Recent comments

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Well put RoadRanger and spot on as my British friends would say. The reorganization of 1995 was a joke in poor taste and completely ineffective. Just witness the fact that we have morphed back to essentially the same kind of organization that existed before 1995 just one with three fewer regional offices (in theory at least). As an agency we tried to reorganize without ever re-engineering the work and oh my, guess what, it was a failure. Roger Kennedy decried our militaristic command style of leadership so he crippled us with decisions by committees. The old guard has all retired and as an agency we did little to nothing to prepare future leaders based on merit. It comes as no surprise that the survey highlights the lack of effective leadership.

    Our senior "leadership" is dismal. Never in a 30+ year career has there been such shallow field experience at both WASO and in most of the regional offices. Regions have reverted back to the bloated entities that they once were and yes, jobs still get created out of thin air for the spouses of regional office employees. In the Intermountain Region only one of the senior leaders has any kind of recent field experience and many of them fail to even get out to at least one park a year. Is it any wonder these people lack credibility among park staffs?

    We have become an agency seemingly obsessed with process over progress, tethering our field employees to their computers in order to feed meaningless databases that force you to report the same information across several different platforms. Rather than expend the time and energy at central offices to extract the information that is already available in one system or another it's just easier to have the parks report on it again in some slightly modified form. The time wasted is incredible - especially since we fail to make the IT investments necessary to provide the field with the necessary bandwidth to feed these resource greedy computer applications - sure, they work well in central offices but please remember that in remote park areas the information highway often turns into a badly-rutted dirt road. We have nearly destroyed our contracting capabilities and are well on the way to doing the same with personnel. At times it seems as if we are consciously trying to make our administrative functions as ineffective as possible and as far removed from the parks as we can possibly get them.

    So why do some of us old dogs still hang on? Because at the end of the day for us it's still about protecting park resources and serving park visitors. The mission of the agency hasn't changed and it's still an incredibly important mission. I wouldn't trade my career in the NPS for anything but I do long for the days of effective leaders that came up through the ranks and who actually did understand park operations. I long to have a Director like Geroge Hartzog again - someone who could and did walk the halls of Congress and be recognized and welcomed. Perhaps it's all just wishful thinking or wistful reminiscing - but please, give us our agency back.

  • Have You Seen the National Park Service's Redesigned Web Portal Yet?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Neat and very well done for all park visitors. While I'm not a fan of flash-sites (limited access for search engines and so on), the large slide show on the front page looks great. I miss a drop down list with direct access to the parks, though. That one would be nice even if it's usually not the method of choice for almost 400 parks.

    And it is wonderful that lots of in-depth information has been collected, sorted and linked through a decent structure. A wealth of information is buried in the NPS servers, and some of it could only be found by accident. Now most of it is listed and much better accessible. I miss the peoples directory so far, but it is probably linked somewhere too and I have to browse a bit more (and I have it bookmarked anyway).

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The National Park Service is still very much an elite agency in government, with all the modern challenges of a large organization. The NPS is trying to improve agency hiring, and in some quarters is gaining traction. The U.S. Park Police command under its current leadership is doing solid work. Yes our law enforcement rangers are still a closed and insular clique, but that too will change over time. I understand everything everyone else has said, it can be true at certain parks at certain times. But not everything is black and white. There is nuance, strengths and weaknesses even from those NPS leaders we see as being controversial. I was the biographer of many of the senior NPS leadership and saw what happened behind closed doors. It is a tough world for them too.

  • Toddler Dies After Drinking Citronella Oil at Chickasaw National Recreation Area Campsite   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The last commenter is wrong [about the alcohol rule]. According to the park regulations, alcohol is permitted in picnic areas and campgrounds.

  • Free Weekends AND Free Tours At Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    If you click on the highlighted park name it takes you directly to the park's website, which tells you right up top where the park is located.

  • Free Weekends AND Free Tours At Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    While it was an interesting article, no where did you mention where Mammoth Cave National Park is! I had to go to a search engine for help...did you just figure that all readers are from East of the Mississippi?

