Recent comments

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Rescue Father and Son From the Snake River After Their Raft Springs a Leak   5 years 36 weeks ago

    How is it possible that a person can make a cell phone call while near drowning in a rushing river? How is it possible that there was even a signal in such a remote place. I wonder.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "museums roped off" ?? In the past year and a half, my family has visited over 50 National Parks. In that time we have:

    taken rock climbing classes in Joshua Tree
    kayaked in caves at Channel Islands
    ridden bikes all through Acadia
    hiked all around Rocky Mountain
    watched a sea turtle release at North Padre Island
    canoed through Big Thicket
    water skied in Lake Powell
    walked to Rainbow Bridge
    watched fireworks at Mount Rushmore
    toured Tall Grass Prairie
    gone on many hikes in undeveloped caves in Carlsbad Caverns
    watched a full moon in White Sands
    went windsurfing at North Padre Island
    hiked in Grand Canyon
    walked miles of pristine seashore in Cumberland Island NS
    gone rafting in Dinosaur
    gone jeeping in Canyonlands
    attended the wildflower festival in Cedar Breaks
    visited countless sites in the DC area

    and visited countless smaller National Parks where we have hiked, attended ranger programs, walked through museums and enjoyed history, scenery and wildlife. What part of this is a "museum not to be touched"?

    In addition, I have watched people throw coins in thermal pools in Yellowstone, through trash in canyons, climb fences "because the picture will be better 10 inches closer", walk off trails destroying cryptobiotic soil, pick HUGE bouquets of wildflowers, pet wildlife, feed wildlife, and the list goes on and on. No wonder we have to keep other parts of the parks roped off...

    I believe the National Parks offer a huge variety of ways to enjoy and experience our parks. A few rules and regulations to try and preserve our parks? Ok with me...

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    There is a definite mindset among many NPS rank & file employees that tends towards misanthropy. The focus of their careers more and more seems to be a holy crusade to save the parks from the ravages of humanity who are seen to be the ultimate destroyer of nature and all that is wild and beautiful.

    This attitude is coming from a variety of sources, not the least of which is the educational training prospective rangers receive in our government funded universities which strongly stress radical ecosystem management, gloom and doom environmental education, draconian law enforcement and all sorts of other agenda laden programs that have gradually replaced an old-fashioned grounding in natural science, history and regional culture. The young ranger to be comes out of these politically correct gulags on a mission to preserve and save the land from the pestilence that is humanity and as a testament to this I often hear modern day rangers refer to developed areas of a park as a "sacrifice area" that is there to bait the masses into concentration so that the rest of the park can be wrapped in a protective cocoon of strict preservation, i.e. NO HUMANS ALLOWED!

    Preservation is obviously an important concept but the instilled and institutionalized disdain of your fellow homo sapiens is not only wrong but downright dangerous as a concept. The modern NPS needs to be more open to encouraging human contact with the entirety of its holdings and to maybe turn back the clock to a warmer and more friendly era of hospitality and human interaction.

    Nice photo of Chesler Park, Kurt!

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt, has this exactly right. I have pictures of climbers on Devil's tower. The reason people want to snow mobile in Yellowstone rather than Ohio is because of the wildlife and scenery they might encounter. Mr Gray needs to realize that the area is for everyone, and that means (take care of it). The Obama's sailing in Cape Hatteras or horseback riding in Yellowstone, or even hiking Half Dome would show a responsible visit that preserves our park for everyone.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    A sure way to evaporate common sense is to mix politics and money and I agree with Mr. Gray.

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Charles. I love the story of the Brighty statue, and I really don't mind that I get one little piece of the story here, and then another there, and....

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

    Made me smile on Twitter this morning...

    From AlaskaCenters: "A NPS fee-free weekend (7/18-19) is like fat-free ice cream... but better. The whole family can enjoy it, but it lasts a lot longer."
    http://twitter.com/AlaskaCenters

  • Dining At The Parks: Mesa Verde National Park's Chef Ensures The Southwest Flows Through his Dishes   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yum! Where's the recipes? MB

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Capt. Ardy said this may effect the Bright Angel Trail. It's a little further to the west and will likely have no impact.

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The statue of Brighty was a gift to the Grand Canyon Park from motion picture producer Stephen F. Booth, upon completion of the film, not a left over. As the one comment said, Brighty resides at the North Rim Lodge with photos of the real Brighty taken in the early 1900s. The burro in the film was named Jiggs and was owned by Marguerite Henry, the author of "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" Very good articale on the wild burros!

