Recent comments

  • Keeping History Honest When It Comes to Sight Lines In Civil War-era National Parks Is Not Without Controversy   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker,

    I found myself agreeing for the most part with your first paragraph, especially in the context of battlefields of similar significance from other eras and areas of the country, but came to an abrupt halt in agreement when I came across certain statements, listed below.

    While I know you generally care little for my many times as-equally smart-a$$ed, (Or Dumb-a$$ed, your choice…), comments, I’ll submit them just the same.

    My home state of Virginia endured the hardships of the Civil War like no other state involved in the conflict. I say this in full acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by all states and peoples involved, but no other state saw the absolute decimation that Virginia did by war’s end.

    That being said, it must be brought to light that of the 200+ battlefields in the state, only a few more than a dozen have been preserved as NPS sites, and most not even close to the entire original battlefield in size. These sites were only preserved through forward thinking and planning by those who thought it prudent to do so at the time. I will not second guess their intent, and applaud their foresight.

    I agree in the most part with your statement:

    “And in reality, shouldn't the greater concern not be the inevitable reclamation of the landscape by Nature, but the not so inevitable commercial development, by which these sites are indeed lost to time forever?”

    I can show you what happens when said preservation is not planned for, and such losses occur. This is but one case in point:

    The “Yellow Tavern” battlefield, where Sheridan’s cavalry forces won a little mentioned and mostly insignificant battle over JEB Stuart’s Cavalry forces, is now dominated by a huge shopping mall. The need for another Kohl’s has apparently taken precedence over the reverence of the site where Stuart received his mortal wound. The only monument to this man, said battlefield, and all other slain soldiers from both sides is nearly impossible to find, since it is now surrounded by homes within a subdivision.

    I can also point out earthworks that reside as nothing more than long piles of dirt within other subdivisions, with no markings as to their significance. In short, urban/commercial development has in most cases won out over preservation of these sites.

    I certainly agree with you and most other posters that war is deplorable, and my earlier reference to the Civil War in particular as “fratricide” should show my stance on the politics of the conflict. I still believe these sites were established in reverence to the common soldier, and not to the ideologies of the aptly named “Lost Cause” in this case. War is still a sad reality of the human species, and we show ourselves far from being “Civilized” enough to turn from it completely in the resolution of our differences. Hopefully, though, the lessons learned from the American Civil War will keep us from repeating that kind of history within our own country.

    I take great exception to this statement:

    “It becomes difficult and ridiculous to justify each and every instance of conflict being a benchmark for preservation status, so if not all, then none.”

    For in this culture of greed that is part and parcel to humankind, if given this choice, we would surely end up with none.

  • National Park Service Prepares to Host Millions of Visitors for the Presidential Inauguration and Parade   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Actually Anon, it WILL BE the homeless, the great unwashed if you will, who will be coming to see their "savior."
    Hope? Change? What exactly do you mean? Old Clinton appointees? I'll tell ya what, you keep the CHANGE, I'll keep my freedom.
    "Let the world see these "faceless people"...hmmmm...ever read "Camp of the Saints?" Those kind of people??? The "homeless?" The unmotivated?

  • Keeping History Honest When It Comes to Sight Lines In Civil War-era National Parks Is Not Without Controversy   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Not meaning to be my usual smart-assed self, but is there an overriding insinuation that each and every battlefield be "preserved", or is it just a select few sites of import that Secretary Lane was referring to in the initial mandate? And how is that selection process determined, and whom shall I bow down to in reverence of their ever-knowing sense of those "most important" sites of conflict in the course of American history? And in reality, shouldn't the greater concern not be the inevitable reclamation of the landscape by Nature, but the not so inevitable commercial development, by which these sites are indeed lost to time forever? Do we need to "reclaim" Culp's Hill and the Round Top duo to witness first-hand the fortifications and overview of the Union's right and left flanks respectively to gain a greater understanding of why, after repeatedly being turned back from these positions, the Confederacy mounted what is now universally considered the suicide march that was Pickett's Last Stand? What about the "other" July 3-4 super battle staged in Vicksburg, which along with Gettysburg simultaneously changed the fortunes of the Union and in no small way assisted in permanently shifting the momentum and eventually outcome of the war towards the Army of the Potomac? And what fate might be in store for Antietam? And Sharpsburg? And the many other lesser glorified but far from lesser important sites in South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, etc? Does this mandate also apply equally to Revolutionary War and Indian War sites, the Mexican-American conflict, the War of 1812, the Spanish / American War, the French / Indian War.......?

