Recent comments

  • Know When to Say When – Stranded Visitor Rescued from Tiny Ledge at Yosemite National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    what an idiot

  • No Fishing with Hand Grenades in Afghanistan’s New National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Prof Bob etal,

    There once was a time when I fished with Hand Grenades but had to revert back to hook line and sinker. Hand grenades just became to expensive ;-))

    On another note, it would seem as though with this and other articles lately, perhaps this sight will undergo a name Change......

    International Parks Traveler??

    Semper Fi
    Doc

  • Eradicating Everglades Pythons Will be a Formidable Task   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Well blow me down! Them varmints lied to me!! After reviewing said footage of 50 foot "reticulate" python, I did see an ornery notion to hide the length of that thang. So I hunted down the expose column that had to be out there somewhere and yes, the good 'ol UK Guardian sent a man out with a measuring tape to verify that thang. Trouble is, he ended up so deep in the quagmire of Indonesian giant snake story tellin', he became unable to discern truth from fiction himself anymore and fell under the spell of the Shaman priest who made up the whole story in the first place... his story is weirder than the original article.
    Read it yourself:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,%203604,%201116074,%2000.html

    I'll be volunteerin' meself to body shuvlin' detail at one of Stalin's gulag's now. ta ta...

  • No Fishing with Hand Grenades in Afghanistan’s New National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    As we debate the state of our own national parks and how to take care of them, we should bear in mind what a true state of neglect would do to them. Reading this article makes our parks seem pristine again in comparison. Thank God for the U.S.A.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    " At Ray Bane's old park I saw a front-line ranger merely try to enforce a permit condition against a film company in which they promised not to get too close to the bears," d-2.

    While serving at Katmai I had a commercial filming company request permission to film the bears of Brooks River from a unique perspective. They wished to put two photographers in wet suits and scuba gear film the bears from underwater while the bears were feeding on migrating salmon. The idea was to have the photographers swim downstream with the current from the midstream falls to the mouth. Guess how I responded.

  • Second Drowning In Two Days at Sequoia National Park Claims 14-Year-Old   5 years 39 weeks ago

    In April you wrote about a program at Sequoia National Park, to patrol those river stretches at that times that has been recognised as prone to danger. There you did not mention which river it was, but Middle Fork of the Kaweah River is my guess.

    Can you find out if the river patrol was continued this season?

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I'd advise a review of the designation of National Park versus National Forest.

    When I see four wheel drive vehicles spinning down the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, over bird and turtle nests, a part of me-- a not-so-small part of me--wretches with disdain for the obvious lack of humanity and mission of the national park. My 40+ years of experience has taught me that humans are in fact the ultimate destroyer of nature. The NPS serves to preserve and protect designated lands for future generations (of people as well as wildlife) and if that means a portion of the beach is no longer accessible for driving, so be it.

    Perhaps different tactics on the part of the NPS are appropriate. However, in the face of eloquent and intelligent pleas for preservation, one still witnesses a blatant disregard for the land and its inhabitants. Does this not lead to an overwhelming disparagement for "fellow homo sapiens"? I believe the mission of the NPS in fact prohibits it from being "encouraging" of "human contact with" certainly the "entirety of its holdings".

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    To Jim Burnett

    THANK YOU! Your post was refreshing and encouraging to read!!

  • New Gun Regulations for National Parks, Wildlife Refuges Won't Take Effect for Nine Months   5 years 39 weeks ago

    What are the regulations on CCW in The National Parks? Why I ask this I heard that you can only carry .22Lr or .22 mag.

  • Second Drowning In Two Days at Sequoia National Park Claims 14-Year-Old   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Gads, that's terrible

    --------------------------------------

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Eradicating Everglades Pythons Will be a Formidable Task   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Just in the interest of facts, no snake has ever been measured (with anything even approaching authenticity) over 30 feet. There is a standing $50,000 reward offered by the New York Herp Society for anyone producing evidence of a live snake measuring over 30 feet. The reward has been around for many years now and has never been claimed. The "50 footer" wasn't even a Burmese, it was a Reticulated Python - a completely different species. And most snake people that look at the pictures estimate it to be about 25 feet long. Still probably big enough to eat a Stalinesque moderator, though.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    It the rules were designed to maximize visitation now, the experience 10 generations hence would be trashed. We understand what protecting for the long haul means much better now than some decades ago.

    And I agree that tastes have changed. A national forest near where I live has decided that to get more people to use their campgrounds, they are going to bring in wifi and cell coverage because their surveys show that the inability to text message is keeping young people away. In the mean time, some of the more rustic campgrounds without flush toilets will get closed.

