Recent comments

  • Rangers Catch Snowmobilers Riding Illegally in Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Personally I do not see how snowmobiles damage the park when riding on snow. Ray explanation at least gave me some of the reasons for the ban. Whether they are accurate or really sensible I do not know. I am not super knowlwdgable about snowmobiles and the damage they so. Most places (non NPS) that have snowmobile trails are fine and the use does not damage the environment and support multiuse of natural areas.

    I know that some snowmobiles do misuse them by chasing wildlife bit that is the few and not a majority.

    I have wondered if the animus against snowmobile in NPS is that they disturb the pristine blanket of snow for the natural vitas. I can understand the snowmobiler that is using an efficent means of transportation on the snow to access more wild areas then they can any other way. Do they parks restrict people hiking across the snow fields or using skis or snowshoes?

    The restriction has seem to be a matter of not allowing snowmobiles to enjoy the NPS when others without snwmobiles can't and the human urge to prevent others doing what oneself can not.

    At least Ray stated some of the reasons for the restrictions which I appreciated.

  • How Can Yosemite National Park's Magnificent Vistas Be Preserved?   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I discussed views at Yosemite with some local friends of mine, and one of their complaints is "there are a lot more trees in the valley than I remember when I was a kid." I'm wondering if the amount of park facilities in the valley precludes natural fires from clearing out the growth, instead there are far too many trees & shrubs blocking the view. I'd love to hear others expound on this: is overgrowth due to a "no fires" policy in the valley artificially ruining the Yosemite experience?


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • On Stimulus Packages, Lobbyists, and Congressfolk   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I have to agree strongly with Kurt's comment that the senior executives at NPCA should be talking directly to Appropriations Chairman Obey. Do they at least communicate with members of the committee? They must, although that in itself would seem to border on conflict as members often curry favor with the chairman in order to bring more pork to their districts. For serious appearance of conflict of interest we need to look to members of Congress who are perfectly happy with their spouses working as lobbyists, often bring in seven figure salaries. That said, the NPCA situation appears awkward, if not odd, but not unusual for the Washington merry-go-round.

    On the point of NPS monies as stimulation, obviously, I'd love to see the current maintenance backlog eliminated and the NPS mission sustained by providing an unparalleled experience for visitors. Unfortunately, what many economists are telling us is that any stimulus must enter the banking and credit economy NOW. The U.S. economy can't wait until 2010, 2011 or later if we want to avoid the years of stagnation and struggling recovery experienced through infrastructure development during the Great Depression.

    If we choose infrastructure over banking, then I certainly want to see the NPS maintenance backlog eliminated. Equally important and either way, as Frank C points out, taxpayers will pay a very heavy price for a very long, long time. Let's hope we do more than repaint the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    That's a great shot of the backpacker in the WAdden Sea photos. He looks very European.

    Rick Smith

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago


    Yes, I've visited all three parks I mentioned above. But of course not as long as I would wish, particularly for the Cevennes, where I only got a glimpse, passing through.

    As far as I know, the Wadden Sea National Parks have almost no dry land, so there is little private property inside the actual parks. The coast line is of course heavily used by tourism for much longer than the existence of the parks. The beaches are public, owned by the municipalities.

    You can find a huge selection of images of the Wadden Sea under free licenses at (plus the subdirectories).

    Regarding the Nationalpark Kalkalpen, the actual mountains are publicly owned, by the federal government of Austria. In the valleys I expect some private land and some owned by the state of Upper Austria and the municipalities. Maybe even some by the Catholic Church, as they own huge tracts of arable land in the general region.

    Images: (the last one shows their "Grand Canyon")

    And I have no idea about land ownership in the Cevennes. That park is the largest of those three, with several villages inside of the park. These and the land around is private. Some part of the National Park is a former military training range, that one probably is owned by the République française.