    It becomes difficult and ridiculous to justify each and every instance of conflict being a benchmark for preservation status, so if not all, then none. I believe it more important to place the emphasis on maintaining those hallowed grounds being utilized as the unfortunate final resting places for the thousands upon thousands of causalities from BOTH sides of EVERY conflict waged on our soil. Taking into account the scope of the history of mankind and then placing special significance on the sites of human conflict is tantamount to glorification of the deed, and by now we should have "civilized" ourselves to the point of not accepting this as the only manner capable of resolution of our societal differences. Yes, men and women fought and many paid the ultimate price for the preservation of various ideologies. But to cast the real estate itself into some sort of prominence is to me a display of the same lack of dignity exhibited by those who visit expecting (or at least hoping) to see or hear the echoes from the past; a bit too morbid for my particular tastes.

  • National Park Service Prepares to Host Millions of Visitors for the Presidential Inauguration and Parade   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yes, four million people to gather and see this remarkable event is quite astonishing if not monumental in grandeur. I would calculate the magnitude of this size definitely represents a logistical safety and health problems. But, considering the mood of the nation and the transition of this new administration that represents change and hope, it's understandable why the masses would sacrifice the discomforts of overcrowding to see this remarkable new President take office...Barack Obama! People are desperate for new leadership, a new direction that's not hell bent on criminal ideology which has been built on lies and deception for eight years. I say, let the flood gates open and let the world see these faceless people which were poorly represented for eight years. Fill the streets, the avenues and plazas with joy and be glad the (Bush administration) is finally out of office. Welcome to the White House President Obama!

  • National Park Service Prepares to Host Millions of Visitors for the Presidential Inauguration and Parade   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I attended the March for Women's Lives on the Mall in 2004; that rally had 1.1 million people on the Mall and stretched from 3rd Street to the Washington Monument; it was the only time I ever felt claustrophobic on the Mall (and I don't have claustrophobia, and the Mall is gigantic). The area from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial could hold several hundred thousand more.

    If it's true that most people won't go to the Mall, where will they go? You can only fit in the hundreds of thousands on the actual motorcade route, and even then, most can't see much. There are only so many bleachers because of court rulings that forbid the privatization of the street.

    I have my doubts that 3-4 million will actually be there; however, if there are, this is not good news for the residents of the District, who can expect their residences and streets trampled over and sheer madness. DC is used to large crowds - very large crowds - but this is insane. 1 million is barely tolerable; what will 3 to 4 million do? The human crush of people could be very dangerous.

    I ask that if people go back to my former city that they do whatever they can to remember that people live there and to respect those people. Granted, half the city will be trying to attend the Inauguration, but it's no less true that outsiders often show an absolute lack of respect for the fact that there's a local population. If people can clean up after themselves (even though the garbage cans will be full), tread as lightly as possible, and remember that this is causing a dangerous situation for themselves and others alike, then maybe ...

    Also, remember DC's large homeless population. They are always scooped up off the streets during the Inauguration or forced away from their homes, especially those who live in the streets along the parade route (a large area, for instance, is next to the Canadian Embassy). During the Bush Inaugurations, those homeless were being forced to show ID's and were otherwise harrassed. There are approximately 12,000 homeless living within the city, a little more than 2% of the population. Think of them and if you see a police officer, please ask them what they are doing for the homeless in light of the Inauguration and that they be treated with respect.

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

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Jim -
    My understanding is that the Park Service isn't stopping moving towards the 318 Rule - its just no longer scrambling to get that Rule in place before December. It was probably completely unrealistic to pull that off anyways, but I think that's what they were trying in light of not having any other options. I'm not sure if the Park Service has any legal provisions for instituting a temporary rule that couldn't be protested or appealed in the same way as a permanent rule, but even if they did, it would seem that Judge Brimmer's decision is essentially that the 2004 rule will be the temporary rule until such time as the full legal process regarding a permanent rule can be played out.
    Sabattis

  • End of a Curious Era at Mount Rainier National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yes Claire, I am in mourning.
    Memories are flooding in of when I was a kid playing in and around the visitors center before my parents dragged me off on a hike.
    I heard the old building did not give up with out a fight. She snapped 3 wrecking balls from their cable before she finally fell.
    IMHO: They sure in heck don't build em like they use to.

