Recent comments

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Pinnacles National Monument is gorgeous and the talus caves make it a fun place as well. It would already be a National Park if it were in, say, Ohio. But it raises that same debate; what makes a site "national park worthy"? I'm not sure I would consider "great potential for tourism revenue" a qualification. At this time this monument is not easlily accessible by California standards (near a freeway), even though it is not that far outside of a couple of major population areas. Increasing tourism revenue would absolutely require the need for a new highway to the site and probably a new road between the two halves of the monument. (No roads cross from one side to the other, requiring a considerable drive to get from the easier to reach west half to the more remote east side.) I guess the first decision to be made is which we want, preservation or tourism revenue? Due to the narrow canyons and difficult terrain I don't think you can easily have both at this site. I believe that the goal of obtaining more tourism revenue would require a considerable expansion of the infrastructure, both in and outside of the park.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I've been there, and it is an incredibly cool place (a volcano on a fault line? Wow!). But I have to say, I don't think it's worthy of National Park status. It's current status as a National Monument is adequate in my opinion.

    If you abuse the crown jewel label of the National Park Service, you reduce the value of the moniker.

    I would say I wish the eastern rim of the volcano, which is in Lancaster, was part of the NPS. I hadn't visited that site, so I'm not sure what it's like, but it would be cool to have both sections of the volcano as part of one unit, separated by 100 miles or so of continental drift.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I have been to Yellowstone 3 times and spent at least a week there each time-always in absolute amazement. I see this whole issue as a way to truly limit human interaction in national parks by certain groups. While I have never been there in the Winter, but it is on my bucket list, I see no problem with using snowmobiles. Their use requires them to stay on roads, just as cars and bikes do in the summer. Are these these next? I will be willing to bet so. I consider myself a decent amateur photographer, and one of my concerns with the snow coaches are the severe limitation that is put on my hobby and the main reason I go to the parks. Not many run at sunrise and sunsets or allow me the time to get the "perfect" shot at the perfect location. I have used the bus system in both Zion and Denali--Denali wins hands down for my style of use because they allow a person to get on and off at any location anywhere in the park. Not the best for getting the "perfect" picture since sometimes you have only seconds but bearable. It is still not my preference. This type of bus transportation would not work in Yellowstone in winter due to the harsh weather. I guess I am not smart enough to see the "damage" to the parks that these "few bad snowmobiles" do to an enviroment of 2.2 million acres.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Frank is right to point out that the Earth has gone through many natural climate fluctuations in the past 2000 years. However, there's one important variable he's not considering - the exponential growth of the human population. According to historical demographers, 2000 years ago there just weren't that many of us around to make a difference. At that time, global population was relatively stable at approximately 1/4 of a billion souls. Between 900 and 1300, the human population doubled. From 1900 to 2000, the lowering of the childbirth mortality rate and advances in medicine caused the number of humans to skyrocket; presently the global population is estimated to be 6.775 BILLION people! Now that's a lot of trash - I don't believe for one minute that the plastic island in the Pacific Gyre is a natural phenomenon.

    It's undisputed that humans have altered the face of the Earth to satisfy the insatiable demand for fresh water, fuel, and food. So there just might be something more to say about this topic. The way I see it, Kurt wins by a mudslide!

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Yeah, sounds like the caller also failed to check his geography :-)

    I made a couple of minor corrections to the story. I tracked down the park's original version of the report, which did not make any reference to Aniakchak being located in Katmai. Hope that clears up the loose ends.

  • Should the National Park Service Rescue the National D-Day Memorial?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    You brought up some really good points Dan AND...offered suggestions such as ABMC taking this site under its wing. It's true that all the ABMC cemeteries and all but two memorials are out of the country. This will be the third stateside memorial joining the West Coast (San Francisco) and East Coast (New York City) memorials that they maintain.
    While this invasion was going on in France, our Marines and soldiers had already taken Guadalcanal and, I believe, Tarawa. Our Navy had already punched Japan in the nose with Doolittle's attack on Tokyo and stopping Yamamoto at Midway was pretty much as important an accomplishment in the Pacific as D-Day was itself.
    I have had the privilege of walking among those heroes' graves at Normandy, Lorraine, Belleau Wood, Luxembourg, Meuse-Argonne, Flanders Field, Margraten and Liege, BE near Bastogne.
    If it were in my power, I'd pay for this myself for I am a 1st generation American...thanks to the liberation of my father's village in the Philippines by the 40th Infantry Division.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    * Heavy rain fell over central Europe, triggering mudslides and floods.

