Recent comments

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 43 weeks ago

    The economic crisis is taking a toll on recreational travel. Over the past couple of decades most people lived it up, including purchasing and using mechanical outdoors toys (snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, jet skis, 4-wheel drive monster trucks, etc.). The crash of the economy is reverberating throughout our country, including the recreational industry. Perhaps people will rediscover their legs and the soul cleansing value of silence. All indications are that this is going to be a long haul before the economy bottoms out and begins to recover. Even then we may never regain the extreme heights of consumerism that characterized the past several years. And that just may not be such a bad thing.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Interesting.

    Those who argue against mountain biking due to "trail damage" should be fighting tooth-and-nail to get horses off of the trail. In my neck of the woods, the horses leave the trail looking like it's been carpet bombed after they ride through. Our mountain bike club has to work continuously to undo the damage they cause to prevent serious erosion problems.

    I've been involved in hundreds of hours of trail maintenance over the years, and I can count on one finger how many times we've had assistance from equestrians (or hikers for that matter). They contribute very little from what I have seen other than clipping overhead limbs and leaving them in the trail for others to pick up.

    Nonetheless, I don't see any mountain bikers trying to kick them off of the trail.

    Let's be honest, this is all about the fear of user conflict and nothing more. Most hikers and equestrians simply dislike mountain bikers.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Why don't people just say it? We (hikers, equestrians, whatever) don't want to share the trails funded by the taxpaying public and would like to keep the trails to ourselves. Instead, they make up all kind of illogical arguments to support their claim. It's rather pathetic. I'm a mountain biker, proud of it and hate hiking (but certainly don't hate hikers). One day, we'll reclaim our birth right to pedal in wilderness. We just have to wait for the current generation of ecotrailnazis to die off. :)

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I have been following this rule change proposed by the Bush administration closely. I am an avid hiker that has had some bad experiences with mountain bikers. All rules state bikers are to YIELD to hikers and both to yield to horses. I am deaf and have had harrowing experiences with speeding bikers going side by side that I am unable to hear coming up behind me. I usually jump off of the trail to let these maniacs pass. I actually try to find hiker only trails if possible. The out of control bikers and dogs off leash really create major problems for those of us that just want to hike and enjoy the great outdoors. This can be a frightening experience for those of us that do not hear.

  • Great Basin National Park: It's More Than Simply A Cave   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I had the great privilege to serve as the 2008 season Artist-in-Residence at this magnificent park.
    The six weeks I lived and worked there will always remain a high point of my life and my career.
    K. Malouff
    celadonglass.com

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    To set the record straight, IMBA is well aware that the US Forest Service, not the NPS, manages forests and grasslands.

    IMBA never issued an alert with the claim that mountain bikers are "salivating" about access to 130,000 miles of trails in national parks. We count about 12,000 miles of trails in the NPS system.

    A simple web search reveals that this phrase was generated by a UK-based mountain bike site, which seems to have confused their US agencies. Like so much of the PEER assessment, their statement is factually wrong.

  • Second Century Commission on National Parks Wants To Hear From You   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Why yet another commission? Doesn't the agency and its Congressional overseers possess enough combined vision and insight to get the job done without an outside panel? What does it say about the job that they are doing when it appears they are unable to chart the future without the input of over-the-hill politicians like Howard Baker and J. Bennett Johnston to guide their bureaucracy into the 21st century?

    Has anyone bothered to go back and examine the results of past commissions, initiatives and "blueprints for the future" to see if any of these expensive blab sessions ever produced much more than a whole lot of well-intentioned hot air?

    I agree with Anonymous that 391 is way too many units and that some should be turned over to other qualified institutions of care and management. The lean times of a bankrupt national government are on the very near horizon and a plan to transfer less than nationally significant properties to willing partners would be sound and wise management, which I doubt will happen but would be my suggestion to the distinguished panelists gathered to sort out the priorities of the NPS.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    There are always a few in any group who choose to abuse or misuse trails. Mountain Bikers tend to groom the trails more, not repair them, because it helps prevent abuse by other users, even Hikers. If Equestrians, Hikers and Bikers will follow basic Leave No Trace rules, then the trails require minimal repair and the impact is minor. Most of the problems are caused by people using the trails when they are wet. I live in a State Park which has trails specifically for Hiking, Biking and Horse back riding and you can see 3 foot trenches on the horse trails because even after a heavy rain, the parking lot is full of trucks and trailers. Some people, i'm sure are just uneducated on trail etiquette, but others just don't care. The first step is to police each other, say something to your fellow trail users, but be nice about it and if that don't work then help the park officials enforce the rules. There's room for everyone out there.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director, added that, "This mountain bike rule is a classic example of special interest influence over management of our national parks. There is no shortage of other venues for mountain bikes that would justify opening up the last, best places within our national parks."