  • Keeping History Honest When It Comes to Sight Lines In Civil War-era National Parks Is Not Without Controversy   5 years 36 weeks ago

    MRC,

    I fully understand your position, and at one time in my life shared it. The passage of years and much recent study have caused me to change my mind on this matter. I still think the Civil War to be not much more than government sanctioned fratricide, but that does not mean that we cannot learn from it, or that these battlefields should not be preserved.

    Sabattis is correct that you simpy cannot get the physical connection to these sites through any form of media. One must stand on the same ground and view the environs that while now peaceful, where once the scenes of great carnage. It does bring a better perspective to the individual soldier's point of view, which in my opinion is who these battlefields and monuments seek to honor.

    To the main thrust of the thread, prudent tree removal and delimbing would probably suffice in most cases to restore some form of authenticity to the views of the era, and not total deforestation.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "I don't buy all this enviro nonsense, and neither do most of the American people"...............Not true. Public opinion survey after survey, conducted by the Park Service themselves and through independent researchers, have shown that the majority of Americans feel that snowmobiles have no place in Yellowstone. I agree with Frank C. above. It is time to get politics out of our parks. Since the primary purpose of the Park Service is to provide enjoyment of the parks in such a manner as to leave them unimpaired for future generations, the Service should be run by conservationists not political appointees beholden to special interests. Environmentalism, despite what some would lead you to believe, is not a special interest; it is of interest to every single organism on this planet, including the Dick Chaney's and GW Bushes of the world, whether they choose to be ignorant of that fact or not.
    "....it would be very unusual for a concurrent court to override an order of another....." Perhaps so, but in essence isn't that is exactly what Judge Brimmer did to Sullivan. Judge Sullivan said that the proposed number of snowmobiles to be allowed this winter was too many, unacceptable. Judge Brimmer comes back and says, "Well, I can't really overturn what Judge Sullivan ruled and allow that many sleds, so instead I am going to allow even more!" If that isn't "backdoor" overriding, I don't know what it is.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Sabbatis,

    Like I said, I'm not surprised they re-instated the 720 rule; I'm surprised they used that as reason to stop on moving toward a temporary 318 rule. That move alone seems to violate the reasoning in the other court order, which they purportedly are also following. But, if the Sullivan order is simply on the merits of a permanent rule, and it's true that it provided no guidance on a temporary rule, then you may be right that Sullivan may not give an injunction. I guess we'll see.

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

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    It has come to a point where common sense is no longer the rule. If we don't like a decesion, we sue. Come on folks it is time to start using some good old common sense. The parks were set aside as two folds: to enjoy and preserve not eliminate all activities in the name of nature. Stewardship means just that, oversee at all times in an active role not passive one time rule making that eliminates any and all activities. Stewardship is time consuming and not a one shot deal, so get used to doing some work and USE COMMON SENSE!!!

  • Updated: Mount Rainier National Park Remains Closed Due to Flooding   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Just as in 2006, when construction workers & climbing guide concessions had continuous access, this Park closure is mostly just another scam for the convenience of NPS management. The road is good enough for heavy equipment to go back & forth to the VC demolition. Good enough for news vehicles to cover that event. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/541098.html

    Good enough for several dozen NPS employees to stand around & watch the wrecking ball. Just not quite good enough for the pesky public to be in their way...

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    From reading Judge Brimmer's opinion, it is clear that he was placing a higher value on providing certainty on short-term snowmobile policy to Park users and the surrounding Park communities, rather than on getting the right long-term policy in place for the immediate winter season. Furthermore, the opinion seems to be quite clear that the 2004 rule is to be implemented, and it seems to me that it would have been a major stretch for the Park Service to argue that they will not implement the 2004 rule at all, and would instead try and rush out the new Rule within the next 30 days - and somehow resolve the protests and appeals in that time as well. It seems to me that the National Park Service would be just asking for Judge Brimmer to slap them with a contempt of court ruling in that case.

