Recent comments

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I think I see what Mr. Flint is getting at--if the locals are so worried about losing trees, then they should have protested when the developers came in and built the thousands of townhouses and McMansions that crowd the Manassas landscape. I was just at this battlefield on Saturday for the First Manassas Anniversary event, and I could not believe how the area has become wall to wall developments. It's a relief to actually get to the park to enjoy some open space. I think the locals are rather hypocritical if they are upset about the park cutting down trees to restore a historical landscape but they didn't say anything about developers stripping the landscape bare.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The last few comments have made my point for me. No one knows what the designations mean. There is not hierarchy of parks and a national "park" is not an elevation of any kind. It is a name change and nothing more unless the legislation specific to the park also changes. As noted, Congress, courts, and the 1978 Redwood Act as amended specify that all units are managed the same. National Recreation Areas are not managed for any less preservation than national parks or monuments. Santa Monica Mountains NRA is among the most diverse ecosystems in the country and has more plant and bird species and more endangered species than most of the national "parks." Why do some people seem to care about these designations so much? They are not denoters of size, amenities, location, staff, budget, or anything other than the political whim of the Congress when designated. The names are tools to designate to the public what they own and what constitute the greater collection of treasures in the National Park System. It is no wonder visitors are confused when the BLM and Forest Service also manage national recreation areas and national monuments and many privately owned properties are National Historic Landmarks. If we are to ahve our National Park System survive it needs to be supported by the public. The public will not support what it cannot understand. The preservation of these natural and historical areas is more important than what you call them. Therefore, they should be called something that can be easily understood.

  • Running Rapids at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Interesting video. I'll be headed to Big South Fork and Obed National Scenic Riverway tomorrow.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    This is quite the education.

    with national parks exemplifying, protecting and celebrating the rarity or uniqueness of a diverse landscape, ecosystem (or ecosystems) or historical resource. Monuments should protect a single resource as designated by the president under the Aniquties Act. The current restrictive guidelines for national parks should remain, while each designation should have specific guidelines governing what is allowed and what isn't, with, perhaps, natonal recreation areas being the least restrictive. I think parks, seashores, historical sites and historical parks etc. should be focused primarily on resource protection, while recreation areas should emphasize recreation over protection.

    I was under the ill-informed impression that this is how it was. Certainly seems like this is how it should be.

    When I stop to think about two of my favorite NPS units - Congaree and Sleeping Bear - it seems like Sleeping Bear has far more of the park-like attributes than Congaree. You have two islands (one a wilderness), a self-guided scenic drive, touristy gimmicks (the Dune Climb), and a lot of diverse ecosystems. Throw in the historical aspect and Sleeping Bear is about as "Parky" as you can get. I love Congaree and want it to have the highest level of protection it can have, but you are correct it is less of a park by your definition of park.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Absolutely. This is the ideal time to have this conversation. The watering-down issue is interesting because this often occurs in wilderness designation. For example, conservationists may only be successful in gaining Congressional support for a wilderness designation if the grazing rights holder can drive his motorized ATV into the wilderness to access his allotment, certainly violating the spirit, if not necessarily the letter, of the Wilderness Act. In general, it seems NPS unit designations and the guidelines governing them should be consistent. A good example of that, if I remember correctly, occurred at Mojave National Preserve, which many wanted to be a national park, but because Congress would only protect the area if hunting was allowed, it was designated a national preserve, not a national park. That is as it should be.

    I agree that reordering the designations to develop more consistent guidelines is necessary. People should have a general idea of what to expect when they go to a national park, monument, national historical park, etc., with national parks exemplifying, protecting and celebrating the rarity or uniqueness of a diverse landscape, ecosystem (or ecosystems) or historical resource. Monuments should protect a single resource as designated by the president under the Aniquties Act. The current restrictive guidelines for national parks should remain, while each designation should have specific guidelines governing what is allowed and what isn't, with, perhaps, natonal recreation areas being the least restrictive. I think parks, seashores, historical sites and historical parks etc. should be focused primarily on resource protection, while recreation areas should emphasize recreation over protection. So, if people want dogs at Golden Gate, it should remain an NRA.

