Recent comments

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I realize there's always more to an issue than meets the eye, but it sounds like there's room for improvement on the Mount Rainier access question. Hopefully the park staff will take another look at the balance between safety, liability and costs vs. visitor access.

    As far as a double standard for employees (park, concessioner and others) living in a park, no doubt that exists at times, as it does anyplace you have similar isolated communities or "company towns." Ideally, that wouldn't be the case, but I didn't see major abuses during my years of living in several parks.

    The "Oscars" of the world, as described in the original story, are a different set of challenges, but it comes down to the same aspect of human nature. One area where I worked had a large campground, and one family came every year on the same weekend in the fall. The patriarch of the bunch was unhappy if they didn't get site #42 - even if #41 or #43 were vacant, and looked pretty much the same. His position was "we always camp in this spot."

    People are always, if nothing else, interesting!

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Jim has an excellent point. Private inholdings in national parks are potential time bombs that can impact the resources, visitors and integrity of an affected park unit. The current economic crisis will likely make the owners of such inholdings more willing to sell either outright or to accept payment for limits on the uses of such lands. I can think of dozens of inholdings in the midst of sensitive wildlife habitat that would be candidates for a special purchase/easement program.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Assuming that you're referring to the rule bringing national parks in line with state concealed carry laws:

    a) A common sense rule that ends the prohibition on law-abiding citizens being prepared to defend themselves in wilderness areas where self-reliance is a necessity, and simply brings the national parks into compliance with the Bill of Rights and local law and practice, would only be called "stupid" by someone with a lot of ignorance and/or bias on the subject.

    b) Federal lands managed by BLM and the Forest Service generally comply completely with state firearms laws, including open carry where that is not otherwise prohibited by state or local law. It's commonly practiced and doesn't cause any problems as far as I have observed. The new Interior Department guidelines are still, illogically and unnecessarily, more restrictive than other federal lands in that they only allow concealed carry by state permit holders and therefore, no, I'm not satisfied.

    What part of "shall not be infringed" do you still find confusing?

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Taggert--

    Are you satisfied with the stupid new rule that Department of the Interior cubicle-dwelling burearcrats thought was a good idea?

    Rick Smith

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Jim wrote: "...it's only human nature for some people who live near a park and use it on a regular basis to
    develop a sense of 'ownership' of the area." Rangertoo replied concerning some NPS staffers: "Someday,
    someone ...is going to call attention to this kind of double standard...".

    Here just outside Mount Rainier NP, outraged locals had to listen to buddies of the rangers bragging of their
    40-50 ski days at Paradise during the bogus six-month closure in 2006-07 while the public (except for
    concession clients) was excluded. The newly completed VC construction project hardly missed a beat during
    this period. This week they have used relatively minor road damage from the recent storms as an excuse to
    again bar the public from Paradise on weekdays.

    Park media propaganda first claimed this was because of "avalanche hazard" at the damage site on Glacier
    Hill. The road closes nightly and does not reopen at all on days when the Northwest Avalanche Center
    forecast is "Extreme" and on many, if not most, days when the hazard forecast is "High". Literally millions
    of vehicles have passed this point in the past several decades and the number of incidents involving the
    public can be counted on one hand with fingers left over. You and I have hundreds of times higher statistical
    chance of being hit by an NPS vehicle than an avalanche on this road.

    Now they are claiming they can't afford to post flaggers for the light weekday traffic and even refuse to allow access to the trailheads below the damage. I can see the need for traffic control on busy weekends and holidays. It seems to me timed traffic lights on utility trailers (used on the Stevens Canyon road repair last summer) would serve just as well. The damage has left a one-lane section about a hundred feet long with good sightlines for half a mile in both directions. A simple sign on a barricade: "One-lane Section--Yield to Downhill Traffic" would provide adequate safety. Scroll down to the seventh archived article for photos at: http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/adventure/?cat=731

    Much of the reason weekday traffic is so light (and weekend visitation is declining) is that for many years
    the gate at Longmire has opened at eleven or even after noon with just a few inches of new snow. People have
    learned not to waste their precious time and money playing 'waitgate'. I hope Rangertoo is correct and "someday... the floodgates will open." Probably a flood of taxpayer protest will be needed for the Paradise gate to open as well. It appears Park management here can't be bothered with something so mundane as allowing the pesky public access to their Park. Talk about proprietary interest getting out of hand!