    And while it is possible that Judge Sullivan may vacate Judge Brimmer's order implementing the 2004 rule for the upcoming winter, it would be very unusual for a concurrent court to override an order of another. If Judge Sullivan did do so, such an issue would certainly be referred to the Court of Appeals - which of course could easily end up tying it up and delaying it even further.

    About the only certainty in this process is that long-term resolution won't be occurring any time soon.

  • The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial You See Over There By the Tidal Basin Is Not the Original   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I'm impressed that you gave credit to the Wiki photographer. I'm sure he appreciates that. :^)
    Interesting subject. It's always nice to be remembered.

  • Are Yosemite National Park Officials Overlooking Safety of Curry Village Guests?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Use the occasion to move some lodging out of the valley. And in a few years some more. The floods were a good start. Safety is a strong argument, but ultimately it should be about restoring serenity in the valley.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The NPS (and fed govt.) works for us taxpayers, not us for them. They need to be reminded of that, and allow as much recreation opportunities as feasible in OUR parks. They are ALL our parks, not parks for just for enviros.
    I don't buy all this enviro nonsense, and neither do most of the American people, proven by "carbon" initiatives failing this past election all over the country. You enviros need to get a life...obviously you have way too much time on your hands worrying about a little bit of exhaust from a few sleds.
    I for one am looking forward to riding my new Arctic Cat sled into the park this winter! Why? Because it is FUN!!!!

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Sabbatis,

    But, what's puzzling was that NPS was in fact trying to implement a temporary rule of 318, which they fully intended to have published in time. They only scrapped those temporary plans when Judge Brimmer's ruling came down. Whether they would have succeeded in getting a new rule published is another issue; that they stopped trying altogether suggests they are setting themselves up for another court failure. They could have continued to try on the 318, and then reverted to the 2004 when that process failed. But, they simply stopped trying, which suggests they are accepting a rule for snowmobile use that the courts have now ruled is worse than the rule that has been rejected.

    I would be very surprised in light of that not to see Sullivan grant an injunction. Tactically, what NPS is doing is very puzzling - either, they don't want snowmobiles in the park at all and have taken the bait in order to make that reality; or, they do, and are simply hoping that the current ruling is upheld.

    We'll see how this plays out, but I think the odds went up much higher than I ever expected when Sullivan's ruling originally came out that we might actually not see any motorized over snow use inside the park this winter.

    And, since roads will continue to be groomed, would that then mean they'd let non-motorized users on those roads (winterized bicycles and cross-country skiing?) - that's getting ahead of ourselves, I know. But, that question may soon become relevant.

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

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I am skeptical of the claim that the National Park Service could meet the "promulgate an acceptable rule" alternative in Judge Brimmer's decision any time soon. Indeed, Judge Brimmer says the same thing on Page 14 of his decision: "The Court finds it unlikely that the NPS will have the ability to promulgate and put into effect a rule for the winter season in a timely manner." Thus, Judge Brimmer's order in the conclusion was clearly intended to impose the 2004 rule for the 2008-2009 winter season. Whatever your opinion on this issue, I think it is indisputable that whatever final rule the National Park Service attempts to promulgate in accordance with Judge Sullivan's decision will certainly be immediately challenged by either the snowmobile lobby or the conservation lobby, or both.

    Indeed, it is amusing to note that we are in the current situation because the last time the National Park Service attempted to promulgate this rule, *both* the snowmobile lobby and the conservation lobby immediately challenged the ruling, the former in Judge Brimmer's Wyoming Court and the latter in Judge Sullivan's DC Court. The National Park Service actually simultaneously petitioned Judge Brimmer to consolidate the cases in DC, and Judge Sullivan to consolidate the cases in Wyoming. Both judges demurred on this petition - and thus we ended up dueling court cases.

    Looking at the whole picture, I don't see how anyone could reasonably argue that the National Park Service had any discretion to do anything other than implement the 2004 rule for the 2008-2009 winter season in Yellowstone. There's just no way to reasonably believe that the processes of public notice-and-comment, protest, and appeal could be played out in time for the 2008-2009 winter season. Failing that, the order of Judge Brimmer's ruling seems clear - the 2004 rule will be in effect.

  • Mammoth Cave National Park Produces Its Master Trails Plan   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I second Jim's opinion, and I also note with approval that the final plan provides accommodations for all sorts of different activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and biking....