    Hmm. Guess there have never been heavy rains or floods in Europe in the last many thousands of years. Global warming!

    Of course many of the factoids are for individual MONTHS, not yearly averages. The data I referenced for 2009s global temperature anomaly come from Dr. Roy Spencer (here and here), a government climatologist. (He has never taken oil money, so don't reach for the guilty-by-association card.) He uses satellite tropospheric data rather than surface data which is subject to many influences, such as the heat island effect, precision of measurement, desertification, and so on.

    The fact (which no one cares to dispute with evidence) remains that the climate has widely fluctuated over the last 2000 years and throughout the Earth's history. In fact, a billion years from now the sun, with its increasing energy output, will boil off Earth's oceans, ending life on our planet.

    The case for human-caused climate change is circumstantial at best. Carbon dioxide has not been proven to raise temperatures, and proponents of more action ignore that correlation does not imply causation. There are several other natural phenomenon correlated with increasing temperatures, including the sunspot cycle. Proponents also engage in the fallacy of the single cause; climate is very complex, and there are many possible forcing events.

    The worst part of this whole situation is that climate change proponents will not admit that they could be wrong. That's fundamentalism. Their climate models are their oracles, their magic crystal ball, and even though the future is unpredictable, they make bold claims with high degrees of certainty.

    There's really nothing more to say about this topic and its proponents.

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Mr. Burnett:

    You are TOO kind:

    "The caller said that his brother and friends were camped inside the Aniakchak caldera at Katmai and were preparing to float the Aniakchak and Meshik Rivers."

    IE: 'at Katmai'

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Thanks for the clarification on the geography.

    The park's report didn't annex the Aniakchack Caldera as part of Katmai, but merely included that incident in their overall report of the weather-related problems they responded to in the area during a two-day period. So, any confusion is my error, not the park's.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Global temperature trends for 2007 (and more) can be found at NASA's GISS Surface Temperature Analysis.
    Locally there is the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.
    For some background (and beyond) read BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change by Naomi Oreskes
    Naomi Oreskes 2007 essay (PDF) is a good read also..

  • National Geographic Magazine Revisits Yellowstone National Park's Supervolcano   5 years 37 weeks ago

    It's a restless world we live on. Whether it be Yellowstone or some other volcanic behemoth somewhere down the line another super volcano will make humans realize just how fragile we really are.

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Anonymous, you summed it up nicely. The park staff obviously did a good job of responding to the challenging weather common to the Alaska Peninsula. It brings back memories of "weather days" in the area. Visitors must be prepared for rapidly changing and occasionally violent weather. Sounds like the NPS will have to send some folks down into the Aniakchak Caldera to clean up the debris of shredded camping gear.

  • Second Drowning In Two Days at Sequoia National Park Claims 14-Year-Old   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I hate to hear about, this kind of tragady. If that spot of the streem is that dangerus, why in the name of god, whould park afficals, not warn familys. The second girl, ashley, is the niece of my bestfriend, their whole family is hurting,disbalief,torn up. What? Did the park do for her and the other girls family??????

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Frank, not sure where you're getting your data, but here's some news from NOAA:

    The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880.

    * The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2009 was the second warmest on record, behind 2005, 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degree C) above the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees F (15.5 degrees C).
    * Separately, the global ocean surface temperature for June 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 degrees F (0.59 degree C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C).
    * Each hemisphere broke its June record for warmest ocean surface temperature. In the Northern Hemisphere, the warm anomaly of 1.17 degrees F (0.65 degree C) surpassed the previous record of 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degree C), set in 2005. The Southern Hemisphere’s increase of 0.99 degree F (0.55 degree C) exceeded the old record of 0.92 degree F (0.51 degree C), set in 1998.
    * The global land surface temperature for June 2009 was 1.26 degrees F (0.70 degree C) above the 20th century average of 55.9 degrees F (13.3 degrees C), and ranked as the sixth-warmest June on record.
    * El Niño is back after six straight months of increased sea-surface temperature anomalies. June sea surface temperatures in the region were more than 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) above average.
    * Terrestrial warmth was most notable in Africa. Considerable warmth also occurred in Siberia and in the lands around the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Cooler-than-average land locations included the U.S. Northern Plains, the Canadian Prairie Provinces, and central Asia.
    * Arctic sea ice covered an average of 4.4 million square miles (11.5 million square kilometers) during June, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This is 5.6 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent. By contrast, the 2007 record for the least Arctic sea ice extent was 5.5 percent below average. Antarctic sea ice extent in June was 3.9 percent above the 1979-2000 average.
    * Heavy rain fell over central Europe, triggering mudslides and floods. Thirteen fatalities were reported. According to reports, this was central Europe's worst natural disaster since the 2002 floods that claimed 17 lives and caused nearly $3 billion in damages.