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I cannot fathom why someone would be interested in parks and have no clue about climate change. Smartin271 mentions that the photos have differences, yes they do, how nice to notice. But seeing the differences and saying it is climate change is deemed to be reactionary. What do you people think all that carbon is doing? When your septic tank overflows, do you say, oh it has plenty of room, don't be reactionary? Why fight this? What will it hurt to be more gentle on the planet?

    Follow the money? Yes, the people who don't want to spend more to be cleaner, follow the oil companies money.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Re: the above comment:

    Why is it an issue? Follow the money...lots of people's income depends on perpetuating the myth.

    My observation is Gerald has hit upon the root cause for the current debate in this country and around the world about (1) whether climate change is occurring and (2) are human activities part of the reason for the change: "follow the money."

    However, I'd offer the flip side of Gerald's take on the money issue: lots of people's income (and lifestyles) depend on denying that climate change is an issue, or that human activities may be a factor.

    Much has been written and spoken about the financial cost of steps to curb greenhouse gases and other byproducts of "modern civilization."

    Here's just one of many examples: It's a lot cheaper to continue to build coal-fired power plants with as few pollution controls as you can get away with than it is to find ways to produce that electricity in a way that has much less impact on the environment.

    It's also a lot easier to justify building those plants if you deny that those pollutants aren't a problem for the environment.

    Gerald sums up the issue:

    We'll all save tons of money if this hysteria dies...

    Wonder what we'll do with all that money we'll save? Maybe we can buy enough Hummers to save Detroit.

  • Deadly Threats You Never Heard of Lurk in Our National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Thank you very much for the information relating to the wolf / moose study up in Isle Royale NP. I will be sure to pass this along to who is going (unfortunately, since my first response was posted I've learned there will be surgery (minor) for me this spring).

    The Sierra Club itself would be appreciative of any info such as the original post topic, one would think, and am sure another member or 100 have also read our discussion.

    Thanks very much, again.

    Thomas L Price

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    1. Buy Land.

    2. Buy Land.

    3. Buy Land.

    Right now the most important thing the NPS can do is to acquire all potentially threatening inholdings within existing national parklands. And, if there are critical lands, lands that SHOULD be added to park boundaries, they should be authorized and acquired as well. There are huge dangers if you wait too long. First, if you wait for a crisis, the best you can do in such circumstances is pay exhorbitant prices, but it is more likely you will have to accept some compromise to resource protection or lose the resource entirely. Second, during economic downturns, people are more likely to implement cheap development plans, with minimal environmental protection. Third, land will be cheaper now during a downturn than it will cost as the economy improves.

    Compared to building, and then having to maintain new buildings, land is a relatively cheap form of protection in most parks and most situations. Generally, acquiring inholdings don't require many or any new staff, and maintenance generally is insignificant.

    As part of this, a great effort should be made to RETURN LAND APPRAISERS TO THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE. Appraisers were moved into the Department of the Interior by the Bush Administration, and that has the potential of really compromising the NPS' ability to move quickly when land is threatened, or respond quickly to Congress. Also, the land program had big staff cuts a few years ago; good people should be hired and trained to replace these loses.

    Yes there are many other important things that need to be done, and best of all, CAN BE DONE NOW. But protecting resources by buying land is at the top.

    As they say, they aren't making any more of it (other than a few places in Hawaii and Iceland). And, other than historic structures: THE LAND IS THE RESOURCE. It is the highest form of resource protection.

    NPCA, and CNPSR made an effort a year or so ago to highlight this need. How come it appears on few if any lists??

