Recent comments

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

    The problem is that although the risk of injury is quite small per person-day of residence at Curry Village, because of its year-round operation, the relatively high density of tent cabins, and the fact that rockfall has occurred during the crowded summer season, the occurrence of any such event above Curry Village is likely to result in injury or death to a few, unless cabins are relocated.

    It seems to me that park visitors who reserve space at Curry Village should be made aware of the relatively small risk of rockfall occuring during their stay in this section of the park. In this manner, what appears to be an unadvertised risk can be turned into a voluntary risk that the individual chooses to take.

    Of course, there is always the concern that negative information of any kind, such as official warnings of rockfall above Curry Village leading to injury and death, might affect overall reservations and park visitation as a whole, which would have a local and regional economic impact.

    At present, a major section of Curry Village remains closed due to the last rockfall that occurred in October. I stayed at the end of that month in an unheated tent cabin at Curry Village for nearly a full week. The risk of rockfall was less of concern to me than how to get access to food after hours.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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

    Shelly,

    I'm not sure West Yellowstone would go out of business; most people using snowmobiles are doing so outside the park - or at least that's how it seems. But, if the economy of West Yellowstone really is going into the toilet if no snowmobiles are allowed in the park (and considering that most of town stays shut down even in the middle of the winter season, that seems doubtful as well), then NPS's move should not be welcome news to snowmobile enthusiasts because there's no way that Judge Sullivan will allow this to stand, which could mean zero snowmobiles instead of 318 per day and zero snowcoaches as well. I saw from a Wyoming politician in one news source some worry that that is in fact what will happen; it seems from a purely tactical standpoint, the snowmobile lobby should have hoped that the limit was set at 318 and then sued - instead of NPS going back to 720 (a number that simply will not be allowed to stand and may threaten all snowmobiling whatsoever).

    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

    The Department of Interior has become a political stronghold and a disgrace to America.
    So what are we going to do now, spend many millions to once again do a scientific study and then ignore it ?!?

    I dearly hope that the President-elect has a plan to clean house in this Department before they manage to destroy all they have been entrusted to protect and save !

  • The Half Dome Experience in Yosemite National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I've seen this short video as an NPS podcast. It can be viewed relatively instantly at http://www.nps.gov/yose/photosmultimedia/ynn4-halfdome.htm. It's a first-rate NPS "Yosemite Nature Note" video which, in my opinion, successfully captures much of the Half Dome experience, from roaming the meadows of Yosemite Valley, to driving the Tioga Pass Road, to hiking above Vernal and Nevada Falls and climbing the cables to the top.

    I first saw this video when attending the 2008 Yosemite Ranger Reunion. It was played on the big screen without sound, while we ate dinner in the East Auditorium of the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. But, even without sound, it was quite impressive as a compilation of changing images.

    Upon my return to Oak Ridge, TN I subsequently visited www.nps.gov to search for and re-view this NPS podcast, this time with sound included. This excellent communication tool has the potential to reach a large audience, once the word spreads that the video is definitely worth the effort. I recommend this video to all who may not yet have visited this great park, to any who have already visited, but could only imagine what it might be like to climb the cables to the top, and to the few who once made this arduous journey and are now eager to re-live their experience of a lifetime.

    I hope others will take the time to watch and comment.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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

    Hey Anon-----It's a park whose administrative HQ is located along the banks of the Potomac, where they come under the keen and perceptive purview of federal judges. Get used to it. Yellowstone is no more a LOCAL matter than nuclear testing was for Nevada. Wise up. The overlords in DC are in charge and that should inspire confidence in us all.

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

    What the h*%# is a judge all the way back east in DC doing making this decision anyway? Shouldn't this be a LOCAL (Wyoming/Montana/Idaho) decision??

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

    Fact is, there are businesses in West Yellowstone who have invested huge sums of money into their snowmobile fleets, not to mention the infrastructure to support the public who wish to enjoy the park in this manner. This should be based on sound science...the Park Service has already determined that snowmobiles can and should be permitted in Yellowstone and not be a detriment to the wildlife or environment.
    A bunch of old crusty rangers who have fallen to the envirowacko crowd should not have the only say in this matter.

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

    Lewis is not the only dictator in the ranks of NPS superintendents.

    It is high time that these unelected bureaucrats get brought back down to earth and stripped of their near despotic power over people's lives and the natural resources that are charged in their care. Lewis is just one of many and this case should open the eyes of all NPT readers and park supporters about the way these virtual Roman proconsuls wield vast powers while often ignoring the dictates of the public, courts and in this case their own park generated research.

    The time to reform this position is long past due as the groundswell of outrage, just seething beneath the surface, is about to explode.

  • 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 MRC brings up an interesting point? What IS the point of battlefield preservation? I was brought up near a number of them and as a child was told that they were set aside to honor the dead and fallen soldiers who gave their "last full measure" for an important cause.