    National parks especially should emphasize conservation and protection over recreation with recreation included, of course. But the public should know what to expect when they go there, including what kind of resources they may encounter when they arrive. I think it's confusing when someplace as expansive and resource-diverse as Dinosaur National Monument is a monument, while a place like Black Canyon, which has a couple of hiking trails, a few overlooks and the nearly-impenitrable gorge itself, is a national park. The key to solving the park designation debate is resource diversity. Black Canyon, as cool as it is, is just not in the same league as Grand Canyon or Rocky Mountain national parks, or Dinosaur, which are all expansive, rare and diverse. Cedar breaks should remain a national monument because a very similar landscape is protected in Bryce Canyon NP (which, it could be argued, should be greatly expanded) down the road, and even with Ashdown Gorge Wilderness added, Cedar Breaks simply in my opinion wouldn't be diverse enough to earn park status.

    How do you define resource diversity? I'm not expert enough to give a definitive answer to that. However, I do know this: When a park exists to protect a few hot springs or a section of a deep gorge, as with Black Canyon, it's just not enough. If it's a truly unique canyon system, maybe so. Maybe a national park just has to feel big, wild, grand and truly unique. That's a cop out, for sure, but diversity of resources certainly contributes to such grandness. Regardless, Congress should revisit this issue and the public should debate it in attempt to make the park system more consistent and all our national parks worthy of the designation.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The problem stems from mis-use of a great resource. I have been going to the CHNS since 1978 and have seen alot of changes. Many of those have been for the worse. Topping that list is the over crowding in many areas. This leads to abuse of the areas. Im all for restrictions in these areas durring the peak season months. I feel way too may people feel its their right and dont understand its a privladge. Respect the areas and these problamatic disruptions and wildlife damage would be much less of an issue. I have seen many stupid people doing stupid things and love to see rangers doing their job and throwing the book at these people. Please reguard this seashore as a gift and respect all people and wildlife in thses areas. Just use common sense and read the posted areas. Obay all laws and treat her with respect!!

  • Dying in the Parks: Park Service Concerned About Suicides   5 years 38 weeks ago

    A friend of mine and I, cycling Colorado National Monument last November, were the ones who found the 63-year-old man with the gunshot wound to his head at Cold Shivers Point. As an Associated Press story elucidated recently, Colorado National Monument is becoming quite the popular suicide spot. I'm a former journalist in Grand Junction, and reporting on this issue brought several interesting problems to light. Colorado National Monument's superintendent now considers the monument an "urban" park, with many of the accompanying problems: Traffic jams, drugs, conflicts with cyclists, late-night parties in culverts under the park highway, graffiti, and suicides. This at a monument with scenery not unlike that of Arches and Canyonlands national parks nearby. But, the monument borders both Grand Junction and Fruita -- their subdivisions abut the park boundary -- in an area booming with nearby oil and natural gas development. Monument resources and staff are feeling the stress and strain of the boom. The monument is truly one of the most spectacular places on the Colorado Plateau, and it would be shameful for its wild beauty to be sullied by crime and other problems most often found in cities. Its staff deserves the resources it needs to reign in the problem as best they can, and step up ranger patrols as needed.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Some good points, SaltSage236.

    Of course, if you're going to tinker with the designations, would you go so far as to tinker with the management guidelines? After all, all 391 units are supposed to be managed, unless otherwise legislatively directed, according to the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 and the Redwoods Amendment of 1978. There are cases -- Golden Gate is a good one currently on the radar screen -- where "upgrading" to a "national park" could possibly restrict some activities that currently are permitted there. Do you continue to allow those activities and water-down the preservation/conservation mandate , or risk raising the ire of a segment of visitors?

    Or, would you take advantage of reordering the designations to develop more consistent (nationwide) guidelines for management of the various categories of "national parks"? Why let one national seashore allow personal watercraft while another cannot? Ditto with biking, snowmobiling, etc., etc.

    And, then, of course, there are those parks that some believe deserve national park status while others more than likely will disagree. How should those conflicts be resolved?

