Recent comments

  • On the Political Front: Good And Bad News From the Bush Administration   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I'd love to see a list of national parks threatened by proposed coal-fired power plants that will be helped by keeping the existing air quality rule in place. Here's three I know of: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave National Park.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Yoy know in terms of being environmentally friendly Wal-Mart is not as bad as many people think. That being said, I was not so sure as what should be done at first. The park has to end somewhere, but the store would very close to the park in fact too close and the land is historically. In the end, I hope the Wal-Mart is not yet good points have been made on both sides.

    Dan as for ypu point will it ever end........no. Example: Cutting down a historically tree in New England.

  • Petrified Forest National Park is Still Being Stolen One Piece at a Time   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I do hope the problem is solve in time, but in the mean time does anyone know what is going on in terms of expanding the park.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Dan,

    What needs to be said, and folks need to be educated on with regard to the Wilderness site is it is ON the battlefield, not adjacent.

    Fact is the site is included within the boundaries of the original tract of land considered "battlefield" under the initial survey by the War Department.

    This isn't a case where someone is seeking to preserve some locality where Elvis once sang, or where the first cheeseburger was served. This site is linked into the watershed event in American History.

  • Trails I've Hiked: Golden Canyon, Death Valley National Park   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I have to agree, Golden Canyon is worth the effort. I did this particular hike during early May (a few years back). The temps were in the 90s as I recall, and I could not imagine hiking that trail if it were any hotter. We actually did a bit of a loop from the Highway 190 parking lot, uphill to just beneath Zabriskie Point, and then back down through a different side canyon.

    Your point about extra water though can't be stressed enough. There were four of us, each with just one liter of water. In hindsight, it probably would have been wise to carry no less than two liters a piece, maybe as much as a gallon, seriously.

    We had heard a story of a fellow the summer before dying on the trail. He left the lower parking lot feeling very fit. By the time he reached the half-way point (or some point far from his car), he was very thirsty. Apparently the effects of dehydration amplify very quickly, especially in a place like Death Valley. Because his body could not perspire, he found himself physically unable to make it the few miles back to his car and water, his internals shut down under the stress.

    But ... don't let that stop YOU from enjoying this hike! Just bring extra water. :-)

  • This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos   5 years 45 weeks ago

    MRC - Thanks for the additional information on the fossils and more on the living history.
    Jim - glad for the confirmation that this is one of those sometimes overlooked but very worthwhile parks.

  • This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos   5 years 45 weeks ago

    We came by Scotts Bluff one sunny morning back in October and were delighted with our visit. As often with Park Service units it has been the most unassuming and less well known that have been the most enjoyable. Scotts Bluff was certainly one of those. The visitor centre is something of an antique and well worth preserving.

  • This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Thanks for bringing attention to this often overlooked gem in the NP system. Scotts Bluff is amazing in its variety, from the history of the Oregon Trail (and not to forget the California Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail and the Pony Express, which all ran together on the same route in their respective times), to nature with the rocks, cliffs and bluffs, to art by Jackson.

    But you failed to mention that Scotts Bluff is significant for fossils as well: The parks fossils have been declared "types" for some characteristic layers from the Oligocene Epoch (40-25 million years before present). And one should mention that on weekends in summer the park has living history demonstrations with horses, covered wagons, cooking pioneer style and lots of other fun activities for families.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Anon:

    Actually, my plan would keep interest groups, including the NRA, from influencing park management. Once parks are removed from federal ownership and management, the second amendment would not apply. Individual parks, freed from political chains and federal bureaucracy, would be able to determine if people would be able to carry firearms in the privately managed parks.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Dan-----well said. Your insight adds an important dimension to this debate.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 45 weeks ago

    There's so many good textbooks written on the subject of mallization of America. City planners have fought for years to stabilize regional planning fiascos that corporate interests tries to shove down are throats...Walmart is one of them with their jaded wing tip shoe lawyers. Dumps in the backyard of the minorities, freeways zoned in the backyards of the middleclass, and the rich in gated communities afar from the maddening crowd. Now it's coming folks, the mallization of the National Parks...Geo. Bush style! Let's see folks, you now have oil and gas leases at the borders of the National Parks and soon to come, a spiffy Walmart to enhance the natural beauty of the parks. Can't beat it! They say, take an inch and grab a foot Walmart style...and screw their employees. The American way!

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Frank C, if so choosen...please keep the NRA influence out of the National Parks...which I dare you won't do...Mr. Gun shop!

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 45 weeks ago

    This string of comments makes clear that there are three competing issues here.

    The first, most obvious knee-jerk reaction is the anti-Wal-Mart moralizing. "On second thought, don't we have enough Wal-marts? Do we really need one more?" A lot of people out there have objections to Wal-Mart's business model, and will gladly grasp any proffered handle to jerk them around. In this case, Wal-Mart can be accused of profaning the Wilderness battlefield, automatically ranking them in some eyes with Protestant (or Taliban, if you prefer) iconoclasts. This reaction is irrelevant here, which is the point made by the first two Anonymous posters. In terms of land-use policy, Wal-Mart should be viewed as no different from any other large retailer, and little different from many other kinds of development.

