Recent comments

  • DOI Report: National Park Service Left Tens Of Millions Dollars On The Table In Potential Fees   4 weeks 3 hours ago

    It would be wonderful to have free parks.

    But in a time when Congress refuses to fund them, what alternative is there?

    How about showing us a way to drop fees and still operate and protect our parks?

    Complaining about a problem is easy. Solving it is usually isn't quite that simple.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Don’t Forget Those National Park Lodge Photos   4 weeks 3 hours ago

    Another morning brightened by some great photos and tips. Thanks, Rebecca.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 7 hours ago


    My suggestion is to make all Junior Ranger programs free of charge. No kid should have to buy a booklet to earn their badge. I believe one goal of the centennial is to "create" a new generation of park stewards. Making Junior Ranger programs free would be a good investment.

    If a park couldn't fund this from their current interpretation budget, let the Associations fund the program. Associations already donate money to help fund interpretive programs. I suspect that some parks are already using money from an association to fund their Junior Ranger program. To me, this doesn't involve any "new" money.


  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 12 hours ago

    It doesn't

    My point exactly. You claimed the Cruz amendment put the parks on the chopping block. Thank you for admitting that isn't true. .

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 13 hours ago

    Alfred, i've been through the publications approval process a few times, and it's always to be blunt - a stress inducing process. I've had to edit and remove segments in films, and have script rewrites after my first edits were already in the can, recorded and complete. It's a process. I have a unique position in that I not only work on the organizational website, but I also make films about the park. Sometimes, the requested changes are necessary, especially when you have experts in thier fields making sure that the information in the publications has a high level of accuracy. There are standards that the committees strive to meet, many of which are based on protecting the NPS resources, and keeping within its mission. Many publications that stray off this course don't end up on shelves and for good reason. I'm not saying your book is one such case. But, if it's a book on Yosemite, I can see where it might be a challenge to get it placed on shelves in Yellowstone. I can see where the managers would have a hard time trying to get that approved. Now, if it's a standard book about the NPS and resource management, then that might be easier.

    I'm not involved with the physical side of stores, and that's not my expertise, nor realm. My realm is and mostly will always be online. With that, I think there are more options to have books like yours available and accessible online. Add in things like store kiosks, and digital downloading, and there is a greater potential for bringing that "library" of information you wish to see available to the masses right at the store level.

    Trust me, I love going to the park archives and doing research, and part of the fun is digging up old out of print books and publications on various subjects related to the NPs. I also have a library of old park related films, many of which haven't aired in decades, but contain interesting tidbits and materials related to that time period. Edward Abbey and Elliott Porter did a great book on the Smokies, and its out of print, but there are a few copies still around out there.. In fact, its perhaps my favorite book on this place, and Abbey's view on the region's tourism economy cracks me up everytime I read it, because it's so spot on. Granted, as time goes on, it become a bit more dated. I'd love to see something like this publication brought back to life and given to the masses again. The GSMA just published a book called "Mountains for the Masses". It's very much a book, you might like, and seek. It's a book based on the political battles and challenges the park has faced during it's brief (yes, brief) history. Granted, it's one of those books that your average tourist wont care to read. Most tourists gravitate to books and souveniers that will be tokens from their vacation. This book is considered an invaluable reference tool for libraries, agencies and citizens with an interest in how their public land is managed and protected and will more than likely remain on the shelves for a few years. These type of books are always available. And like I said, I think the online realm can make the scholarly publications available to the masses at a greater level. I'm sure eventually you will see the "library kiosk" containing books and videos that might not be available in print, but be available digitally. Type in a few words, and books associated with the keywords pop up on the kiosk, and you can browse through the publication, and if you like what you see, you purchase it and have a download link sent to your phone/ipad device. This is a natural evolution of how things will go. And if only 12 copies a year are sold? Who cares, it's just taking up a few megs on a server. Granted there are a lot of books, and films like the Ken Burns NP series that are hard to stock at high volume, because Amazon and other retail outlets will beat the associations in price every time.