  • Latest Pastime of Yellowstone National Park Bison: Human Tossing   5 years 36 weeks ago

    It seems that no matter which park I've gone to, there is a tendency for people (regardless of their age) to ignore the warnings and take chances (e.g. people hiking without adequate supplies). Maybe it's just part of our social nature to try and look cool and not worry about anything even when it involves bodily injury and/or death, or it's just the thrill of doing or seeing something that alot of others haven't.

    I think we are gamblers by nature and that no matter how much information is out there about the danger of this or that activity some people are going to play the odds. Most win because the odds are highly in their favor, but occasionally they lose. It's these RARE incidents of injury and/or death that generate so much disproportionate publicity and discussion. Besides, most people probably take their biggest chance by driving the Interstate Highway system to GET to Yellowstone.

    The only way for the parks to combat this is to make winning less likely by handing out severe fines when seeing someone break the rules (regardless of the outcome), especially when there behaviour is endangering the lives of those in their care. But stopping these incidents altogether would take alot of manpower and patroling and who wants to visit a natural park when it feels like a police state. Mostly people have to be left to make their own mistakes in these places, even though it truly is a tragedy when someone who doesn't realize the danger (especially a young child) is hurt or killed.

    Nevertheless, when I come to Yellowstone this summer, I plan to stay as far away from the bison as I can.
    Besides, we have plenty in KY. Now a moose on the other hand...

  • Let's Start a Tradition: "Thank a Ranger Day"   5 years 36 weeks ago

    John Lison

    I am a National Park Service volunteer. I am a fulltime time summer volunteer, working 21 weeks, 4 days a week, mid April thru Mid September. I've done this for three summers since retiring at age 62. I'm currently at my third NPS unit. Sometime we are called Rangers;sometimes not. The visitors all call us Ranger whether NPS officially calls us that one or not

    Personally I get thanked all of the time. Visitors often put their hands out to shake mine. More and more , they notice my Master Ranger Corps volunteer patch as well as my name tag and call me by name. Mostly I work the VC and go out of my way to make the Jr Ranger awards as memorable as possible for the kids. Not only do the kids love it but parents are often blown away with the seemingly extra attention paid to their kids. Few volunteers I've known require much recognition--we do this for the "grins" , both the visitors and our own.

    The Rangers I've worked with who feel underappreciated are usually those who bring the barest minimum to their jobs because that's all it is to them -a job. Those who do this work "For the Love of the Game" usually feel appreciated by NPS' visitors. 99% of the visitors I've run into are appreciative and wonderful to be able to help. Admittedly , there is the 1% but that's life.

    NPS has official Comment forms at every unit. You'd do more to recognize a good experience with an NPS person by seeking out that form & actually spending the time to fill it in and submit it.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago
  • Boom City : Follow-Up   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "The basis for my questions about noise are based in-part on an old hydroplane race here in Seattle. There used to be a one-day event at Green Lake where smaller sized hydroplanes would race around. Those familiar with the area know that Green Lake is very close to the Woodland Park Zoo. Apparently the noise from this one race was found to have distressed the animals in the zoo. And so, the annual race was canceled. (I looked on the web for conformation of this, but only found a reference to angry residents asking for the racing ban, but my memory tells me there was a zoo connection). "

    I was at the Parks Board meeting where the zoo vet testified. He said that the animals noticed the noise, but it was not as loud as the daily roar of trucks on Aurora Ave. His recommendation was to race boats on Green Lake more than once a year and then the animals would not even notice.

    Tod Petersen

  • Big Bend National Park Helps Protect Night Skies. You Can, Too—Here's How!   5 years 36 weeks ago

    By promoting the value of the night sky as a major cross-cultural natural resource, the NPS is taking a leadership role as the nation's premier conservation agency. Demonstrating the in-park advantages of lighting practices that preserve enjoyment of a dark and starry night will indeed have a positive societal effect which can be carried far beyond park boundaries. I'd like to see this effort repeated at all other NPS areas, as well as in our city, county, and state parks, including all other public land areas. What a great way to celebrate the 2009 International Year of Astronomy!

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • More Low Water Woes at Lake Mead – but This Isn't the Worst Drought on Record for the Lake   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Don't talk so dumb Dave, We all need water and an economy to survive, ever heard of Ghost towns. no water + no growth= Ghost town.
    way to allow yourself to be brain washed. DA!!

