Recent comments

  • New Solar Power System Puts This Park in the Forefront of Alternative Energy Use   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I visited the solar field yesterday. All the panels face due east and are tipped to maximize summer sun. When I use a solar panel, I make sure it points due south and maximize it for winter sun. Anyone know what the thoughts were behind this set-up? I hope it wasn't an expensive mistake!!

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Bottomline is, upgrades should be done in moderation. They are supposed to make the historical sites more comfortable for people, and not to alter it's general look. I'm all for the ACs and restrooms, but not so much interest for the supposedly new "parlor" and concessions. I guess it'll destroy the historical feel of the place. It may attract a larger number of people thus creating a crowded atmosphere. Nevertheless, thanks for the great article Jim.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Sabattis: de-authorization is not the same as destruction! The country has many world-class structures that are not managed and maintained by the federal government: the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, and St Patrick's Cathedral to name a few. The Arch is magnificent architecture - but there is no reason to have the NPS manage it. The Park (Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) has more staff and a bigger budget than such parks as Redwood, Acadia, Zion, and North Cascades. Does that make sense? 150 FTE positions for 91 acres in the middle of a city? The NPS would save money just paying the St. Louis Police to do law enforcement at the place. .

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Mr. Danforth said the St. Louis waterfront needs " a major museum or other world-class attraction designed by an internationally acclaimed architect."
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Arch fulfill that criteria?

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Whenever the Gateway Arch is mentioned on Traveler, I'm always disheartened when comments come out advocating its delisting. To me, the Gateway Arch is one of America's most-precious landmarks and is one of the crown jewels of the National Park System, along with the National Mall, the Statue of Liberty, and Mt. Rushmore. The Arch is simply a beautiful triumph of human achievement, and my heart always soars on cross-country trips when I first see that arch soaring above the St. Louis skyline.

    With that being said, I think there is a need for additional visitor services in the overall Park. There's definitely a need for additional food/drink options in the area, and I could definitely see a role for additional museum space, a performing arts venue (perhaps outdoor?), or other visitor services. Hopefully there would be a way to expand the offering of what's available here without unduly impacting the Park's role as a Park, or the overall majesty of the views of the Arch from around the area.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    The Arch is beautiful. I grew up near it. I've gone back to it since I've left. I walk in the open spaces beneath it. It is a monument, not an amusement park. It is a feat of engineering. It is a marvel. The grounds are open and beautiful, and invite peace and enjoyment.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 33 weeks ago

    We've come full circle. :) What the administration does with this proposed rule will tell a lot about what groups it listens to the most. If I had to bet, I'd guess that the rule will be a bit more restrictive to cater to the liberal side of the party (Sierra Club, etc.) while still leaving some elements intacts to please the others.

  • Great Basin National Park: It's More Than Simply A Cave   5 years 33 weeks ago

    This park has a really nice variety of things to see and do - it's worth the drive to get there!

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I think that's correct. Schneider's point is a narrow one: the freeze itself isn't going to block the regulation, but the fact that a new administration will be evaluating the comments and writing the final rule, if there is to be one, could stop any change in NPS policy on mountain bike access.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 33 weeks ago

    As I understand things, while the bike rule is not directly affected by the freeze placed on new rules and regs, the NPS isn't obligated to place it into effect once the comment period runs its course, so it could wind up facing the same outcome as rules that are directly affected by the freeze and which the new administration finds serve no good purpose.

    And let's not forget, administrations don't always pay much attention to what the public does, or doesn't, want. Remember the Yellowstone snowmobile saga? During its public comment period(s), public comment overwhelmingly favored a phase-out of the machines, and yet the Bush administration turned a deaf ear.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Well, to be accurate, the guns rule wasn't in the freeze mix anyway, as it already had been placed into effect before President Obama was sworn in. That said, it's still the subject of two lawsuits.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Just in: Bill Schneider reports in New West that neither the guns-in-parks rule or the mountain bikes-in-parks rule is being affected by the freeze on implementing the previous administration's regulations:

    http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/national_park_gun_and_mountain_bike_rules_unaffected_by_freeze/C41/L41/

