Recent comments

  • Everglades Land Bill Approved, But With a Caveat   5 years 31 weeks ago

    First of all, the price of the land is too expensive, even in good economic times. At $1.34 billion for 181,000 acres, that's slightly over $7,400 an acre, wholesale. Realistically, the price is acknowledged to be about $3 billion, or more. That's well over $20,000 an acre, in very large swaths. For cane field.

    I am tooo szzure!

    And that's in good economic times, which these ain't. Oil has collapsed to $40 a barrel. Chrysler just closed every single one of its dozens of plants - shut down the whole shebang. Obama is talking a trillion dollar stimulus package. Millions of erstwhile middle class people are losing their homes.

    I expect this deal to be scuttled, and for fiscal responsibility to intrude in other cases too where many would prefer that it not be a partner at the table.

    There are those who are willing to make such an ecological deal as this - they simply don't care what the cost is - but it is being paid for it with other peoples' money, and those people do care.

    The Everglades will survive, not as big as could be, but the biome will persist. And under perfectly natural regimes, the health of swamps such as this is very much a boom & bust affair anyway. The idea that the Everglades is a steady-state system, that it does not crash, burn, dry up, flood, drowned ... and rise up from the dead again & again, as the natural way of such places ... well phooey - it has for centuries & millennia.

    Wait for the populace to wake up to the fact that sugar-consumption beyond a few pounds per year shortens the life and reduces the quality of what we have - then we'll get all of U.S. Sugar's land holdings and much more besides, for a fraction of today's price. ;-)

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Concentrating power in one person, a monarchical tendency, defiles the basis of which our country was founded and for which revolutionaries gave their lives. We wouldn't want to antagonize the monarch, because he might punish us or we might loose his royal favor.

    Frank C - I agree 100%. Unfortunately, that's tended to be the situation in recent years.

    Only time will tell if that changes under the new regime. Even with the best leadership, I continue to believe that wisdom dictates you shouldn't kick the anthill unless it's your goal to break up the picnic.

  • Updated: Salazar Pick For Interior Secretary Labeled a Failure   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I read the Wikipedia entries for the Center for Biological Diversity, and for Kieran Suckling, and what I see is very close to a one-man entity with a specialty in media-promotion, and lawsuits.

    It appears they do not actually do much of anything else.

    Kieran Suckling, in his response to prospective Sec. of Interior appointee Ken Salazar, strikes me as the fellow at the protest with extra-strong lungs, and a chunk of brick cupped in his hand.

  • Updated: Salazar Pick For Interior Secretary Labeled a Failure   5 years 31 weeks ago

    If the radical leftist Suckling doesn't like the pick, then I guess I love it.
    The Wilderness Society and NPCA are definitely more in tune with the average, working American.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    "the person who holds enormous power for good or bad in terms of our parks and other resources"

    Concentrating power in one person, a monarchical tendency, defiles the basis of which our country was founded and for which revolutionaries gave their lives. We wouldn't want to antagonize the monarch, because he might punish us or we might loose his royal favor.

  • Updated: Salazar Pick For Interior Secretary Labeled a Failure   5 years 31 weeks ago

    When all one can say is that "almost anyone will be an improvement" or "anyone the new administration selects should be a step up", what does that say about the management of public lands? A step up from a steaming pile of poo is a cold, crusty dung patty. How can people lend their support to this broken political spoils system, this bellum omnium in omnia? Please, someone enlighten me.

    And it doesn't stop with the DOI. Take a look at what some are saying about Obama's pick for Dept. of Ag., Vilsack. In short, he supports ethanol subsidies, even though bio fuels "contributed substantially to steep increases in global food prices earlier this year" and cause "land to be plowed up which actually boosts greenhouse gas emissions".

    Government is broken, people. Take a look around. The evidence is EVERYWHERE.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Re Frank C's response to my earlier post:

    Ah, yes. This is the "go along, get along" philosophy of those in power in the NPS. Heave forbid we examine the voting record and actions of political appointees and make critical statements about them.

    "Go along and get along" are vastly different.

    I certainly wasn't suggesting we should "go along" with anything contrary to the best interests of parks, but I agree that for groups such as NPCA, it's important to try to "get along" with the new Secretary, until his or her actions require otherwise. If pro-park groups can't establish good communications - and a willing audience - with the Secretary and his staff, the opportunity to influence policy in the department will be greatly diminished.

    As to critical statements about new political appointees, the above also applies. Those who feel there is a potential problem for the new Secretary based on previous voting records and actions should certainly be free to speak out - but they need to consider what they'll gain by doing so. I seriously doubt an "outcry" at this point will change the Obama team's choice for Secretary, so there's a trade-off between speaking out about past voting records as a matter of principle and starting out with an antagonistic relationship with the person who holds enormous power for good or bad in terms of our parks and other resources.

  • Will Delaware Finally Get Its "National Park"?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ted -

    Thanks for the comments!

    In the interest of brevity, I didn't include the history of previous proposals for a "park" for Delaware - the idea has been around for decades, and certainly predates Biden and the incoming administration. This is merely the latest in a series of such plans. Biden's new job certainly adds an extra dimension, and makes it even more awkward for the NPS.

