Recent comments

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I suspect this opinion will receive some feedback, but here goes.

    If the horrors of 9/11 were not to be later exploited by the Bush Administration in service to a larger political agenda already in place prior to September 11, 2001, I doubt we would have seen such a rush to get the Flight 93 Memorial established and designed, let alone built.
    As for Mr. Svonavec, the Families of Flight 93 are relatively lucky; they don't have to contend with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, or Silverstein Properties, all players with their own agendas, in getting the World Trade Center site rebuilt with a proper memorial included.

    Tragedies like Flight 93 are horrific. No one questions that. But what happened to the process of personal grief and reflection? Is the grief of the survivor families only of value if a $58 million memorial is constructed post haste?

    In today's culture, victim survivor groups express a very distasteful sense of entitlement when demanding memorials be erected as quickly as possible, as lavishly as possible, and with the full attention and support of the Federal government. Mr. Svonavec's reasons for holding onto his land are debatable certainly, but requesting that President Bush seize the land by executive order? A ridiculous request to say the least, although I personally find it surprising that President Bush did not comply with the demand. Perhaps if he were able to run for re-election he would have.

    Have some patience for the process, folks. Flight 93 is not the only tragedy that has befallen our nation, or our world for that matter. In light of today's holiday, I would suggest putting our energies behind the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial; he was assassinated 40 years ago and we still haven't gotten that memorial built.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Thanks for the schooling, d-2.
    Believe it or not, I was aware of just about all of the justifications you elaborate on.

    Let me just say that I too am all for protecting the site. That doesn't mean the NPS needs to do it, nor does the NPS necessarily need to be involved in the storytelling. Why not have some of our military forces, such as the National Guard, on duty to protect the land during ongoing investigation and collection of items? Oh that's right, they're already stretched way too thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, looking for weapons of mass destruction.

    ######################################################################

    I will argue two of your points, d-2.

    No Federal Agency, not even the many levels of management within the NPS, operates independent of influence from the sitting President's administration, by share fact of the matter that those agencies are run by political appointees of the President. Trust me on that one.
    I don't think my comment implies direct involvement from President Bush himself, but that is how you choose to interpret my comments.
    I doubt that Congressman Murtha would have had as much support to make this an NPS site if the incident in his district hadn't been part of a larger coordinated attack that could be manipulated by the Bush Administration, especially in light of the process and players surrounding the memorial in OKC, but we'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.

    "...and with the full attention and funding of the Federal government."
    I misspoke. I meant to say "...and with the full attention and support of the Federal Government." I will correct this in my original comment.
    That said, it being a NPS site, who else but the Federal government will be paying for staffing, developing the interpretive program, etc. unless the Families of Flight 93 organization gets involved in a role other than funding the construction.

    I agree that the "ownership" of the OKC story by the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum presents some object lessons for all concerned with development of the Flight 93 site, especially concerning questions of taste. (Example: one can purchase bottled water with the OCNMM's logo serving as a label. BOTTLED WATER! How in any way does an empty plastic bottle, with the organization's LOGO on it, honor the victims??)
    But that type of interpretive outsourcing has become very popular during the last 8 years.
    We agree that protection of the site's integrity is very important. But you can't expect that the participation of the NPS will exclude third party agendas, not in the current managerial environment.

  • Echoes of the Cold War in the Tropical Warmth of Everglades National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Have lived in Miami for over 50 years and visited Everglades N.P. hundreds of times. However, I was not aware (nor was it advertised) that there was a Nike missle base within the park. When we found out that they were giving tours of the site for the first time ever, we immediately called to make reservations. The tours were to be given every Saturday at 2PM through the end of March, with a maximum of 15 cars per tour. We were told that the demand was so great, that the only remaining space on a tour was on March 14th (so we made the reservation). Last Thursday, they called us back and told us that because of the number of people on the waiting list, they had decided to open up tours on Sunday as well as Saturday. They also wanted to know if we wanted to take the upcoming Sunday tour instead of in March (which, of coarse, we did). The tour was incredible start to finish (petty much everyone else on the tour with us said the same thing). The interpreter (Gregg) was very knowledgable about the bases history and had ample blow-ups of aerial and ground photos of the base the way it was in the 60's. Plenty of time was allowed for questions and comments at the various stops on the tour. As a result , a tour that was scheduled to last one hour, lasted almost two. I certainly hope that the Nation Parks Service takes notice of the demand that has been exhibited for this tour and will choose to continue ot expand it in the future. We would certainly like to take this tour again, as it shows an important aspect of this part of South Florid's history.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   5 years 39 weeks ago