    As an adult I know better and have the good sense to understand that wars have no honor, that dying for politicians is a fools game and that very rarely are wars fought to defend anything that remotely resembles a worthy or noble cause. I was indoctrinated in the glorious fable that the North slaughtered thousands, burned cities to the ground and ruthlessly destroyed millions of dollars worth of infrastructure for the grand and noble purpose of "preserving the Union". When I asked my teachers why that was so important they would just give me a quizzical look and trot out that old canard about strength in unity; and one teacher even admonished me to take a moment and remember the pledge I had taken earlier in the morning about how America was "under God and indivisible". Powerful propaganda for a 4th grade lad.

    Fortunately I'm over its spell.

    I say let the trees grow thick and dense. I agree with MRC. Who needs to learn about 19th century slaughter? We've got plenty of blood on our hands here in the 21st.

    I wonder if there will be a predator drone national park in the 22nd century?

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

    While not technically "overturning" Sullivan's ruling, this is clearly a slap in the face to that decision. I just can't see that Judge Sullivan would allow this to stand, though I guess it depends on whether the original plaintiffs want to press it. They certainly should. If zero snow vehicles are allowed in Yellowstone this winter it will not be the court's fault, nor will it be the fault of the "tree huggers" (of which group I proudly include myself); the fault will lie directly in the lap of the Park Service. Hopefully this nonsense will begin coming to an end on Jan. 20th. I hold my breath and keep my fingers crossed that Mr. Obama's promise of a "bi-partisan" administration DOES NOT include Interior. I would also like to see the Lewis dictatorship come to an end.

  • Backpacker's Most Dangerous Hikes: The National Parks are Well-Represented   5 years 36 weeks ago

    If you are using casualty rates as your barometer for what makes a trail the most dangerous, then Zion's Angel's Landing and the Death Valley dune fields wouldn't make the cut.

    From a historical perspective, the Chilkoot Trail, aka "the meanest 33 miles in history," has killed hundreds of people. (Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Alaska).

    The park's website posted Ranger Tim's top 10 list of how NOT to prepare for the Chilkoot Trail.

    My favorite was Number Two: Thinking "30,000 stampeders did it 100 years ago...It can't be that bad."

  • 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 don't really get it. What is the purpose of preserving battlefields at all? And more specific, why should they be preserved in the state of the time of the slaughter? Do people visit those places to remember the victims of the carnage? Why would anyone then want to preserve the sight lines of the artillery that ripped all those bodies to pieces? Or do they visit to learn about tactic and strategy? To teach yourself and your kids how to kill efficiently with 19th century technology?

    If "War is merely a continuation of politics", then internal and external conflicts should be remembered as conflicts about issues and power. The different positions and interests matter, the methods tried to resolve them, the failure to resolve them peacefully. Then left flank, right flank or lines of sight are irrelevant and only arbitrary details.

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

    Bill Wade had this exactly right when he called the park's decision "unprincipled." It is hard to imagine that an agency charged with protecting and preserving the park areas of our nation would let such a decision by a superintendent stand, but I assume that is what will happen. As a former employee of Yellowstone, I am ashamed and outraged.

    Rick Smith

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

    I figured this is what NPS would do, though I am surprised they are arrogant enough not to continue to push for adoption of the new temporary rule. It's pretty clear that this new (old) rule will be thrown out by Sullivan, and they had every chance to get the rule for lower numbers through. But, now that they say that this will be the limit for the winter, I have to think that Sullivan will throw out 720, and then NPS will be left with nothing for this winter. It will serve them right.

    Perhaps, this is the last death throe of snowmobiling in Yellowstone. I guess the ball is in Sullivan's court to make a fairly quick ruling; it's almost impossible for him to imagine allowing this to stand when the rule that calls for fewer snowmobiles wasn't allowed to stand. If a winter then happens without snowmobiling in Yellowstone, will anyone be in a hurry to bring them back?

    However, if Sullivan takes his time on this, then who the heck knows?

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

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    A few folks asked about climbing on arches above...

    There is certainly not a blanket law against climbing on all the arches in Arches NP. My family and I went canyoneering with a guide in the Fiery Furnace with full permission of the NPS and we climbed over and then rappelled off of an arch in there. Also, people (myself included) very routinely climb on top of Double O arch near the end of the Devil's Garden trail. I'm very conscientious about not walking on the cryptobiotic soil and obeying "stay on trail" signs and did not see any signs nor trample any sensitive areas when my son and I scrambled up onto Double O from the backside.

    That said, it is not permitted to climb Landscape or Delicate arches.

    Hey, folks - call and write today to stop the oil lease fire-sale outside Arches and Canyonlands! Call the BLM office in Moab at 435 259 2100. You have until 12/4 to express your outrage.

  • Updated: Bush Administration: "A Legacy of Failure for Our Public Lands," Claims Congressman Grijalva   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Anon--

    In rereading Kurt's post, I don't see anywhere that it says that Grijalva thinks bison are endangered. He does say that the killing of non-farmed bison in and around Yellowstone reached the point that concerned many, Evidently, Secretary Kempthorne agrees as he has appointed a high-level task force to relook at the bison issue in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Many believe that the current management plan is bad for bison.