    As for your contention that "2008 was wetter and cooler than many previous years," that doesn't appear to be the case if you look at NOAA's 2008 precipitation data, although temperature-wise some areas of the country certainly were colder than usual. But 2007 was drier than normal in many, if not most, parts of the country. Unfortunately, annual temperature data for the country are not available for 2007.

    As for snowpack, here's what the National Climatic Data Center had to say in looking back at the winter of 2008-2009:

    By the end of April the snowpack levels were at or slightly above normal for the Pacific Northwest. Some areas along the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range of Washington received more than 200 percent of 1971-2000 snowfall normal. In contrast, the Sierra Nevada snowpack levels were as much as 50 percent below normal resulting in the third consecutive year of below average runoff. The Front Range of Colorado and much of the Rocky Mountains received some much needed late season snowfall that placed them around near normal levels for the season. The southern Rockies were not as fortunate, as some of those areas received less than 25 percent of normal snowfall this season. The runoff from the snowfall is a main component of annual water supply levels.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Thanks for your response, Kurt. I do take pride in looking at topics critically; we need more contrarians questioning dominant paradigms to check fundamentalism.

    It will be interesting to see if the warmer, dryer summers continue. Right now, the temperature anomaly is zero, many regions have reported the the winter's snowpack as average, and 2008 was wetter and cooler than many previous years.

    The future's a tricky thing.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 37 weeks ago

    While getting to the top of Half Dome is quite an accomplishment, I didn't think the view itself was that great. My recommendation for a better view from a peak in Yosemite would be from Clouds Rest.

    Other vehicle accessible overlooks in Yosemite are Tunnel View as well as Washburn Point and Glacier Point.

  • As Yellowstone National Park is to Wolves, Is Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Elk?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I was privilege to see one of the elks this past month on my visit to the Smokies!! I was a wonderful experience.....she was just standing by the road!!!

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Frank, I think you enjoy being a contrarian.

    Google the study in question, under the "news" category, and see what you come up with. In other stories the scientists spoke specifically of climate change as a driver in what's going on. Do they say that it's solely responsible? No. It's one element, but a "likely" contributor nonetheless. And if you've spent any time reading these studies, you know that the scientists always couch their conclusions with qualifiers.

    "Although this study did not investigate the causes of decline, climate change is a likely contributor to these events and should be taken into consideration," said USGS scientist emeritus Jan van Wagtendonk, lead author of a paper describing the results in the latest issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management. "Warmer conditions increase the length of the summer dry season and decrease the snowpack that provides much of the water for the growing season. A longer summer dry season can also reduce tree growth and vigor, and can reduce trees' ability to resist insects and pathogens.

    I've looked at more than a few peer-reviewed studies on climate change over the past year or so and have talked to more than a few experts in the field. That said, what's going on around the West are lower snowpacks due to more warming and more frequent rain-on-snow events. You shrink the snowpacks, you shrink the amount of water available for trees throughout the summer, when they most need it, as Dr. van Wagtendonk notes above.

  • Wolf Trap, A Decidedly Different National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    The Barns is a wonderful venue which has a down-home feel. It really is in a converted barn structure. It's not the only venue at Wolf Trap, though. The Filene Center stages world-class entertainment nearly every evening; bringing your picnic is allowed on the lawn. Many entertainers love the cedar-paneled Filene for its intimate setting and awesome acoustics. Backstage tours are given off-season, and are a great chance to see just how complex this beautiful stage really is. Children's programs are shown at the Theater-in-the-Woods, set behind the complex near a small stream. Parking is free, and the staff is cheerful and friendly.

    It's been my privilege to volunteer at Wolf Trap for the past two seasons, and if my schedule allows will do it again next year. If you are near the Washington area, you should come join us and see a show! You'll be glad you did.

