Recent comments

  • Technology a Key in 3 Recent Rescues at Yosemite National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    During last year's Yosemite Ranger Reunion, we learned that some members of the famed Yosemite Search and Rescue team are highly trained academics, like MIT physicist and Park ranger John Dill. Ranger Dill is known to have used mathematical probability analyses based on Bayesian statistics to find lost hikers and downed aircraft in difficult terrain.

    Last October, a special US Dept. of Interior Distinguished Service Award was presented to John Dill for his outstanding efforts in Yosemite Search and Rescue covering decades of service:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/30/MN3Q13ME7B.DTL

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Campground at Joshua Tree National Park Closed due to Swarming Bees   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Interesting follow-up tomp! Thanks for the in put.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    You're on target about coal and similar energy sources. Yes, I realize we can't move totally away from those sources immediately, but we need to be moving more quickly than has been the case so far.

    Far too much time and human energy is being wasted debating the truth or fiction of global warming and climate change, and the result is a stalemate on any meaningful action on other problems arising from the extensive use of those energy sources.

    I'd suggest we focus instead on recognizing that our continued fixation on oil and coal is continuing to erode our economic health, national security, and physical health. From that perspective, global warming and climate change are not the central issues, so let's set that debate aside and get busy solving the known problems arising from our current energy situation.

    Will changes be easy? No, but they won't get any easier if we keep putting them off.

  • Campground at Joshua Tree National Park Closed due to Swarming Bees   5 years 41 weeks ago

    And, temporarily eliminating camping should eliminate water sources, as only rarely does JOTR get any summer rain.

    The other issue is native bees versus honeybees & Africanized honeybees. The boundary of the Mojave & Lower Colorado (subdivision of the Sonoran) deserts, which passes through JORT is a hotspot for native bee species diversity. The native bees are mostly solitary, ground-nesting bees that don't need sources of liquid water (and don't swarm). The honeybees need water, and in the presence of water can out compete the native bees for pollen & nectar. Native bees decrease for at least 1km around golf courses and watered yards in the Coachella Valley.

  • Campground at Joshua Tree National Park Closed due to Swarming Bees   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Quick question:What specimen (or types) of bee is being accounted for. Not killer bees...right? I hear the killer bees are definitely moving northward. Part of the global climate change in the making.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    As far as I am concerned, Greenpeace improved the looks of Rushmore. Our government defaced a beautiful mountain to make this monstrosity. To call this an NPS unit is terrible. The only consolation is that (I think) this is part of Mt. Harnish (sp?), an honor given to one of the key people in the killing and resettling of native Americans.
    If Greenpeace had hung this banner from Halfdome or El Cap, I would be upset.
    I have taken my family to a number of national parks, but do not ever plan to return to Rushmore. I respect the presidents "honored" there, but that has nothing to do with destroying a mountain to carve faces into it.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Geez, look what the coal firing plants are doing to China's environment. Gasping and choking populace that's on the verge of dying from all kinds of respiratory diseases. Look what the auto pollution is doing to the climate health of the Los Angeles Basin in California...the increase of respiratory diseases among young children and the elderly. Nothing to sneeze or cough at. I'm sure the gas and oil industry lobbyist (and executives) could careless about the environmental health of this nation...accept for the bottom line.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Buffalo National River   5 years 41 weeks ago

    MikeD -

    Unfortunately,you're correct about the website. For most small and mid-size parks, website maintenance is an "other duties as assigned," and results are very spotty.

    The park's Current's newspaper can be downloaded from the park website, and has a lot of information that ideally would be on the website itself.

  • Toddler Dies After Drinking Citronella Oil at Chickasaw National Recreation Area Campsite   5 years 41 weeks ago

    It is so sad the loss of a love one, but blame can not be put on the Parks for parent’s negligence. Parents must be responsible for their kids at the camp site Drinking and Kids do not MIX

  • Traveler's Checklist: Buffalo National River   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Thanks. Their web site is largely nonexistent but it sounds like a rather cool place.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Actually there are visitors centers for Grand Staircase. A friend and I hiked Cottonwood Canyon last autumn and stopped in at the BLM's Cannonville Visitor Center to check on road and canyon conditions (there had been a drowning a few days before due to flash flooding). The VC had a small museum, maps, a gift shop, etc. very like a national park center.