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    What about preferential treatment for employees? I have been in many parks where the employees break rules for which they give the public tickets. Drive through the housing area at a place like Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, for example. You will see employees walking their dogs off leash (or on leashes longer than the 6 foot regulation) gardens and landscaping around the houses full of non-native plants (that would get you arrested if you tried to plant them elsewhere in the park) and more. Someday, someone who gets a ticket from a ranger is going to call attention to this kind of double standard and the flood gates will open.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Some people see stupid rules and break them. Some people see stupid rules, and stupidly follow them. The first group is the group responsible for the Declaration of Independence and the spread of democracy. The second group is responsible for the Holocaust, apartheid, "burn days," and that idiot who insists on driving the speed limit in the left lane while normal people trying to keep up with the flow of traffic are trying to pass. It's not surprising that a career government employee would associate with the second group.

    Personally, given the choice between being prepared to defend the lives of myself and my family, or following a stupid rule that some cubicle-dwelling bureaucrat thought was a good idea and potentially paying a fatal price for it, I think the choice is pretty simple.

  • National Park Icons: Yellowstone’s Roosevelt Arch   5 years 32 weeks ago

    All I would say to that Jim is that you have to remember the kind of people who were coming to the park back then. These weren't blue collar folk who could see the beauty of an arid high mountain desert so to speak. These were upper class rich folk who needed glitz and comfort for their vacations. All you have to do is look at the glamour of places like Old Faithful Inn and Mammoth to see the over the top attempts to lure those people to the park for more than a single visit. Yellowstone to these people was a curiosity, nothing more. I doubt these people truly appreciated nature as we think of it today, but rather used Yellowstone as a bragging right at their society functions back home. Look at the way they fed bears and went to the dumps to watch the show. It was as if Yellowstone was nothing more than a zoo. Granted, Yellowstone today is still a curiosity, but I think folks look at this park differently in todays culture than the folks back then. A trip to Yellowstone today involves plate techtonics, lava domes, chemical properties in thermals and mudpots, wildlife migratory issues, and of course snowmobiles. Obviously not everyone thinks about these issues today when they visit, but I'd be willing to bet a large amount of visitors are there for that reason. This is my long winded way of saying there was a need to impress those coming to Gardiner. Roosevelt Arch is just as over the top as Mammoth lodge and Old Faithful Inn. In order to attract the kind of person who could afford a trip to Yellowstone back then, it was neccessary to dress the town up and keep them coming. At least that's my take on it.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Climate change? What direction? Could begin to cool next hour, tomorrow, next year...as it has for millenia. We have very little to do with it. Many factors involved here. Our global climate is extremely complex.
    Why is it an issue? Follow the money...lots of people's income depends on perpetuating the myth...not the least of which, Al Gore. We'll all save tons of money if this hysteria dies and is given a good funeral.

  • Sen. Salazar Sails Through Confirmation Hearing   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Did he wear his cowboy hat?

    Rick Smith

  • National Park Icons: Yellowstone’s Roosevelt Arch   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I personally love to imagine how the people felt coming into a place in the time before our current entrances to National Parks. I still get excited when I approach the booth to show my Parks Pass. and enter. The booth always marks most entrances for us now. But then, having a grand entrance instead of not knowing the exact boundary may have lost the excitement I always get when I go to any Park. So I imagine it was special and for that reason it is to me also. A side note.... The first time we brought our kids they saw my excitement level rise after we drove into the south entrance of yellowstone and after a short amount of time they wondered when we would get to the playground( when we said we were going to the park back home it usually included swings and a slide)... since then, we still laugh at that story.My point is your expectations are always grand when you go through such a portal.

