Recent comments

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Dan-----well said. Your insight adds an important dimension to this debate.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    There's so many good textbooks written on the subject of mallization of America. City planners have fought for years to stabilize regional planning fiascos that corporate interests tries to shove down are throats...Walmart is one of them with their jaded wing tip shoe lawyers. Dumps in the backyard of the minorities, freeways zoned in the backyards of the middleclass, and the rich in gated communities afar from the maddening crowd. Now it's coming folks, the mallization of the National Parks...Geo. Bush style! Let's see folks, you now have oil and gas leases at the borders of the National Parks and soon to come, a spiffy Walmart to enhance the natural beauty of the parks. Can't beat it! They say, take an inch and grab a foot Walmart style...and screw their employees. The American way!

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Frank C, if so choosen...please keep the NRA influence out of the National Parks...which I dare you won't do...Mr. Gun shop!

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This string of comments makes clear that there are three competing issues here.

    The first, most obvious knee-jerk reaction is the anti-Wal-Mart moralizing. "On second thought, don't we have enough Wal-marts? Do we really need one more?" A lot of people out there have objections to Wal-Mart's business model, and will gladly grasp any proffered handle to jerk them around. In this case, Wal-Mart can be accused of profaning the Wilderness battlefield, automatically ranking them in some eyes with Protestant (or Taliban, if you prefer) iconoclasts. This reaction is irrelevant here, which is the point made by the first two Anonymous posters. In terms of land-use policy, Wal-Mart should be viewed as no different from any other large retailer, and little different from many other kinds of development.

    The second, also irrelevant, is the aesthetic reaction. Wal-Mart, with its big, unadorned buildings, gaudy colors, free overnight RV parking in expansive, well-lit lots, and teeming masses of unwashed proles can always be counted on to attract the disapprobation of the aesthetes. Kurt's objection to the Golden Arches' visibility from the Park City ski jump is in this category, and no surprise since the blaring reds and yellows of McDonalds were Public Enemy Number One for the aesthetes since Wal-Mart was an Arkansas five and dime. According to this argument, proximity itself is metaphysically harmful to the site. Presumably, ugly Wal-mart's presence has a negative metaphysical effect on the mana accumulated at a site like Wildnerness, which decreases exponentially with distance, presumably like electromagnetic radiation. So a Wal-mart a mere quarter mile from a park's boundaries represents an impairment in a way that the same store 5 miles away would not. To the aesthetes, I say be glad that Wildnerness is in a region where trees can block unwelcome views (with consequent mitigating effects on accumulated mana). If you can accept the place of department stores in the community, but object merely to the architecture, then talk to Ed McMahon of the Smart Growth Network, who beats that particular drum for a living.

    The third issue is the relevant one: what do we do about parcels of land that are of historical or natural value, but are destined to be developed for other purposes? What we are dealing with is not often recognized for what it is: a superfluity of sacredness. There are so many places of importance that it would be wasteful to preserve them all. Yes, wasteful. Preservation is subject to the law of diminishing returns; how many acres does one need to preserve, appreciate, and educate about the Battle of the Wilderness? The boundaries must go somewhere; there must be a line between sacred and profane space. There must be a finite number of acres sufficient to the task. If we just buy up every adjacent parcel at risk of development, there can be no end to it.

    One technique that is cynical in inverse proportion to its effectiveness is the attempt to shame, harass, or obstruct Wal-Mart into withdrawing. Wal-Mart employs a lot of people, and provides returns for a lot of investors, and to that end they are in the business of providing low-cost retail and services. That's what they do. They have some awfully clever demographers, geographers, and economists punching numbers, shuffling paper, and identifying profitable sites. They are extremely good at it. They have no reason to avoid an available site because it's historic, much less because it's adjacent to something historic. If they sacrificed the site to a competitor, or bought the land or its conservation easement for the purpose of preservation, they would be betraying their shareholders (i.e., your IRA, your pension, your retirement).