    If you check out the BLM's website for Grand Staircase, other VCs are listed as well.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Coal is the future....plain and simple
    .

    Coal is attractive to politicians, utility companies and some consumers because it is a comparatively cheap fuel from domestic sources – and those qualities all make for good sound bites in our current situation.

    Unfortunately, the industry's "clean coal" ad campaign is a classic oxymoron, at least as coal is currently being used. There are major costs in human and environmental health associated with the continuing (or expanded) use of coal; this is a classic case of "pay me now or pay me later."

    Set aside the endless debate on whether global warming and climate change is real or imagined, and consider the other impacts of burning coal (and other fossil fuels) with existing technology: in addition to air quality issues, and those impacts on problems such as respiratory disease, there's the insidious but serious problem of heavy metals such as mercury released by burning coal. This is a problem that unfortunately receives little attention.

    Can technology be developed to burn coal in a way that is not detrimental to our health? If so, coal has real potential. Efforts so far have been inconsistent and as best I can determine, ineffective – and the added cost required to make coal truly "clean" may make it a lot less attractive to those who are only interested in the short-term bottom line of the cost of producing energy.

    Experience in the past 4 years in Texas confirmed to me that most utility companies (and many politicians and state regulatory agencies) have no interest in "clean" coal technology - they're only looking for a quick fix for cheap, domestic energy.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Some wonderful ideas have been posted here.

    -- re: transfers from the US Forest System: Admiralty Island

    -- re: Rangertoo's point on american composer-musicians: John Coltrane's house, already qualified as a National Historic Landmark, in Philadelphia

    -- re: Cultural impact: Harriet Tubman's complex in Auburn New York, of house, hospital, church and social services. Not only was Tubman a spy during the Civil War, and a major force and inspiration on the Underground Railroad, but she then continued her tremendous work in Auburn. These sites also already are and/or qualify as National Historic Landmarks. A bill is pending before Congress for a park for Tubman in Auburn (where she received an invitation to settle from Secretary of State William Seward), but also a park in Maryland. The problem with the Maryland designation is an absence of qualifying historic structures, or specifically identifiable sites. But we need the Tubman site in New York if this key story about America is to be told properly.

    -- I really want to second Michael Kellett's recommendation for a multi-state national park encompassing the Chesapeake Bay. It needs to be constructed through partnership with multiple landowners, similar to such landscapes as national parks in the United Kingdom.

    -- With the same partnership model as the Chesapeake, the Blackstone River Valley in Rhode Island and Mass., with its many hilltop colonial villages and valley early industrial villages, also needs to be designated as a national park. Distinctive ways American's live on distinctive landscapes is as important to America as to other nations in the world, and should be so recognized here as well. Instead of being frozen in time, such places can demonstrate continual environmental improvement and the cultural emphasis on what makes a region special over time.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Coal is the future....plain and simple.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    "As for the Earth warming, that remains to be seen. (The global temperature anomaly in January was 0.00 deg. C., the trough of the solar cycle.) There are some who are also critical of computer models that make very general predictions based on some flawed data sets. But go ahead and discredit those criticisms as being based from "CTT"s; nice ad hominem, attacking the source rather than the claim."

    If climatologists really aren't in doubt about global climate change, let alone anthropogenic climate change, then the "claims" to the contrary being made should withstand the vetting process of peer review. They tend not to. While I don't worship at the altar of science, I think at least the scientific process is the best thing we've got going in terms of what's truly fueling climate change. However, there is no such checks and balances process in the open market, and anyone may print anything at any time that may sound good but ultimately be pernicious. All sorts of ideas may be promulgated, true and false. When it comes to climate change, I am no expert, and neither are most of us. It sounds simple enough to look at graphs and draw conclusions, but it seems to me that the earth is such a complex system that matters such as climate change tend not to be so simple to our (untrained) eyes as we might think. Thus, I am highly skeptical (how about that!) of people who are not trained climatologists telling me what's happening to the earth (or, more accurately, saying what's not happening to the earth). If this errs me on the side of "bowing down to the liberal elite academic experts," so be it: we all must bow to something here. At some point we must take a "leap of faith" to trust in some truth. For the skeptic, that leap is to the "I don't know" position, which simply requires distancing from the argument.