    With the transition to a new administration, I think it could be argued that this is the perfect time to be discussing and addressing these issues.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The "national park" designation for a piece of the public estate should (and often does) carry with it the distinction of truly being one of the nation's natural or historic crown jewels -- an often broad range of protected natural resources and unspeakable beauty, or a place, such as Mesa Verde, that protects an area that speaks deeply about a region's and culture's history. A "national park" should be a truly glorious example of America's natural heritage and a place that protects unique and uniquely spectacular natural features and is immediately recognizable as being an identifying mark of America's natural landscape.

    Perhaps its time for Congress to more narrowly define what should and should not be a national park. Certainly, Golden Gate NRA should NOT be a national park, and neither should Cedar Breaks. Congress should drop the "national park" moniker on a few parks and declare them national monuments (yes Congress has the power to do that, too, as they did with Congaree in 1976). Hot Springs National Park, hardly worthy of national parkhood, would be a great national historic site. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park would only be worthy of park status if it included the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area on its western border. Wind Cave should lose park status, too, and become a monument like its equally significant neighbor, Jewel Cave. Park designations for Cuyahoga Valley and Dry Tortugas should also be reconsidered. And, Congaree National Park, the only "national park" in my home state of South Carolina, would probably be best managed as a national monument, the way it began.

    A few other units of federal land (not necessarily NPS-managed) truly do deserve national park status: Dinosaur National Monument (especially if the wildlands on its northeastern borders were included; the northern reaches of Utah's Glen Canyon NRA that are managed by and border Canyonlands National Park; Colorado National Monument and the adjacent McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, which together I think should be called "Uncompahgre National Park" ; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah; Grand Canyon-Parachant National Monument, which should be included in Grand Canyon National Park; the Guadalupe Ranger District of New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest, which connects Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains national parks, should be included in one of those two parks; all the wilderness areas surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park, all of which should be included in that park; and finally, New Mexico's Bandelier National Monument, which should be expanded to include Valles Caldera National Preserve and Kasha Katuwe-Tent Rocks National Monument and be called "Bandelier National Park."

    Going to a national park should capture the imagination and adventurous spirit of all who go there, and inspire visitors to revere and respect the wild, beautiful and unique landscape within a national park's borders.

  • NPCA, TWS Presidents Meet With Canadian Ambassador To Seek Solution to Development in Flathead Valley   5 years 38 weeks ago

    This is a very wonderous part of North America where wildlife actually have large areas of mostly undeveloped habitat for migration and genetic diversity ! It must be saved as it truly is the crown jewel area of the lower 48.
    Canada and the United States created these parks and now they must create a safe haven surrounding them. These parks are not "islands". To support the very large diversity of life found here, the surrounding areas must also be protected from harmful development of all kinds.
    The total environmental assessment must be made looking at BOTH sides of the border ! This ecosystem simply has to be protected. Thank goodness the NPCA and the Wilderness Society are putting their efforts toward saving this priceless place as they have their work cut out for them on both sides of the border.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Here, here. There should be only two kinds of units: National Parks, National Historical Parks. No right-minded organization would allow its brand to be as diluted as the NPS has with 19 different kinds of units. These "holier than thou" esoteric discussions of what is, and is not. a "national park" are ridiculous. THE PUBLIC DOES NOT CARE! With the current designation confusion the public cannot find the units of the National Park System and that is not good for the system as a whole. We all know the names are arbitrary - hence Congresswoman Pelosi's effort and Congaree and Cuyahoga Valley national parks. Time to think like Coca-Cola: one brand name for all the units.

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Quite the dilemma. As a nature-lover and ecologist, my NPS traveling is largely limited to the nature-centric parks. Those parks preserve the nature of a place, unsullied by human hands. On the other hand, it seems to me a battlefield park is in place to preserve a landscape that was quite heavily sullied by human actors acting out one of our nation's darkest plays. And then you have Rushmore and the capital monuments that are human artifacts commemorating heroes and great deeds. All of these are preserved for unique reasons. I don't want to see trees cut down in Olympic National Park any more than I want a sculptor adding his own favorite president to Borglum's quartet in the Black Hills, or - getting to the matter at hand - forest overrunning the battlefield at Manassas.