    The authors of the study at least scaled back Senator Carper's plan - in a big way. It would be difficult to determine how much political pressure they felt in preparing their recommendation.

    The project got about the same level of publicity from the NPS as most similar studies - the problem was that the media apparently didn't see it as very newsworthy. Once I started looking on Google, I found a few AP stories outside of Delaware - but not many. I didn't sense any attempt by the NPS to sneak this one through. The timing for the public comment period during the holidays is awkward, but the legislation that authorized the study included a deadline for the NPS to submit the report to Congress, so that may have been a factor.

  • Updated: Salazar Pick For Interior Secretary Labeled a Failure   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I will hope for the best and withhold judgement until we see what he does after he takes office. At this point, almost anyone will be an improvement !

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Getting back to Frank C and Jim B's points earlier, I think there is a big difference between a "Moderate" like Salazar in this upcoming Obama Administration, and what we have seen previously. There is the possibility that Obama will generally support a pro-environmental stand, and therefore Salazar would lean in that direction. How many people in the upper levels of the Department of the Interior would be White House people, and how many slots would Salazar himself be able to select? That becomes critical in policy direction.

    In the past Administration, VP Cheney had a thumb on the scale with everything going on there. The Obama administration will not have such a malign agenda.

    On the other hand, Obama said next to nothing on the environment when he ran, except regarding global warming initiatives. He has questioned Yucca Mt. My understanding is he said next to nothing on the National Park Service, except continuing to take on the maintenance backlog.

    I think what Obama is really focused on is a sense that the American people are disgusted by partisan, disfunctional government. I am guessing he sees the world very much as an urbanist, with experience in Hawaii, and in the third world.

    I would guess Obama would want a reliable vote in Salazar's seat, perhaps more reliable than Salazar has been for the Democrats. My guess is he wants all political perspectives to think Obama will give their interest a fair shake, and for the American people to think he is balanced. Ending America's political disfunction is Job One. He may have calculated he wanted someone at Interior who had executive experience running a state natural resource department in the west, with experience working cooperatively with Developers. My guess is, on the big issues the White House will direct the overall perspective and Salazar would be the willing ambassador.

    For all this to work, Mr. Obama would need to know he can get a (more) reliable senate democratic vote out of Colorado, and have Salazar on his team in Interior. This seems to me is consistent with how the President-elect is moving in all policy areas.

  • Will Delaware Finally Get Its "National Park"?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Jim Burnett said:

    Delaware is a fine state with a rich history. It's certainly not my intention to diminish the value of the state's resources or people, but in view of the existing pinch on park service budgets and staffing, one might be forgiven for wondering whether adding yet another unit of this type to the system is the right approach.

    Jim's forbearance makes him a model of diplomacy. Let me expand...

    I downloaded & read the Executive Summary, and I must say my impression is, if there was ever a serendipitous hunk of steaming pork seasoned with unsavory & undue Legislative influence offered to a President-elect who promised and is on the lookout to challenge Business As Usual and give us Change, this has got to be it.

    Go forth Barrack; smite the enemy.

    On the other hand, that his own Vice President is a primary figure in this scheme, and it applies to the VP's own home-State, sets us up for a bit of classic Greek Theater.

    Obama has still not made a clean escape from the Blagojevich quicksand. And here it is, happening on his own team. Oh sure, nobody is demanding cash in small bills, but I took me about a half second to instinctive wonder, "Who made Delaware first among equals?", and I expect that will be the reflexive reaction of 10s of millions.

    "Obama, you asked for it, and here it is!"

    No Jim, I think your tendered explanations of the lack of publicity for this hairball of malfeasance missed the mark entirely. No, I never heard of it (my theory will be) because the people responsible for it were hoping mightily I wouldn't.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Living in Fredericksburg, Virginia for the past dozen or so years, I have watched the explosion of commercial and residential development in this area. We’re talking less than 150,000 people. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania battlefields you could say are my neighbors being less than half a mile to 8 miles away.

    How many Wal-Marts (5), Lowes (3), Home Depot (3), Grocery Stores (numerous, and we will be getting a new Wegmans in the spring), Pharmacies (numerous with CVS and Rite Aid leading the pack) etc. does an area really need? Did I mention the Kalahari Water Park and Convention Center?

    If I choose to shop at a Wal-Mart Supercenter I have three to choose from within a 5 Mile radius. I can travel south for 1.5 miles, or north for 3.5 miles or east for 4.5miles. Thinking about it, I don’t think I have been in a Wal-Mart in years.

    The Orange county folks have been way over due for this kind of development.

    Now those folks that live over in the Wilderness battlefield have been denied the Wal-Mart shopping experience for two long. My gosh they have to travel 14.5 miles east to the Fredericksburg Supercenter or 15.4 miles to the Culpeper Supercenter. It’s probably about time that they should be able to spend their hard earned dollars without such a “terribly inconvenient drive”.