    The goal of the associations should be to provide materials that are special and specific to the place that it is protecting. I was in Yellowstone last year, and felt they do an exellent job there.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 13 hours ago

    They really need a better wysiwyg editor added into this site. Put it on the list, Kurt!

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 13 hours ago

    Hey, Gary -- a favor por favor. It is much easier to read a long essay if it's broken into paragraphs with white spaces separating them. You have a lot of good ideas, but my old eyeballs were spinning after about the first twenty lines.

    Now where did I put that Visine?

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 13 hours ago

    Please show me where the Cruz amendment says Parks have to be disposed.

    It doesn't and neither do my posts. Review the posts above and see if you can follow the conversation without resorting to the puerile denigration: "histeria" [sic].

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 14 hours ago

    as stated in the black-and-white legislation itself

    Please show me where the Cruz amendment says Parks have to be disposed. It doesn't. In fact "National Parks" isn't a term that even shows up in the amendment. That in itself is proof that your accusations are pure histeria.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 14 hours ago

    I think Harry's ideas should go beyond the "100 year" anniversary. To me many of his points are simply common sense. I'm in agreement with him when it comes to striking the pen and initiating another National Monument. How many more NM's ran by the forest service and BLM does this country need, especially when there is no real change in how they are managed?

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 14 hours ago

    And under the Cruz amendment there is no law putting the Parks on the chopping block.

    Clearly and obviously untrue, as stated in the black-and-white legislation itself and in the stories to which Lee linked. You have still not shown, after multiple opportunites, a single legal analysis or story that disputes this. Why is that?

  • Spring Is No Season To Be Cooped Up   4 weeks 15 hours ago

    Nice preview. We're weighing some options for April in the Parks.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 15 hours ago

    Harry, Alfred, two really excellent posts, empower employees, let the visitor know they are important, feedback to the Washington Office from the on the ground employees, these, in my own humble opinion are just top flight ideas for the 100 year celebration effort. Harry, I am not sure I agree with not celebrating adding more areas for enhanced protection, it is something important in my view, but I certainly enjoy your posts.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 15 hours ago

    Harry, some excellent and realistic ideas there. I especially like the idea of empowering NPS employees. Many sleeps ago, that really was happening. What happened? When I was still in uniform back in the early 80's, there was an effort to delegate authority to the lowest level possible. Some of my Forest Service friends were astonished a more than a bit jealous that I, as a GS-9 Chief of I&RM could make decisions that they would have had to send to Washington.

    Someone tipped me off that one of the best sources of information needed for good management was to actively seek input from our seasonals -- especially first time seasonals. The idea was that they were looking at our park with fresh eyes and could see shortcomings that those of us who had been there awhile might miss because we'd become accustomed to them. It really worked.

    I think it also boosted their morale and enthusiasm when they saw that even they had a say in how the park was managed.

    Your idea #5 is also spot on. It's rare to read the Morning Report's Legislative Activities page every Monday without seeing another bill presented by some Congresscritter seeking to have another porkbarrel monument or river or whatever designated as a National Something Or Other.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 15 hours ago

    Gary, I happen to like electronic books. A friend of mine who has macular degeneration can still enjoy reading by puffing up the font. His Kindle goes wherever he goes. That said, knowing what to read requires due diligence. He has it, whereas many don't. The books sold by the cooperating associations are not always approved by "experts." And certainly items made in China show little "expertise."

    Years ago, the head of the Yellowstone Association refused to carry my books, pleading not enough shelf space in her stores. Why should she carry a scholarly book selling perhaps a dozen copies a year, when she could carry books selling many times that? That is the market talking, not preservation, and my idea is to get the market back in line. As for your assertion that there are "hundreds" of relevant books on the history of the National Park Service, no, there are barely two dozen that really matter. Among the latest would be Dayton Duncan's magnificent volume from the PBS series he produced with Ken Burns. You want to read that on Kindle? I don't. I love holding it in my hand. But yes, carry the Kindle version--and the DVD set. Just CARRY them is my point.