    Bat Peterson

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 37 weeks ago

    The point here is the sky above Crater Lake NP is a natural resource needing vigorous protection from development and should not simply be treated as a medium ("airspace") for traveling from point A to point B. The enjoyment of a few people should not be allowed to impact the enjoyment of thousands of other people. Yes, Crater Lake NP has been developed (as I'm glad Frank pointed out above), but, that shouldn't stop us from trying to minimize continued impacts to the park's natural resources. For historical background on NPS management of the parks, I would suggest people read Richard Sellar's book, Preserving Nature in the National Parks.

    These proposed helicopter tours should not be allowed in Crater Lake National Park. Thanks for the posting Kurt.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 37 weeks ago

    If I recall correctly, there's a sign at the trailhead for Harper's Corner in Dinosaur National Monument, that proclaims it to be the best overlook in the National Park system. Some boast. It sure is a fine view, but it's hard to pick which one is the 'best'.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Graph: Natural Climate Cycle for the Last 2000 Years

    The above graph shows an average of 18 non-tree ring proxies of temperature from 12 locations around the Northern Hemisphere, published by Craig Loehle in 2007, and later revised in 2008, clearly showing that natural climate variability happens with features that coincide with known events in human history.

    As Australian geologist Bob Carter has been emphasizing, we shouldn’t be worrying about manmade climate change. We should instead fear that which we know occurs: natural climate change. Unfortunately, it is the natural climate cycle deniers who are now in control of the money, the advertising, the news reporting, and the politicians. (Source)

    The phrase "climate change" occurs twice in the study linked above (and interestingly enough, those are the instances quoted by NPT), but the study's focus is not climate change.

    I think Kurt has read too much into the study, and his title, "Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park", is too strong and not supported by the study. No where in the study, including the abstract or conclusion, do its authors attribute the lass of large-diameter trees solely to climate change. The authors state in the conclusion:

    This decrease in large diameter tree density throughout much of Yosemite can be interpreted as a long-term change in forest structure during the 20th century.

    Nothing about climate change here. The sentence Kurt cherry picked from the study reads:

    The decrease in densities of large-diameter trees could, therefore, be an indicator of climate change that is beyond the recent natural range of variation in these forests. (Emphasis added.)

    That's not a very strong statement.

    The study focuses mainly on the change in forest structure, largely a result of a century of fire suppression.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Knowing that Climate Change affects each region differently, I wonder how tree diameters are being affected at our National Parks in the Cascade and Rocky Mtns? The Whitebark pines (a high-altitude tree species) and other five-needle pines within the parks of these mountain ranges are already being devastated by blister rust. Thanks Kurt.

    rob mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Blown Over and Blown Away at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Yes, the weather on the Alaska Peninsula is powerful and not always expected. People, especially pilots, should expect it, and be prepared. National Park Service teams have been stranded in the Aniakchak Caldera for periods longer than a week, due to weather. When you go there you better be self-sufficient.

    Just a technical point about the first report from the park: the Aniakchack Caldera is no where near Katmai, certainly not "in" it. The Aniakchak Caldera is way down the Peninsula from Katmai. The Caldera is inside its own unit of the National Park System, wholly distinct from Katmai National Park or Katmai National Preserve. NPS people sometimes allow their own administrative systems -- the park superintendent of Katmai National Park, Katmai National Preserve and the Alagnak Wild River also manages the two park units at Aniakchak, and entirely different kind of place. Similarly, NPS people refer to the battlefields of Fredericksburg and of Spottsylvania as "Fred-Spot" even though these two battles happened at entirely different points in the Civil War, and the Home of Franklin Roosevelt, and the Vanderbilt mansion, together with another NPS unit, are routinely referred to as "Ro-Va," homogenizing the places, although hopefully not also the distinctive significance of the areas.

    The extreme of this homogenizing the meaning of national parks is Speaker Pelosi's proposal to bundle up all the distinctive park units around Golden Gate into one "national park(s)" [sic] designation.

    Let us hope the park staff at Katmai realize Aniakchak National Monument, Aniakchak National Preserve and Aniakchak National Wild River were each established for their own, entirely distinct, purposes. Nothing to do with the units at Katmai, other than the managers.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Good additions, Kirby. I thought about Hurricane Ridge. Definitely a great place to get the lay of the land.