Recent comments

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Well said Ray, I am in 100% agreement!

  • Tredegar Ironworks: A Civil War Icon Preserved at Richmond National Battlefield Park   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I'll surely visit Richmond before too long, but not to "set a spell." My wife insists that I need to do at least 10,000 steps a day if I'm to have any hope of getting rid of this paunch.

  • Tredegar Ironworks: A Civil War Icon Preserved at Richmond National Battlefield Park   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I suppose it must have changed a good bit since 1964?

    To say the least! It's changed dramatically since the 1990's, so for you it would almost be like you'd never even been here before. The extensive renovations to the riverfront area alone would be worth the trip.

    Sounds like you're overdue, so why not come on down and set a spell?...


  • A National Park Service Regional Director Shares His Priority List for 2009   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Mr. Schundler you've hit the nail on the head. A bigger question is how the National Park Service is going to keep the leaders they have for tomorrow. This is a very serious situation and one that needs immediate attention. Sadly, in the past two weeks the declining economy is the only answer I've heard for strategic advancement in this area. You see when times are rough; the government is a good bet. We'll see more people applying for jobs and less of our folks leaving for greener pastures. We'll also be "bailed out” while we stimulate the economy. But what happens after that? Did we really fix the problem, or simply put a Band-Aid on it? I'm hoping we stretch ourselves beyond this. Much of the infrastructure in need of repair is a living testament to this exercise already. We need to seriously consider an overhaul with regards to recruitment and retention and quit self imposing barriers that leave our supervisors and mangers very little option to reach out and pull in talent or keep it for that matter. Much of it exists in OPM; we’re discouraged to use it. There are many young leaders in place who I believe are moving us in the right direction. Regional Director Snyder has considerable talent in the field who I assure you have a plan. That's a start. Your feedback is critical and greatly appreciated. I hope you and your wife continue to be seasonal employees, in many ways they are the back bone of the agency.

  • Another Yellowstone National Park Wolf Reaches Colorado   5 years 42 weeks ago

    When I was in Leadville last summer, there was an un-confirmed report of a wolf sighting in the Mt. Elbert - Mt. Massive area, which leads me to believe there might be more wolves in Colorado than people think.


  • Paving the Way to Denali National Park & Preserve   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Bob - great information and background on the park - and the highway.

    With benefit of hindsight, it's a good thing the park started the shuttle bus service shortly after the highway was completed, and therefore kept the number of private vehicles in the park under control. My one experience with the shuttle bus was very positive - and I shudder to think of how different the park would be today if all of those visitors drove into the park by private car or huge tour bus.

  • Bryce Canyon National Park: This Small Corner of Utah Packs a Colorful Punch   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Many National Parks have some sort of statistic about how some large XX percent of visitors stick to paved roads, walkways, and boardwalks. At first, as an avid hiker, I was fairly aghast at those numbers. However, I've since more or less made my peace with them. Consider, for example, some of the factors that would apply to Bryce Canyon:
    - the first thing that jumps out at me is that with a number like 99.9%, I wonder if part of it is related to the fact that Utah Highway 12 passes through the Park, and whether or not all those through-travellers are counted as visitors
    - many visitors may be elderly, disabled, or traveling with small children, all of whom for which a hike down into a canyon in the Utah desert is simply not an option
    - many visitors to Bryce Canyon are from Asia, Europe, or even just the East Coast , and are making what is essentially a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Colorado Plateau... even leaving aside that if they are on a tour bus, the bus schedule may not leave enough time for a hike, the sheer number of things to see may lead to the decision to see Bryce from tour road in order to have enough time on the trip to take in places like Zion, Arches, Mesa Verde, or the Grand Canyon

    Sure, part of me wishes that ever American shared my enjoyment of hiking, but rather than be sad about how few visitors are taking to the Trails, in an era of declining Park visitation, I prefer to be happy that they are visiting the Parks at all.

  • New Visitor Center Coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 42 weeks ago

    We are glad to hear that the existing structures will not be destroyed. The local NRP station in Knoxville reported that the building would be torn down. My Great Uncle worked for the CCC before enlisting in the US Army during WWII. Those structures built by the CCC must remain as a legacy to those hard working men who built them!!

  • Grand Teton National Park: Subterfuge Led to This Masterpiece   5 years 42 weeks ago

    My wife and I got married in 1999 and began our honeymoom in Jackson Hole, spending time in Grand Teton and then further north in Yellowstone. I cant put into words the beauty we bestowed. It was mid August and the temperatures were 30 at night and 70 during the day. After 10 glorious day our perspective about what is majestic and beautiful was forever changed. Truly, this part of our country is one of the most beautiful and inspiring I have ever seen. Over 400 photos in 10 days still could not capture the sights seens, but hey, I certainly tried!

