park WITHOUT a concealed firearm. This was before CCW holders were allowed to. When you encounter hikers on a trail, I would place money on at least half being armed.
    People assume everyone they meet on a trail is a good person such as themselves.
    Around Ross Lake in Washington state, the trails are quite often used by both drug and human traffickers.
    Do you want to meet a group of smugglers, or covert marijuana growers 20 miles from the trailhead?
    I've been hiking and camping for 25 years, and I have never, yes never, encountered a ranger on a trail. So, I know I can't count on that to protect me. Any personal protection has to come from me.
    I was camping in an established campground in Washington, walking to the restrooms at night. Three dogs of a "notorious vicious breed" charged me out of a campsite full of drunken campers. Thankfully I had a flashlight that put out 120 lumens, so I hid behind a wall of light. But those dogs made every effort to flank my light, had they succeeded my choices would have been to let them maul me or shoot them. After one of the drunken campers called them back, the only authority figures to be had were sleeping camphosts.
    What ever feelgood measures are passed to ban guns in parks, I will continue to be armed, and should you run into trouble on a trail, I'd be happy to help.
    J.

  • Believe it or Not, Yosemite National Park Once had a Zoo   5 years 32 weeks ago

    My great-aunt, Hazel Carpenter, lived in Yosemite Valley in the 1920's while her husband was employed by Curry Company. She once told me the park also had elephants during her time there, kept for the same purpose, and they were eventually removed because they were not "natural". I have not been able to substantiate this story, and I would love to know whether we really indeed once upon a time had elephants in Yosemite Valley. Your story of a park zoo leads me to believe we might have!

  • National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    On question 1 isn't the Claron limestone and Entrada sandstone?

  • Bears with a Foot Fetish? Big Bend National Park Offers New Bear Safety Advice   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The shoes probably carried the odor of food the same way clothes do. It's long been recommended that you changed your clothes after eating because the bear can smell the food on your clothes. Same deal with shoes apparently.

  • National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    It's nice to know that even the experts find some of these quiz items challenging, Jim. Be sure to let me know if these little quizzies get too easy for you.

  • First Ladies National Historic Site Struggles to Attract Visitors   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Here's a question - when was the last time the NPS Director actually fought for the budget? When was the last time the Director went out and stood up for at least maintaining the current budget as opposed to taking cuts? Why was it only NPCA fighting for NPS to get stimulus money? Where was the Interim Director?

  • National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Nice photo of the Harmony Borax Works at Death Valley - but you got me on the super bonus question!

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Without even bothering to provide link after link to case after case of violent crimes occurring in national parks, specifically what superior anti-crime measures or magic spell causes criminals to eschew national parks?

    Until someone can provide a 100% guarantee that criminals can not enter, then there is just as much reason to provide for self defense in those areas as in any other. In fact, the remote locations and relative scarcity of any type of official presence makes a good argument that such areas are MORE important to provide for one's own safety and self defense.

    I hate to break it to you, but there are already, and always have been, armed people in national parks. They're called "criminals".

    Sure, crime rates are relatively low in such places. Perhaps citing the statistics will make the victims feel better about the fact that they were victimized, or the families of victims feel less grief over the senseless death of their loved one.

    Opining that there is no "need" to defend oneself and one's family in any specific place is akin to saying that there is no "need" to breathe there. We ALWAYS have the right and duty to defend ourselves and our families...no matter how remote the chances of actually being required to. Singling out certain places because of some emotion laden, completely irrelevant "feeling" that it's not "needed" is simply ridiculous.

    Finally, the effort to change this rule began some six years ago, required two petitions for rule making to the Department of Interior, required a lengthy public comment period which was extended and the decision delayed in order to allow more public comment (which were overwhelmingly in support of the chnage, the Brady claims of being ignored notwithstanding), before the new rule (which had the support of over half the Senate) was implemented.

    This was hardly a "last hour" action of the Bush Administration. That claim is nothing more than rhetoric and posturing from people who can't tolerate the idea of free people not acquiescing to their control.