    So what's the solution? With a surfeit of sites, we have to be like a doctor in triage: in the time available, with the resources available, how can we salvage the most, and most important, resources? The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission is doing triage, but like anyone charged with that unpleasant task, they are dismayed at how many must be abandoned to save a few. Doctors have cursed this necessity since time immemorial (think Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H), but it remains necessary. There remains the problem of local government's all-too-common inability to manage these problems, which is a weakness of democratic government--few county supervisors are equipped to deal with this kind of thing.

    Kurt is right, these debates over land use are intractable. We go over this stuff again and again, in a thousand contexts. But confusion over the real issue only makes it more difficult. It doesn't matter if the planned development is a Wal-Mart, an REI, a hospital or a low-income apartment community, but when it's a Wal-Mart (or McDonalds), expect the Wal-Mart-haters and aesthetes to come out in droves, and endlessly complicate an already difficult situation.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    More gloom and doom? Really? Even in light of a recent study that found that melting ice may slow warming? Even in light of a recent report titled, "More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims"?

    But back to the topic.

    Someone please submit my name to Mr. Obama for Interior Secretary. I promise to remove national parks from political influence once and for all. I promise to replace parasitic, monopolistic multinational corporations that are national park concessions. I promise to render national parks self-sufficient. I promise to eliminate pork-barrel parks such as Steamtown.

    Whomever Obama chooses will be interesting. Will he pick someone interests groups approve? Or will he bring real change to the DOI? Somehow, I suspect it is the former.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Time is short for planet earth, let's get a pro-active conservationist in the DOI. Let's tone down all of are afterburners with less energy and select a good man that can make it all happen. May I suggest several individuals: Mr. Grijalva is a good one but we need someone more dynamic. Perhaps somebody from the Stuart Udall family would like to throw in there hat. The Parks have been screwed over for years, let's get them in order for the next generation...what's left of it from global warming.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Perhaps Mr. Berry can find a middle-ground where motorized use can be balanced with conservation at all levels. Having someone in that post who can objectively look a both sides would be a boon to the DOI, not at all a detriment.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Grijalva still remains the best choice, and people need to continue the push for him to be apppointed. Don't let insider politics drail the best opportunity we have to clean up interior and protect our public lands. he is staying in the hunt. His folks are saying that he is not giving up this fight for interior until the president elect makes the call.

  • Assateague Island National Seashore Rangers Troll Internet For Big Catch   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The woman was ignorant for bragging, it never gets you anywhere. As for posting incriminating evidence, that was without a doubt stupid. Not knowing the law is no excuse. Banning ORV from the beach is not the answer. There should be more patrols by rangers to keep the fishermen in check and inspect their catch. To keep the traffic at a minimum they (rangers) should use ATVs or SideXsides (ie. Polaris Razor or Yamaha Rhino, and etc.) to transverse the seashore more efficiently.

    Great work to a watchful eye in a world where the PC is the communication tool of the world. Keep up the good work.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This issue has been dictated by egos and money and plain ole personal gain by people that have no clue as to the history, area, and people that live there. It was promised as recreational, created and designated as recreational, and yet law suits are being fought over something that has already been designated as recreational.
    The redundency here is appalling and quite insulting to the families and businesses that used to thrive in the area. The idea that here in the United States where freedom is being fought for and defended in foreign countries and not being allowed by our own citizenry is dictactorship in the making. For one group to say how and when and where and what anyone should do IS dictatorship and should be avoided at all costs. Cohabitation between the people and wildlife had been going on without much to-do about it until government and special interest started blurring the lines. It is sad indeed to see that several good attempts to establish a good thing for all has been turned into an all out showdown between those who would dictate to the American public how they should live and keep their own backyard and hard working honest people who just want their own backyard to be kept how they have known it most of their lives, free. Free to access, free to roam without restrictions, free to drive, to fish, and to enjoy. Amen!

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Sabattis -

    The timeline actually leaves out Brimmer's ruling altogether, and only mentions it in reference to the Bush Administration's referencing of it in publishing their rule in the Federal Register on Dec. 9th. The GYC is obviously picking what they want to put in their timeline and not being as thorough as they could be.

