Recent comments

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Re Frank C's response to my earlier post:

    Ah, yes. This is the "go along, get along" philosophy of those in power in the NPS. Heave forbid we examine the voting record and actions of political appointees and make critical statements about them.

    "Go along and get along" are vastly different.

    I certainly wasn't suggesting we should "go along" with anything contrary to the best interests of parks, but I agree that for groups such as NPCA, it's important to try to "get along" with the new Secretary, until his or her actions require otherwise. If pro-park groups can't establish good communications - and a willing audience - with the Secretary and his staff, the opportunity to influence policy in the department will be greatly diminished.

    As to critical statements about new political appointees, the above also applies. Those who feel there is a potential problem for the new Secretary based on previous voting records and actions should certainly be free to speak out - but they need to consider what they'll gain by doing so. I seriously doubt an "outcry" at this point will change the Obama team's choice for Secretary, so there's a trade-off between speaking out about past voting records as a matter of principle and starting out with an antagonistic relationship with the person who holds enormous power for good or bad in terms of our parks and other resources.

  • Will Delaware Finally Get Its "National Park"?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Ted -

    Thanks for the comments!

    In the interest of brevity, I didn't include the history of previous proposals for a "park" for Delaware - the idea has been around for decades, and certainly predates Biden and the incoming administration. This is merely the latest in a series of such plans. Biden's new job certainly adds an extra dimension, and makes it even more awkward for the NPS.

    The authors of the study at least scaled back Senator Carper's plan - in a big way. It would be difficult to determine how much political pressure they felt in preparing their recommendation.

    The project got about the same level of publicity from the NPS as most similar studies - the problem was that the media apparently didn't see it as very newsworthy. Once I started looking on Google, I found a few AP stories outside of Delaware - but not many. I didn't sense any attempt by the NPS to sneak this one through. The timing for the public comment period during the holidays is awkward, but the legislation that authorized the study included a deadline for the NPS to submit the report to Congress, so that may have been a factor.

  • Updated: Salazar Pick For Interior Secretary Labeled a Failure   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I will hope for the best and withhold judgement until we see what he does after he takes office. At this point, almost anyone will be an improvement !

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Getting back to Frank C and Jim B's points earlier, I think there is a big difference between a "Moderate" like Salazar in this upcoming Obama Administration, and what we have seen previously. There is the possibility that Obama will generally support a pro-environmental stand, and therefore Salazar would lean in that direction. How many people in the upper levels of the Department of the Interior would be White House people, and how many slots would Salazar himself be able to select? That becomes critical in policy direction.

    In the past Administration, VP Cheney had a thumb on the scale with everything going on there. The Obama administration will not have such a malign agenda.

    On the other hand, Obama said next to nothing on the environment when he ran, except regarding global warming initiatives. He has questioned Yucca Mt. My understanding is he said next to nothing on the National Park Service, except continuing to take on the maintenance backlog.

    I think what Obama is really focused on is a sense that the American people are disgusted by partisan, disfunctional government. I am guessing he sees the world very much as an urbanist, with experience in Hawaii, and in the third world.

    I would guess Obama would want a reliable vote in Salazar's seat, perhaps more reliable than Salazar has been for the Democrats. My guess is he wants all political perspectives to think Obama will give their interest a fair shake, and for the American people to think he is balanced. Ending America's political disfunction is Job One. He may have calculated he wanted someone at Interior who had executive experience running a state natural resource department in the west, with experience working cooperatively with Developers. My guess is, on the big issues the White House will direct the overall perspective and Salazar would be the willing ambassador.

    For all this to work, Mr. Obama would need to know he can get a (more) reliable senate democratic vote out of Colorado, and have Salazar on his team in Interior. This seems to me is consistent with how the President-elect is moving in all policy areas.

  • Will Delaware Finally Get Its "National Park"?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Jim Burnett said:

    Delaware is a fine state with a rich history. It's certainly not my intention to diminish the value of the state's resources or people, but in view of the existing pinch on park service budgets and staffing, one might be forgiven for wondering whether adding yet another unit of this type to the system is the right approach.

    Jim's forbearance makes him a model of diplomacy. Let me expand...

    I downloaded & read the Executive Summary, and I must say my impression is, if there was ever a serendipitous hunk of steaming pork seasoned with unsavory & undue Legislative influence offered to a President-elect who promised and is on the lookout to challenge Business As Usual and give us Change, this has got to be it.

    Go forth Barrack; smite the enemy.

    On the other hand, that his own Vice President is a primary figure in this scheme, and it applies to the VP's own home-State, sets us up for a bit of classic Greek Theater.

    Obama has still not made a clean escape from the Blagojevich quicksand. And here it is, happening on his own team. Oh sure, nobody is demanding cash in small bills, but I took me about a half second to instinctive wonder, "Who made Delaware first among equals?", and I expect that will be the reflexive reaction of 10s of millions.