    Schneider, by the way, is an astute commentator on controversial issues like these and one of the few truly neutral voices of reason out there. Reading his various reports and discussions on the New West website will prove valuable.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Just in: Bill Schneider reports in New West that neither the guns-in-parks rule or the mountain bikes-in-parks rule is being affected by the freeze on implementing the previous administration's regulations:

    http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/national_park_gun_and_mountain_bike_rules_unaffected_by_freeze/C41/L41/

    Schneider, by the way, is an astute commentator on controversial issues like these and one of the few truly neutral voices of reason out there. Reading his various reports and discussions on the New West website will prove valuable.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    If the landscaping needs shoring up, then do so. But no business establishments on the park grounds. Should be the same for all these smallish urban sites. Develop outside the park. I'm sure there's plenty of run-down areas ready for that. Of course, that means they'd have to buy the land from the owners, instead of using eminent domain or something to take it from the NPS.

    Someone refresh my memory, it's been so long since I've been there. Isn't there a historic district nearby?

    ==========================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • It's Not Too Early To Start Planning This Summer's National Park Vacation   5 years 33 weeks ago

    If memory serves me right, both the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone and the Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia opened in 1999. Can't think of any more recent abodes.

  • Change.gov and the National Park System Under the Obama Administration   5 years 33 weeks ago

    There are actually quite a few "model farms" in the National Park System, in addition to Cuyahoga Valley, there are also farms at Grant-Kohrs Ranch, Lincoln Boyhood, the LBJ Ranch, Piscataway Park, Oxon Cove Park, and the Claude Moore Colonial Farm on the GW Parkway.

  • It's Not Too Early To Start Planning This Summer's National Park Vacation   5 years 33 weeks ago

    It seems like a real shame that so many National Park lodging options are either very expensive, or else so hard to come by that you must book them 7-8 or more months in advance. To me, this suggests that there really aren't enough National Park Lodges available. Does anyone know when the last National Park Lodge was built? Are there any plans in the works for additional lodges?

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Uses the "S" Word On Second Day at the Office   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Science is not about goals, its about cause & effect. I'm a scientist: with adequate data, on a good day I can estimate the probabilities of different outcomes for a given management alternative. I can make inferences about times or places I haven't observed, or about causal mechanisms. But, I don't set values for those possible outcomes, and I don't dictate goals or management actions.

    The goals or values for NPS are in law: the 1916 organic act has the famous statement about preserving resources "unimpared for the enjoyment of future generations". {http://www.nps.gov/legacy/organic-act.htm} Beyond that, each NPS unit has a foundation statement that explicitly states the values and purposes of that unit from its authorizing legislation, and the 1988 Redwood National Park Act requires NPS units to be managed to preserve those values, notwithstanding statements in the authorizing legislation allowing hunting, etc.. [So, snowmobiles and jetskis and mountain bikes and low-level overflights are pretty clearly ok in most national recreation areas; not so much in units with wildlife, wilderness, serenity, etc. emphasized in their foundation statements, with a pretty continuous gradation in between.]

    The 1998 NP Omnibus management act states "The Secretary shall … assure the full and proper utilization of the results of scientific studies for park management decisions" and calls for "condition-based management". It even requires that the trend in the condition of resources be a significant factor in the annual performance evaluation of each superintendent.

    Those parts of the 1998 act haven't been particularly followed the past years: in part due to insufficient data or insufficient science to extract information from the available data; in some cases due to political decisions trumping solid data and science.

    From the inside, it appears that Salazar means what he says about science, but the key part of the quote above is public interest instead of special interest.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: It Shames the Andes and Alps   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Another concern to the 4 legged residences of Rocky Mountain is the Mag-Chloride which is used to melt ice and snow from the paved roads in and around the park. I have written about this to you and others before. Their is a study going on at Colorado State in Fort Collins about the harmful effects of this chemical.
    Great story about Rocky Mountain National Park,Andes and Alps

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I repeat what I wrote here before on the issue: The arch, the river and the open space belong together. Only the ensemble makes the memorial.