    Let the visitor know how much YOU think of them. Whether directly or indirectly, guide every visitor to what is good. If society were consistenly about following the herd, society as we know it would not exist. Be a maverick once in a while and stand up for quality, and yes, the Yellowstone Association eventually came around. I have not checked on their stores lately, but the last time I was at Old Faithful, indeed, it looked like a store of which they can be proud.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 15 hours ago

    I agree with you Lee "future" is a word foreign to most Americans -- and certainly to our government. "Future" requires active planning and forethought. It requires vision. It also requires funding.

    If there is one certainty in government today it is the fact that we do not have or will not spend the monies necessary to secure the future survival of our natural and cultural heritage. Make no mistake about this. Slowly but surely we are losing our future through thousands of cuts, poor management and mindless expansion of the National Park System.

    For years National Park Service and other government employees have been told to do more with less. As we all know you cannot do more with less only less. Some activity, program or resources has to be cut. While this may not be visible at first the cumulative impact is devastating.

    Now that I have gotten that out of the way it is time to address Dr. Runte’s challenge. “Using history, I invite you to be creative. As on Apollo 13, you can use only what is already on hand in the Service and Command Modules. Get the astronauts safely home and save the centennial from disaster. No "extra" appropriations; no "PC" seminars; just the materials you already have in both spacecraft"

    Let me make the following suggestions.

    1. Let’s empower our employees. No more top down meetings of NPS management and SES types to decide how to make the most of the 2016 Centennial. I would set up a web site, similar to nationalparkstraveler, and invite our employees to submit ideas, suggestions and give everyone the benefit of their local insights. All wisdom does not come from the top. It comes from those employees who man the visitor desks, give interpretive tours and maintain the parks. We need to listen to employees who actually meet the public to see what the public is saying and what they want.

    2. In regard to park web sites let each park decide what is important to place on their site. One size does not fit all. Large parks with staff can have large and information dense web sites. Smaller parks will have only the basic material needed by park visitors. Let each park decide how to do their own web sites. Many can and will turn to their cooperating associations for help. Others can ask for volunteers. There are legions of Americans who love the National Parks and have the technical skills to create innovative and helpful web sites.

    3. Let’s listen to employees to determine what is the best and more appropriate way to mark the centennial of the National Park Service. One suggestion I would like to make is to see that every employee have a basic library (perhaps six or more books) that will educate everyone about the history and evolution of the National Parks. How this will be paid for is not certain at this time but the cost will be small in comparison to the benefit derived. And, yes I would place Al Runte’s book, The National Parks: The American Experience at the top of the list. (Sorry Al, I hope I am not embarrassing you with my suggestion. For everyone else this is not a solicited announcement)

    4. We have a rich mother lode of information about our parks in both print and electronic format. This information represents the accumulated wealth and experience of generations of National Park Employees. I would like to see nothing better for 2016 than to make this heritage of information easily available to all. Much of it can be found now on the web but no one knows when to look or what to look for.

    5. We need to stop the mindless cheering every time the President declares another area a National Monument. I am not saying that we should not expand the system but we need to do so carefully with severe planning and thought before we act. We need to take care of what we have first and then look beyond park boundaries.

    6. Finally, I would set up an employee email account that would go directly to the Director of the National Park Service where anyone can write in with his or her concerns, suggestions or just blow off some steam. I do not expect the Director to respond to every email but I would hope that Mr. Jarvis and his staff at least look at it from time to time and yes an individual response from the Director would be wonderful for morale. Just imagine how a new employee would feel getting an email message from the Director.