    "Obama, you asked for it, and here it is!"

    No Jim, I think your tendered explanations of the lack of publicity for this hairball of malfeasance missed the mark entirely. No, I never heard of it (my theory will be) because the people responsible for it were hoping mightily I wouldn't.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Living in Fredericksburg, Virginia for the past dozen or so years, I have watched the explosion of commercial and residential development in this area. We’re talking less than 150,000 people. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania battlefields you could say are my neighbors being less than half a mile to 8 miles away.

    How many Wal-Marts (5), Lowes (3), Home Depot (3), Grocery Stores (numerous, and we will be getting a new Wegmans in the spring), Pharmacies (numerous with CVS and Rite Aid leading the pack) etc. does an area really need? Did I mention the Kalahari Water Park and Convention Center?

    If I choose to shop at a Wal-Mart Supercenter I have three to choose from within a 5 Mile radius. I can travel south for 1.5 miles, or north for 3.5 miles or east for 4.5miles. Thinking about it, I don’t think I have been in a Wal-Mart in years.

    The Orange county folks have been way over due for this kind of development.

    Now those folks that live over in the Wilderness battlefield have been denied the Wal-Mart shopping experience for two long. My gosh they have to travel 14.5 miles east to the Fredericksburg Supercenter or 15.4 miles to the Culpeper Supercenter. It’s probably about time that they should be able to spend their hard earned dollars without such a “terribly inconvenient drive”.

    Semper Fi

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Kurt, Just finished DC v Heller. Whew! Very long, and I only read the opinion of the Court and skipped the dissenting opinions.

    The most important points are that it finds the Second Amendment protects an individual right and that "one should not expect it [the decision] to clarify the entire field". So, we might have to wait for concealed weapons to be banned on a national level before the court takes that one on. Interestingly enough, while "most" of the 19th century cases they reviewed upheld concealed weapons bans, they struck down prohibitions on carrying arms openly. Oh, another point that is relevant to the DOI rule change is the finding that people have a right to defend their homes. Now, can the definition of "home" also be extended to RVs, tents, and cars? I mean, if I live in my tent for 14 days, can't that be considered my home, albeit temporarily? I'm not a lawyer and haven't briefed cases since Con Law class, so I could be wrong legally, if not ethically.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Kurt, not to get off topic, but I've never shown much aptitude for staying on-topic. I don't quite get it...

    The pedestrian, tawdry - yea, drab truth of it is, the great white north still awaits. I was unexpectedly offered a great piece of work (carving trail through the temperate rain forest) at excellent money ... and then when the economy imploded and my friends went ashen in the face, I was offered additional trail-routes, at even better money.

    The only reason I'm back home and playing on the computer is ... the great white north has come to us. Nearly a foot of snow on my route, and daily highs about 27° (the snickers, I know - but this is the dripping rain-forest!) so it ain't melting.

    And, I got a jury-duty summons, starting April. So we'll see how the weather cooperates - has been very good up to last Friday, and usually snow is a passing thing around here: thus I'm not far from completion and more than ready to head out. I've told people I'd like to escape for awhile, and if I make good on the job for them, I'll be off with their blessings and more work waiting when I return.

    So, maybe playing tourist in Fairbanks a bit after New Years. I'd hoped to photograph the sun-arc from Campus Drive on the 21st (mmm - yeah, the guy at Fairbanks BLM has a version posted), but perhaps that will wait.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 39 weeks ago

    So how are you getting to the park? on your bike? what's your point?

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 39 weeks ago

    260,000 of a total population of over 15 million choose to carry. The statistics you cite are insignificant for comparing crime statistics. They only prove how well TX does background checks of the permits they issue. Clearly permit holders are committing crimes.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Jim, thanks for the link. This definitely will be an interesting story to watch unfold. It also will be interesting to see if the Senate asks him some tough questions during the confirmation hearings.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    This backs up my prediction that a lot of environmentalists would be very unhappy with the pick of Salazar - from NPR - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98347731 .

    As for NPCA, they and the big NGOs play the game. That's how you play the game.

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

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Ted, not to get off topic -- hell, yes, to get off topic -- how were your travels in the great white north? Any tales to tell?

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Oh yes, Kurt, drab is way in. Try #90948a!

    On jeans/slacks, bras, automobiles; oh yes.

    Cabinet officials - absolutely!

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Frank,

    Having a keen interest in history, this does sound like an interesting book. I still think you should read the SCOTUS's ruling, though.

    Ted, isn't drab trendy these daze?

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I'll accept "stooge" as an alternative spelling of "Representative" ... and not a bad one at that! I don't care to whom an Official genuflects in private, so long as he remembers the actual voting-records that got him where he is. "Stooge THIS, Buddy!"

