Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Kurt, my opinion is they should be allowed with many restrictions. Limit the number of flights, the types of air craft and helicopters, and most importantly limit the noise. Make it tough on the operators by requiring some sort of ultra quiet standard so they are not disturbing the park any more than a bird flying over. And maybe tax the crap out of them so the taxes collected go to parks directly.
    Dave Crowl

  • 4-Year-Old Drowns In Lake Powell at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 42 weeks ago

    This is a sobering reminder that children loose their lives at National Park Units far too often. Sadly we see this completely preventable accident played out over and over. How can we get these parents/guardians out of the unaware state and into the aware state that will allow them to recognize the incredible risk they assume for their child when they choose not to put a life jacket on them? For the most part these are good people who quite simply failed to recognize the threat. Letting your children play in, on or near open bodies of water without a life jacket is incredibly risky period! If they get in trouble you have very little time to save them. I am amazed to see how many people choose to do this and am 100% convinced that if they understood the consequence was death they would choose to put a life jacket on their child. My heart goes out to the rescuers who have to respond to this and to the families who will be changed forever.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I have to agree with Gary. I too moved from the Grand Canyon to a suburban area and it is also quieter than my house within Grand Canyon National Park. Traffic, sirens, helicopters, machinery - the South Rim village is never quiet.

  • Vandals Trash Historic CCC Building at Colorado National Monument   5 years 42 weeks ago

    The perpetrators of this crime, if caught...twenty lashes across the back! I hope they find these sicko's and severely thrash them good. The construction of this rustic monument is a testament of the hard work and dedication of the Civilian Conservation Corps. This symbol of construction by the CCC should always be marveled at and protected. Now, lets find the SOB's that did this horrendous vandalism. I surprise there hasn't been more public outcry on NPT regarding this kind of sick vandalism.

  • Visitation to National Parks Is On the Upswing, Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Partly to Blame   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Could some of the upswing be due to gas prices coming down this year versus last year? As for free weekends - as a Senior Citizen I purchased the pass that allows me free access to all National Parks. I guess that is an advantage of getting old.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Years ago at Big Cypress National Preserve once and a while military fighter jets would make low altitude high speed flyovers when I was deep in the swamps there. To me these were "proud to be an American" moments as the immense power eminating from their freedom protecting engines filled my being during their rapid approach, passover and exit to the horizon. Then quickly it was over and the stillness returned. Being ex-Air Force this didn't bother me and it reminded there are a lot of fellow Americans protecting us all every minute of every day. I haven't seen or heard them for years and was told that a law or rule was passed preventing military flights over this region. Nowadays though I more frequently view and hear NPS helicopters and fixed wing aircraft operating for longer periods of time at much lower altitudes (e.g. treetop level) doing whatever they feel they need to do. I'm sure some missions involve Panther telemetry surveillance. It is obvious when you see the airplane circling a lone swamp hammock 5 or 6 times about 80 feet off the ground. I always feel sorry for the Panther being harassed. I always figure 1 pass should be sufficient but what do I know. Many times NPS choppers have hovered above me as I hunted deer in Big Cypress. At first I thought they were trying to scare the deer away but now I look forward to these hovering choppers. They do actually put the neighberhood deer on the move. The last 4 incidents have yielded 2 deer in the bag for me since I've learned the deer's response and now always start ground stalks about 5 minutes after these incidents which always seems to produce sightings of from 4 to 5 deer with legal bucks being present at least 1/2 of the time.
    As far as commercial overflights are concerned I believe folks should be empathetic to all Americans needs.Those that aren't as fortunate as myself or others to be able to spend days and days in these glorious places should be afforded and supported in seeing and experiencing our National treasure in the manner that works best for them. Those not supporting people lacking the time to see this treasure over a shorter time span and at higher speed via air travel could or will be perceived elitist snobs.
    I feel it would be a disservice to NPS if more "airshed" duties were thrust upon them since they have more to do now than their budget will allow them to do effectively. Mr. Fagergren should be aware of this since he used to be the superintendent at Big Cypress.
    I would recommend those worried to lighten up since the sounds come and go rather quickly.
    Heck in the Addition Land plans at Big Cypress out for review now NPS has seen fit to propose Wilderness designation along both sides of Interstate 75 for 20 miles between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples Fl. The noise from 23,000 cars and semi- trucks per day that travel the road will be continually penetrating up to 5 miles deep into this Wilderness i865t along both sides of this highway, if it is eventually proposed. If these noise levels exceeding 100 db at roadside are acceptable according to NPS's own Wilderness criteria it seems a bit disenguine or hypocritical to be complaining about less noisy commercial oveflights unless one has a hidden agenda contained below the surface of their public comments either here or elsewhere.