    Rick Smith

  • Updated: Bush Administration: "A Legacy of Failure for Our Public Lands," Claims Congressman Grijalva   5 years 36 weeks ago

    This report appears to be such a biased partisan attack that it is difficult to believe much of what is written. The bison population is NOT endangered . The National Bison Range in Montana maintains a herd size that is compatible with the amount of acreage it has for the population and has for years. My family has raised bison for over 30 years and started at a time when few were in it. Our original bison were purchased from the NBR. Since then bison farming has grown to such numbers that there is no danger of the animal's extinction. Not even close. Google bison associations, nearly every state has a chapter now with numerous members. Though the author would I'm sure love to paint the entire Bush years as that of lawless cowboys running herds of bison off the Ulm Pishkun and leaving the carcasses to rot, it just isn't the case. He has done an irresponsible job of reporting.

  • Fifty Year Ago Today, Warren Harding and His Buddies Conquered “Unclimbable” El Capitan   5 years 36 weeks ago
  • Fifty Year Ago Today, Warren Harding and His Buddies Conquered “Unclimbable” El Capitan   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Another fascinating look at the early days of climbing is in a book edited by Valerie Mendenhall Cohen entitled Woman on the Rocks: The Mountaineering Letters of Ruth Dyar Mendenhall. Mendenhall was one of the earliest and best American climbers who also happended to be a woman. Her letters are often chronicles of climbs by Sierra Club members up some of the most famous peaks in the Sierras. The introduction is by Royal Robbins, an indication of the stature of Ruth among those who came a bit after her. This is what he says in the intro: "Ruth was a good climber--competent, experienced and canny--but not a great one in the sense of leaving her mark on posterity through her first ascccents. Nervertheless, besides her eloquence, as unquestionably as Half Dome rises about Yosemite Valley, she had the heart of a mountaineer. Only an eloquent lady with the heart of a mountaineer could leave us with memorable phrases as 'I don't know how people get along without climbing mountains'. I've never heard it put better."

    The editor of the collection, Valerie Cohen, is married to a first class climber and author, Michael Cohen. She was a seasonal ranger for years in Yosemite and the Tetons and is a significant artist. She is Ruth Dyar Mendenhall's daugter.

    Rick Smith

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

    Many sites in Virginia share the same quandry, as I believe others in the country must as well. After almost 150 years, the trees have returned with a vengeance!

    One in particular here in Richmond is the "Chickahominy Bluffs NBP" on the Mechanicsville Tnpk., (US Rt. 360), which was instrumental in the "Seven Days" battles, AKA the "Peninsula Campaign".

    This particular site gave the Confederates an excellent view of the Army of the Potomac troop movements on the far side of the Chickahominy River, which more closely resembles as massive swamp at this location. The hilltops this site is constructed on are along the lines of one hundred feet+ above the surface of the river.

    However, to stand at the site provided as a lookout by the NPS, one is presented with nothing more than a view into the trees, and a few sets of earthworks also covered with forest.

    The view could be restored via cutting a relatively narrow swath through the primarily Oak forest, and thinning other adjacent trees. The high topography of this site would require very little downslope trees to be cut.

    This site has seen years of neglect and only recently was repaved and had new signage added. Frankly, I know of state and even private parks in the area that are better maintained.

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

    The increased cost is bound to be a concern for the park, but the best news I read into this story is the fact the park listened to the public, and ditched their preferred alternative and took a different approach after reviewing the public comments. That's a refreshing contrast to what what we've seen with some other agencies and at the Departmental level lately.

  • 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 some clearing is ok and that only some areas of the battlefields should be cleared of non-historic plants if the area has limited other non-historic improvements or removed as well.

    In addition, not all of the trees have to be removed.

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

    The battlefields have been preserved to educate us, the people who were not there. The park services try to make battlefields as authentic as they can. I can understand removing trees to accomplish the task. My family and I have gone to Gettysburg a few times, and I still get disoriented because I am not able to see the whole battlefield from every angle. I am not blaming the trees, just stating my experience. I guess that was why they had/have observation towers. They allowed me to oversee the battlefield, but that does not give the view the soldiers had during the battle.

    On the other hand. Some battlefields are known for their dense vegatation. I would not want that cleared to make the view better, but less authentic.

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

    Don, I'm afraid construction on a new visitor center isn't expected to begin before 2011. You can read more about Dinosaur in this post.

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

    In July of 2006 my wife and I were vacationing in Colorado and Utah.
    We went to visit Dinosaur National Monument and found the building that covers the quary had been closed 2 weeks before we arrived. We were not happy but understood why after seeing the huge cracks in the foundation. Has there been any progress on reparing or replacing this building?
    This was our first venture into that part of our great country and we would be disappointed if this is not addressed.
    We did tour what we could in the rest of this area and the scenery is no less than breath taking.