    Essentially, the argument is that the "best places" in national parks should not be available for mountain biking because a different set of "special interest" groups got there first.

    Not a good enough reason, in my book. The NPS has concluded that the impacts of bicycling are equivalent to hiking, and less than those caused by horse travel. Therefore, protecting the integrity of resource can not really be the issue.

    Additionally, there are successful examples from around the world -- including national parks in cherished, pristine places like Canada and New Zealand -- that are almost too numerous to count. So much for the idea that people are incapable of enjoying shared-use trails

    It's time to help our U.S. national parks find appropriate places to enjoy similar successes, and to provide channels to bring them online in a more efficient manner. That doesn't mean every backcountry trail should be opened to bicycles, but it's well worth improving the options for cycling where NPS staff identifies good opportunities to do so.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Jim,

    If mountain bikes don't impact as much as hikers, why do mountain bikers invest large amounts of time and energy into trail repair?

    Also, keep in mind that most trails in parks are designed for walking beasts. Thus they have waterbars and other trail structures that are inconsistent with the needs and expectation of bikers.

    You mentioned the gradual narrowing of trails. That is often due to the large amount of use those trails receive. Another thing that causes that is multidirectional travel. A third thing that causes trails to widen is multi-use. People don't like to walk on horse manure so they move to the side (as would bikers), fast hikers have to move around slow hikers... and the list could go on. Each combination of users creates its own trail impacts but also their own social impacts and conflict.

    Parks and Wilderness are not protected simply for our pleasures. They are there for much more important reasons.

    In regards to your PS, please read the Wilderness act (you will see that Wilderness was created to secure a place for unmechanized travel) and while you are at it read the Organic Act (NPS) (and you may understand why open access for everyone is not an option).

    I do what to say there is something you said I that agree with. Horses make one heck of a mess of trails. If they are not beating the trail to dust, they are filling it with manure and causing major erosion problems. BUT, the one benefit of the horse it that it allows some people who are not into bipedal motion to access some very inspiring places!

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I think the opportunity for everyone exists on public lands. Mountain biking is not dangerous impact to the NPS or any other backcountry pursuit. Mountainn bikers invest large amounts of time and energy into trail construction and repair. Why are limiting the backcountry experience to a handful of hikers? Mountain Bikers have a less physical impact on the trail than a hiker or horseman for sure. Look at any given trail system. The initial 1-3 miles are usually wide enough to walk side by side, which is typical of a normal hiker starting off. If you follow a typical Mountain bike trail you will notice that the tread is for the most part 6-8 inches wide. Who's impact is worse? Open access for everyone.
    -Team Trail Monster-
    Trail Builder and Adopt-a-trail volunteer!
    Backpacker/Hiker!
    Mountain Biker!

    PS...I want Wilderness Access as well for bikes! If it's good enough for a 1000lb animal packing a horseperson, then the trail is suffiently built to safely allow passage of 24lb bike with 150lb rider!

  • Second Century Commission on National Parks Wants To Hear From You   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Our great natural resouce is being terribly neglected. From the Everglades, the Smokies, to Yellowstone & Yosemite. The infrasturcture is in poor condition and it seems to be a thorn in the side to congress they choose to ignore.

    What a shame we have no one in Washington to speak for the millions who enjoy the parks and the many more who could enjoy them with the proper reconstruction. We need road fixed, lodges repaired, temp. summer rangers, trails rebuilt, sinage and on and on. Why do we spend soo much on those who contribute nothing and igonre the areas where the working class go to enjoy a summer.

    There is no voice in Washington for us and the condition of our parks is one example of us being pushed aside for the sake of a few votes.

    I could go on but no one listens anyway

    Hank

  • Second Century Commission on National Parks Wants To Hear From You   5 years 43 weeks ago

    This sounds like an advertisement stating "These are the ways we think we can expand funding...please come and support our ideas!" The National Parks are what there are. I completely disagree with having 391 sites as it is. Rosie the Riveter, Maggie Walker and many other sites are not National Parks. To be a National Park...you have to be a park first. I'm not suggesting getting rid of these other places. Just give them to a historical or other type organization.