  • Young Kayaker Rescued in Glacier National Park, But Not Before A Nap in a Hollow Log   5 years 42 weeks ago

    At last! A boating accident where the individual was at least wearing a PFD, so the final outcome was a positive one.

  • National Park Quiz 66: Cemeteries   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Good catch, xnprngr, and I do thank you very kindly. I made the fix. Now, prepare for some weaselspeak. Several years ago I visited Coloma (ghost town) in the California gold country incident to a stay at Sierra City and some hiking on the PCT. That's surely why I wrote Coloma instead of Colma. Pretty good weaselspeak, wouldn't you say?

  • National Park Quiz 66: Cemeteries   5 years 42 weeks ago

    #12 - That little community of the dead located south of San Francisco is Colma (not Coloma, as indicated in the question.)

  • Big Cypress National Preserve: Is More ORV Access In Bear Island Unit Wise?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    It's 2% of ORV owners that make it tough for the rest of us. That's why I love the penalties imposed at Ocala National Forest. I knew a guy who went off trail and had to pay $1500.00 in fines for going into a wetland. Let the mud wheelies go to river ranch and use their mud pit which is what it's for and leave the national forests alone. To be fair, I have put more miles on my feet than I have my ATV but I love both. Alot of times I'll use my ATV to get to the start of my hike. Especially true since I am pushing 50 now. To get back to my point, if the fine is steep enough, you will get rid of the riff raff and those that have no respect for the wilderness.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I would suggest a reading of Marc Reisner's book, Cadillac Desert, especially the portions on Floyd Dominy (BOR commish. from '59-'69) to understand the mentality of a government agency such as the FAA. The FAA will never relinquish control of "air space" over the national parks or allow others to suggest what they should do with it unless congressionally mandated. The National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000 just isn't going to do it. This is what the FAA was set up to do, so, you can't necessarily blame them or the NPS.

    Bureaucracy is not an obstacle to democracy but an inevitable complement to it. -- Joseph A. Schumpeter, 1883-1950, Austrian-American Economist

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Life in the United States is complicated, stressful, and for most of us, noisy. The pressures most of us experience on a day to day basis are more than just "quality of life" issues. Over time they are threatening to life itself. It is fundamental to our physical health, not to mention our psychological and spiritual well-being that we have access to at least occasional respite from these pressures and visits to national parks should be seen as such. The ability to have an experience that as closely as possible approximates a truly natural environment is something that national parks can offer and they should be managed in a manner that guarantees this. Air tours that pass over national parks violate this principle, serving to distract thousands while entertaining a few. They should not be permitted. Unfortunately the FAA cannot be depended upon to help. Its mandate to regulate and promote civil air transport is in conflict with itself and the sympathies of FAA career managers has always tilted toward the promotion side.

    When I moved from Grand Canyon National Park in 1996 to Harpers Ferry, WV, it was sad to note how much quieter it was in suburban West Virginia.

    Air tours are not the only distraction that breaks the bond between park visitors and the park experience. Tour buses, motorcycles, generators, portable radios or CD players and cell phones are culprits as well and park managers should be given the tools necessary to limit their impacts.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Once again, here's a clear and present example of a conflict between resource protection and economic opportunity.

    In today's fast-paced world, many potential park visitors opt to fly over the park from a distant location than drive to it. Approval of helicopter overflights to Crater Lake would be a net economic benefit for the air-tourism industry of Bend, Oregon. The current proposal includes entering park air-space from the remote northeastern sector of the park and excludes flying into or directly over the caldera, but if the pilots are tipped handsomely, there's no way to enforce the flight plan once this activity is permitted.

    However, if there's enough public support to keep the airshed above parks free of mechanical intrusions, the value of parks as a "most sacred place" will be preserved.

    I am a proponent of managing the inner caldera of Crater Lake as wilderness, which means no helicopter tours over the park and no motorized tour boats as well. These commercial tour boats, although promoted by the NPS and the park concessioner for many decades as having educational value, have been enlarged to the point that their motors can now be heard by hikers roaming along the caldera rim. They create a wake that disturbs the glass-like calm surface of the early morning reflections on Crater Lake.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    If the FAA would truly work with the NPS cooperatively in management of overflights, there is a possibility overflights could occur over National Parks under certain circumstances. However, since the FAA has other priorities and there is a low priority placed by them on protection of park resources, including visitor experiences and natural sound, I believe the NPS should continue its efforts to have the strongest say in management or exclusion of overflights of national parks. As Boyd Evison once pointed out, our National Parks represent less than 1% of the land mass of the United States (lower 48). Is it really asking too much that these places be different than the rest of the lands of the United States?

