Recent comments

  • National Park Quiz 51: Administrivia   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Bob--

    Chalk me up as resting on my laurels for the first time in a long time. Rob, the superintendent's compendium contains those restrictions that apply only to that park. For instance, many parks have areas designated in their compendiums where 1st amendment activities may take place. We had such a place designated in Everglades. When the Sierra Club was conducting their "Dump Watt" petition drive, they were restricted to operating in one place in the park. These compendiums are normally reviewed in house once a year.

    The Director of the NPS receives his/her direct supervision from the Asst. Secy for Fish, Wildlife and Parks on a day-to-day basis.

    Rick Smith

  • National Park Quiz 51: Administrivia   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Don't beat yourself up, Robert. I suspect that five is about par for this one (though Rick Smith did get them all correct). Dan's got it right for the Superintendent's Compendium. As for the NPS Director's immediate supervisor, well, "day-to-day basis" is a rather ambiguous concept. Few federal administrators in the upper echelons have the time, talent, or inclination to be micro-managers. The concept "answers to" is useful. In practical terms, this means that the supervisor is saying "You will not be hearing from me until you screw up in a way that makes me look bad."

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Telling people that these old cannonballs aren't dangerous just because you can't make them explode by jarring them is a questionable tactic. It's true that nearly everyone who has been injured or killed by the detonation of Civil War era ordnance was doing overtly dangerous things like trying to deactivate them. That said, no one should be needlessly careless with live ordnance of any kind. The explosive inside an old cannonball that hasn't been invaded by moisture is still extremely powerful and remains very sensitive to heat and friction. The smart thing to do is to be belt-rope-and suspenders careful.

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments.

    Even though the risk of an explosion was small, this was good protocol for such situations. There was no reason to take any unnecessary risks, and given the park's location right in town, the response time for local authorities - and resulting inconvenience for people in the area - would have been short.

    As Dan Hilton indicated, very few people have his level of expertise with explosives, so for everyone else, the best advice is to err on the side of caution.

    This situation brings to mind a photo showing the following words in a large font on the back of a t-shirt: "I'm with the bomb squad. If you see me running, try to keep up!"

  • National Park Quiz 51: Administrivia   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The Superintendent's Compendium should be issued periodically, though I don't know that they absolutely have to be annual. No doubt they should be reviewed annually, at least. It's a very important part of giving park policies legal force. But they are often neglected in parks with a low law-enforcement presence.

    If you're interested, it looks like Crater Lake is accepting comments on their 2009 Compendium right now: http://www.nps.gov/crla/parkmgmt/superintendents-compendium-2009.htm

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Over-reacted? http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-05-02-199541444_x.htm

    "But in February, White's hobby cost him his life: A cannonball he was restoring exploded, killing him in his driveway.

    More than 140 years after Lee surrendered to Grant, the cannonball was still powerful enough to send a chunk of shrapnel through the front porch of a house a quarter-mile from White's home in this leafy Richmond suburb."

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Yes over reacted, I am a manufacture of explosives, and can tell you that a 150 + year old frag projectile would be loaded with black powder. Black powder is not very sensitive to shock friction or impact. Not much you are going to do to make it explode without a large input of energy. That is why you can shoot it out of a cannon without it exploding. Some black powder from that period was made with NaNO3 if this was the case it was long ago rendered useless sludge. If it was made with KNO3 it may well still be capable of deflagration(very rapid burning and expansion of gases) but not detonation (reaction rate faster than the speed of sound, this is required to be considered a high explosive) and then only with a very large input of energy. Then again better safe than sorry. You wouldn't expect a park ranger to be an explosives expert

  • National Park Quiz 51: Administrivia   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Well, I had 5 correct. This was a good one Bob.

    For number 1, I found a description of the Department of the Interior, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, for those who may be interested.

    Bob, is this Assistant Secretary the direct boss of the NPS director on a day-to-day basis?

    Bob, number 6 refers to the Superintendent's Compendium. Is this document put out annually? Is it more of a "traditional" thing put out by the superintendent of a new park? Could you explain a little further? Thanks a lot.

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

  • National Park Service Helps Expand Bison Range North of Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    i think it is a great idea!!

  • Traveler Checklist: Arches National Park In May   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I agree. I can't wait to go back someday.