    National Parks (real parks) are relevent to all Americans regardless of their heritage, skin color, gender or sexual orientation. Marketing strategies may be a good idea in urban setting to attract more people to visit National Parks but let's not try to change the parks to be more diversity freindly. People wearing Green and Grey should not be teachers. They should be there to improve the experience of the public during their visit, we already have a Department of Education. (one with lots of bailout dollars)

    The NPS has a deferred backlog of billions of dollars and they want to look for ways to expand into communities outside of the parks. That makes about as much sense as giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac billions more dollars to straighten out the real estate mess...oops!

    My point is I would like to see the NPS go back to doing what it was intended to do, preserve and protect the parks. And then make sure that it is done well.

  • "There I Grew Up" – This Park Offers Presidential History in a Unique Package   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Hi Jim!

    Thanks for posting a link to Lincoln Amphitheatre's website. Our new theatrical experience that premieres in June is entitled LINCOLN. The production will interweave Lincoln's Indiana years with the years of his presidency. Our "Lincoln Experience" will include an Amish family style meal and pre-show activities for adults and children. Audience members will gain an insight into the life of the man whose legacy continues to forge the future!

    A very exciting year for Spencer County!!

  • National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Yeah, 9 is right, you corrected it before I did the quiz. :-)

    Still, I like quizzes like this one, because you can actually deduce the correct answer through either knowing science or history, and not just whether or not you've been to a place or read its backstory. Ex: I knew Keweenaw was in Michigan, and knew full well MI isn't known for gold or silver, and kyanite's use doesn't date back far enough to be considered "historic", so it had to be copper.

    Quizzes like this are much more interesting than the standard trivia quiz. :-)

    =========================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Well said Sailorcurt.
    Thank you for posting in such a logical manner without the usual emotionally-charged rhetoric.

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Anon #1..way up on top: You so well illustrate one of my main points in arguing against guns in parks. May I quote you: "To the chagrin of those who flap their arms in panic at the thought, I don't know one person that visited a park WITHOUT a concealed firearm. This was before CCW holders were allowed to." Arguements of gun advocates nearly always begin with, "Law abiding citizens should have the right to blah, blah, blah..." Then we have statements such as yours which prove that all CCW holders are not law abiding citizens. If you carry where it is illegal to do so, you are not a law abiding citizen. Plain and simple. People drive forty in twenty five mph school zones. Always have, always will. People rob banks. Always have, always will. People cheat on their taxes. Always have, always will. Does that mean that we should make these all legal?
    From 1980-2002, over 62 million people visited Yellowstone National Park (YNP). During the same period, 32 people were injured by bears. The chance of being injured by a bear while in the park is approximately 1 in 1.9 million. Only five people have ever been killed by a bear in Yellowstone. The last in 1986. At least two of those individuals were breaking the law at the time, possibly more. From 1980 through 1995 a grand total of 17 people in all of North America (including Alaska and Canada) were killed by bears (black and grizzly). During the same period over 1300 people died in the US alone of lightening strike. I would submit, Ginger, that as a mother of six and grandmother of seven, your risk while hiking in Yellowstone is far greater that you will be struck by lightening, or that you will slip crossing a stream and drown or that you will die in an automobile accident on the way to Yellowstone, than your risk of being killed by a bear. These, however, seem to be risks that you are willing to take. I further submit that, in an actural bear attack (real or bluff) that you would be lucky to have time to use your bear spray; much less use it, realize that it had failed to stop the bear, then pull out your concealed firearm, take aim and fire. And therein lies the rub. Most folks with common sense would realize this and grab the gun first; especially someone with little experience around bears. With spray, even if it was a bluff, no harm is done. Most likely (and there are always exceptions, but they exist with guns as well), the bear will get a face full of pepper and run off. On the other hand, a bear injured with a gun could be very dangerous. What was a bluff charge could instantly turn deadly; for the hiker, the bear or both. Also bear spray can be fired from the hip without aiming. Unless you are breaking the law a concealed weapon is, well, concealed....under clothing, in your pack etc.
    Concealed weapons permits are not for people "afraid of their own shadow", they are for people who transport large sums of money, work in law enforcement or have some other reason to need that added security. I do think, however, that someone who feels that they need to carry everywhere they go, even on vacation to a National Park, may be a tiny bit paranoid.