    Well, Warren Z, yours is a brave comment. But let me both correct a few inaccuracies, and agree with a few of your points.

    First, the effort to create a National Park Service Unit at the Flight 93 crash site had NEXT TO NO BUSH ADMINISTRATION involvement. It was partially driven by circumstances, and partly by the local Member of Congress, and partly by the National Park Service. The circumstances were that the site was unprotected, in a small Township in Pennsylvania with practically no resources to care for the site. The FBI and other federal agencies at first had control over the site, as a crash and terrorism crime site. They were collecting evidence, but they would not be there for long, because they were not authorized to protect the site, beyond the period of time they needed for their investigation. After they left, the site would be open to any of the curious or those who might want to remove objects or mementos, shall we say. This is too gruesome for me to go into.

    This was further complicated because the “site” was owned by multiple land owners, making it much more difficult to protect the site, compared to what could have happened if one large landowner with sufficient resources protected the site from relic hunters.

    The National Park Service was already alert to the kinds of historical issues that might confront a nationally electrifying site, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, and the OK City Bombing site. Particularly in the Northeast Region of the NPS, which had at that moment a particularly bold and forward-looking Regional Director, several NPS staff were already thinking about the experience of the Vietnam Memorial and the items left at the site by people (people of all sorts, not just family of the dead trying to "own" the site). Are these items nationally significant, and should some, or all of them be saved? Would they be significant to future generations? In leaving these behind, would the donors object if their objects were periodically gathered? After all, new items were arriving all the time, and some items of organic materials (flowers) would need to be removed. Some, like notes and pictures, would quickly decay or blow away. Quickly such sites look like dumps if not tended. What is the appropriate way?

    The other issue confronting the NPS, or at least was an issue raised by this Regional Director to her staff and nearby park managers, was the question (one you, Warren Z, also refer to) related to how to evaluate the "historical" significance of a site of immediately contemporary history. The Oklahoma City site, which had confusing twists and turns due to the inexperience of the second superintendent and the OK Senator who sponsored that site, already revealed a local interest group, the survivors and local citizens, who themselves determined what the "story" was, and was not. What was the national context of an interpretive story in such a case? WAS it national? Did the site represent a major point in American history? How could you say it was THE most important example of domestic terrorism, right after it happened? Would this be a turning point in Am History, or the classic example of a constant theme of Am History while that history was still unfolding? Might there not be entirely different, perhaps more horrific, examples that might make OK City an uncharacteristic site, an aberration?

    On the other hand, sites like Gettysburg, prior to being turned over to the NPS, were protected as cemeteries by the Army. No such protection seemed to be available for the Flight 93 site, to provide the time [say, 50 years or so] to reflect on whether the site should be protected.

    There was a lot more to this, and a lot of meetings and calls from many people on multiple sides. But in the end, it was the opinion of many professionals that the Flight 93 site had a special character that would distinguish it from other “victim” sites. It represented the efforts of CITIZENS to defend their country against attack. Flight 93 apparently was sent to crash into either the White House or the Capitol Building. On the issue of an attack on America, such as had been experienced at Ft. McHenry or Pearl Harbor, the event was seen as significant, but concerns remained that if or as the war on terror continued, Flight 93 might not be the last of it, or the worst of it, or the archetype of it.

    But, taken together, considering what was thought to be known of the significance of the site, and what was understood at that time to be the real risk of loss or damage to the site seemed to justify its significance as a park. There was an awareness of the risk of a bad precedent by permitting other new sites into the System that were undeserving, and concern that generally it is a very bad idea to consider de-authorizing a national park site in the future.