    As a card-carrying tree-hugger, it pains me to see mature hickories felled. Yet I am also the great-grandson of a young boy who lied about his age to fight for the Army Of Northern Virginia during its death throes in the spring of 1865. My father 's study had a full bookcase devoted to the civil war, Bruce Catton proudly occupying a shelf and a half. When my dad took me to Sharpsburg, I'm glad he could show me the bridge over Antietam Creek and explain why so much blood was shed there. Standing on the battlefield at Sayler's Creek (a VA State Park), my eyes want to become my great-grandfather's eyes and see what he saw, the enduring devotion to his family's farmland where the battle developed, the love for the State of Virginia, and his pride in the nearly-defeated but ever noble General Lee. Moments like that can be enhanced immeasurably by historical authenticity of the landscape. For that I would sacrifice a hickory.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The President can declare an area as a National Monument without approval from Congress.

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    And? I'm afraid I don't see your point.

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Developers cut down more trees in a month in Prince William County than there are in all of the Park.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Does the Department of the Interior, or Congress, or any government agency, have any sort of guidelines to differentiate what should be "labeled" a National Park vs. National Monument?

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Changing a name means absolutely nothing if you do not fund the change!! I agree that changes should be made in some areas (not all areas!) but let's be honest, with the economy zooming downwards, the war sucking up every resource we have... there isn't going to be any positive change in funding for our parks even though they deserve it. Leave it alone until we are able and ready to fully fund a proper change tha is done for the right reasons.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Speaker Pelosi should be ashamed for promoting this idea. [edited]

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Beamis--

    The idea that the states or municipalities are going to take over the adminstration of national park areas runs counter to the prevailing trend: the assumption of areas like Gateway and Golden Gate by the NPS when local and state management entities can no longer afford them. Which level of government has the deepest pockets?

    As to the idea that trusts or NGOs can assume the management of some of the NPS areas ignores the fact that almost no park area can be self-sufficient without pricing itself out of the market.

    I have argued in the past that this is a matter of generational equity. Each generation of Americans gets to add to the National Park System tha areas it believes merit protection and preservation in perpetuity. I can't imagine a future generation deciding that what my generation added to the System--MLK Jr., the Alaska parks. Kings Canyon, etc.--no longer merited protection in the National Park System but ought to be managed by a state or some kind of NGO. Nor am I willing to second-guess previous generations of Americans.

    As you point out, it is a matter of priorities. There is enough money to finance the System. We just need to make such funding a higher priority.

    Rick Smith

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Let's just hope the irate ranchers that despise Judge Molloy's ruling (and would be poachers) keep their long guns at bay. Empty the bullet chambers and let the wolves help balance nature once again...as it's intended to do!

  • Wolves Join Grizzlies in Fishing at Katmai National Park and Preserve   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Let's see, a little fish hors d'oeuvre for snack and now for the main entree...mutton! I love this little piece Kurt!

  • Glacier National Park Officials Again Voice Opposition to Railroad's Avalanche Blasting Proposal   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Build the sheds!, don't bomb the park!!! After all, Mother Nature was already here, the railroad came along and built the tracks through this section, they should build the sheds to protect them, not destroy the animal life or the enviroment!!!!

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Now that is one step in the right direction! If the government would keep their "grubby" little hands out of everything, then maybe, just maybe, we could take more steps in the right direction. God put the animals on the earth, who are we to remove them???

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Thanks for following this Kurt. This is an emotional issue. I do not want to see any species overrun, nor do I want to see one wiped out.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    We got a jump on our summer travel early this year, and so far our family has been to Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, and Rocky Mtn. National Park, and my daughter visited Pearl Harbor. Our favorite, though, was spending an old fashioned 4th of July at Ft. Laramie National Historic Site. They had games for kids and adults going on all day, plus all the historic reenactors, plus the ice cold bottled sasparilla...it was a day to remember! I'm glad to see that one made it on your list--it really is a fascinating look into our pioneering past, but often gets overlooked. :)