    Whats even fishier to me though are the NPS actions along with Brimmer's, in November. The NPS complained after Sullivan's ruling that they wouldn't have time to come up with an interim rule for this winter. However, they did actually come up with an interim rule, publicly announcing it on Nov. 4. They opened up the comment period and started the wheels in motion on all the procedural requirements so that the rule could be published in December in the Federal Register in time for this season. After actually starting that whole process, they get Brimmer's ruling 4 days later and stop the whole process.

    I don't think Brimmer expected the NPS to actually come up with a new plan, or he would not have waited so long to issue his order. Once Brimmer sees the NPS' new temp plan, he has 2 choices: 1) issue his order and stop the NPS from promulgating the new temp plan; or 2) not issue his order and let the NPS continue with their process of instituting the new temp plan as Sullivan ordered. The wheels were in motion, the temp plan was on its way to being properly implemented. But Brimmer decides to put an end to it after the process had begun.

    That is what is fishy in this whole situation, and that is why Brimmer's ruling, while expressly claiming not to overrule Sullivan's, does in fact completely supplant what Sullivan ordered as to a temporary rule for this season. Obviously Brimmer's ruling does nothing to change Sullivan's decision as to the permanent plan. And obviously, this season will have the 2007 temp plan in place, unless somehow Sullivan does something drastic and shuts everything down (which I don't see happening).

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yikes! Well at least he's better than Mike Thompson (who voted against roadless areas in Tongass for example)!

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I guess, Bob, that's why I'm in part not convinced that feral cats couldn't colonize Yellowstone, though there's no evidence that they have to date despite decades of visitors losing cats and people on the borderlands with cats. They strike me as very resourceful animals. And, perhaps, they haven't colonized because the food is better where there are people (I've read that's how cats and humans developed; cats chose humans because of the food source) - less so than the inability to survive super harsh winters and a lot of predators. Fluffy ends up at Horse Butte - not a bad place to end up, if you are a cat; on a peninsula with homeowners - why do you think the buffalo try to go there to calve in the spring? (it would be a safe place if it weren't for all the Department of Livestock agents).

    I think feral cats could potentially colonize Yellowstone, but it's maybe unlikelier that cats would want to. However, I need to talk to my new friend more on this - I haven't spoken with him since this story broke.

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

  • Petrified Forest National Park is Still Being Stolen One Piece at a Time   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thanks for a good reminder about a long-standing problem.

    There are plenty of tales about such thieves, including one man who was seen loading a hefty chunk of petrified wood in the trunk of his car. When contacted by a ranger, the guy's explanation for how the 60 pound piece of contraband got into the trunk was that his 4-year-old son must have put it there when dad wasn't looking.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I've heard lots of similar comments, Eric, and I have a theory. (Well, at least an hypothesis.) Cats that live in coyote territory either wise up or get eaten. The ones that become coyote-wise (perhaps because of a close call) are thereafter very good at coyote evasion. I recall one veteran feline that I encountered while pheasant hunting on a farm near Gregory, South Dakota. This cat (according to the farmer) never spent a day of his life indoors and dealt with coyotes on a a daily basis. From a distance, I saw a coyote trot within about 50 yards of that cat and the two animals barely looked at each other. I assume they had simply gotten used to each other. Coyotes regularly visit our little neighborhood here in suburbia; one even curled up and went to sleep in the flower bed across the street from my driveway. Nevertheless, as far as we know, there have been no indoor/outdoor cats killed by coyotes in this vicinity. I guess that just goes to show you something or other.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I live in ruarl farm land borderd by BLM on three sides. we have lots of feral cats, and lots of cyotes.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thanks for filling out the story, Jim. I thought there might be another person out there who appreciates cats.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This story came out a week ago just after the Thanksgiving Day holiday. When I read it, it brought a big smile to my face - because I love cats - and it seemed ironic because I had a conversation about escaped domestic cats in Yellowstone on Thanksgiving Day.

