Recent comments

  • Various Care-Taking Projects Under Way in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I completely endorse RMNP's analysis and actions.

    NPT should be aware that the (re)construction of such a Patrol Cabin would be illegal in Olympic, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades NPs, because they lie within the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court of Western WA. Its 2005 Burgess decision referenced above is the reason. Alas, the DOJ was embroiled in an internal political scandal at the time, and failed to act on NPS' appeal of this decision. So it stands.

    As a direct result, Olympic NP alone has since forever lost wilderness shelters at Home Sweet Home, Low Divide, Twelve Mile, Falls, Wilder and Pelton Creeks. Despite the facts that all were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Wilderness Act itself (Chapter 4(3)) states "'The designation of any area of any park, monument, or other unit of the national park system as a wilderness area pursuant to this Act shall in no manner lower the standards evolved for the use and preservation of such park, monument or other unit of the national park system...".

    Similarly, the USFS just rejected the use of a mini-excavator within wilderness to reopen the Pacific Crest Trail, despite the fact that it almost triples the manual labor required. http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/projects/pct-repair-suiattle-crossing/

    NPT should be aware that the Wilderness Act has been interpreted by one Federal Court District in Western Washington differently than in the rest of our nation. And that this has resulted in the permanent loss of historic structures, deemed by the NPS essential to visitor safety and administration of the Park. This conflicts directly with NPS' mission: to "preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations." This should deeply concern us all.

  • Various Care-Taking Projects Under Way in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    RodF et al,

    Here's the park's explanation of how they decided on how best to perform this work:

    Most projects within the park, and specifically projects within designated
    wilderness, go through an extensive project clearance review that asks
    several questions: (1) Is this project/action necessary? (2) What options
    are available to complete the project? (3) What are the minimum
    requirements and what are the minimum tools needed to complete the project?

    For the North Inlet Trail, the decision was made to construct the trail to
    an appropriate standard to handle the horse and hiker use and to provide a
    sustainable trail. As part of this decision, a good trail tread/surface is
    needed so people will walk on the trail as opposed to off the trail because
    it is easier or more comfortable. Options considered for obtaining tread
    material included:

    1. Digging on-site (not viable due to large amount needed, creates other
    impacts from barrow pits located off trail, and this activity is strongly
    discouraged in RMNP Backcountry/Wilderness Management Plan).
    2. Using mules to pack in the material- analysis determined that delivering
    the estimated 200 tons of material would take 270 days and impact visitors
    from increased wear and tear on the trails, to extra manure on the trail
    and safety factors of mixing large numbers of hikers with pack teams of
    horses or mules day after day.
    3. Use a helicopter and fly in the 200+ tons of material in 6-8 days.

    The decision was made to use the last option.

    For the Lulu City wetlands project it was determined that a mini-excavator
    was needed to dig down through sands, gravels and debris deposited during
    the 2003 Grand Ditch Breach. Delivering the mini-excavator to the project
    site via helicopter was preferred over driving the machinery over land.

    For the Little Yellowstone Trail bridge replacement no suitable native
    materials are available in the vicinity of the old bridge and the length
    and weight of the replacement treated logs would be prohibitive to
    transport by pack animals.

    Over one year ago the decision was made to use a helicopter to deliver
    construction equipment and materials to the Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin
    site, and to use a helicopter to demobilize when the project was completed.
    The project is now complete and demobilization is necessary. Similar to the
    decision for the North Inlet Trail, use of a helicopter was preferred over
    the use of multiple pack teams of horses or mules on the trail.

    The use of motorized equipment is prohibited when other reasonable
    alternatives are available to protect wilderness values. While Congress
    mandated a ban on motors and mechanized equipment, it also recognized that
    managers might occasionally need those sorts of tools. It remains an
    exception to be exercised very sparingly and only when it meets the test of
    being the minimum necessary for wilderness purposes.


  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    There's nothing quite like seeing the sun set over the western horizon. I saw an incredible sunset at the beach next to Kalaoch Campground at Olympic NP. I've also seen a similar sunset at Limantour Beach at Point Reyes NS.