  • If You Have to Ask the Price, The Ahwahnee And Jenny Lake Lodge Are Probably Out of Reach   5 years 31 weeks ago

    You get what you pay for. If I want to stay in a clean, beautiful, classy place with excellent amenities, I will fork over the money for it--even if it means saving up for months in advance.

    In order for a place to be truly clean, good maid service is needed, and good maid service costs money. In order for a place to be classy, people who can and will deliver good service will need to be employed, and they will cost money. Nice linens cost money. Good food means high quality chefs. Beautiful grounds mean expensive gardeners and landscapers. Well-maintained buildings mean paying for their upkeep.

    It's nice that there are choices.

  • Toddler Dies After Drinking Citronella Oil at Chickasaw National Recreation Area Campsite   5 years 31 weeks ago

    This person is a liar. No alcohol is permitted at the park and none was at this small child's party.
    [Ed: Alcohol is permitted in the campground area at Chickasaw.]

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Probably the worst thing about the NPS is the way our leadership just moves people around instead of disciplining them or firing them when they need to be. Heaven forbid someone took the time to manage people instead of working on a "business model", whatever that means. Since when was preservation of our natural resources a "business" anyway? We all need to be grateful and accountable to Congress and taxpayers but let's not try to emulate the private sector because I think we can all see how well that works! Finally, while the parks and the people who visit them are valuable beyond words, trying to pile on more and more expectations with less and less bodies is crushing us all. Someone throw me a life ring....

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Kath, you are so right. I was just on the parkway this week(June 25, 2009) and the motorcycles out number the cars. That could be because the bikes are running everyone else out. Anyway, my wife and I like to go on the parkway about mid-June every year to see the flowering bushes(azalea, rhododendrum). We like to rent a convertible and ride the parkway-one of the most beautiful places on earth. BUT, the motorcycles are out of control thundering through the hills and in your ears. It crazy. Isn't the parkway suppose to be a place to get away from it all? Guess not and the NPS seems to be doing nothing about. The Goldwings and BMW's are fine, but the Harleys are the problem. What can we do??????????

  • Secretary Salazar Wants Everglades National Park to Return to Endangered List   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Sorry about that culture vs. natural error MRC. I don't want to be politically incorrect here but on the natural note possibly the UN and UNESCO recognized the commitment of the American people through our elected representatives to spend $20,000,000,000 yes $20 Billion dollars that we don't have currently to enhance Everglades National Park's habitat as their justification for removing ENP from their Endangered list. America has actually encumbered quite a few of its future generations with the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan's debt. We American's have gone the extra mile in my opinion and deserve the recognition provided by ENP's removal from the list. As far as my previous comment about Big Cypress National Preserve's staff lacking a cultural specialist I will add that in the last few years under new and exceptionally professional management I've personally witnessed an improvement regarding planning sensitivities to ethnographically associated peoples. That is a good thing. I will just add that I appreciate the National Park Traveler for providing this very interesting forum.

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road Open End-to-End in Glacier National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    This has to be one of the most spectacular drives in America. Amazing amount of traffic however especially with the constuction...on the positive side however it forces people to slow down and allows you to take it all in.

  • Creature Feature: To Save the Mission Blue Butterfly, You Have to Save the Lupine   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ben: Summary MBB information, including references to the Skyline ridges MBB populations, can be found at the website of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. I have not personally confirmed the presence of MBBs at the sites they reference, but I do consider the information source reputable.

  • Creature Feature: To Save the Mission Blue Butterfly, You Have to Save the Lupine   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I am not sure where the skyline ridge population you referred to is. Nor am I aware of any populations on OSD lands. Please contact me if you can confirm the presence of MBBs at this location.

    Thank you,

    Ben

  • A Tough Week for Hikers and Mule Riders at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    No, and I haven't heard if the woman died. I heard she pulled the mule over after it stumbled. Anyone know anything?

  • Celebrate Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Cedar Breaks is one of those treasures often overlooked by people making the Zion - Bryce - North Rim of the Grand Canyon loop.