  • Bears with a Foot Fetish? Big Bend National Park Offers New Bear Safety Advice   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Another great article on one of the finest parks in the NPS system. Hope articles like yours will keep the public aware of how important it is to keep a clean camp. Littered trails and campgrounds are a sore subject with me. Never would have though of shoes though! My education never ends. Thank you.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Well, the CNPSR.List is a bad joke. They are obviously not at all familiar with the variety of parks that exist, because no one who has seen at least eleven parks in the world would ever think of naming Snowdonia among his or her Top 10.

    Hortobagy actually is a nice choice, but it would be useful to mention "Neusiedler See und Seewinkel Nationalpark" as well, because Hortobagy and Neusiedler See are cross border, sister parks in Hungary and Austria who share the history of land use and the natural features. The region is not complete without the soda lakes on the Austrian side of the border, so one should not praise Hortobagy without Neusiedler See.

    Plitvice, well: The karst formations with the lakes are spectacular, but that's it about the park. It is small, crowded and flora and fauna are not well protected, they are in better shape outside of the park. In the US it would be at most a National Monument.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    This was not a last minute issue but it was a late change. It is not surprising that many not in the know of the beginning would not be aware that this rule change was attempted for 5 years. It is also known that NPS was against this rule change. But the DOI controls the NPS and they were not against the idea. They had a hearing of over 50 congressmen asking why Kempthorne was not allowing CCW in the parks. Kempthorne promised action and it took a while.

    The major issue was not to protect against wildlife or people but because CCW holders who traveled roads and crossed NPS lines several time in a drive to work and back had to disarm and secure the firearm. I know roads that criss cross NPS boundaries 8 times in 5 miles.
    This was ridiculous and this rule changed allow people to travel without having to stop everytime they cross a NPS boundary.

    The other issue was that since states allow CCW and there has been no major problems to extend that into NPS since already allowed in NFS areas.

    CCW holders know the restrictions about unlawful discharge and brandishing and these restrictions still apply in NPS.

    This is not a big deal. Most visitors will not be aware since it is CCW holders only and they gun has to be concealed. Several here has displayed an unreasonable fear of guns . A few posters have been belligerant about their right to carry guns. Previous discussions were more reasonable about how this made it harder to show evidence of poaching since possesion of an gun provided evidence of poaching.

    Personally I believe that to prove poaching they should not use the crutch of gun possession. That is akin to police using the same rational that a person carrying a gun is a criminal without any other evidence. If a true crime is committed use the evidence of the crime to make a case agaisnt the defendant.

  • First Ladies National Historic Site Struggles to Attract Visitors   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Rangertoo,
    At least check your facts before making such bold and derogatory statements. FORMER Congressman Regula doesn't even have two daughters!! I am his ONE daughter and yes, I work at the National First Ladies Library as the Research Librarian. I have an MLS in library science and worked as a librarian for 20+ years prior to coming to the NFLL three years ago. I was not employed there when the library was created and I was not looking for a job, as I had a very good one, when I was approached by the library as they were in desperate need of a qualified librarian. I took a pay cut to come there to help with their very worthwhile mission of educating about the role of First Ladies in our country's history.
    I manage the library, serve as the webmaster, manage the curriculum creation for teachers, conduct workshops and programs and do a number of other jobs. We have a very small staff so everyone wears several hats.
    I am not privy to funding or general managment issues at the library so can't enter in this discussion. I do know, however, that much of the funding for the library and historic site was originally and is still provided through private fundraising efforts. Like many small historic sites we struggle to attract visitors and to provide educational programs for adults and children.
    The Saxton McKinley Home, which was the only home lived in by William McKinley during his tenure in office and thus could even be considered a Presidential home, was destined for the wrecking ball had it not be saved by a committee of dedicated citizens. All the renovations were paid for through private donations.
    It was actually Hillary Clinton who originally designated some monies for the site as part of the Save America's Treasures program.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Geoff--

    The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees just published its list of its members' top 10 parks. Maybe you have seen it in one of the many stories that have run about the list in newspapers across the states. Here is the Coalition's press release announcing the list.