    And I'm not surprised if attitudes in Yosemite Valley get a bit warped. It doesn't need more visitation, at least during peak season. any ranger who got the job to enjoy the wilds can hardly help from developing an attitude if their jobs ends up managing traffic gridlock and a pall of smoke and pollution.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    d-2 and Rick -

    Thanks for your perspective - which is certainly in line with my 30 years in the parks.

    Are all employees perfect? Of course not - in parks, or anywhere else - and I recognize the workplace has changed in the years since I retired. I suspect employees in any job that involves public contact vent or joke among their peers about situations they encounter. Even so, Frank_C and Beamis seem to have hung out with a different set of employees than I did in eight parks, large and small. I'm glad my experience was much more positive than theirs.

    d-2 said, "Parks are there, not just for preservation, but so people can enjoy and learn from unimpaired wild, scenic or historic places. It is a wonderful idea, and most of the visitors find the park people pretty wonderful, too."

    I heartily second that view, and take it a step further. Despite the inevitable challenges, long hours and occasional negative experiences, most park people I worked with found the majority of visitors to be "pretty wonderful," too. If you don't find real satisfaction in helping visitors enjoy some of the best places on the planet, you're in the wrong job.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I've seen numerous front line rangers bash the French, Germans, and other foreign visitors in each of my ten seasons. I've heard many fee rangers bash the "stupid" visitors for reacting negatively to paying an entrance fee. I haven't been to a national park in a year because of some incredibly negative experiences at Mount Rainier. Rangers at the visitor center failed to greet me and then seemed put out when asked for information. The campfire program was led by an interpretive ranger whose command of English, as evidenced by the many errors on her PowerPoint slides and frequent verbal gaffes, was atrocious. Her skills as an interpreter were sorely lacking. (Probably a diversity hire as she is an ethnic minority.) I talked up the "magic" of a campfire program, but after this sorry stinker, I had to apologize to my wife, who had never been to a campfire program before.

    I myself was once a mysanthrope, like many of my coworkers. We all bashed on humans and talked about population control and how we are a plague on the planet, a virus. Some of us told others to limit their driving because it "causes global warming", but then hopped in a car for a joy ride to the coast. Then, one night around a fire, I had a conversation with Beamis where he challenged my assumptions, exposed my hypocrisy, and I began to reconsider the views I adopted and the actions I parroted from my fellow NPS preservationists.

    I could go on and on. Point is, Beamis is not an outlier. He and I are two of the few who have nothing to lose by speaking up about the mismanagement and general sense of misanthropy by those in the green and gray. Rick, I'm not sure what National Park Service you're from, but the one I worked in for a decade and the parks I visit do not closely resemble your descriptions. Perhaps your experiences have been rosier due to your elevated status and long history with the National Park Service.

  • Interior Secretary Moves to Block Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Bruce -

    Thanks for your comment.

    Just to clarify Mr. Salazar's actions for the benefit of our readers, here's a quote from a NPS announcement on this topic: "The segregated lands include 633,547 acres managed by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and 360,002 acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service."

    This action does not affect any private lands, only federally owned property.

    I fully agree that taking a "time out" on uranium mining activity in this area to review the overall situation is a good idea. In addition to the issue of possible impacts on the Grand Canyon, there's also the question of protecting the water quality in the Colorado River, a vital resource for millions of users downstream of the park.

  • Mount Terror Lives Up to Its Name at North Cascades National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Steph -

    Thanks for the comment. Your blog has an excellent, detailed trip report describing the climb and the rescue.

    I compliment all of you in the group for the way you handled the situation. Glad there was a successful outcome.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Rick Smith---you could be right. I might be mostly wrong, but I do hang out with a group of currently employed rangers at a park that hosts 2.7 million visitors per year (according to their counting methods). I'm only reporting what I hear and how the burden of humanity is perceived and dealt with in the context of preservation and park policy. I might be seeing it all wrong but the overall perspective that I have gleaned is one where the average tourist is seen as a burden and a threat rather than a partner in preservation. Sorta like the invective reserved for the visiting French as revealed in previous post on this website.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    It's been my experience recently that the National Parks are at the brink of capacity with visitors. The off-limits areas may seem excessive, but are needed because the sheer numbers of people who would trample them if if they were open is too much for some ecosystems.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    D-2--

    You are too polite to Beamis. He is mostly wrong. Most park people are the opposite of what he claims they are: they are polite, usually well-informed, and have the visitor's back most of the time. I almost laughed out loud when he talked about young rangers coming out of training "gulags". What planet does he live on? As you point out, there's not much training going on anywhere other than the bare minimum that is required to meet certification standards. Park employees, including rangers, are not much different than any one else except they work in really nice places and, in the vast majority of the cases, try hard to help park visitors understand what they are seeing and to have a good time in the park. There are exceptions, as you point out; maybe Beamis has run into every one of them. But his "draconian" law enforcement people and "radical environmental" managers are not the ones I meet when I go to parks.