    Don't forget to bring your mountain bike - Moab has some of the best riding in the world.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 31 weeks ago

    As Kurt points out, they wouldn't be able to wire the entire park for wireless even if they wanted to; the geography makes that not likely to happen.

    In the various "villages," it seems kind of silly to me in areas that are already urbanized to restrict usage in some of the buildings. You're saying they can have vending machines, electricity, running water, restaurants, gift stores, etc. in the Old Faithful Inn (and telephones, too), but not Wi-Fi? That's not a middle ground; that's just a bizarro sense of aesthetics.

    As for cell phone service, I was in Big Sky a couple years ago and was near the top of Lone Mountain, and I had five bars on my cell phone; it seemed disgusting to me that I could have such great service near the top of an 11,000 foot mountain. I think what it was for me is that in one sense we are more connected than ever; in a larger sense, we are less connected. We have no connection to the place we are, to the land itself. We connect with each other on national parks on a freaking web-zine, but so often when we are out in the parks, we can only think about the pictures we will take to share, the videos, or the stories we will write (I'm guilty as charged!). We lose the moment with the place.

    So, I get very much our desire to scale back the technology; we just have to be honest about what we are doing and why we are doing it. If we are going to make things more difficult (I remember the good old days living in Yellowstone dorms without television - then, satellite tv came ... ugh) from a technology standpoint, don't do it half-assed and in ways that don't make sense. But, that's part of the contradiction of Yellowstone. The Old Faithful Inn, for instance, is truly a marvel of architecture and human construction, especially in the front foyer, and yet it was built so that people could stay very close to the thermal features, especially Old Faithful itself. It was a technological comfort, not a "historic" shrine. You want people to really connect with Old Faithful? Close down the Inn! In ages past, there used to be a campground - that was shut down - turn the Inn instead into a "historic" museum. But, if you are going to use it, have all these very modern amenities, make everything comfortable, and have cell phone service anyhow, then let people have Wi-Fi so they can also write about it. It's a faux denial, a faux middle ground.

    Don't take this post as pro Wi-Fi; I supported residents in Gardiner who successfully fought a cell phone tower that would have been an aesthetic blight on the town. I'm pro-consistency and pro-having a serious and meaningful dialogue on what Yellowstone should be and working to implement the consequences, no matter how drastic they are, to make that happen. If anything, people should take my point as being that strange things happen when you decide to play God in Yellowstone, and this is one example of it. People do their laundry in the thermals at the Black Sand Basin one day, and they blog about what it used to be like (but not in the Inn) the next. But, we love this place; doesn't it deserve better than our farcical policy whims and processes?

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

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Over-reacted? I don't think so. This stuff is far too dangerous to treat it casually. I know of one serious, big-time collector of Civil War stuff who got a little too careless with unexploded ordnance and is now singing with the angels.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 31 weeks ago

    If you were a woman who had been gang raped you would understand the need for concealed carry. No one is safe anywhere on this planet, and as long as I know there are people out there willing to hurt me for there own gain, or pleasure I will always push for the right to bare arms and the right to carry them concealed for my personal protection. It is a right I want to see extended to all National Parks.

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The homeowner told park employees that he had taken his five kids to school that morning with the old cannonball rolling around in his van.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    just shows how much the park staff had probably over-reacted... Did they bring in the bomb sniffing robot while everyone huddled in the distance? Meanwhile the homeowner went back home to play with the rest of his "unexploded ordinance" collection. Too funny.

  • Are National Parks That Recommend Bear Spray Encouraging You To Break the Law?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Mike--I want to preface my remarks by frankly admitting I could be wrong, but I think that under the CFR "weapons" includes both bear spray and firearms. So if a park superintendent can use the superintendents "compodium" to allow bear spray, I assume the superintendent could also allow firearms. Again, I might be wrong.

    The parks that legally allow bear spray do so because the superintendent made an exception to the law/CFR. It seems like a superintendent could just as easily make an exception for guns. But I could be wrong.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 31 weeks ago

    There are a variety of ways to prevent freeze damage. Some solar power systems employ a working fluid that includes antifreeze (there are non-toxic choices), while others eliminate the need for antifreeze by using a drain-back system or other adaptations. In some applications, stored heat can be used to warm circulating fluids during unusually cold weather.