  • You'll Find Tuff Blocks, Fibrolite Axes and Squirrels with Tufted Ears at Bandelier National Monument   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments - and the trail recommendation!

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 42 weeks ago

    A national forest and a national park are two entirely different critters. I suggest that you read the NPS Organic Act. National parks are generally held to a higher standard of conservation and maintenance of the unimpared character of its units. Each park has its own special enabling legislation that sets forth exceptions to the guidelines of the NPS Organic Act. In general, national parks are not considered multiple use conservation units. What may be appropriate in a national forest or a national wildlife refuge might not be permitted in a national park. There is a dynamic tension between the goals of preserving park resources and values for future generations and providing for visitor enjoyment. An earlier commentor spoke of the tendency for people to have a different attitude when armed. I have found that to be true. A gun can too often give someone a false sense of security and power, and he or she may push their luck when it would be wiser to simply back away. A gun can become an extension of a person's ego and can exacerbate a situation rather than minimize it. As stated earlier, if you feel unsafe without a concealed weapon go where it is permitted to carry.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   5 years 42 weeks ago

    If one has a concealed weapons permit one is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in the jurisdiction in which it is issued including its national forests. Would someone explain to me why a national park is any different? For that matter why is it any different for a non-concealed weapon? A park is a park is a park!

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Rick Smith wrote on February 22nd, 2009:

    I vote we give gun topics a rest on NPT.

    I concur.

    Search for gun on National Parks Traveler, and you'll get 9 pages of results. With over 500 comments on the articles pertaining to the rule change on the first two pages alone, I agree with Mr. Smith that it is indeed a topic that has been shot to death.

    However, those 500 comments show that people flock to the debate. All those comments generate content for the Traveler, and that content increases traffic from search engines, and, presumably increases readership.

    As such an unofficial contributor, I would like to humbly ask for some consistency in comment moderation on the gun debate and on other topics, too. Many ad hominem attacks and vitriolic comments go unchecked while others are monitored for merely their tone. (Search for "idiot" on NPT and you'll get a few pages of results; six on the first page comment on the gun debate.) I agree with Mr. Repanshek that ad hominem attacks only detract from the debate, and I hope to see fewer on the site in the future.

    At any rate, the debate will rage on, and it should take place on the Traveler. This webzine provides the best and most popular discussion on national park issues and politics on the entire web. Its slick, easy-to-use design and coverage of issues are unparalleled. Its readership is broad and deep. My many thanks to the editors for their hard work and efforts to maintain this site.

  • National Park Quiz 43: Names   5 years 42 weeks ago

    We try to include something for everybody, including people who enjoy a cheap shot now and then. ;-)

  • National Park Quiz 43: Names   5 years 42 weeks ago

    9 out of 12. That Little Bighorn bit was a cheap shot. :-P ;-)


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • You'll Find Tuff Blocks, Fibrolite Axes and Squirrels with Tufted Ears at Bandelier National Monument   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Bandelier was beautiful this past fall. I loved how evident the man + volcano link is at the park: if it weren't for the tuff from volcanoes of ages past, man couldn't have lived in the canyon. Pretty cool when you think about it.

    I recommend the Frijoles Falls trail down to the Rio Grand. :-)


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Mountain Pine Beetles Chewing into Grand Teton National Park Forests   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I'm afraid there's another beetle that's deadly to Engleman Spruce -- the aptly named Engleman Spruce Beetle. And a little Internet research shows that the "western spruce budworm is another potentially damaging insect that attacks both Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir."

  • Mountain Pine Beetles Chewing into Grand Teton National Park Forests   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Are Engleman spruce affected by Mountain Pine Beetle? In Winter Park, Colorado, lodgepole Pines are greatly affected, but I haven't noticed any Engleman spruce affected even though they are surrounded by dead lodgepole. Is there a possibility that the Mountain Pine Beetle will attack Engleman spruce in the future?

  • Spammers Are Targeting National Parks Traveler   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I am convinced that most readers of this blog will never even consider the idea that the National Parks Traveler might actually be a spam outlet. Thanks again for putting so much effort into this blog - and no need to apologize for the bad behaviour of other people...

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 42 weeks ago

    It's funny that almost all the individulas that are in support of guns in parks have never even been to a national park, while virtually all regular visitors to national parks are opposed to concealed carry in the parks.