    Semper Fi

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, Just finished DC v Heller. Whew! Very long, and I only read the opinion of the Court and skipped the dissenting opinions.

    The most important points are that it finds the Second Amendment protects an individual right and that "one should not expect it [the decision] to clarify the entire field". So, we might have to wait for concealed weapons to be banned on a national level before the court takes that one on. Interestingly enough, while "most" of the 19th century cases they reviewed upheld concealed weapons bans, they struck down prohibitions on carrying arms openly. Oh, another point that is relevant to the DOI rule change is the finding that people have a right to defend their homes. Now, can the definition of "home" also be extended to RVs, tents, and cars? I mean, if I live in my tent for 14 days, can't that be considered my home, albeit temporarily? I'm not a lawyer and haven't briefed cases since Con Law class, so I could be wrong legally, if not ethically.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, not to get off topic, but I've never shown much aptitude for staying on-topic. I don't quite get it...

    The pedestrian, tawdry - yea, drab truth of it is, the great white north still awaits. I was unexpectedly offered a great piece of work (carving trail through the temperate rain forest) at excellent money ... and then when the economy imploded and my friends went ashen in the face, I was offered additional trail-routes, at even better money.

    The only reason I'm back home and playing on the computer is ... the great white north has come to us. Nearly a foot of snow on my route, and daily highs about 27° (the snickers, I know - but this is the dripping rain-forest!) so it ain't melting.

    And, I got a jury-duty summons, starting April. So we'll see how the weather cooperates - has been very good up to last Friday, and usually snow is a passing thing around here: thus I'm not far from completion and more than ready to head out. I've told people I'd like to escape for awhile, and if I make good on the job for them, I'll be off with their blessings and more work waiting when I return.

    So, maybe playing tourist in Fairbanks a bit after New Years. I'd hoped to photograph the sun-arc from Campus Drive on the 21st (mmm - yeah, the guy at Fairbanks BLM has a version posted), but perhaps that will wait.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 31 weeks ago

    So how are you getting to the park? on your bike? what's your point?

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 31 weeks ago

    260,000 of a total population of over 15 million choose to carry. The statistics you cite are insignificant for comparing crime statistics. They only prove how well TX does background checks of the permits they issue. Clearly permit holders are committing crimes.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Jim, thanks for the link. This definitely will be an interesting story to watch unfold. It also will be interesting to see if the Senate asks him some tough questions during the confirmation hearings.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    This backs up my prediction that a lot of environmentalists would be very unhappy with the pick of Salazar - from NPR - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98347731 .

    As for NPCA, they and the big NGOs play the game. That's how you play the game.

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

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ted, not to get off topic -- hell, yes, to get off topic -- how were your travels in the great white north? Any tales to tell?

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Oh yes, Kurt, drab is way in. Try #90948a!

    On jeans/slacks, bras, automobiles; oh yes.

    Cabinet officials - absolutely!

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Frank,

    Having a keen interest in history, this does sound like an interesting book. I still think you should read the SCOTUS's ruling, though.

    Ted, isn't drab trendy these daze?

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I'll accept "stooge" as an alternative spelling of "Representative" ... and not a bad one at that! I don't care to whom an Official genuflects in private, so long as he remembers the actual voting-records that got him where he is. "Stooge THIS, Buddy!"

    The government is self-serving, as are the politicos ... but if either of them actually had a definitive level of control, the outcome of the 2008 Campaign would have been much different. Etceteras, etc.

    A lot can really be told, but is seldom looked directly at - in the history of the Green Party in Europe, and the non-history of the Green Party in North America, et al. At best, they were a faddish contender: now, a minor, verging to unknown used-to-was.

    This isn't about the iron grip of government on America, nor the depravity of politics (the inimitable Blagojevich notwithstanding), but rather establishing a plausible Representation of the citizenship.

    "We" were never shining, pure, saturated Green (National Parks Traveler notwithstanding) ... else Greenpeace would be sitting on the Cabinet, if not the Big Chair. No, we are at best a dingy olive-drab. Emphasis on the drab ... a good bit like the shade of Ken Salazar, eh?

    Hail, Drab! ;-)

  • Man Bitten at Saguaro National Park by Gila Monster   5 years 31 weeks ago

    “ I have never been called to attend a case of Gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a Gila monster ought to die. The creature is so sluggish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten. ”

    —Dr. Ward, Arizona Graphic, September 23, 1899

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ah, yes. This is the "go along, get along" philosophy of those in power in the NPS. Heave forbid we examine the voting record and actions of political appointees and make critical statements about them.

    "The defects of every government...must...be as open to discussion as the defects of a law, and it is a duty which every man owes to society to point them out." --Thomas Paine

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 31 weeks ago

    At this point in the game, I'd say the NPCA is taking the right approach.

    Assuming the Salazar nomination is confirmed, it's prudent for park supporters for set a positive tone in a relationship with the new Secretary (i.e. hope for the best, establish good lines of communication, and then monitor results.) There's absolutely nothing to be gained - and a lot to be lost - by negative statements about any new appointee until we see what he'll actually do once on the job.