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 31 weeks ago

    If water is needed to cool these solar systems, how is damage prevented on the many freezing nights? Just curious...

  • National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West   5 years 31 weeks ago

    NIMBY .......

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 31 weeks ago

    What it looks like the NPS is trying to do is find middle ground in this issue. Something between the outright removal of all wireless (cell wifi) in the parks and total coverage of the entire area. I would guess that something in the middle is what will be adopted and hopefully will be acceptable to most park users. The park has changed many times. When I first came we fed the bears and anything else we wanted. We walked on areas that are now prohibited. My grandfather threw linen into the features and watched them come back up.

    The NPS adopted changes in these areas and the visitors adapted and the park benefited. I think it will be so with the cell and wifi that has become so much part of our culture.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Interesting discussion on cell service and points made on both sides. Limiting cell coverage to the developed areas of the park works for me, but expanding coverage to the back country and the "wilderness" areas, come on!
    I take scouts backpacking several times a year and tell them to leave the cell phone at home as the adults on the trip will have them. We leave them in the car at the trail head as I carry a SPOT now for emergencies. Then we get into the Sierra's someplace and one of the kids is playing a game on his cell phone while we are pitching camp, doing dinner, or some other activity. I want to scream! Of course I don't, I just take the phone, remove the battery and give the phone back; never saying a word. The thought of the backcountry "wired" for cell service angers me a great deal.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Hello,
    April 21st, 2009
    The Connecting Youth and Families to Our Parks program has filled. We have had over 300 families respond to get into this program, far more than we can serve. This has been a huge response with most of it coming shortly after and during the day it was in the Seattle Times newspaper came out on April 9th. (Note we did advertise for months before but targeted sectors within the Seattle Community for several weeks and gave presentations for several weeks to audiences in these areas). We are not sure we will run the program again next year but we hope to. Families which did not get into this program are encouraged to go outside, check out your local parks, regional parks, and national parks and learn from staff and through other ways of the wonders of your natural and cultural resources. The National Parks in our area offer programs for youth and families , they may not be like this but they are offen available to those who find out about them. Go to and click on the local parks you will find a wealth of information there about your national parks. There are also organizations such as Sierra Club, Seattle Mountaineers and REI which offer trips, information and insight on how to enjoy our great outdoors. Brad - Park Ranger

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Jeremy, I think the thing with cellphones is their intrusiveness, which can border on obnoxious.

    Zeb, with the rugged landscapes of many backcountry areas (Yosemite, Sequoia, Rocky Mountain, Glacier, etc), can you imagine how many towers you'd need to provide cell coverage in all the terrain? I'd doubt there's an economic rationale to pay for installing 'em all.

    There are other options for calling for help, ie Spot and the other personal locator beacons on the market.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Cell phone ban means that only people of means can carry a satellite phone to use in case of emergency. I don't quite see the rationale there. Yes, people can be inconsiderate and loud, but in the backcountry, there are so few people, that giving some cell phone coverage would not ruin the experience. I see them as a great tool to call in help in case of emergency.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 31 weeks ago

    It's amazing to me that we accept electricity as a necessary element for parks, and accept electric lines across the horizons of our parks. We accept modern amenities like paved roads, and overpasses as necessary to enjoy the parks. We accept wired telephones in the lodges and public areas. We accept that park rangers communicate wirelessly with hand-held radios (and cell phones). We accept the park radio stations that broadcast interpretive messages. We accept as appropriate the use of very high technology digital cameras and high-def recording devices. So why the fuss over the use of cell phones?

    Having traveled in the past year to parks, including Yosemite and Yellowstone, I can tell you there is terrific cell coverage in Yosemite Village, and near Old Faithful. I'd suggest someone do a study in those areas and ask, is there an overt abuse of cell phones in those areas? So much so that it detracts from the 'natural' experience of the area (two of the busiest areas in the NPS including hotels, parking lots, restaurants, buses, souvenir shops)?

    Cell phones are becoming more of a necessity to many people as time goes by. It doesn't make sense to restrict their use, simply because they are new technology, or because their use by some may be considered inappropriate ... I could tell you plenty of stories of bad drivers in parks, but I doubt we'll get rid of the automobile any time soon.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Is it open to ppl who don't have kids?? I am very interested in this activity, however, don't have a kiddo yet. -- M.