    The government is self-serving, as are the politicos ... but if either of them actually had a definitive level of control, the outcome of the 2008 Campaign would have been much different. Etceteras, etc.

    A lot can really be told, but is seldom looked directly at - in the history of the Green Party in Europe, and the non-history of the Green Party in North America, et al. At best, they were a faddish contender: now, a minor, verging to unknown used-to-was.

    This isn't about the iron grip of government on America, nor the depravity of politics (the inimitable Blagojevich notwithstanding), but rather establishing a plausible Representation of the citizenship.

    "We" were never shining, pure, saturated Green (National Parks Traveler notwithstanding) ... else Greenpeace would be sitting on the Cabinet, if not the Big Chair. No, we are at best a dingy olive-drab. Emphasis on the drab ... a good bit like the shade of Ken Salazar, eh?

    Hail, Drab! ;-)

  • Man Bitten at Saguaro National Park by Gila Monster   5 years 39 weeks ago

    “ I have never been called to attend a case of Gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a Gila monster ought to die. The creature is so sluggish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten. ”

    —Dr. Ward, Arizona Graphic, September 23, 1899

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Ah, yes. This is the "go along, get along" philosophy of those in power in the NPS. Heave forbid we examine the voting record and actions of political appointees and make critical statements about them.

    "The defects of every government...must...be as open to discussion as the defects of a law, and it is a duty which every man owes to society to point them out." --Thomas Paine

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    At this point in the game, I'd say the NPCA is taking the right approach.

    Assuming the Salazar nomination is confirmed, it's prudent for park supporters for set a positive tone in a relationship with the new Secretary (i.e. hope for the best, establish good lines of communication, and then monitor results.) There's absolutely nothing to be gained - and a lot to be lost - by negative statements about any new appointee until we see what he'll actually do once on the job.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 39 weeks ago

    He's just another government stooge. The Democrats were looking to run another candidate against him next election, and now it looks like they won't have to.

    He is cautious about shale oil, but largely because of the water consumption it would require. Should technological advances change that, I'd bet we'd hear a different story from the senator.

    On non-environment-related notes, Salazar is against adoption by gay couples. He voted to bailout Wall Street.

    As far as the Second Amendment goes, \Kurt, I'd really like to send you a Christmas present: "The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins to the Right to Bear Arms". Too bad Salazar seems to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution he'll uphold and defend.

    I sure love me some change.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I authored the original "Feral" article on Wikipedia: like others here, I have a slightly inordinate fascination with domesticated creatures reentering the wild.

    My entry on Wikipedia has been somewhat overrun by political correctness and enviromentalisms, but the outlines of my intent & aim are still there. I'd say this topic remains drastically-undervalued intellectual real estate. There are things going on here that are likely important (and applicable to humans), but that the mainstream isn't picking up on (or assiduously ignores).

    John McPhee, in his 1976 Alaskana-book "Coming Into the Country" called Dick Cook (icon of the east-Alaska Yukon river-rats), "feral", with a fillip of a qualifier such as 'fully' or some such. In his feral-sally, McPhee focused on Cook's tattered Sears longjohns, and his ability to camp in cold weather beneath a simple tree-rigged plastic tarp. It was a weak sally, but I think quite feral-intentional, and hopeful to prise open the subject further.

    Of course, Dick Cook was not feral, and I doubt he would have claimed it. De-institutionalized, sure; rogue, perhaps. Still, the feral appellation is a prevalent meme in the popular culture, misused enthusiastically & unapologetically.

    I grew up on the ancient Sol Duc riverside Indian clearings of Shuway, 5 miles north of Forks, on the Olympic Peninsula. My paternal grandparents had moved to the (Indian) prairies of Sequim in 1941 (then 300 dairy farms and a few hundred town-folks, now a well-known retiree-mecca), 75 miles away. We had cats on the Sol Duc, they had cats on the dairy farms. If they were raised to large-kitten stage without human interaction, these 'kittens' made "your weight in wildcats" seem downright effete.

    Never have I once seen cats move away from human settlements and take up independent life in the brush, canyons or - esp. - the abundant ever shifting logging clearcuts, where for most of a decade the explosion of low & small growth, floral & faunal, would seemingly support them generously. Never.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Anon, I'm afraid that trying to define environmental resource values in terms of human activities will not get you very far. Among the most valuable resources on the planet are ecosystems and landscapes providing free services in the form of watershed protection, erosion control, storm buffering, pollution filtering, aquifer recharge, nurseries for commercial fish stocks, etc. To qualify as resources, none of these areas/places require direct human access or exploitation. In fact, they would be resources even if no human ever set foot on them.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   5 years 39 weeks ago

    D-2 your posts lead me to believe that you have no first hand or other actual experience in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreation Area.