  • Bears with a Foot Fetish? Big Bend National Park Offers New Bear Safety Advice   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Thomas -

    Thanks for the comment and the information about the Javelina - another good safety reminder about wildlife.

    Perhaps someone with expertise on your other questions will offer some feedback. However, I'd certainly avoid anything, including the urine scents you mention, in bear country. I'd guess there's not a huge amount of science out there on hows bears react to such scents, but I wouldn't want to be the one serving as a test subject :-)

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Why do Park Rangers carry weapons? Are they making our parks more unsafe? Are they a danger to wildlife? What is the environmental impact of the rangers carrying weapons? Has the E.P.A. completed an impact study on rangers being armed?

  • "There I Grew Up" – This Park Offers Presidential History in a Unique Package   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Thanks so much for highlighting Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Spencer County, Ind., on your site! We have wonderful series of special events planned this year including a new monument to Lincoln, a new play in his honor, speakers series, and more, here in Spencer County to celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial! A complete list of events can be found at ThinkLincoln.org.

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    @MRC....I beg your pardon! You really think that peole who have a CCW license are "people who are afraid of their own shadow", blah, blah, blah. I can usually handle the fact that people disagree with my right to carry a gun, after all everyone is entitled to their opinion, but then there always seems to be someone who takes it upon themselves to not only disagree but denigrate those whom he disagrees with. My husband and I have been going to Yellowstone for 15 years and usually I feel the need to carry more here at home than I do in the park. But, if I am allowed to carry in the park it would probably only be on the long hikes that my husband and I like to take, and if, and I mean if, we run into a bear who decides to charge us he will first get the pepper spray and if that doesn't work then you can bet I won't hesitate to use other means of force. I am a mother of six and grandmother of seven and I resent sanctimonious people who think that they can just pigeon hole everyone according to their standards.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 43 weeks ago

    At least this year, all of this arguing about limits has turned out to be irrelevant. Snowmobile traffic is significantly down this year (to date); visitation overall is lower, but a lot of the shortfall has been made up for by vehicular traffic in the North Entrance. See http://www.jhguide.com/article.php?art_id=4251 .

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

  • NPCA Applauds National Park System's Cut of Stimulus Package, But Says Much Remains to Do   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I've been thinking a little bit more about the incongruity of this statement, and I can't help but wonder what the reaction might have been if this underfunding had come out of a Republican Congress and Republican Administration? I know that the NPCA is officially "nonpartisan", and I don't want to accuse them of explicit bias, but we all have our sympathies and that can certainly subtly color one's reaction. In this case, it is certainly worth noting the differences between the "yes, but" reaction to the Bush Administration's Centennial Challenge Announcement and the "very strong step" reaction to the Obama Administration and a Democratic Congress not making the National Parks a priority compared to spending on transportation infrastructure, education, and health care in the stimulus package....

  • Secretary Salazar Calls for Review Of Gun Rules in National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    @RAH: We had that before: Many animals are well known for "bluff charges". That is particularly true for black bears and grizzlies. When they charge an intruder in their comfort zone, they intend to scare you away, not kill. Actual attacks in the National Park System happen a few a year, bluff charges every day. Those law abiding CCW carriers are people who are afraid of their own shadow, people who perceive their live and environment to be full of deadly dangers, and they feel not only entitled, but obliged to protect themselves, their loved ones and every one else from these perceived threads.

    I see a real danger, that those self proclaimed protectors of the universe will whip out the guns when they encounter a charging bear. And guess what, instead of a bear who defends his realm by a bluff charge and a human who retreats full of respect,we will have a very angry bear, because it doesn't like those hot needle wounds at all and probably a dead human defender of the universe. Because a gun you can carry concealed is useless against a bear who really means it.

  • Can You Find the Desert Five-Spot In Death Valley National Park?   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Thanks for reminding me of the flowers! Forget just how beautiful the deset is. Have camped in Panamint City and Panamint Valley just because I could. Last I heard you can't get to Panamint City without two winches (they burn out). Don't need a 4X4 to enjoy Death Valley or Panamint Valley. Lots of water and fuel. Good sense helps. Stay out of the draws/gulches when camping (for fear of flash flooding). If you're staying in the park, this won't be a problem because you will be restricted to camp grounds, but I've seen tents and trailers blowing all over camp grounds because the tents were't flattened during the day or the trailers were not secure from rolling. Ignorance - not stupidity.