    It's worth a visit - and deserves more than just an hour "passing through."

  • Celebrate Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Beautiful! I have visited Cedar Breaks twice via bicycle. It is truly a natural treasure. The wildflowers were pretty much history when I was there in the fall. It snowed on me both times as I rode over the crest and headed down to Panguich.

  • Traveler Tech Update: IE8 and Latest Performance   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ummm, what problems are those? I run the latest FF and haven't noticed any problems.

  • Traveler Tech Update: IE8 and Latest Performance   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Are you also going to fix the display problems with Firefox?

  • Inspiring Service in the National Parks   5 years 31 weeks ago

    This is an excellent idea, to solve the parks' funding shortfalls with volunteer work. I think it's especially important that parks be accessible to the public as our environmental challenges grow, because the parks' beauty causes people to connect with and care about nature. This caring can yield more volunteers, and more people working to solve environmental issues overall.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 31 weeks ago

    ask the ticket takers at the badlands national park?i worked at mt rushmore in 1997,and yes the perm. employees think their s--t dosent stink..i agree with the above statement..

  • Secretary Salazar Wants Everglades National Park to Return to Endangered List   5 years 31 weeks ago

    There are World Cultural Heritage Sites and World Natural Heritage Sites. The Everglades are part of the World Natural Heritage and recognized as such by the UNESCO along with Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Wrangell-St. Elias and Glacier Bay, Redwood NP, Mammoth Cave, Olympic NP, GSM NP, Yosemite, Hawaii Volcanoes NP, Carlsbad Caverns and Glacier NP. The World Cultural Heritage Sites in the US are: Mesa Verde, Independence Hall, Cahokia, La Fortaleza and San Juan in Puerto Rico, Statue of Liberty, Monticello and the Universität of Virginia, Chaco Culture NHP and Taos Pueblo.

  • Secretary Salazar Wants Everglades National Park to Return to Endangered List   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Everglades National Park (ENP) summarily evicted the cultural communities associated with it when it was established many years ago (Native Americans-Gladesmen). The Big Cypress National Preserve right next to ENP has never even had a cultural resource person on staff. Why would anyone support ENP or any US National Park as a heritage site? Why the Secretary of Interior would support any place managed by NPS as a heritage site is beyond me. Whenever a National Park has been set up in America the first thing they plan is the removal and destruction of local cultures formally associated with the Park in question in order to make way for the NPS newly invented history and interpretation (propoganda). One wouldn't think NPS doesn't even know there is Directors Order 28 mandating them to protect ethnographic/ cultural communities. The largest benefit so far to come with Everglades Restoration in print is that an additional 2 feet of water will be STORED there in the future. That will be controlled with pumps that I don't believe are too NATURAL.
    Mr. Salazar is obviously a political appointee with little if any environmental or cultural professional training in his background.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 31 weeks ago

    For me it was the lack of merit based advancement and too much emphasis on self-promotion and ladder climbing careerism that led me out the door. It was not possible to be a motivated and talented employee and then be advanced according to your talents and capacities. You had to sit and wait for the slugs in front of you that were content to polish a chair with their butts. I remember one chief ranger telling me that I had a good chance for a job once the guy in the current job retired. He said, "he's a short timer with only about six more years till he retires." Oh that's all huh?

    Not an organization that rewards the go getters of this world. For many of the less talented it IS a nice place to wait out the time in tranquil anticipation of a generous retirement package.

    For a humorous look at life in the rank & file my story blog on the NPS might bring a smile to those of you who have slogged through the musty halls of this myopic bureaucracy: www.parkcircus.blogspot.com

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I have only come across 1 individual who had a problem with her job, and she was in fact a fee booth employee at Cape Hatteras Light house. But as far as the 2 Grand Canyon fee booth employees, they may just have been referring to working in the Grand Canyon in any capacity as their dream job. I have visited many NP sites over the past 20 years and I have always found the rangers in all areas to appear to love what they are doing, but I am sure this survey is not wrong either. I just hope that things improve for everyone.