    If where you come from you lump everything together as being an "all terrain vehicle" where you come from must be a terribly misguided place. An "off road vehicle" is simply a vehicle that can go some places other than roads, but by no stretch of the imagination everywhere. Overwhelmingly these are the same "family cars" that people use on an everyday basis to commute to work or drive the family places, there simply aren't packs "Yahoos" running all over the park in "ATV's" tearing things up. That type of activity only exists in the minds of enviro extremist types like yourself.

    Another thing those like yourself who draw their conclusions from a few media reports, usually based on a press release from one of the environmental groups; is when you see numbers regarding the "miles" of beach open to ORV's VS. miles closed you must keep in mind that A LINE CONTAINS NO AREA. You have to realize that many of those "miles" are actually little more than narrow corridors, kind of like a "road" and are used to access places for RECREATION like swimming fishing and surfing. In relation to the total acres in the park an incredibly small amount of area is actually open to ORV traffic.

    Another point you might consider is your use of the term "resource". Perhaps you should look up the definition: 1 a: a source of supply or support : an available means —usually used in plural b: a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural c: a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life.

    Enhances the quality of human life? Hmm, wouldn't that mean if we don't make some use of it, it's not a resource? So when they place all the signs and string barriers up banning all human activity within an area THAT IS DESTROYING THE RESOURCE. Parks are for people, the resources need to be managed to ensure their continued existence, THAT is what has been going on in this seashore. It's the environmental groups that have taken management of our parks into the courts and wasted billions of dollars.

    You may also wish to note that "wintering habitat" rules and closures would start each year in JULY!

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Ted,

    I'm not going to defend liberal environmentalism or caricatures of the views of the people I know working on these issues - which are far more diverse than that.

    You are right that the ag/livestock control of politics is far greater than their numbers or even their economic influence in these states. That sector makes up about 1% of the GDP of Montana, where I live. Yet, every politician in every commercial embraces the imagery and mythology of the cowboy. And, something in that imagery that attracts both major parties to adopt it in every campaign ad, that attracts the state's population to elect time after time people who fit out a certain biographical profile unrepresentative of the demographics in the states, does reflect a repudiation of sorts of what you call liberal-environmentalism - a movement that has been poorly represented by the sell out NGOs who spend more time in court, raising money, selling calendars, and schmoozing with the government that westerners so rightly are mistrustful of. That the no growth policies of these groups often shows no class consciousness at all, it's not remarkable to me that people will settle for the ranchers (that they don't care for either) than for an environmentally conscious perspective.

    But, there are also institutional advantages, which help perpetuate the ag/livestock power over these states that have little to do with society around us. They are the ones already in power and have been in power for a long time; it's easy to continue leveraging that power. It's not easy to break a good old boy network. Secondly, legislative sessions are in the winter months, making it much easier for a ranch owner - already rich to begin with - to run for office and serve in the state legislatures. And, thirdly, when both major parties have adopted the mythology, there never really is any choice in the vote - outside of certain urban enclaves. I should mention that fourthly, the broadcast media in the state shows an obvious bias toward the entrenched power in the state.

    All that said, I don't disagree that there's a need to confront and inform the society at large to the extent that power rests first and foremost with the people, though it's hardly exercised by people (except by the sinkhole of electoral politics - which drains people of their power, though it's sold as empowering). That's why in the end, it doesn't really matter if it's Grijalva, Salazar, or Kempthorne. You don't hope to fix entrenched power by playing the game designed by those forces. That was always the contradiction of Obama's candidacy - he called on people to take responsibility, work from the ground up - all to elect someone to the most authoritarian position in the world, to strip away the power of special interests so that he alone could have that power (and therefore not need to make appointments based on the desires of any constituency) - provided on a platter by a grassroots effort. Imagine what that kind of community organizing could do if we actually used that organizing capacity to actually empower people to work toward undermining the entrenched powers that be.

    I don't think that's a liberal point of view. But, is it environmentalist? It's at least non-anthropocentric - why it is is an essay in and of itself.

    In any event, from the standpoint of an organizer, Grijalva would have given us a better chance of success. The choice of Salazar only further clarifies that our efforts on some of these issues are in resistance and not in partnership. The dam would have simply broken a little easier with Grijalva in power.

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

  • Did Mount Rainier National Park Leave Contractor Holding The Bill?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    It is doubtful this is a 'Parks issue'. The building trades - and many other businesses, like logging - use the General Contractor and Sub-Contractor model. The roofing-contractor would most likely have no relationship with the Park whatsoever - his agreements were with the GC.

    Unless there is some major, unusual detail that alters the overall picture, this is a fracas between the roofer and the General Contractor ... with the roofer putting up a smoke-screen and fabricating media-interest by seemingly dragging the Park into it.