    Rick Smith

  • Eradicating Everglades Pythons Will be a Formidable Task   5 years 39 weeks ago

    There's a back story to the SREL experiment to see if male pythons can survive South Carolina winters.
    http://www.fort.usgs.gov/InfoQuality/MTF21972/ICR_MTF21972.asp

    In 2008 a couple of USGS scientists published a peer-reviewed paper on the potential range of pythons in the US:
    Rodda, G.H., C.S. Jarnevich, and R.N. Reed. 2008. What parts of the US mainland are climatically suitable for invasive alien pythons spreading from Everglades National Park? Biological Invasions. Published online 27 February 2008 via SpringerLink, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-008-9228-z

    A herpetologist who owns pet snakes filed a complaint under the federal data quality act, claiming that the USGS analysis used climate & habitat from the entire range of the pythons in SE Asia, while the introduced snakes in Florida might be from only a small part of that range, and thus may have overestimated the area where the pythons could become a serious problem, and thus possibly resulting in restrictions on python ownership. The back & forth was only interesting if you need to know about the data quality act (which I did): the complaint is that the USGS scientists didn't analyze data that they don't have and that don't exist. Before limitations on ownership are enforced, one side or the other should fund the genetic research to determine exactly where the snakes in Florida came from (a former colleague of mine is just the person to do that work: he's done it for snakeheads & other introduced invasive species).

    But, the simpler, more direct empirical experiment is to see whether some of the snakes from the Everglades can survive winter freezes, and SREL just happened to have suitable habitat enclosures from when it was a substantial ecological research laboratory run by the University of Georgia on the DOE Savannah River Site, and thus was a very inexpensive way to perform the initial experiment.

    As for rules, I agree with Anonymous that rules applied to the general public will be ineffective, as even a low percentage of scofflaws will be enough to continue the problem. However, in the case of exotic invasive species, laws targeting the importation and commercial sale of species that might cause substantial harm can be effective. We already have those rules and quarantines for health & agricultural risk, and they (mostly) work. It takes research to minimize the restrictions on the pet & horticultural trades and pet owners & gardeners while stopping potential problems at the bottleneck where they might be stopped.

    Conversely, Anonymous's suggestion of one more person out hunting snakes (or even hundreds more) won't put a dent in their increase & spread. There are too many of them spread over too large of an area and they reproduce too quickly.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I disagree that we need more visitors to our parks. They are overrun as it is, at least the popular ones and at least in the summer. What we do need is more interest in our parks from young people. With the number of visitors, most of whom are city people who know very little about how to behave in the outdoors and around wildlife, the switch in emphasis toward preservation is probably a good thing. Park professionals have learned, in many cases the hard way, that if you let people go unattended into certain sensitive areas ancient artifacts will become souvineers, beautiful rock walls will be covered with graffiti and trash will be strewn around. They have discovered that if you allow people to hike into bear rich areas, people will feed and tease them, hike without taking proper precautions and get too close in the name of a picture; resulting in maulings and dead bears. Etc.
    While nearly anyone who has spent more than a short vacation in our parks probably can site instances where they wish a ranger wasn't there ("So I'm 80 yards instead of 100!! He's not paying the least bit of attention to me, and my car is right there!!! If he looks my way, I'll back up!), the fact is that most rangers do a great job of balancing resource protection and visitor enjoyment. After all, they are overwhelmed, have no idea if you are an outdoorsperson who has spent his (her) life in the wilds, or a city slicker; and they are understaffed.
    I would suggest visiting at a slower time of the year, when things are a lot more relaxed.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Beamis, whenever you rail on, I do get the same message, and certainly your distain for people trying to do their job, but I never get a picture of how you think things should work if YOU had your way. You say you believe in preservation, and in parks. So how would it work, if you were Emperor of the North, and could make it go your way? What would people do on Monday?

    Most of the lessons Rangers and other park people learn from, come -- not as you picture it -- but from what actually happens day in and day out, or happened over time, at this or that park, with this or that action by park management. It would actually be welcome if Rangers got more training, but in fact most park people don't take the time they should for training, because they are too busy. (not a good excuse, but true) Most park people are these very practical people who don't have much use for bureaucracy. Park rangers are forever pointing out how lawyer-driven Director's Orders undermine sensible management on the front line in a real park. Practical people. There IS, of course, much regret when some part of the park experience is lost, on those occasions when management let some adverse action go on, that in the end impaired the park experience. Park people REMEMBER and talk about when they should have stepped in but didn't. Those experiences, good and not good, are then applied to future enforcing protection or encouraging park use.