    The third force behind the creation of a park at Flight 93 was not the Bush Administration at all, but Congressman John Murtha. Murtha has a keen sense of American military history and significance, has demonstrated greater than normal efforts in assisting his constituents, and at that time had tremendous credibility with MANY [certainly not all] other Members of Congress. I believe Murtha was troubled by potential desecrations of a sacred site, and convinced of the significance of the sacrifice of the passengers. Unlike many Members of Congress who are great only at bringing pork into their district, Murtha had done a lot for the parks even outside of Pennsylvania, and was very familiar with the top leadership of the Park Service. For him, a national park was a natural. He approached the NPS originally to protect the site, but the Northeast Region national park service law enforcement specialists, in consultation with the Washington Office leadership, believed that park service support without an Act of Congress was too much of a stretch, and would undermine important, existing responsibilities. Murtha was able to appropriate short term funding to permit the local communities to hire a security service until the Congress could consider park status.

    On the issue of money, it is not true that the full cost of the Memorial will be paid by the National Park Service. A real effort is underway to raise much if not all the funding; we will see if the current economic downturn will undermine that fundraising campaign, either at Flight 93, or at the World Trade Center.

    -- HOWEVER, I think Warren Z is RIGHT to question an elaborate memorial. In view of the danger of the survivors and local interests trying to “own” the interpretive story, as was allowed to happen at Oklahoma City, perhaps we can wait a generation to decide what kind of monument to build, if any, on this site. Would Gettysburg be different today if no monuments had been built by the generation alive during, or who participated in, the Battle of Gettysburg? Would it be better or worse?

    But I also think the Flight 93 site is a completely evocative landscape, and needs no massive interpretation or Memorial to convey the significance of what happened there. I worry the more the park service builds, the more it will degrade the significance of the site. Why not wait, and decide later?

    But, I think protecting the land, with maintenance and minimal interpretive development, is a very good idea, despite the very fine traditional rule of waiting 50 years, or for the death of those personally affected.

    This would be a good balance between the good sense of the traditional judgment, and the special character and need of the Flight 93 site, where the citizen-passengers directly confronted those who were intending to attack the government of the United States.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Sorry Richard Smith, I should have been more clear in my concerns. I gave too much credit, apparently.

    The differences I was concerned with had to do with relative distance from comparable spots, for instance, and the time of year in which each photograph was taken. Or, iwas that not too concerning to be brought up as a "problem?"

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Mike -

    re:I just decided that the reward just wasn't worth the risk this time

    I'd like to commend your good judgment in deciding to turn back when you felt the trail had become too dangerous.

    Many of the rescues that I was involved in during my NPS career were the result of people pushing on "no matter what."

    "Knowing when to say when" is a big part of responsible use of the out-of-doors.

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    "Super predator" is an unfortunate term, often applied by White Conservative ideologues to sectors of the human population (whose skin is not white) they'd prefer to see behind bars, and thus out of their consciousness. It's unfortunate when an innocuous term is hijacked like that, but still I personally wish scientists would now stop using it.
    I think a better term to use is apex predator.

    Apex predators are a vital part of the overall health of an ecosystem. Reintroducing gray wolves back into Yellowstone NP was arguably a very good thing for that system, if for the only reason being we took the "management" out of the process. The removal of this keystone species certainly gave us humans the opportunity to see just how drastic an effect our management decisions could have.
    When wildlife managers remove apex predators from an ecosystem, within which those actors also function as keystone species, we severely alter the natural balance. Following this line of logic I would say that the human presence within an ecosystem is often too harshly examined, and altering our predatory behavior may not always be necessary.