  • Big Bend National Park Helps Protect Night Skies. You Can, Too—Here's How!   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Excellent. I feel like this is something that will make huge leaps and bounds in the next generation, both inside and outside the parks, all over the country. Darker skies is something quite innocent, but profound, and as a conservative, the only thing I hear from my conservatives friends about this topic is "HA. They're inventing something called LIGHT POLLUTION now?!" Well, a little knowledge can go a long way here, and I believe that moves like this will continue without all that much opposition, except in crime-ridden areas, and as long as it isn't mandated by the government!

    And why not!? Cheaper electricity bills, and more stars! As long as we work to make this something that people can choose to do, and see the benefits of, and not just another government mandate, it'll happen all over.

  • Let's Start a Tradition: "Thank a Ranger Day"   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I agree with you. Carl was very special. You might wish to visit www.name4carl.org for additional thoughts and memories.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Looking for driving information in the Great Smokies

  • Big Bend National Park Helps Protect Night Skies. You Can, Too—Here's How!   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Fantastic! We need to do this everywhere, not just the Parks, but I'm glad to see they're making a good start.

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

    I live in National Park heaven--close to Colorado National Monument, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Dinosaur, Rocky Mountain, Arches, and Canyonlands. Am I going to a national park this weekend? No. Does the fee-free weekend seem like a good idea? Yes. During most of my kids' lives, I've been too poor to take them anywhere, and an entrance free reduction does make a difference. I just think that few people know about it. In reality, I'm too poor to drive to the parks, let alone enter them.

  • International Park News: "Nappies" for Horses Spur Controversy in Irish National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Interestingly enough in most US parks, dog owners must pick their dog excrements but horse are free to defecate all over the trails.

  • Interior Secretary Plans Free Weekend Entry to National Parks to Boost Tourism   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "Land of The Free"-

    Where a federal parking pass must be purchased for day use of public lands. These areas belong to us- nothing new about it. We already pay for them with federal taxes- the same way we pay for the war in Iraq.

  • Reader Participation Day: Are Park Entrance Fees Fair?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This post should ask the question: Are taxes fair?

    User fees are inherently fair because they are based on voluntary transactions. FrankN hit it when he showed that "[s]uggesting that entrance fees are some form of taxation is again like suggesting that lottery tickets are tax. You can choose to visit or not; you can choose to buy a ticket or not."

    FrankN is also correct when her asserts that NPS funding is based on politics.

    Now is the time, my fellow national park lovers, to cut political and bureaucratic chains that choke our national parks.

    User fees are based on voluntary transactions, and when not incorporated with taxation, fees are the most egalitarian method of supporting parks. We must break the corporatist stranglehold and stop allowing the leviathan government to grant monopolies to enormous, multi-national corporations who pocket 97% and leave the parks with a paltry pittance.

    Imagine that instead of being siphoned, much of the billions payed to government monopoly concessions (for a stay in the Ahwahnee, bottled water, or a meal) could be returned to national parks in the form of a user fee.

    It works for the Tower of London and thousands of conservation trusts in America.

    It can work for our national parks.

  • Reader Participation Day: Are Park Entrance Fees Fair?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    We will have to agree to disagree. What we can agree on is that funding the parks is congressional will; and that's a fight to take up with our congressperson. What we can disagree on is how strong that will would be if there were no park fees coming in. You make it sound like Congress has this huge bag of money and if the fees were not there they could just open the purse string if they wanted to. Problem is, the purse nowadays belongs to China. In today's world of health care reform, wars and bailouts Congress would be even less inclined to fund the parks (even underfund them!) if they were not bringing in money in the form of fees. The parks are not accessible to only the most affluent. They offer possibly the most affordable family vacation option.
    Suggesting that entrance fees are some form of taxation is again like suggesting that lottery tickets are tax. You can choose to visit or not; you can choose to buy a ticket or not.
    In today's world $25.00 for seven days (or twice that for unlimited visits for one year) is peanuts that even relatively poor people can afford. Certainly all those folks driving around Yellowstone in their 30 foot RV's and Chevy Subdivisions and diesel pickups don't bat an eye. There are discounts for seniors, and I would be happy to see the same for low income people. But right now, today, unless we have a viable alternative to these fees (that doesn't involve corporate or foreign money), I think that doing away with them would be a mistake.
    We can also agree that we both love Yellowstone.