    The second, also irrelevant, is the aesthetic reaction. Wal-Mart, with its big, unadorned buildings, gaudy colors, free overnight RV parking in expansive, well-lit lots, and teeming masses of unwashed proles can always be counted on to attract the disapprobation of the aesthetes. Kurt's objection to the Golden Arches' visibility from the Park City ski jump is in this category, and no surprise since the blaring reds and yellows of McDonalds were Public Enemy Number One for the aesthetes since Wal-Mart was an Arkansas five and dime. According to this argument, proximity itself is metaphysically harmful to the site. Presumably, ugly Wal-mart's presence has a negative metaphysical effect on the mana accumulated at a site like Wildnerness, which decreases exponentially with distance, presumably like electromagnetic radiation. So a Wal-mart a mere quarter mile from a park's boundaries represents an impairment in a way that the same store 5 miles away would not. To the aesthetes, I say be glad that Wildnerness is in a region where trees can block unwelcome views (with consequent mitigating effects on accumulated mana). If you can accept the place of department stores in the community, but object merely to the architecture, then talk to Ed McMahon of the Smart Growth Network, who beats that particular drum for a living.

    The third issue is the relevant one: what do we do about parcels of land that are of historical or natural value, but are destined to be developed for other purposes? What we are dealing with is not often recognized for what it is: a superfluity of sacredness. There are so many places of importance that it would be wasteful to preserve them all. Yes, wasteful. Preservation is subject to the law of diminishing returns; how many acres does one need to preserve, appreciate, and educate about the Battle of the Wilderness? The boundaries must go somewhere; there must be a line between sacred and profane space. There must be a finite number of acres sufficient to the task. If we just buy up every adjacent parcel at risk of development, there can be no end to it.

    One technique that is cynical in inverse proportion to its effectiveness is the attempt to shame, harass, or obstruct Wal-Mart into withdrawing. Wal-Mart employs a lot of people, and provides returns for a lot of investors, and to that end they are in the business of providing low-cost retail and services. That's what they do. They have some awfully clever demographers, geographers, and economists punching numbers, shuffling paper, and identifying profitable sites. They are extremely good at it. They have no reason to avoid an available site because it's historic, much less because it's adjacent to something historic. If they sacrificed the site to a competitor, or bought the land or its conservation easement for the purpose of preservation, they would be betraying their shareholders (i.e., your IRA, your pension, your retirement).

    So what's the solution? With a surfeit of sites, we have to be like a doctor in triage: in the time available, with the resources available, how can we salvage the most, and most important, resources? The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission is doing triage, but like anyone charged with that unpleasant task, they are dismayed at how many must be abandoned to save a few. Doctors have cursed this necessity since time immemorial (think Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H), but it remains necessary. There remains the problem of local government's all-too-common inability to manage these problems, which is a weakness of democratic government--few county supervisors are equipped to deal with this kind of thing.

    Kurt is right, these debates over land use are intractable. We go over this stuff again and again, in a thousand contexts. But confusion over the real issue only makes it more difficult. It doesn't matter if the planned development is a Wal-Mart, an REI, a hospital or a low-income apartment community, but when it's a Wal-Mart (or McDonalds), expect the Wal-Mart-haters and aesthetes to come out in droves, and endlessly complicate an already difficult situation.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    More gloom and doom? Really? Even in light of a recent study that found that melting ice may slow warming? Even in light of a recent report titled, "More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims"?

    But back to the topic.

    Someone please submit my name to Mr. Obama for Interior Secretary. I promise to remove national parks from political influence once and for all. I promise to replace parasitic, monopolistic multinational corporations that are national park concessions. I promise to render national parks self-sufficient. I promise to eliminate pork-barrel parks such as Steamtown.

    Whomever Obama chooses will be interesting. Will he pick someone interests groups approve? Or will he bring real change to the DOI? Somehow, I suspect it is the former.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Time is short for planet earth, let's get a pro-active conservationist in the DOI. Let's tone down all of are afterburners with less energy and select a good man that can make it all happen. May I suggest several individuals: Mr. Grijalva is a good one but we need someone more dynamic. Perhaps somebody from the Stuart Udall family would like to throw in there hat. The Parks have been screwed over for years, let's get them in order for the next generation...what's left of it from global warming.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Perhaps Mr. Berry can find a middle-ground where motorized use can be balanced with conservation at all levels. Having someone in that post who can objectively look a both sides would be a boon to the DOI, not at all a detriment.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Grijalva still remains the best choice, and people need to continue the push for him to be apppointed. Don't let insider politics drail the best opportunity we have to clean up interior and protect our public lands. he is staying in the hunt. His folks are saying that he is not giving up this fight for interior until the president elect makes the call.

  • Assateague Island National Seashore Rangers Troll Internet For Big Catch   5 years 45 weeks ago

    The woman was ignorant for bragging, it never gets you anywhere. As for posting incriminating evidence, that was without a doubt stupid. Not knowing the law is no excuse. Banning ORV from the beach is not the answer. There should be more patrols by rangers to keep the fishermen in check and inspect their catch. To keep the traffic at a minimum they (rangers) should use ATVs or SideXsides (ie. Polaris Razor or Yamaha Rhino, and etc.) to transverse the seashore more efficiently.