    We spent Thanksgiving with a friend, and one of the other guests was a former wildlife veterinarian of Yellowstone National Park. It turns out we are neighbors - though we were both 20 miles away for the dinner. Anyhow, I asked him a question that had been on my mind awhile. Could escaped domestic cats ever colonize Yellowstone and become part of the ecosystem like they had in so many other places? For instance, I told him in the town of Bowling Green, Ohio, where I was born, they for a time had a leash law on cats. When that happened, within a year, there was a rabbit epidemic in the city - there were rabbits everywhere. Cats are huge predators in many urban and other eastern ecosystems where other predators are missing.

    Anyhow, he assured me that cats couldn't survive long in Yellowstone, though they did (and dogs too) indeed escape from homeowners on the edges of the park. Coyotes and other predators would get them; they would have trouble surviving the harsh conditions, especially in winter. He said there was no chance of this happening.

    Then, I read this story. This cat ended up in Horse Butte, which has a lot of people living on it - and so it's a little more like the suburban/urban ecosystems. And, while I think the wildlife vet may still be right about a wild feral cat population in Yellowstone, it was funny that this story came out so soon after a discussion about it.

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

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Haven't we developed enough land? I'm quite certain there is an empty building somewhere that Wal-Mart can utilize. When we moved into our home 4 1/2 years ago, we were able to hear the coyotes howling at night. Now we rarely hear them, maybe once a year. This is all due to development. Come on Wal-Mart find some property that's already been developed and leave nature well enough alone.

  • World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is Established by Presidential Proclamation   5 years 36 weeks ago

    MRC - There actually is a prominent memorial to Japanese internment already... the cumbersomely named National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II is located just off the National Mall in Washington. It, along with other prominent memorials such as the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and the George Mason Memorial, is part of the "National Capital Parks" Unit of the National Park System - and I haven't yet seen a satisfactory explanation as to why those Memorials don't get "counted" while others do. Still, the Memorial is very well done in my opinion, and I highly recommend it as a stop for anyone's visit to the Nation's Capital.

    I think you raise an interesting point about the possibility of an assembly centers, but the so-called "assembly centers" were not so much office buildings in big cities, but instead were more typically fairgrounds or racetracks that often evolved into semi-permanent camps. This excerpt has some poignant details on them:
    http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/personal_justice_denied/chap5.htm

    While this far-flung Memorial will be difficult to administer, the National Park Service may decide to establish a separate Superintendent for the Tule Lake site, while giving the current USS Arizona Memorial superintendent jurisdiction over the Pearl Harbor sites. A similar approach is used for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which has separate superintendents for the Seattle and Skagway units.

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt - Yes, I did confuse Judges Sullivan and Brimmer in my original post - I of course meant Judge Brimmer when I referred to Judge Sullivan. I blame it on too many judges and posting too late at night!

    As to the point about the agency's ability to move with alacrity when it is political expedient to do so , and while there is some argument that perhaps the NPS could have resorted to a sort of unilateral "interim rule" as was done last year, Judge Brimmer seems to have precluded that possibility. His order specifies to reinstate the temporary rule until "an acceptable rule to take its place is promulgated." I think it would be very hard to interpret an interim rule as meeting the standard of "an acceptable rule to take its place" - particularly since Judge Brimmer reverted to the 2004 rule, and not to the 2007-2008 Winter Season interim rule.

    Anonymous - The reason the GYC timeline is fishy is not for placing the 720 plan on Tuesday December 9th, its that it is only in the bullet *following* the December 9th decision that they refer to the November 7th decision by Judge Brimmer. A normal timeline would place the events of November before the events of December, not after.

  • Petrified Forest National Park is Still Being Stolen One Piece at a Time   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Isn't there a senator from Arizona with a park-friendly record, and a House member who chairs a parks subcommittee, who might be able to get some additional rangers on the ground for this park?

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    d-2:

    I'm newly aware of this situation, so I'm not familiar with the entire history of the site. But your first post in this comment string is educational in that regard. My own first post was a quick reaction to reading the article and commentary.