  • National Park Icons: Yellowstone’s Roosevelt Arch   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I know that the look of places change over time, but I am having a hard time understanding how the land around the North Entrance could possibly have made a bad impression as is. It is one of the most beautiful landscape spots in the park; a wild looking country with large mountains all around (dominated by 11,000 foot Electric Peak). The Yellowstone River cuts majestically through Gardiner with high cliffs on one of the sides. Looking to the south, you'd see such bizarre landscapes like the Devil's Slide. It is true that the area is fairly arid and in late summer would have looked yellow / brown, but it's not particularly less attractive as a result. When you approach Gardiner, it's immediately evident that you are some place special. After passing through the Paradise Valley, Tom Miner Basin, and Yankee Jim Canyon on the last leg of the journey by train, I have trouble imagining that an arch was needed to beautify the environment. That may have been the reasoning, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

    The Roosevelt Arch is very interesting to see and has a kind of forbidding quality, but if it weren't there, and you didn't know it had been there, I can't imagine people would think that something like it needed to be there.

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

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Could we, at the very least, use some photographic evidence that compares apples to apples? The pics used have obvious differences. Jumping the gun based on what's been provided doesn't do much to demonstrate the intelligence of the reactionaries.

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    If stupid was a crime, we've had even more of the parks and wilderness to ourselves...If you have never read "Deaths in Yellowstone," try and pick it up (I understand it's a big seller at the park itself. I always thought the true title should be "Stupid Deaths in Yellowstone." P.S. Your codes are nearly impossible for us old people to figure out...how about giving us a break and make them stop looking like tea leaves?

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Wilderness is the ultimate gift one generation can give to another. It is much more than just impressive scenery and wild animals. It is literally a working model of what the world was like before modern human civilization substantially altered or destroyed natural systems. Those rare, intact examples of wilderness are living laboratories that can help us understand our own place in nature and give us a foundation to rebuild shattered natural habitat. I would venture to guess that areas under consideration for wilderness designation are places you have never visited and likely never would. There are ample lands open to multiple use, including off-road vehicle access. Why not save what little wilderness is left as a legacy for those who will come after us? I am no longer physically able to access the remote wilderness areas that once enriched my life, but my pleasure comes from knowing that they still exist. Borrowing a title of a book by Bill Brown, they are literally Islands of Hope.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Those pictures are dramatic. Aside from the ice to water aspect, note the added vegetation along the mountainside.

    Pictures like this alone indicate that the climate has been changing for several decades. Sure climate has always gone through cyclic variations, but it’s the rate of recent changes which have experts worried. I can remember as a kid hearing scientists warn about the earth warming as far back as 1984 - - when they called it the "Greenhouse Effect". The spin-doctors have come up with the term "climate change" as not to assign blame. In my opinion, "Greenhouse Effect" is probably more accurate.

    Some people like to suggest that it is somehow arrogant to think that humans can affect climate. However, we all know that we can easily affect climate regionally and the environment globally. Acid rain, urban heat islands, light pollution, DDT contamination, etc. are all examples of how humans can have a huge impact on the environment. Take into consideration modern warfare and the potential of a "nuclear winter", it is obvious that we have the ability to make changes our environment and climate on a world-wide level.

    That being said, at this time no one can prove or disprove human involvement unless climate change reverses or gets dramatically worse. In the case of the latter, if it does get worse and somehow proven it is due to human activity, it will be too late to do anything about it. Therefore have no choice but to act now.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I dunno Rick, maybe it's sort of like sitting down at a segregated lunch counter in 1959 while completely covered in black skin. There are laws just waiting to be broken. Why I even know some people who have smoked pot in the backcountry of several national parks.

    Civil disobedience has a long and storied history in this country.

    Compute?

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Yep, you get to decide which are stupid rules and then break them. How does that compute?

    Rick Smith

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 32 weeks ago

    James Watts, DOI secretary under Reagan put the regulation that guns had to be dissambled and not available .

    Yeah, James Watt, a well known liberal, under the authority and guidance of President Ronald Reagan, put in place new restrictions on your ability to lawfully carry firearms.

    Do you really need supporting materials to understand how that simply could not be true?