    For a full day I think Point Reyes would be my favorite. One could start off at the visitor center, take a hike with sweeping vistas of the Pacific coast, visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse (maybe a little whale watching), and then get a few dozen oysters at Drakes Bay Oyster Farm and polish them off at a picnic table. If it were a multi-day trip, it could be combined with various trips to Tomales Point for some Tule elk viewing, the Marin Headlands (possibly Rodeo Beach), and some urban exploration at Chrissy Field at the Presidio of San Francisco.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Crews Installing, Ahem, New Vault Toilets on South Rim   5 years 35 weeks ago

    WOO HOO !!!!!

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I'd think not everyone who qualifies for the senior pass should be assumed to be that well off. Many are living off of fixed incomes. A few might have invested/saved well. I don't know if there can really be an acceptable economic test for federal recreation use fees.

    However - as a matter of policy, we've got age-related discounts for all sorts of things. Seniors can get into movies at reduced rates and get discounts or special deals at restaurants.

    I have seen the opposite (younger adult) discounts before. The Berkeley Reperatory Theater in Berkeley, California has a special "under 30" half-price deal for theater tickets. Of course they do have blackout dates, but it's a heckuva deal. One can understand that they're hoping to attract younger patrons who might be able to afford full priced tickets as their earnings go up.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I remember the old Golden Age pass. I bought a couple for my folks (the price seemed right). Those were also interagency passes (they had the generic "Federal Fee Area" graphic with what looks to be a dove), and I clearly remember they listed BLM, BOR, Forest Service, F&W, and Army Corps of Engineers. It also listed the Tennessee Valley Authority. We used the pass to get into Uinta NF (with a normal $3 day use fee) on the way to Timpanagos Cave National Monument. The pass also got my mom half off the cave tour fee.

    I also went to Zion National Park with my folks. I wanted to come back separately and I could enter with them since we came in the same car. However - they have mandatory shuttles during the peak season, and I wanted to leave early by myself to hike up Angels Landing. So they wrote up a 7 day pass for me since I entered accompanying someone with a Golden Age pass. I think they can also do that for people entering together on annual passes who might be breaking up and reentering the park.

    I think the only real differences between the older Golden Age pass and the new Senior Pass are the graphics and card material. My mom couldn't find her old Golden Age pass so I paid for a new Senior Pass. I don't fully recall if that the newer senior pass lists the Tennessee Valley Authority though. Something tells me no.

    The amenities discount still applies.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    The senior pass is indeed a heckuva bargain (one I'm still too young to appreciate;-)), but it begs a question: Should such an incredible discount be given to retirees, who in many cases probably can afford not only $10 every year to renew their pass but probably five times that much, or should a somewhat similar discount (though not all the way down to $10), be offered to younger generations that are starting careers and might consider the $80 pass a bit much?

    If there really is a problem with attracting younger generations to the parks, shouldn't the ATB be priced more attractively, as well as more logically, across-the-board?

  • Free Firewood At Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I don't know if entire trees can be hauled out (I'm sure they can't) but firewood collection has been legal in many NPS units.

    Backpackers have generally been allowed to collect downed wood. I know in Yosemite one can collect downed wood for campfires, except in Yosemite Valley.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    The question deals with the Golden Age Passport, and the Golden Age Passport remains valid despite having been superseded by the ATB-Senior Pass. Many thousands of oldsters (including me) have passed up the opportunity to buy an ATB-Senior Pass and just continue to use the Golden Age Passport

    Tomp is correct about the advantages of the ATB-Senior Pass. Here are a few more details. The America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Senior Pass (One-time cost $10) is

    ...a lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. The pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free). The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. The Senior Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    RangerLady--

    You're part right: The Golden Age pass has been replaced by the America the Beautiful Senior pass ($10 lifetime), which provides a 50% discount on some (but not all) camping and other expanded amenity fees:
    http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm

    However, the new pass works for FS and BOR and BLM and FWS recreation sites, so it has advantages, too. I'm happy I'm not old enough to qualify and still need to pay my $80/year.

  • Fall Harvest Festival This Weekend At Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Smoky Mountains are the place where Heavens meets the Earth! It is Heaven on Earth! It is beauty beyond comprehension, beyond comparison and beyond anything I have ever experienced. It is Heaven itself!!!!!
    Blessed are those who who can feel it and enjoy it!
    Bozidar Sicel

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I may be wrong on this, since I'm not yet able to get one, but I think the new golden age passes no longer have the discount. I remember a friend of mine telling someone to keep their old card because the new ones don't have as many perks.