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    The helicopter flights available at Bryce Canyon travel over mostly inaccessible areas of the park and fly fairly high above the rim and in my experience as a guide there do not disturb visitors in the main viewing areas or on trails. In other parks it could be a different story, so I'd say making policy on a case by case basis would be the best way to proceed. One size fits all is not the best way to manage anything.

  • Is Senator Feinstein Speaking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth on National Park Matters?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    ypw -- I believe the issue regarding time may turn on when the lease runs out for the Oyster farm? Is that your understanding?

    A national park superintendent would be operating inconsistently with both the Act of 1916 establishing the NPS, as well as the potential wilderness and publically-reviewed GMP decisions, wouldn't she/he, if they were actually to RENEW a lease?

    Isn't a renewal of a lease in effect a decision by the NPS that the use IS conforming, and consistent with the purposes of the National Park System?? Generally I believe the NPS in law and policy only can enter into commercial agreements that are consistent with the purposes of the park system?

    There are many places in the US where parks are established, while protecting "valid existing rights," I believe. If the right, such as with this lease, has a sunset date, then that date would mean the prior use would be terminated. Parks have been established with cattle grazing rights, as well, left over from their days under the BLM management, and those grazing permits generally are permitted to be continued as a valid existing right, or bought out if too damaging even to be grandfathered in.

    My guess is part of the problem with NPS management of this Oyster lease is the way the NPS is coming around to dealing with "impairment" under policies developed in the 1990's. NPS was responsible to make sure there would be no 'impairment' from its activities or those it permitted to the park. So, if a superintendent wanted to build a visitor center in sensitive habitat, he would be challenged by Higher Ups, such as in the case of eagle habitat in the Upper Delaware, with a study demonstrating that the development was inappropriate, and stopped. But doing a study to determine if an Oyster farm is an impairment has the question completely backward. A commercial activity in any national park is not to be permitted at all -- much less in designated wilderness -- unless the commercial activity is needed to further PARK PURPOSES. The oyster farm was never made a park purpose by congress, just like most pre-existing commercial operations in parks are not designated as necessary for the park to be a successful park. But the superintendent or the NPS at Point Reyes got stupified in applying the idea of the study of impairment to an activity that in no way is consistent with a park. So, when the permit ends, it cannot be extended if we expect the park to be a park.

    By doing the study, it did give the impression that if no 'impairment' were found, then the oyster farm would be OK, and seemed to hinge everything on a study that was looking at the wrong thing. And, clearly, the guy at the National Academy of Science, in just studying the relative health of an oyster farm as an oyster farm -- not as a matter of congressional policy -- way missed the point.

    -- Finally, on Richard's point on Point Reyes being so well mapped it is not really wilderness, of course all wilderness study areas, even the ones in the most remote parts of Alaska, were already well mapped and well traveled when proposed as wilderness and designated by congress. What wilderness in a national park is really for is protecting the land from the National Park Service. Most other uses, including an oyster farm, would be a violation of the Act of 1916 (the NPS organic act). This is not so true with other public land agencies that permit oil and gas development or road development, but it is with a park. In a park, the danger of development almost always is because the NPS authorizes or initiates a development that compromises the integrity of the park.

    That is why Congress created wilderness in parks even in the East Coast -- like at Fire Island National Seashore -- that had been intensively used over the years. At Katmai wilderness in Alaska, the NPS was going to build a suspension bridge over a tiny stream that the tour bus would drive through to take tourists to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, because very occasionally a flash flood meant the gravel road the forded the stream was unpassable.

    The point congress is making is to direct the NPS to MANAGE the area as a roadless, untrammeled area. Wilderness designation is a LAW, not a primeval romantic, pre-human, condition. The congressional history of Point Reyes seems to indicate that congress expected the NPS to eliminate inconsistent developments over time, and the phased implementation of wilderness seems to have been a compromise way to achieve that direction to the NPS from Congress.