    In case you do, here is some history gleaned from a variety of sources:

    Prior to this latest change, the National Park Service (NPS) last promulgated a regulation on weapons on June
    30, 1983 as part of a thorough revision of NPS rules. In general, the regulation prohibits the possession of weapons in parks but provides several significant exceptions. One of the most significant exceptions allows the possession of weapons in vehicles or in temporary lodging if the weapon is temporarily inoperable or is packed, cased or stored. Thus the NPS rule does not impose a general ban on the possession of weapons or firearms.

    Prior to the 1983 regulations, the NPS last adopted system-wide regulations in 1966. The regulations of 1966 contained a provision on the possession of weapons at 36 CFR section 2.11. Under the 1966 regulations, the NPS prohibited the possession of firearms, traps, nets, and weapons in “natural and historical areas” of the national park system. “In recreational areas the above referenced items may be used or possessed in accordance with applicable Federal, State or local law.” 47 FR 11602

    The 1966 regulation states:
    2.11. Firearms, traps, and other weapons.
    (a) In natural and historical areas and national parkways the use
    of…firearms…is prohibited. The possession of such objects or
    implements is prohibited unless they are unload (sic) and adequately cased,
    or broken down or otherwise packed in such a way as to prevent their use
    while in the park areas….
    (b) In recreational areas (except national parkways) the use or
    possession of all firearms shall conform with all applicable Federal, State
    and local laws…The possession of loaded firearms…in developed,
    populated, or concentrated use areas is prohibited.

    NPS 1966 regulations prohibited the possession of weapons and firearms. The 1983 regulations liberalized the conditions for the possession of firearms by establishing exceptions that did not exist in 1966. On the other hand, the 1983 regulations tightened the condition for the possession of firearms by eliminating the different standard for recreational areas. But, in the final analysis, the 1966 regulations used very similar language as the current rule at 36 CFR 2.4(a)(3), in that firearms may be possessed in parks as long as such firearms are unloaded, cased, broken down or packed away.

    The NPS regulations were revised in 1941 too:

    2.11 Firearms, etc.
    (a) Firearms…are prohibited within the parks and monuments, except
    upon written permission of the superintendent. Visitors entering or
    traveling through the parks and monuments to places beyond shall, at
    entrance, report, and, if required to do so, surrender all such objects in
    their possession to the first park or monument officer, and, in proper cases,
    may obtain his written permission to carry them through the park or
    monument sealed. Failure to obtain such written permission shall be
    deemed a violation of this section.

    The 1941 NPS regulation was more restrictive on firearms than any of the successive rules. But one thing the 1941 regulation shares in common with the rules of 1966 and 1983 is that guns may still be possessed in parks but ONLY if sealed, i.e. rendered temporarily unusable. Unlike the successive regulations, the 1941 rules required an NPS issued written permit to possess the sealed firearm while in the park or monument. Note that the 1941 regulation defines “parks” and “monuments” to include national military parks, national battlefield parks, national historical parks, national parkways, Boulder Dam recreation area national historic sites, and battlefield sites and miscellaneous memorials. 36 CFR 2.1 (1941)

    Prior to the 1941 revisions, on June 18, 1936, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes promulgated the first set of
    general NPS regulations ever adopted under the Organic Act of 1916 (16 U.S.C. 3). The first NPS regulations say this about firearms:
    8. Firearms, etc. - Firearms…are prohibited within the parks and
    monuments, except upon written permission of the superintendent or
    custodian. Visitors entering or traveling through the parks and
    monuments to places beyond shall, at entrance, report, and, if required to
    do so, surrender all such objects in their possession to the first park or
    monument officer, and, in proper cases, may obtain his written permission
    to carry them through the park or monument sealed. Failure to obtain
    such written permission shall be deemed a violation of this regulation.

    The 1936 regulations permitted possession of a firearm in a park upon the issuance of a NPS permit, and then only if the firearm were “sealed.”

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    By the same token Hitler's autobahns are still standing and have provided solid service to the German motoring public for decades and decades and decades. Ain't national socialism great?

    Awesome non sequitur!!!

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Why On Earth Would Anybody Want to Do That?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    People are creeps. That's why.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com