    Park people are always talking to each other about how to be more welcoming, and there is a lot of criticism among peers for rangers who do not like people, or act like they do not like people. Most park people, overwhelmingly, are hugely gratified by how much most of the public really enjoy themselves at the park. It keeps most park rangers going, the joy of the visitor.

    It is true that some of the superintendents are not very politically skilled, and in their public explanations while hide behind what the regulation says, or some higher-up policy, but the reason for that political style is the way public officials get creamed in America today whenever they are open and clear. There are lawyers everywhere, and a lot of angry ranters who love to litigate. Read the papers.

    Ray Bane is right about the pressure on any ranger who wants to confront human impact on the park. At Ray Bane's old park I saw a front-line ranger merely try to enforce a permit condition against a film company in which they promised not to get too close to the bears, and that guy's chief ranger -- the guy who probably negotiated the permit -- rebuked the front line ranger as a zealot, and to chill out. Superintendent's who try to protect beaches in recreation areas really do get sliced and diced. Even in the end if the agency supports the restriction, that superintendent realizes his/her intervention was not deeply appreciated by Higher Authority.

    Parks are there, not just for preservation, but so people can enjoy and learn from unimpared wild, scenic or historic places. It is a wonderful idea, and most of the visitors find the park people pretty wonderful, too. Part of that time, in that grey area, that means there can be tensions over over use, and how to prevent it, and the human beings needed to protect the park and the human beings, with all their variety and vastly different levels of experience, who visit the park. I remember being startled to learn that my own wife, who I think is pretty sensitive and law abiding, was approached once by a ranger who said he'd seen her picking some wild flowers. He was not heavy handed, but pointed out others came to the park to enjoy those flowers, and it would not take many people picking 'em before the whole scene would be altered. For a moment, she was defensive, but almost immediately grateful that she better understood how to behave in a park. She appreciated the 'intervention,' and I am not sure you could have a gentler intervention, other than letting anything go.

    You can bring your incipient anger to characterize rangers as hostile, but it is just not so. It does get boring, it lacks all nuance.

    Thinking through in a collaborative way the right way to protect and experience the parks needs to be a continual and earnest process. Constantly blaming the rangers seems pretty silly.

  • Traveler's Checklist - Glacier National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I have spent quite a bit of time in glacier park. i would suggest hiking into avalanche lake. it is not to bad of a hike and the reward is something to behold. it is one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen. if you like to flyfish you will have a ball, my son and i caught and released many fish. not very big ones ,but almost every cast we caught one. we didn't bring our waders and you can't stand long in the water without them.VERY COLD!! bring your bearspray and wear a bell. we never saw one, but you always need to be prepared. there is a very nice campground at the trailhead, in the morning deer would walk through. we had alot of fun there. anybody thats want to see bighorn sheep and goats up close needs to go to logan pass on going to the sun road. they are always there and they are not afraid of humans. keep in mind they are wild and can hurt you easily. i have seen people trying to pet the little billy goats in the parking lot with momma standing right there. a ranger came out and gave these folks a good talking to. i have had a bad experience with the canadian border guards and i will never try to cross into canada ever again. they treated us like we were trash. the american border guards said they treated them the same way all the time. anyway glacier is a wonderful place you must see in your life.

  • Mount Terror Lives Up to Its Name at North Cascades National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I just wanted to say thanks for the great article. I am Steph Abegg, the climber who was roped to Steve when he fell. We are all thankful for the success of the rescue. The success was due to a series of crucial decisions made by several individuals involved (the 3 uninjured climbers, the rescue team in Marblemount). Thanks to everyone involved.

    I have posted a detailed trip report of the accident, including sevearal photos, on my website:
    http://sabegg.googlepages.com/terror

    -Steph

  • Interior Secretary Moves to Block Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    "Taking a step the Bush administration refused to take . . . " I said it before and I'll say it again. Thank God the Bush years are over. Take this type of action (that is, non-action/obstruction) and multiply it by thousands over eight years and you will have the complete picture of the Bush administration concerning any social issue involving potential business profits.

    I can hear it now: "But, this is private land (or development rights on public land). What about the rights to develop and use the land that the investors own/lease?" I would say, as in so many other similar issues, these property rights CEASE at the point where they would sacrifice the common good.

    This is applied obviously to the air we breathe and the water we drink (under the current administration, at least). Perhaps not as obvious, but no less applicable, are the rights of the public to preserve a national, world, treasure like the Grand Canyon. The world needs the Grand Canyon more than additional uranium.

    To what extent should national parks be protected from development beyond their borders? To the extent that any such development is determined to be detrimental to our national parks in any significant manner. I would think that extensive mining in the area would come under that description.