Recent comments

  • Another Entrance-Fee-Free Weekend in the National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    My family and I are slowly working our way through the National Parks, enjoying the unique and beautiful nature of each. We bought an annual parks pass and while it doesn't alleviate all the fees associated with enjoying a park (tour fees, camping fees, etc) we feel that the fee price is paltry when compared to the vast benefits we gain in each and every park. Even though National Parks do change and evolve (Yellowstone Park of 1970 is not the same Yellowstone Park of today), the changes are necessary to keep the park system open, operating, and visitor friendly. We are a military family so have been able to enjoy National Parks all over the country, including Alaska. When we pull up roots and move to our next duty location, we pull out the US map and plot our driving route around the National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Monuments. For us, it is worth every penny to introduce our children to the wonders of volcanic craters, the smell of geysers, the sound of waterfalls, the beauty of pristine mountains, rain forests, and grassy prairies, and the wildlife you may see nowhere else in the world. And, we know that in every park, we will encounter a similar set of values and programs: Junior Ranger programs, fireside lectures, informed and knowledgeable park rangers, maintained trails, roads, and facilities, and more. However, even though we have 4 kids who all love to get souvenirs, we don't visit the parks to "buy" - we visit the parks to see the park. Getting rid of the entrance fee is, in my opinion, not a good business practice. The National Park service is a government agency, subject to political agendas and cost-cutting initiatives; even in the best of private businesses it is extraordinarily difficult to get the money back once you've given it up. Since when is the National Park service in the business of making sure the local outfitters make money? The National Park system is held in trust for it's citizens by the federal government; if the park system is unable to generate it's own income based on fees, will the federal government then feel compelled to privatize the parks to "make ends meet"? We take every opportunity to visit the nearest National Park and would pay ten times the fee just to make sure we our children have great National Parks to visit with their children.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Bat: I'm not sure why you're getting so upset and making personal attacks rather than attacking ideas. Nothing in my comment was meant to disparage the individual behind the comment.

    Rail transit contributes to global warming. "Most light-rail lines use as much or more energy per passenger mile as an average SUV, and many emit more pounds of CO2 per passenger mile than the average automobile. While some rail transit operations are energy and CO2 efficient, the energy and CO2 costs of construction overwhelm any savings."

    Are you getting your data from a credible source...?

    If by "credible" you mean Liberal, then no. It comes from the libertarian think tank, CATO. Of course, feel free to take the easy way out and commit the association fallacy (a type of ad hominem) rather than challenging the findings with empirical evidence.

    Anonymous: I have far more questions than answers when it comes to global warming. In that way, I'm the exact opposite of those who are fundamentally certain of global warming. I have offered up many concrete solutions and constructive ideas to fix national park management; perhaps you've missed those.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Salmon of the Pacific Northwest   5 years 36 weeks ago

    My inside source from the California F&G Department tells me:it's the climate that's unraveling the ecosystems of most world fish species. Not just climate change but urbanization, mass pollution and the channelization of are waterway systems. Thanks to are so called irrigation engineers that couldn't see beyond there slide rulers. The water wars in California will eventually wipe out most California native fish given time. Watering wasting crops (like cotton) should never be planted during prolong drought periods...especially during severe decline of native fish species. And, most forestry ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest are trashed with very little regard for the HOLISTIC ecology of the forest. It shows now and even more when winter comes.

  • Another Entrance-Fee-Free Weekend in the National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    not everyone is made of money!! They should be free all the time!! dont we pay enough in taxes already? I have limited income and a family to support, we enjoy the parks also and it shouldn't only be for people with money.

    This comment was edited.--ed.

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Anon, If you're simply after a handy reference source for the national parks, I suggest that you download a copy of the new NPS Index 2009-2011 to your desktop. It's available online in two versions. You'll find the pdf version at The index lists national parks by state, with affiliated areas, wild & scenic rivers, and national trails at the rear. The alphabetical index, which begins on page 119, lists all the parks, affiliated areas, wild & scenic rivers, and national trails. It is current through January 2009.

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I have found numerous mistakes in Wikipedia articles about national parks, including many I personally consider to be serious. I'm not going to joust with anybody about what is serious and what is minor. Accuracy matters, period. I stand by my original advice: Never use a Wikipedia article as a primary information source if a more reliable source is readily available. I do encourage people to fix the problems in the Wikipedia articles if they have the expertise, time, and inclination.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Salmon of the Pacific Northwest   5 years 36 weeks ago


    Thank you for posting that analysis. As an engineer, I tend to be very data and fact driven, so in my mind, the validity of global warming has not yet been proven. In fact, by the time it has been proven, it will be well underway and too late to reverse.