    Humans are certainly apex predators, indeed the apex predator of the planet. But are we a keystone species? I guess that depends on the particular environment/geographic area we find ourselves in at any given time, or the ideological system we live our lives by.
    When utilized in solely recreational ways our predatory instinct tends to cause "imbalance". At least that's the knee jerk reaction we conservationists and preservationists have been programmed into believing, but is this always the correct conclusion? Why must we humans, with our self-assigned dominant role within the gaia, remove ourselves from the evolutionary process?
    Commenting on the study, Dr. Darimont states: "We're changing the very essence of what remains, sometimes within the span of only two decades. We are the planet's super-predator." I say, so what? We are not the only apex predator at work on this planet.

    Dr Darimont again: "This should be a wake-up call for resource managers," he said. "We should be mimicking natural predators, which take far less and target smaller individuals." Why??
    We humans are part of nature, not above it. We are part of evolution, and sounding alarms about our effect on accelerated evolution isn't always necessary.

    NPS managers have a hard enough time managing the human personnel process. Maybe they should take a step back from managing predators and see how the ecosystems correct themselves.

  • Park History: Arches National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I really didn't know Arches National Park teems with so many arches - 2000. That's prodigious!

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Well, if you cite Thoreau, I'll reply with Stephen Colbert: What a heck of governments have we established in Iraq and Afghanistan then.

    Our society has become too complex and fractional to leave it to the "invisible hand". No one but a national government can build and maintain national infrastructure. And the small-government- (or better "starve-the-beast"-) ideology already damaged the ability to maintain this infrastructure and the infrastructure itself, from bridges to restrooms in National Parks (to finally get back to our topic here on the traveler).

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, taking away guns are not going to take away the intent to commit crime, murder most of all...There are many crimes (that result in death) where guns are not involved...I am an educated chemical engineer, not just some backwoods Kentucky hick with a shotgun, although those people do exist...My reason for chiming in is simple...the black bear population in Eastern Kentucky is on the rise. I mt. bike, hike, and backpack in Eastern KY with my wife all year long...I have also always been an avid hunter (mostly bow more than gun) and have always had a respect for our right to bear arms. Contact with bears is something I have not had much experience with, which is what led me to this discussion...I definitely see the benefits of the bear spray, having read much documentation on it. I will say that if it works as well as many people say it does, I will stick it on my hip from now on, just in case...I am also a serious conservationist, meaning I would rather watch animals in the wild theses days than hunt them. As for the right to bear arms...well, I stand beside the people who support freedom....freedom in its most raw form....If not, we have become exactly what we were trying to escape....Great Britain...I think we should focus on a more educated society, which apparently is way down on the agenda...With an educated society not focused on capitalism some issues cease to exist...Imagine if everyone were educated and trying to help each other instead of trying to screw each other for money, which has become the norm in our country....No mortgage crisis, no 50 billlion dollar scandal, etc...I am ashamed at what America has become...

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Hiked the Angel's Landing trail yesterday, January 17 (wintertime, obviously) for the first time. My wife and I are in our mid-fifties, pretty good shape, and didn't have any problems that way, but the ice from this year's extra snowfall made many areas of the trail especially dangerous. The Wally's Wiggles area of the trail was completely snow and ice covered, and without proper crampons, was not easy going, despite the liberal sanding by the Park Service. We got to the Scout's Landing area, started up the Angel's Landing trail with the chains, and turned back after just a few yards because of the ice. Just flat too dangerous in the winter - bad enough in the summer - but there were many that were making the climb. I just decided that the reward just wasn't worth the risk this time - maybe under better conditions.

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Frank_C:

    You accurately point out the perils of taking a brief quote from any writer and applying it to another topic, so I'll happily modify my use of it slightly:

    This new study of human impacts on both plant and animal populations suggests that in recognizing the values of "wildness," Thoreau seems to have been on to something.

    I'll respectively decline to infer what Thoreau would or would not "approve of..." :-)

  • Red Rocks and White Snow   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Fantastic park. I have done two cycling trips through southern Utah and spent a day in Bryce each time. I hope to go back in the not too distant future.

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    This new study of human impacts on both plant and animal populations suggests that Thoreau was simply ahead of his time.

    Thoreau was also ahead of his time politically, which statist preservationists selectively overlook. Forgive me for a partial reposting of an 18 month-old comment, but with the continued selective quoting of Thoreau, it bears repeating.

    Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience (and I highly urge those who have recently commented about following rules to read or re-read it):

    I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government.

    Thoreau would not approve of government land management because it's "inexpedient" (not tending to promote a purpose; not tending to the end desired; inadvisable; unfit; improper; unsuitable to time and place).

    Using Thoreau, an anarchist, to support statist premises is highly absurd and anachronistic.

  • Red Rocks and White Snow   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Nice photo! Red rock country is dramatic any time of the year, but it takes on a special beauty when snow offers contrast to the other colors.

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 39 weeks ago

    The Feds doesn't really give a damn or two about the improvement of parks. They have far more important things to do than attend to the needs of these people who care for it. It's a sad trend, if we think about it.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    The Heller decision said that an individual right to own and possess a firearm was protected under the 2A and that person did not have to be a member of a milita. Your comment was you said the part you did not undestand of "infringement" was a well regulated militia. Regulated in colonial times meant same ammo and same arms to be carried or to well trained, not rules like park regulation.

    It did say that restriction such as were common at our founding was that felons could be prohibited. Since CCW holders by definition have background checks, they are not felons so are not restricted in their 2A rights.

    The also said carry was part of the right but that was not the issue challenged by Mr Heller. So yes some limited restriction may apply like in schools or by felons acoording to the majority opinion. That does not mean any and all restriction that some may like. These issues will be decided in later challenges.

    The issue of self defense in an inherent right that can not be legislated away. Firearms are one of the tools of self defense so the issue of ability to have a weapon prepared for use is part of that right. The request was to have CCW holders be allowed in NPS like on NFS and BLM lands to carry. This request was granted.

    The effect will not blood in the parks but rather CCW holder who drive on highways that cross NPS will no longer have to stop , store the gun and then stop and put the gun on again.

    Visitors will not be effected since only CCW use is allowed. There will not see or be aware of anyone carrying a guns.

    Criminal use will still be punishable just not the act of having a gun on a person.

    The most that NPS has to do is change signs and post signs on buildings. Othewise there will be no difference.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I've read the decision. If you have, too, you will see it went out of its way to say it is not definitive, but a narrowly drawn decision based on a specific, overstated local rule. It is not a landmark ruling on whether regulations of guns are legal. Read it again.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Lepanto,
    Read the SCOTUS Heller decision. It explains that the preface is a purpose ,not the sole purpose. That is what the decesion was about whether an individual not part of the militia has 2A and it was decided in the affirmative .

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    re:

    Lots of smoke, but thank God the winds were blowin' away from us!

    Good thing the wind blew all that smoke out over the ocean, where the CO2 would be quickly absorbed...

  • Glacier Bay National Park Issues New Cruise Ship Contracts   5 years 39 weeks ago

    These is a good idea and a good way to enjoy the beauty of the park. NPS is there to preserve and manage the parks for Americans to enjoy. A cruise ship is an ideal way to provide that enjoyment and they have attempted to make sure that that method does not do damage to the water and air.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Taggart:

    the part that says "well-regulated militia"

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    "All that carbon" is being absorbed by the seas and flora as it always has. Flora loves CO2...and today there is more forestland in the U.S. than there ever has been in recorded history. No "deforestation" here, BTW.
    Take a biology course. Some scientists now believe we are entering a cooling phase...so now what do we do? Do you have an answer to that? I guess just the opposite of what the enviros say we need to do! Burn more carbon!!
    I actually had an Al Gore "peace prize" party a few years ago when he "won." We fired up the barbie in the back yard and a friend who works at the tire store brought some old tires. We set 'em ablaze just after sunset so that no one would complain...pretty funni. Lots of smoke, but thank God the winds were blowin' away from us!

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Please visit the link below to see the images of the latest quarter designs:

    http://www.geocities.com/juicemeter/quarters.html

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Apologies for hijacking your thread, Jim. I just had to vent some of my frustration with the situation here. I do appreciate the challenges NPS staff can face dealing with a wide variety of Park visitors. Your articles are excellent and entertaining examples!