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

  • A Drowning-free Summer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Wasn't Just Good Luck   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Yes, I quoted the park's "disclaimer" from the original press release in the story, and they're both wise and correct in being cautious about claiming too much credit for this summer's success. It's always difficult to establish cause and effect in such situations. There are a lot of variables, and the staff obviously can't contact every visitor to the area.

    That said, this summer represented a dramatic improvement over last year's 3 drownings, and the park deserves credit for responding to concerns over that number with a proactive program. Given the past history in this, and similar areas, it's difficult to get through a busy summer season with no drownings, and the park's program seems to have made a difference.

    Perhaps most significant is the chief ranger's comment about a change in visitor behavior, and that can be tied directly to this summer's efforts.

  • Various Care-Taking Projects Under Way in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

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

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    There's gotta be one vote for Gulf Islands National Seashore, and specifically the Ft. Pickens area of Santa Rosa Island, across from Pensacola Florida. These are beautiful beaches!

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Sounds great to me, Kevin. Would like to add a PS, however, for those unfamiliar with that area: While a drive along the Umpqua will bring you to the Crater Lake vicinity, it won't actually bring you to Crater Lake. The lake is not directly connected to any river or stream.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    You're quite right about the timing of Wilderness Waterway trips, tomp. That route is plenty challenging even without skeeters and storms. Congrats on the quiz score. I doubt that very many others did as well.

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Gotta be the Oregon coast. The idea of spending a day laying around at the beach is torture to me. Crashing waves and great trails at Cape Perpetua, seals at Haymarket Rock, Oregon Dunes and so much more. Not to discount the beauty found elsewhere, but I love the Oregon coast. Also love starting out on the coast, driving along the Umpqua River and ending up at Crater Lake. How awesome is that!

  • Free Firewood At Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I wonder if the same thing can be done about the Pine Bark Beetle killed trees throughout the Rockies (Colorado)? I saw whole hills with dead trees on a drive about 2 months ago. They are just sitting there, waiting to catch fire.

  • National Park Quiz 69: Camping   5 years 35 weeks ago

    If you were to tell a friend you used some chickees during a _recent_ trip, your friend would know you were crazy, or at least slightly addled. The mosquitoes and other biting insects are pretty miserable there until the first cold front in mid- to late- October. And, peak hurricane season is not a particularly wise time to do the full 9 day canoe trip to Whitewater Bay, although the developing El Nino conditions somewhat reduce the chance of a hurricane blowing up in the western Atlantic or Caribbean with only a couple of days notice. [_Maybe_ you could get a tow out of there in time if the water quality folks ran their transect to batten down the sensors.] By November the temperatures are a bit nicer, the rainy season is over, the bugs aren't so bad, and any hurricanes are very likely to arise from western Africa and thus give 7-10 days warning.

    Question 9 had me until I reread it and saw _campground_.
    I remember when hanging your food was the approved method for backcountry camping in Yosemite's Lyell Canyon. I'm proud to say we never fed the bears, even though bears came through our campsite pretty much every year. Now, there are special lightweight bear-resistant tubes for backpacking in bear country. I need to get my act together enough to go backpacking where I'll need one.

    8 correct: pretty darn good or needs remedial NPS camping experience?

  • A Drowning-free Summer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Wasn't Just Good Luck   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I read the actual news release from the park and it does say that they are not drawing a direct conclusion that their efforts resulted in no drownings. I think they are using this success to try to keep the safety message in people's minds.

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I'm an east coast kinda gal. I grew up on the Chesapeke Bay and there's something about the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia that I just love. I love going out to Assateague Island for a day in the sand and then heading to Chincoteague for some fresh oysters and steamed blue crabs! Nothing says summer more than that salty breeze and the sting of Old Bay in the cuts on your fingers.

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

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Even though Washington is on the Pacific I will go to the Oregon beaches. They are the VERY best. MB

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Cumberland Island. It's pristine and when we were there we were about the only people on the beach. Beautiful!

  • Reader Participation Day: Are You An East Coast, West Coast, or Gulf Coast National Seashore Person?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Salty it is, guys. We'll get to the lakeshores in due time, but what's a summer vacation without a salty breeze?