    That said, as an avid fisherman on West coast rivers and streams, I appreciate the article's description of many of the other threats that have also harmed wild fish. The steps that the article lists to help our native fish populations apply not just to salmon, but to most fish in our fresh water streams and rivers. They are also very applicable steps throughout the West coast, not just the Pacific Northwest.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Man-made carbon emissions are now above the ‘worst case’ scenario envisioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), causing the most rapid global warming seen since the peak of the last Ice Age. At the same time the carbon is acidifying the oceans, with harmful consequences for certain plankton and shellfish.

    “At current emission rates it is possible we will pass the critical level of 450 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere by 2040. That’s the level when, it is generally agreed, global climate change may become catastrophic and irreversible,” they add. “At that point we can expect to see the loss of most of our coral reefs and the arctic seas.”

    “The climate is currently warming faster than the worst case known from the fossil record, about 56 million years ago, when temperatures rose about 6 degrees over 1000 years. If emissions continue it is not unreasonable to expect … warming of 5.5 degrees by the end of this century.”

    Andrew S. Brierley, and Michael J. Kingsford. Impacts of climate change on marine organisms and ecosystems. Current Biology, 2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.05.046

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago


    Regarding Wikipedia and the NPS: I see many omission, which is natural as the whole project is a "work in progress". But "riddled with mistakes"? Have you found serious mistakes in NPS-related articles at Wikipedia recently?

    Call for participation: Let's collect five Wikipedia articles on NPS units that need improvement. Then we choose one and put all our expertize together and brush up this article.

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Where can I find an accurate and up to date list of the 391 NPS units?

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Whether you are experienced or not, if you stumble it does not matter at that point. My sincere condolances to the family. Be strong.

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Be very careful when using Wikipedia as a source of information about America's national parks. It is riddled with mistakes and contains serious omissions. Always use more reliable sources if you have a choice.

  • Reader Participation Day, Fine Arts Division: Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, or Maynard Dixon?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Bierstadt. Although I could be quite happy with a free Moran painting as well.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Frank seem to have an answer for everything but concrete solutions or constructive ideas.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Frank - Sorry, but you are flat out WRONG about mass transit using "as much petroleum as private vehicles". A 2002 study by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute found that public transportation in the U.S uses approximately half the fuel required by cars, SUV's and light trucks. In addition, the study noted that "private vehicles emit about 95 percent more carbon monoxide, 92 percent more volatile organic compounds and about twice as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide than public vehicles for every passenger mile traveled". This was not the only study to document the positive effect mass transit has on high-population density areas. Also, I'll repeat what I said about car sharing - one shared car takes 15-20 private vehicles off the road! Yes, we still use fossil fuels - but we use a LOT less than you assume.

    I am not "attempting" to take personal responsibility - I HAVE, and CONTINUE to take personal responsibility. To suggest otherwise is insulting. And "staying home" is not an option. Are you getting your data from a credible source, or are you making it up as you go along to fit your views?

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago

    @Quang-Tuan Luong:

    There are a number of former National Parks. Most of them have been incorporated or split into other National Parks and a few have been "down graded" to other designations but stay within the NPS. But one has been given to the state of Michigan as a State Park and one former National Park is now a National Game Preserve of the FWS.

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I admit I was unaware of current legislation, thanks for pointing that out. One of the facts that contributed to my error was that I remembered that quite a few National Monuments had been abolished, while to the best of my knowledge, this hasn't happened to any National Park.

    While, technically, the change to NP status doesn't bring in itself more resources, it is often associated with an acreage acquisition and a potential increase in visitation (perception is important). Those can justify more resources.

    I agree the limit can be arbitrary, however, not units have the same interest, so there is some rationale on having different designations.


    National Parks images

  • Traveler's Checklist: Canyonlands National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    In the Needles district, 2 other worthwhile shorter hikes are the slickrock trail and pothole point trail. Also, some rock art along Devil's Lane rivals that in the Great Gallery.

    BLM has a number of campgrounds along the Colorado river above and below Moab, although I don't think that any have drinking water, so bring your own. Moonflower campground a couple of miles outside of town on Kane Creek Rd. is my favorite, but it only has tent sites and fills up early.

    Even better, think about camping in Manti-La Sal national forest. The La Sal mountain loop is worth the drive, and in late spring, summer, and early fall, the night temperatures up the mountain are much easier for sleeping. There are a couple of developed campgrounds with water and pit toilets, but many places where you can pull off the road and dry camp. [The "half loop", from Spanish Valley south of Moab but coming out through Sandy Flats instead of Castle Valley, is also nice, and driveable in a rental car even in march and November.]

    There's also camping in the ranger district south of the road into the Needles district of CANY and west of Monticello. [If you go to the Needles District but do hotels instead of camping, Monticello has a couple of no-frills motels that are much closer to the Needles District, much cheaper than Moab hotels except in December-February, and much more likely to have vacancies even without reservations during the spring and summer. Just don't expect fine dining or the ability to buy beer.]