    These are my ideas for all to consider. I am sure many of you will have equally valuable suggestions and I am looking forward to seeing them.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 16 hours ago

    Calm is good Steve. Welcome back.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 16 hours ago

    I haven't posted in a while. Getting back to the original subject of the article, I like the redesign. I especially like the idea of a "safety" link, which I suggested a couple of years ago here. (I won't accuse anyone at the Park Service of theft, though.) ;=)

    Good evening Kurt. This is a calm email.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 17 hours ago

    Rick, this is an excellent point. In LE and Fire yearly refresher training, this is emphasized. At the management level, no one person can be an expert in all phases of the operations, it is important to have experienced supervisors, subject matter experts, etc and pay attention to what they have to contribute. Of course it works both ways. It always pays to refer to the laws and policies, often times the political interference negates that, but I agree with you, it is important tp know what the rules are.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 17 hours ago

    Dr Runte--I know that what I am going to suggest will sound ridiculous to some Traveler readers, but one way we could improve the strewardship of our National Park System is to require that every superintendent and every division chief read and be thouroughly familiar with the latest edition of the NPS Management Pollcies. Over the last several years as I have read the posts on NPT, I have noticed that many of the most bitterly contested isssues revolve around items for which guidance is avaiailable in the Policies. During the time, following my retirement, when I was asked to speak to training sessions, I was surprised at how many people in positions of some authority had no idea what the policies said, required or permitted.

    When the choir is singing from the same page of music, there is harmony. Some may not like the song--a fair number in Congress don't seem to--but at least it is music.


  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 18 hours ago

    I would prefer Obama go on as many vacations as possible. Take Jarvis with him.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 18 hours ago

    Call it blashpheme, but I'm already burned out over the centennial and the constant calls by sites and social media types demanding that the NPS performs "broad scope changes" for this anniversary. It's just another year in the timeline. Maybe, it's just from being part of the MTV generation... but, to me there are much more important things than a shiny round number that has a short shelf life before it fades away. So just give me the "f".

    And Alfred, what is stopping you from buying or accessing any of the books online? You do realize you can access a host of books by simply browsing many of the store websites? You don't even have to be in the park to do it. You want books on history? Got it. Books on geology? Got it. Books on biology? Got it. Books on hiking? Got it. Many of them written by experts in their respected fields. It's amazing how this internet contraption works and can provide opportunity for all walks of life. I must say to stock ALLL of those books that you can access on a store website, would require a large VC store with a lot of shelf space. In fact, I think we have around 300 different approved books in stock just on the Great Smoky Mountains. And the VCs are filled with many of those books too. Back to the point - the best part about the internet is you can access all of the ones in stock from the website, and get them sent to your home from a warehouse that sits outside of the park. Through all the "progress" that has occurred over the years, we are moving forward, once again - if you want to "think" green, and the publisher has provided it, you can purchase a digital copy of the publication and have it downloaded to your iphone instead. Imagine the shelf space required to stock 300 different books and publications? Don't have to have trees blown to smitherines to process a book. Now, you can just download it and read it on your device Heck, in theory one could store all of the books available at a typical VC on an older generation 8 gb ipod. And get this - all the books have met review processes from real tried and true park service staff with credentials. How do I know you can buy a lot of different books on our NPs? Because that aspect is a part of my job, and yes, if you want, you can skip the toy section. Did they have such diversity and variety a century ago when you were a wee lad? Not a chance. Good luck.

  • New Look Starting To Appear On National Park Websites   4 weeks 20 hours ago

    Gary, if you join the athletic department, I can give you an A. Either that or the football coach will break my legs. Seriously, he's the highest paid public official in the state (and most states). You certainly don't want to mess with THE MARKET. You know what your burnout is? Always being asked to serve THE MARKET. Accordingly, I took the price tag out of this assignment, but I do understand what you mean.

  • Campground Opening Schedule At Cape Hatteras National Seashore Announced   4 weeks 20 hours ago

    Why is it that the once highly popular Cape Point campground opens a month later then the later then rest of the seashores campgrounds?

  • Yosemite National Park Adopting Sliding Entrance Fee Schedule, Higher Campground Fees   4 weeks 21 hours ago

    Was there no mention about how the NPS needs these fees to subsidize YARTS?