    Great work to a watchful eye in a world where the PC is the communication tool of the world. Keep up the good work.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   5 years 45 weeks ago

    This issue has been dictated by egos and money and plain ole personal gain by people that have no clue as to the history, area, and people that live there. It was promised as recreational, created and designated as recreational, and yet law suits are being fought over something that has already been designated as recreational.
    The redundency here is appalling and quite insulting to the families and businesses that used to thrive in the area. The idea that here in the United States where freedom is being fought for and defended in foreign countries and not being allowed by our own citizenry is dictactorship in the making. For one group to say how and when and where and what anyone should do IS dictatorship and should be avoided at all costs. Cohabitation between the people and wildlife had been going on without much to-do about it until government and special interest started blurring the lines. It is sad indeed to see that several good attempts to establish a good thing for all has been turned into an all out showdown between those who would dictate to the American public how they should live and keep their own backyard and hard working honest people who just want their own backyard to be kept how they have known it most of their lives, free. Free to access, free to roam without restrictions, free to drive, to fish, and to enjoy. Amen!

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Sabattis -

    The timeline actually leaves out Brimmer's ruling altogether, and only mentions it in reference to the Bush Administration's referencing of it in publishing their rule in the Federal Register on Dec. 9th. The GYC is obviously picking what they want to put in their timeline and not being as thorough as they could be.

    Whats even fishier to me though are the NPS actions along with Brimmer's, in November. The NPS complained after Sullivan's ruling that they wouldn't have time to come up with an interim rule for this winter. However, they did actually come up with an interim rule, publicly announcing it on Nov. 4. They opened up the comment period and started the wheels in motion on all the procedural requirements so that the rule could be published in December in the Federal Register in time for this season. After actually starting that whole process, they get Brimmer's ruling 4 days later and stop the whole process.

    I don't think Brimmer expected the NPS to actually come up with a new plan, or he would not have waited so long to issue his order. Once Brimmer sees the NPS' new temp plan, he has 2 choices: 1) issue his order and stop the NPS from promulgating the new temp plan; or 2) not issue his order and let the NPS continue with their process of instituting the new temp plan as Sullivan ordered. The wheels were in motion, the temp plan was on its way to being properly implemented. But Brimmer decides to put an end to it after the process had begun.

    That is what is fishy in this whole situation, and that is why Brimmer's ruling, while expressly claiming not to overrule Sullivan's, does in fact completely supplant what Sullivan ordered as to a temporary rule for this season. Obviously Brimmer's ruling does nothing to change Sullivan's decision as to the permanent plan. And obviously, this season will have the 2007 temp plan in place, unless somehow Sullivan does something drastic and shuts everything down (which I don't see happening).

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Yikes! Well at least he's better than Mike Thompson (who voted against roadless areas in Tongass for example)!

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I guess, Bob, that's why I'm in part not convinced that feral cats couldn't colonize Yellowstone, though there's no evidence that they have to date despite decades of visitors losing cats and people on the borderlands with cats. They strike me as very resourceful animals. And, perhaps, they haven't colonized because the food is better where there are people (I've read that's how cats and humans developed; cats chose humans because of the food source) - less so than the inability to survive super harsh winters and a lot of predators. Fluffy ends up at Horse Butte - not a bad place to end up, if you are a cat; on a peninsula with homeowners - why do you think the buffalo try to go there to calve in the spring? (it would be a safe place if it weren't for all the Department of Livestock agents).

    I think feral cats could potentially colonize Yellowstone, but it's maybe unlikelier that cats would want to. However, I need to talk to my new friend more on this - I haven't spoken with him since this story broke.

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

  • Petrified Forest National Park is Still Being Stolen One Piece at a Time   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Thanks for a good reminder about a long-standing problem.

    There are plenty of tales about such thieves, including one man who was seen loading a hefty chunk of petrified wood in the trunk of his car. When contacted by a ranger, the guy's explanation for how the 60 pound piece of contraband got into the trunk was that his 4-year-old son must have put it there when dad wasn't looking.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I've heard lots of similar comments, Eric, and I have a theory. (Well, at least an hypothesis.) Cats that live in coyote territory either wise up or get eaten. The ones that become coyote-wise (perhaps because of a close call) are thereafter very good at coyote evasion. I recall one veteran feline that I encountered while pheasant hunting on a farm near Gregory, South Dakota. This cat (according to the farmer) never spent a day of his life indoors and dealt with coyotes on a a daily basis. From a distance, I saw a coyote trot within about 50 yards of that cat and the two animals barely looked at each other. I assume they had simply gotten used to each other. Coyotes regularly visit our little neighborhood here in suburbia; one even curled up and went to sleep in the flower bed across the street from my driveway. Nevertheless, as far as we know, there have been no indoor/outdoor cats killed by coyotes in this vicinity. I guess that just goes to show you something or other.

  • At Yellowstone, It’s Fluffy the Snuggle-Bud One, Coyotes Zero   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I live in ruarl farm land borderd by BLM on three sides. we have lots of feral cats, and lots of cyotes.