    With some notable exceptions, most folks crying "foul" are lawyers and economists (and it is further sad to me that the division of pro/anti climate change seems to happen strongly along party lines). Lawyers and economists certainly have the freedom and right to do this (it's a free country), and they may or may not have good arguments (i.e., just because they are lawyers and economists doesn't mean they don't have good arguments). But while you're suggesting I'm simply diverting the issue by casting an ad hominem argument against CTTs and not addressing the issues themselves, I think it is a significant issue that an (largely) untrained, extremely well-funded movement has the clear goal of obfuscating the public so that any kind of legislation that helps the environment (and even smells anti-free market) gets slogged down by specious counter-claims that sound good but ultimately are quickly shaken off by those who study this stuff as their life's work. The environmental skeptic movement is far, far better at idea dissemination than are scientists. I disagree that I'm making an ad hominem argument here, but if I am, at least it seems extraordinarily relevant to me that there is a clear agenda on the part of CTTs and this is fueling much of the environmental skepticism movement and casting a very distinct light on the arguments they foment.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Greenpeace is nothing but a bunch of media hams masquerading as environmentalists. Any steps which help the environment have resulted from members of real environmental organizations doing the real work.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Buffalo National River   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I love the Buffalo. We use to go there all the time for canoe trips when we were kids. I haven't been in years. Maybe I'll plan a trip sometime this fall or next spring.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    How about a thread for suggested historical or cultural additions?

  • Update: Presidio Main Post Won’t Be CAMP site   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Here's the photo on Yelp. They've done a pretty nice job with it. Over the door they've got the standard lettering used around the base, rather than their own logo. It's a nice touch.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/k4m6f3xsxlfZD0OoPKp_cQ?select=_UnZlVCvHxvfmtNoxpvVdQ

    If you go in there, they still have many of the original signs there, including the ones pointing out the dairy section or where the bakery used to be. One of the park rangers (Rik Penn) there used to be stationed at the Presidio when he was serving in the Army, and he seemed to think a retail store was an appropriate use of the former commissary.

    The location is spectacular. It's right across the street from the redone Chrissy Field wetland area. There are sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, the Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

    I really don't see it as a terribly good location for a high-traffic museum though. The parking is adequate for the current occupants in the area (Sports Basement and a storage rental) but a high-traffic museum would swamp it. I think the area around the Parade Ground was considered prime because they've good oodles of parking there. The connecting roads wouldn't be able to handle that kind of traffic.

  • Yosemite National Park Returns To Square One on Yosemite Valley Plan   5 years 41 weeks ago

    There's likely nothing they can do about the motorcycles. For the most part I've found most bikers going through national parks to be pleasant and friendly, but the sound of Harleys just sort of ruins the experience for me.

  • Yosemite National Park Returns To Square One on Yosemite Valley Plan   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Yep - $5 for a shower at either Curry Village or Housekeeping Camp. A couple years back I backpacked in Yosemite and took a shower before and after my trip. The first time I paid $3 at the Curry Village main desk, wasn't given a receipt (or a towel) and went to take the shower at the men's guest shower room. The second time the desk clerk refused to take my money and offered a towel. As is stands now, there are reports that there are employees stationed at the showers to check for guest keys/receipts. Otherwise they collect $5.

    Last year I was camping in Mt Rainier, and they had 7 minute showers that operated on one quarter at the old Jackson Visitor Center. Since that site has been decommissioned, there apparently aren't any public showers in Mt Rainier National Park.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    The NPS manages Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument with the BLM and doesn't do much in the way of development.

    Giant Sequoia National Monument would be almost a no-go from the start. There are already several wilderness areas there, so it's not as if they would avoid development. In addition, there are already several business interests there (Montecito-Sequoia Lodge, Stony Creek Lodge, Kings Canyon Lodge, Hume Lake Christian Camp) that would put up a huge fuss over it. The run their enterprises in ways that wouldn't be possible under NPS jurisdiction. The NPS eliminated all the public gas stations in SEKI years ago, and the only nearby options for gas now are in Giant Sequoia NM. I'm not sure what would be done in that case. For the most part there's excellent cooperation between the NPS and Forest Service there. I remember going to the information booth at Grant Village, where there were volunteers from the Sequoia Natural History Association, as well as NPS and Forest Service rangers. The only way I could see it working if there were sections that weren't put under NPS control (perhaps Hume Lake) - although that would get tricky with their current Forest Service use permits. There are some private communities completely within NPS boundaries, including Wawona and Foresta in Yosemite, or Wilsonia in SEKI.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    That sludge spill, incidentally, was nothing to sneeze at. It was 1.1 billions gallons of nasty, heavy-metal laced muck. That's 3 times the Marin County Spill of 2000, or 50 times bigger than Exxon Valdez...