  • Keeping History Honest When It Comes to Sight Lines In Civil War-era National Parks Is Not Without Controversy   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I think that battlefield preservation is important and worthy. Standing on the site of a battlefield creates a a different kind of connection with those who fought and gave their lives in that place. To that end, I think that it is important to preserve some sense of the original place as possible.

    Obviously, those who went before us made much different decisions about how to mark a battlefield than would be made today, and I think that it would be inappropriate to try and undo those decisions. The clutter of monuments and even the battlefield tour roads are now in a sense part of the historical landscape at places like Gettysburg and Shiloh. But the mistakes of the past should not keep us from making sensible preservation decisions about what things are left.

  • Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases Through 2009   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Of course, the letter from Senators Baucus and Crapo is nice populism, but doesn't show much understanding of economics. Our tax dollars go towards preserving and maintaining public lands, but ieach time a person visits a public land, he or she imposes a cost on the oepration of that land. There doesn't seem to be much sense in using the tax dollars that we all contribute to cover those operations costs imposed by visitors, regardless of whether one visits 10 times, one time, or even not at all....

  • Keeping History Honest When It Comes to Sight Lines In Civil War-era National Parks Is Not Without Controversy   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Perspective I think is necessary, both in what the NPS historically endeavored to do, and what one expects the role of today's military parks and battlefields to play.

    Historically, at least when it came to penning their thoughts, the fathers of the NPS seemingly had good intentions. Were they as environmentally sensitive as one might be today? More than likely not. But then, that can be said of the evolution of many agencies, businesses and societies. Hindsight, after all is 20-20. Looking forward is the more difficult task, and I think the initial highlighted passage in the post above shows Sec. Lane, and Messieurs Mather and Albright were fairly well-intentioned for their day.

    I also don't think one can remove political interference from some of the agency's decisions. The Yellowstone snowmobile case is just the latest example.

    As for sight lines in military parks and battlefields, should these hallowed grounds simply be allowed to grow over and be forgotten, or should they be taken care of both to depict the historical nature of the conflict and to do honor to the fallen, as well as to help portray the damnable nature of war?

    Should the Holocaust Museum in Washington be abandoned and the site converted into a 7-11, or is there something far more valuable and far more lasting that society can learn from a visit, something you can't as easily come away with by reading a history book?

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yellowstone does not exist to support a small number of businesses in West Yellowstone. It is a NATIONAL Park. In fact, Yellowstone is more even than that. As the world's first National Park it is, and has been, a model that kind of belongs to everyone. There are people who would enjoy hunting in the park, or ATVing. Many folks could make money off of these activities. The Park Service is not obligated to provide them. The Service IS obliged to allow enjoyment (only) in such a manner that will leave the park "unimpaired". Despite Shelly's assertion above, the fact is that the Park Service's own scientists have determined that snowmobiles ARE harmful, and that the best course of action would be to eliminate them in favor of snow coaches. They have been ignored. Anon #2: Yellowstone is not a local park, it is a NATIONAL PARK.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Politics are at the heart of this battle and are clogging the arteries of our national parks. How much longer until we move to remove the life-threatening plaque of politics? This incident exposes the dismissive attitude some (many?) NPS managers take toward public comment and input. They pretend to care, gather comments, pay for expensive studies, and do what they wanted to do anyway in the face of evidence and public opposition. The whole system of public input is a sham.

  • Keeping History Honest When It Comes to Sight Lines In Civil War-era National Parks Is Not Without Controversy   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Historically, the Park Service's role has been to be thoughtful when it comes to tinkering with the environment.

    Debatable. Think fire suppression, quarries, roads blasted out of glacially polished domes, predator reduction programs, cutting down sequoias to save cabins, blasting waterfalls so the flow is more aesthetically appealing, digging a trench with a backhoe right next to the Grant Tree, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

    I'm not saying these things to be a Negative Nancy; certainly things could have been worse in the hands of different loggers and different miners; but let us remove our rose-colored glasses when examining the effects of the NPS management, which amounts to significantly more than mere "tinkering with the environment".

    MRC makes some good points; this type of "preservation" is very morbid indeed. Perhaps a better memorial to those so cavalierly sacrificed would be to let nature retake the battlefields so that their spirits may finally rest in peace.

    Beamis is also correct, and to quote Ben Franklin: "There never was a good war or a bad peace."