    10 FAVORITE FOREIGN NATIONAL PARKS HIGHLIGHTED BY U.S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE RETIREE
    The Parks That NPS Employees Visit When They Travel Abroad; Trekking from Aboriginal New Zealand to the Biblical Deserts of Saudi Arabia to the Great Hungarian Plains.

    TUCSON, AZ. – February 11, 2008 – Every wonder where people who work in national parks go when they take a vacation? Today, the 690-member Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) released a list of 10 of the best foreign national parks, spanning the globe from Australia, Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

    The list of personal favorites of NPS retirees is in the same of vein as the “Beyond Yellowstone: 7 Winter Travel Favorites” (http://www.npsretirees.org/pressroom/2006/winter-travel-recommendations-beyond-yellowstone), which was released by the Coalition in October 2006.

    CNPSR member, Don Goldman, former park planner in the old Southwest Region of the National Park Service,, said: “Several years ago, in anticipation of family winter vacation time, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees rounded up its members’ recollections of the most memorable U.S. national park areas they had worked in or visited. When the nominations came in, the selection process was like picking from among the loveliest flowers in the field. As we had to acknowledge, it was a highly subjective selection process. But our intention was to encourage Americans to visit their national parks, not just our 10, but whichever ones they could get to. This year, the Coalition’s 700 members have suggestions for your vacation trips abroad. We who have spent our lives working in and with national parks not only visit our own, but make an effort to see other countries’ national parks, too.”

    CNPSR member, Rick Smith, former Superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns said, “Most Americans know that Yellowstone was our first national park, but it was also the world’s first national park. The idea of a national park was new with Yellowstone, but it was soon adopted by many countries, one of the best ideas our country gave the world. Just as we did, those countries have expanded the original concept to a great variety of parks and reserves. Today, marvelous parks are to be found all over the world.”

    Coalition members usually can’t stay away from such places on foreign vacations. Rick Smith explained: “We plan many of our overseas trips around the national parks or protected areas we can visit in other countries.” Some NPS retirees even had the opportunity, when on temporary training or work assignments with foreign countries or as Peace Corps Volunteers, to work in and contribute to those countries’ national parks.

    The following 10 foreign national parks are among the outstanding places CNPSR members recommended. Where it was necessary to break ties, the park chosen in the end was included to provide for maximum geographic diversity:

    1. TONGARIRO N. P., New Zealand. This is one of the North Island’s three World Heritage Sites. It features volcanic peaks (one of which is active) and is still home to many Maoris, who donated the park to New Zealand in 1887, when it became the world’s fourth national park. The Maoris are very outgoing in displaying their culture to visitors.

    2. KAKADU N. P., Northern Territory, Australia. This World Heritage Site is jointly managed by the Aborigines and the Australian government. It has magnificent vistas, great waterfalls, stunning displays of Aboriginal rock art, and is habitat to an awesome predator, the estuarine (saltwater) crocodile.

    3. SNOWDONIA N. P., Wales, Great Britain. Snowdonia is a lovely mountain park, with Mount Snowdon, which is comprised of slate, rising to 3560 feet. While this park is not geologically or scenically spectacular compared to many mountain parks, it is spectacular in its own right, due in part to its peaceful nature.

    4. KRUGER N. P., South Africa. This is perhaps the most impressive wildlife viewing area in the world. Millions of acres of habitat and little development give visitors an opportunity to see many large African mammals and magnificent birds. It is one of the few places where wildlife is in charge – they wander free and the visitors are controlled.

    5. TIKAL N. P., Guatemala. This World Heritage Site contains the spectacular ruins of a Maya settlement from around 250–900 AD. The towering ruins of temples, one 70 meters tall, rising from the jungle that surrounds them, are mute testimony to the architectural genius of the Maya. As many as 90,000 people lived in Tikal at its zenith, but strife with neighboring towns and environmental stress caused its abandonment beginning in the 10th century. Of course, the Maya never left; they are there today, and a thrill of a visit is to see it with a Maya guide.