  • You'll Find Tuff Blocks, Fibrolite Axes and Squirrels with Tufted Ears at Bandelier National Monument   5 years 42 weeks ago

    We found this park on our first trip to New Mexico. We really enjoyed the scenery and the ruins. I wasn't sure that I could make the climb but I went through the first part of the trail while my husband went a litte farther.
    It is a unique place for you to visit and really easy to get to.

  • Bryce Canyon National Park: This Small Corner of Utah Packs a Colorful Punch   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Bryce is one of my favorite parks. I have cycled through the park twice and hope to do it again. The park road system offers a superb route along the rim of Bryce Canyon with vistas of amazing rock formations. For those thinking of cycling the park road, be sure to carry plenty of water. The high desert air quickly sucks the moisture out of you. My last trip to Utah included a bike trip that took in Cedar Breaks NM, Bryce NP, Escalante, Capitol Reef and Zion. All special in their own way.

  • How'd They Do That?   5 years 42 weeks ago

    Hey Beamis,
    I know them winds well and yes I am a believer in theory :-))
    And to be witness to, well that would be something else entirely!

  • A National Park Service Regional Director Shares His Priority List for 2009   5 years 42 weeks ago

    It was interesting reading Mike Snyder’s comments; and it was even more interesting having one of our regional directors participating in the National Parks Traveler! (I was impressed!)

    As an “outsider looking in”, I would like to suggest another priority to Mike.......

    Like so many government agencies and programs, the National Park Service needs money; it needs to repair old buildings and trails, it needs to renovate tired visitor centers and museums, and it needs funding for more rangers, more naturalists, and more staff. But it needs not only money; it needs to address a number of very basic and very important personnel problems.

    After working for 27 years as the president of a very successful manufacturing company, my wife and I began working three years ago as seasonal Park Rangers (Interpretation). Our experiences have been rewarding and exciting. We love being Rangers and we love helping people as they explore and experience our national parks. On the other hand, seeing how our national parks work from the inside and seeing how they manage their human resources often has been frustrating and exasperating.

    For instance, the National Park Service seems to be ignoring and mismanaging the need to train and maintain future leaders. For young people graduating from college and seeking a career in the Park Service, there are only seasonal jobs. At many parks, seasonal rangers are treated more or less like warm bodies, hired to be present at certain positions for a limited period of time, and expected to leave and disappear at the end of a season. There are no benefits, no effort to hold on to the better “kids”, and no help given to the better rangers in acquiring year-round employment at other parks. And worse still, young people quickly discover there are virtually no full time, year round jobs available. Instead, they face years and years of seasonal jobs, years of moving from park to park as temporary employees, and must attempt to function in a system which is difficult for individuals and almost impossible for couples. Eventually, the younger, better, and more serious Rangers just give-up, leave the Park Service, and get “real” jobs.

    What a shame, and what a loss to the NPS!

    It’s projected that many of the baby boomers will retire soon. For instance, in a recent speech, OPM director Linda Springer said, “Sixty percent of the government’s 1.6 million white-collar employees and 90 percent of about 6,000 federal executives will be eligible for retirement over the next 10 years.”

    So what is the National Park Service doing to attract tomorrow’s leaders? What is it doing to identify and develop its future leaders? What is it doing to make sure some of the wonderful, dedicated, and talented young people who work for the Park Service every summer don’t end up leaving in frustration, or feeling they were never recognized, or that no one cared about them professionally? What are we doing to encourage them, and support them, and guide them? Simply stated, what are we doing to convince the better and the more talented and dedicated young people who work as seasonal Rangers to continue working for the National Park Service?

  • Bryce Canyon National Park: This Small Corner of Utah Packs a Colorful Punch   5 years 42 weeks ago

    I have been to Bryce numerous times, and hiked pretty much every trail there. I have been to parks such as Glacier, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Teton ect.. While these parks are no doubt beautiful, there is, in my mind something very special about Bryce. Hiking the back of the canyon is like being on the set of an old "Star Trek" episode, with the purple sparkling hoodoos and colors for as far as you can see. As for the night sky... It is very hard to get to sleep at night while camping because the star gazeing is addictive, I have even put out the campfire to get a better view of the sky. My favorite trip was a few years ago in September (when all the kids go back to school). I was camping, had a great day hiking. Looking at the stars that night, watching some clouds roll in. I woke up the next mornig to about 6 inches of snow. One of the most beautiful scenes I have witnessed, with the snow covered orange formations, it was truely amazing! If ever you get the chance to go, TAKE IT! You won't be disappointed! Oh Ya, stop in at Zion while your at it.