    Otherwise, congress would have congressionally designated the oyster farm as a primary purpose of the park.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I would rather have them in the air than on the ground. The plane-going sightseers are the ones that drive around all day stopping for an instant for pictures and standing in line to piss.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    There should be a no-fly zone over national parks. Families go there to relax, get back to nature and to enjoy the complete beauty our national parks hold. This would be greatly disturbed by aircraft buzzing over them. Pictures could not be the same. "Waiting for the airplane/helicopter to get out of the shot" would bring stress to what is now an awesome experience. People do not spend enough quality time together (or in solitude) in this hustle and bustle world we live in. Adding noise and unnatural objects flying thru the airspace only brings a fast and chaotic world into the parks that are now an escape.

  • Major Road Closure Coming to Yellowstone National Park   5 years 42 weeks ago

    The closure adds over 80 miles to your journey if you want to reach, for instance Mammoth from West Yellowstone, in essence splitting the park into two. So please plan accordingly; for instance, don't use the North Entrance if you wanted a fairly easy journey otherwise to Old Faithful. Don't use the West Entrance if your goal was to go to the Lamar Valley and the Beartooth Highway, unless you have a lot of time to spend.

    It's still easier than winter travel between West Yellowstone and Gardiner, something that those who work on the buffalo issue know too well, as there is a lot of need to be in both locations.

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

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park Trail?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    The Mist Trail in Yosemite. It's short, strenuous, and packed. It also features what may be the most perfect waterfall in the Western US in Vernal Fall. I think it also looks better when at moderate water levels - more like a flat curtain of water than a raging waterfall.

    Other than that - maybe the Sky Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore.

    I'd go so far as to classify the Half Dome cables, the Virgin River Narrows, and the route up Angels Landing as cross country.

  • Is Senator Feinstein Speaking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth on National Park Matters?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I've read the 1976 wilderness laws that set aside parts of Point Reyes and other units as wilderness and potential wilderness. None of it mandates a schedule for conversion of "potential wilderness" into "wilderness". The only language is that once "nonconforming uses" are removed, it can be designated as wilderness. In fact this has happened before, and the new designation has been entered into the Federal Register.

    The current "reservation of use" does allow the superintendent to renew it at his discretion. There's no law actually forcing the superintendent's hand to convert what's currently the oyster farm into wilderness. I suspect the Solicitor's opinion was just that - an opinion that hasn't been tested in court. After reading the law, it seems that "nonconforming use" could be continued indefinitely.

    In any case, the biggest problem for disturbances for the local seal population is probably kayakers and hikers making too much noise or getting too close. From what I've heard, the oyster farm employees know they have to take all possible steps to avoid disturbing wildlife because they know there might be negative consequences.

  • Body, Presumed To Be That Of Missing Backpacker, Found in Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Could Bryce have tried to use Bonita Creek as a short cut to the river ? Perhaps low on water in Surprise Valley and rather than go on to Thunder River he elected to descend into the Bonita drainage. Did anyone learn where the backpack was found ? Was it upstream from the 100 foot pour off ? The artical said the NPS reached the body by ascending Bonita Creek.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Part of the deal is that POTUS can declare a National Monument without an act of Congress.

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I wouldn't say it is a big spring break thing, more of a weekend-long frat party. This happens mainly on the weekend, so unless you would like a detailed lesson on human anatomy..plan your trip during the week. You will enjoy the view and the lack of large crowds!

  • Flash Flood Leads to Rescue of 200+ Campers at Ozark National Scenic Riverways   5 years 42 weeks ago

    That is my son's truck and my trailer shown in the picture. We were camped in the 100 loop of the Alley Springs Campground. We were awakened at 3:00 with water above our ankles (not 4:00 like the report above shows). We immediately began to pack our belongings into the van, truck and trailer. My husband drove the van out to the left of the bathroom (thru the grass) onto the day float lot while my son attempted to drive to the right of the bathroom. Unfortunately, that side was lower and the force of the water floated the trailer and pulled his truck into deeper water. A group of 4 young men camped across from us drove into Eminence to get cell phone service and found a ranger at one of the resturaunts having breakfast. He was unaware of the problems until the young men told him about the river rising. At about the same time, my son called 911 on the pay phone at the ranger's station in the campground. It was a good 45 minutes from that time that the first ranger showed up. he was followed by an ambulance and a sheriff's car. When we left the campground about 6:40 there was only 5 or 6 people there to help the campers. When we returned about an hour later there was a large number of rangers and other individuals to assist. Our question is "Why was no one monitoring the level of the river after the amount of rain that had fallen in the past several days; and why did it take so long for help to arrive after the flood was reported.