    6. IGUAZU N. P., Argentina. This park protects one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls and the surrounding subtropical forest. The falls are 70 meters high, but even more impressive is their width: the river at the falls is 1500 meters wide. A thrilling experience is the short boat ride and walk along the catwalks to the most striking of the hundreds of falls, Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat. The roar itself is an unforgettable experience.

    7. SAGARMANTHA N. P., Nepal. The park includes Mount Everest, among other prominent mountains. It has distinctive wildlife and small picturesque Sherpa villages with their gumpas (monasteries).

    8. MADAIN SALEY NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK, Saudi Arabia. This region, the Biblical Midian, is mostly undulating desert, interspersed with huge rocky outcrops and lush oases. Here, between 500 B.C. and 100 A.D., the Nabatean people created 125 monumental cut-rock tombs and facades, edifices up to 130 feet tall, that are standing today in a remarkable state of preservation.

    9. PLITVICE LAKES N.P., Croatia. Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in inland Croatia, about halfway between Zagreb and Split. In moderately mountainous terrain, the park features water – small lakes and streams and beautiful waterfalls everywhere. Because of the geology of the area, travertine is evident in most of the water features, giving them distinctive blue-green colors and exceptionally clear water. There are a number of excellent short and moderate hiking trails with quiet, non-polluting electric ferries connecting some of the trails by way of the lakes. Because of the vegetation, fall “color season” is especially spectacular.

    10. HORTOBAGY N.P., Hungary. This park is located on the “puszta,” or great Hungarian plains. It was the country’s first national park. It also is a biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site. The plains and wetlands reflect two millennia of human occupation and have supported agrarian life for centuries. It has several endangered bird species and is a refuge for the Przewalski horse and migratory waterfowl. Culturally, it preserves and interprets traditional Hungarian folkways, such as the nomadic herding culture of the puszta.

    ABOUT CNPSR

    The nearly 700 members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are all former employees of the National Park Service with a combined 20,500 years of stewardship of America’ most precious natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of political affiliations. CNPSR members now strive to apply their credibility and integrity as they speak out for national park solutions that uphold law and apply sound science. The Coalition counts among its members: former national park directors and deputy directors, regional directors, superintendents, rangers and other career professionals who devoted an average of nearly 30 years each to protecting and interpreting America’s national parks on behalf of the public. For more information, visit the CNPSR Web site at http://www.npsretirees.org.

    Rick Smith

  • How Will Stimulus Help the Parks? At Great Sand Dunes National Park It Could Mean Reclamation and Restoration   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Open the dunes up to ORV traffic to help fund any restoration and see the dollors roll in. Plus more people will be able to enjoy it.

  • How Long Before Gravity Takes Over?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I'm surprised how my one sentence of fact can lead to swearing and a censorial imperative. My statement of fact is not intended to disparage NPT, as it is simply a statement of fact about Arches National Park.

  • Glory, Shame, and Remembrance at Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Sand Creek was not unique--it simply got more publicity than some of the other
    massacres of Native people; the only other one getting as much publicity was
    Wounded Knee in 1890. The massacre of Shoshonis by General Connor's California
    volunteers at Bear River in 1863, and the massacre of Blackfeet by the 5th cavalry under
    Colonel Baker on the Marias river in Montana in 1870 were just as bloody. All resulted in
    over 200 Native people--I refuse to call them Indians as they have nothing to do with
    India--being killed. As for the Cheyennes, four years almost to the day after Sand Creek
    they were attacked again by Custer and the 7th cavalry on the Washita River in
    Oklahoma; about 40 people were killed and 53 taken prisoner. Custer was looking for
    another band of Cheyennes--the so-called Dog Soldiers--but blundered into Black
    Kettle's camp by mistake. Black Kettle was among those killed. Custer lost 21 killed--
    4 in the attack on the village; 17 in a counterattack by the Dog Soldiers, who were
    camped only a few miles away--and a number of wounded.