    And as someone who never was at St. Louis - and probably won't come there anytime soon - I still can read maps and areal imagery. The problem of St. Louis' waterfront is not the open space below the arch, the problem of the city are US 40 and particularly I 70. Get rid of them, force all through traffic on I 270 and I 255 and rebuild the interstates to normal inner city roads. This way you could reanimate the waterfront north of Martin Luther King Bridge and go north from there over the next two decades.

    How much of the railroad knot between Martin Luther Kind Bridge and Salisbury St. and beyond is necessary and how much of it could be removed to somewhere else? Could the waterfront be developed up to Salisbury St within 20 years?

    Again, not the open space of the memorial is the problem. The real problem are the highways in the inner city. They act as barriers and create huge no-mans-lands, no one likes to visit or even stroll around, go shopping and have a coffee at. The old town is gone, the new waterfront does not have to be exactly at the old site. It could very well be created north of the old part.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Reminds me of an interesting anecdote. One evening after work, I was riding in a local park with some mountain biking buddies. On our way down, we met a solo rider, and proceeded to chit chat as one of us had seen a mountain lion earlier. The solo guy proceeded to reply that he was okay since he was packing a gun on his ride! The interesting part was that he was not wearing a helmet. Interesting how one could be worrying about the 1 in a million odd of having to deal with a mountain lion yet was not protecting his noggin for the much more likely event of falling off the bike. Go figure...

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I thought I knew better from my days living in Utah, but when I read the comment regarding how there's never been more forested land in the continental US that currently stands (no pun intended) I thought it would be worth the update to all parties concerned about just how much "greening" has been taking place of late. First off, with the rate of urban sprawl during the second half of the 20th C I found it difficult to believe anyone could make a statement purporting increased vegitation in our forests, but be that as it may, the following link would like to propose a slightly different view of our "great National forests".......

    www.comcast.net/articles/news-science/20090126/SCI.Dying.Forests/

    Now for what it's worth, there are a multitude of possibilities not discussed within the context of this article that both explain the loss of hardwood and have no tie, directly or indirectly to the climate and are mostly centered around a those exotic species of both parasitic organisms and diseases for which there are no current treatments. But to say the climate isn't at least partially involved would border on the naive. This from someone who isn't convinced that the sky is falling to begin with, but who understands that saving myself some money through a few lifestyle changes that also allow for the betterment of the planet can't be a bad thing for anyone, except the utility companies who I sincerely hope go the way of the dinosaur by the end of this year.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I grew up in St. Louis as well. I always enjoy walking the grounds of the Arch, sitting on the steps and watching the river traffic. I have visited the museum below the Arch several times. The city, however, does need economic rebirth. The riverfront area is not what it could be and there needs to be a way to connect the heart of downtown with the riverfront over the highway corridor. The city and the park service should be able to find a solution that is a win- win for both. You shouldn't have to take away from the park to rebuild the downtown area .. integrate it in the plan. Build up both.

  • Planning to Visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore? Leave Your Gun At Home   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I have never needed a firearm in any of our parks ever. Why are we packing guns? I have plenty of them, but have no need to travel with one in possession.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I was still growing up when the Arch was growing up! The arch & park should remain the same,with only repairs & upkeep.I live two hours from St. Louis & go there frequently. As soon as I see the arch I still get excited. We go around the curve & there she is! She serves her purpose. She is the Gateway of the West. You look down from her or anywhere in the park & see the mighty Mississippi. That view should NEVER be obstructed by someone wanting to make more MONEY! When the river is high, you get a sense of what our ancestors faced as they were making there way west. Improvements could be made in the area below the arch. That seems to never change. That museum thing? Leave the green grass, what is the matter with you people, can you only see one color of green!? This city has museums, art galleries, ancient neighborhoods, Forest Park, some of the best medical facilities in the world. If they MUST build something new, let them go to the burbs & take their businesses there. Every suburb needs more money, right? How would you people like that!? Across the street FROM your house, there is a new museum going up, oh, they have to take part of your yard & driveway to make the new parking lot. But.....everything needs an improvement! Have you been to the other Nat'l Parks? How about knocking down the Grand Canyon into the Colorado River to build a new town! Think about what makes this country beautiful. Lord knows the Government can't figure it out!