    Fisher Towers is worth the 20 minute drive upstream from Moab, and the hour hike into the base of the spires.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 12: Lots of Water Out There   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Good going MRC, but didn't Kurt require two answers for this picture? And what are those islands? Looks like I have some research to do after lunch.

    Semper Fi, Doc.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Bat: mass transit often uses as much petroleum as private vehicles. Electricity from light rail often comes from coal-fired power plants. Fossil fuel energy powers the construction of light rail lines, infrastructure, and train cars, and it often takes decades of ridership before that carbon generation is neutralized. Many urban buses have been shown to consume as much fuel per passenger mile as an SUV.

    I'm glad that some have attempted to take personal responsibly (by not owning a car), but taking mass transit is often as polluting as driving.

    Better to stay home, just to be safe.

    Richard: If you want to talk about "playing with statistics", you ought to Google hockey stick graph to see what Mann and other global warming hysterics are willing to pull to advance their political agendas.

  • “There’s Only 58, So Get Over It!”   5 years 36 weeks ago


    Boston Harbor Islands has cultural sensitivity issues for the phrase "recreation area" due to the Native American burial grounds. Their name on their demo annotated species list website ( went from "Boston Harbor islands National Recreation Area" to "Boston Harbor Islands, a Unit of the National Park System", and finally to simply "Boston Harbor Islands".

    Rangertoo is absolutely correct: from the inside, the unit type (Park, Monument, NRA, NHS, and the others) doesn't matter. However, the public/political view is very different, and National _Park_ status is perceived as a higher status. Backers of several units have made great efforts to obtain the name change.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago


    One of the important qualities the AT has for flora and fauna is its protected nature. While there are indeed other parks and forests and yards neighboring it, there's no guarantee those landscapes will remain preserved down through the years. As development/sprawl starts chipping away at those, the AT's corridor becomes more valuable to birds, insects, butterflies, and yes, even deer and bear. I wouldn't call that a weak conclusion.

    Here's a snippet from the AT MEGA-Transect (page 6):

    Overall, studies show substantial decline in forested land in the Mid-Atlantic States and in Virginia from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, as well as increased fragmentation in the northeastern U.S.

    Then, too (from page 11-12):

    The A.T. corridor may harbor more rare, threatened and endangered species than any other National Park Service unit. Most of those species are plants, but rare animals are also found along the Trail. A.T. lands support more than nine federally-listed and 360 state-listed species of plants and animals. Perhaps most impressively, the A.T. also harbors more than 80 globally rare species. In total, more than 2,000 populations of these rare, threatened, and endangered species are found on A.T. lands.

    More so, during my fellowship at Stanford earlier this year I met with a researcher who has been studying the movement of vegetation in relation to climate change, and he's chronicled that plants can move northward much more quickly than previously imagined. (His paper was still being reviewed at the time, otherwise I'd cite it.) I also met with other scientists (Dr. Terry Root, an eminent bird biologist) who believe "stepping stones" such as the lands protected by the AT will be vital to help plant and animal species cope with climate change. When you frame that contention within a paper (Global climate change and mammalian species diversity in U.S. national parks, by Catherine E. Burns, Kevin M. Johnston, and Oswald J. Schmitz, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University) published in 2003 by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, you begin to appreciate the value of the AT:

    Recent empirical studies strongly suggest that wildlife species are already responding to recent global warming trends with significant shifts in range distribution (generally northward) and phenology (e.g., earlier breeding, flowering, and migration).

    This paper also addressed species loss and species gain in national parks due to climate change:

    The projected influx of new species to the parks arises because of range expansion under climate change. That is, most species are expected to remain stable at or near their current geographic locations and to expand their range geographically northward. ... Our assessment indicates that national parks are not expected to meet their mandate of protecting current mammalian species diversity within park boundaries for several reasons. First, several national parks are expected to face significant losses in current species diversity. Second, all parks should experience a virtual tidal wave of species influxes as a direct consequence of vegetation shifts due to climate change. In the balance, the parks will realize a substantial shift in mammalian species composition of a magnitude unprecedented in recent geologic time.

    Against this information and research, I don't think it's hard to appreciate that the AT is much, much more than "a continuous backcountry footpath for the enjoyment of people."

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Salmon of the Pacific Northwest   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The climate change fetish continues.

    The greatest threat to salmon lies not in the future, with the unpredictable results of climate change. It lies in the past and present.

    The greatest threat to salmon is the federal government, specifically the US Department of Energy and the Bonneville Power Administration, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation. These agencies contributed to cultural as well as biological destruction.

  • Reader Participation Day, Fine Arts Division: Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, or Maynard Dixon?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Bierstadt, and there is a Bierstadt collection at the Haggin Museum in Stockton.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Start the graph at zero? When do we have zero carbon dioxide? You must have fun playing with statistics Frank.