    As for the 1993 CWSAC, I will have to familiarize myself with that document before answering those questions.

    My gut reaction is, protect it if you can. If the attempt to chase away Walmart fails, hopefully the locally concerned will learn from the experience and get to work saving and protecting other parcels in the path of economic development before the threat becomes so immediate. Unfortunately we haven't learned this lesson yet, despite the gradual erasure of one historic site after another.
    It's not impossible to chase the giant away, if the coalition is ready to take concerted, prolonged action.
    If the Big Blue wins, maybe we'll see some impromptu live reenactment of battle with guns and ammo purchased at the Wilderness Walmart!

    National retailers participating in land use/management decisions that might effect their own bottom line?? Not likely to benefit the preservation efforts in any serious way. (Again, I'm unfamiliar with any such efforts that could be seen as successful.) Especially unlikely for Walmart, which is one of the only national businesses, retail or otherwise, that is still making profit during our current recession. What's in it for them? They're winning the game, so why do they need to generate warm fuzzy publicity amongst the preservation set? But why not give it a try? It couldn't hurt.
    (But I'm cynical in that regard. And personally worried that such an agreement would morph into national sponsorships dictating NPS names and decisions: The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvanis National Military Park sponsored by WALMART, filled with Kodak picture spots, and video monitors running interpretive films starring Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie replacing live Park Ranger Interpreters... )
    As you alluded to in your first post, I fear the only way to beat a money-making machine is to beat it at it's own game: buy the land out from under them. OR, as they did in Manassas, show Disney the door through a multi-year, well-funded, and well-publicized publicity action.

    In no way did I intend to support the current bias in Civil War interpretation within the NPS. (On a visit to Antietam a few years ago, the Interpretive Ranger that delivered the orientation demonstrated heavy bias towards the Confederate Army, and when questioned became quite dismissive of the idea that slavery was a big part of the story. I was amazed that the NPS would allow such one-sided interpretation.) I'm with the non-government historians: to recognize the full meaning of a site, we need to tell all stories., hopefully without telling the visitors what they should feel.
    Another book you might be interested in this regard: "Race and Reunion", by historian David Blight. The author examines how the story of slavery, and indeed all African-American connection to the story of the Gettysburg, was immediately ignored in the name of national healing.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Wal-mart needs to go somewhere else. On second thought, don't we have enough Wal-marts? Do we really need one more? I don't think so. They'll probably build this store, then build a bigger and better one a few years later, and this store will sit empty and broken down forever. Enough of corporate greed.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Dear Warren Z:

    I am not clear from your post: are you saying that the Priority I, Class A site should, or should not be preserved (IE:preserved by either adding it to the park or some local equivalent protection)?

    You say, park boundaries should stop somewhere. A truism, sure, but in this specific case the question is, should this parcel be protected? If not, are you also saying that the 1993 CWSAC report should NOT be considered the authority for protection, as it has been? There was a great series of exchanges and meetings among park superintendents in the later 1990's, resulting in what seemed to be a consensus that the report's recommendations ARE legitimate. These recommendations DO NOT suggest that all parcels have the same high priority for conservation.

    On the other hand, if you agree the parcel is historically significant, and the 1993 Report remains the gold standard for evaluation, then what exactly are you recommending be done in this particular case? Certainly there are many other parcels in the region that Wal Mart could consider.

    How 'bout if Wal Mart and other Big Boxes sponsor a nationwide land use planning initiative? It could recommend to local governments that they identify critical landscapes, and develop more creative wise use and smart use development/preservation tactics and strategies. Such regional land use strategies, pro both conservation and development, is happening now within some national heritage corridors. Why not here?

    BTW, I agree with you about the pro-Southern interpretive bias in the NPS. Arguably, Fredericksburg-Spottsylvania was once, and still may be, a center of that school of history and interpretation. However, at the strong urging of many reputable non-government historians, there is a growing movement to recognize the Meaning, not just the tactics, of the Civil War and, central to that Meaning, is the role played by slavery.