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Owen - here's the info on Al Gore's windfall:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10252910-54.html

    As far as your arguments regarding nuclear power go, did you read anything from the website I provided? The arguments you're using are obsolete. Nuclear technology has come a long way since the 1970s.

    Finally, the IPCC report is one analysis - what about the 31,000, and growing, number of scientists who say that global warming is bogus? How can you say the IPCC owns the truth? You're taking it on pure faith.

    Going back to Roger Revelle, Al Gore's global warming mentor. Revelle has backed away from his findings, stating that the true impact of carbon dioxide was not at all certain.

  • Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Visitors may be regretful of their first and possibly only visit to the monument being "spoiled" by the Greenpeace banner, similar to the way I felt while traveling to Europe and even Washington DC and had sights I had longed all my life to see covered with scaffolding for "cleaning and maintenance" that have spoiled the vistas for years and years. I wonder if these same visitors would have protested their disappointment if it were NPS employees obscuring their view to maintain the monument. I am mindful of the forethought and planning of the demonstration that brought no harm to the monument. These were not paint throwers or people with axes and sledge hammers in hand (which has occurred) but people who voluntarily, routinely put their lives in jeopardy to try to protect the planet and bring notice to the world of the harm we people do to our planet and its inhabitants who have just as much right to live as humans do. As far as I can tell from the news and the postings here, they did no more harm as the people who hang banners and wave from overpasses proclaiming a welcome to our American forces who return home after serving their country by trying to bring liberty to peoples around the world as well as protecting our own. Nothing has been said about the NPS personnel having to go up and force them down or having to mount major repair efforts to mend the damage they did not do, only to remove the banner. I'd be honored to join them in hugging a whale. How many of the so rightous here would be willing to join them in putting their lives in jeopardy to save the life of one of the most magnificant creatures to have ever lived on this earth, one that causes no harm but actually has a role to play in keeping this planet healthy, certainly a more nobel being than what most of those here claim humanity to be.

    As for you who idolize Al Gore, please go back and examine his carbon footprint. While I'm not an educated scientist or even as acedemically elevated as some here proclaim to be, you don't have to be brilliant to discover that Al Gore himself and his wife, while espousing programs which would make life less livable for those of us who are not as financially priviledged as they are, lives in a mansion that would house a large homeless shelter, all that resource eating space for just 2 people because they have the financial ability to take up more of the world's resources than they need or deserve, drive several cars, travel around by private jet whenever they feel like it...on and on. Get real; their example is false as they do not live in line with what they expouse. Your idol does not live by the same standards he espouses for the rest of us. Your promotion of the man degrades your postings here that might have otherwise carried some weight for some of us.

    I'm sorry for the people of Appalachia who were harmed by the toxic sludge. I applaud any regulation that would stop this from happening again, except cap and trade bill. Work needs to be done to clean up our energy sources, not throw us back into the dark ages, literally, when we have to resort to wood burning fireplaces and candles to keep warm and bring light into our homes. According to the global warming proponents, wood burning stoves cause serious polution also so do you propose that we all huddle in our beds wrapped in blankets 24-hours a day in order to be warm enough to even survive. Look at the statistics of any large-ish city of those old and poor who die in their homes during periods of cold or heat because they cannot afford to bring live giving power into their homes, yet cap and trade would raise that cost and many more will be unable to afford survival. So I'm interested, when are you going to pass legislation to cap and trade Mt. St. Helens which spewed toxic waste and floods of mud which destroyed many homes and killed people. Surely you can't be so ready to blame that on humanity as you are global warming.

    Just a few thoughts on the postings here. I love our national parks also but why not complain about the financial explotation that our government allows in them instead of people who are trying to protect our planet?