  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago


    Good suggestions. I have not traveled much in Europe so I am not a good source for information on these parks. Have you visited all of them? Can you send Kurt a photo of your favorite so that we could see what you are talking about? I assume that these parks follow the European model of little public ownership of the land within the borders but cooperative conservation between landowners and the local/state/federal government. And I have been told that many European parks contain cultural resources of extreme importance.

    Your mention of the Wadden Sea brings another issue to mind: in many countries, national parks or other protected areas are established specifically for the environmental services they provide and not because they contain the most spectacular landscapes, the tallest trees, the highest waterfalls, or the deepest canyons. They preserve watersheds or coastal mangroves and the like.

    Thanks, MRC, for your comments.

    Rick Smith

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   5 years 45 weeks ago

    The lift of the ban on firearms in National Parks does not allow everyone to carry a firearm in a National Park. It allows people with a Concealed Handgun License to carry. That is different than the situation being discussed here. To get your CHL you have to go through a class, learn the law, learn safe gun practice, etc. I have my CHL, as does my husband, my brother-in-law and his wife, and a half dozen of our friends. Most of us drink and many get drunk from time to time. NONE of us ever carry when we are going to be drinking.

    We are responsible people and we understand the seriousness of mixing alcohol with guns. On top of that, the repercussions -- including losing your CHL -- are not worth it. We wouldn't risk it. And if you look around the country, I believe (from the rare news stories you find involving CHL people who have defended themselves as well as the lack of news stories involving negligent CHL carriers) you'll find that our story and mindset are not the exception among those licensed to carry.

    Trying to use negligent gun owner stories to refute CHL carriers from carrying their guns is like rising up against the evils of mountain climbing because someone falls off a cliff. When will we stop trying to legislate common sense? Create the standard for conduct and punish those who don't abide by it. We need to get back to making people responsible for their actions instead of making excuses for them and trying to punish those not at fault.

    You should NOT make the laws for the 10%. You should make the laws for the 90% and punish the 10% appropriately when they are stupid. But in this society, we've begun making the laws for the minority of cases. We think up things that have never or seldom happened and then start taking precautions against them. If any tragedy occurs, the first thing we think of is, "was there some law we could have had in place to prevent this". While it's good to be proactive, come on, we have enough real problems in this country that need addressing without making new stuff up. And as for criminals - all the bans and gun laws in the world won't stop someone with no regard for the law to begin with.

    I understand that you may never have witnessed the need for a gun in a park, but I can tell you that I spent a good portion of my childhood at swimming pools and never once witnessed the need for a lifeguard, but that doesn't negate the value of having one. And as for those people who drink and argue -- they would probably not be the ones carrying a firearm with a CHL. And if they are the kind of people who don't care about the law, they could easily have a gun on them without a CHL and wouldn't care if there was a ban or not.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Galapagos, Great Barrier Reef, Etosha, Okavango and for North America outside of the United States Jasper and maybe Banff. Those are some of the international parks you can expect in a list like this.

    Let's propose a few less spectacular, but none the less important parks:

    The Wadden Sea (organized in three national parks in Germany and one in the Netherlands): this coastal area is the most important filter for the North Sea and even parts of the Atlantic ocean. Its function is comparable with the mangrove forests on tropical shores.

    Or the Nationalpark Kalkalpen in Upper Austria. It contains the largest roadless forest in Central Europe in a landscape of midsize mountains (up to 1700 m / 5000 ft) with steep valleys - one of which is called the "Große Schlucht" ("Grand Canyon"). The area is full of history as well, in the park are former mines, saw mills and other remnants of the early industrialization. The park is easily the most spectacular hiking area in Central Europe.

    In France one could mention the Cevennes - Parc National des Cévennes -, a small but lovely mountain range in the backcountry of the Mediterranean coast. Excellent for hiking, particularly the trail along the river Gard. And again with great history: The famous "Pont du Gard", a 2000 year old, three story, Roman aqueduct, spans the river just some 15 miles outside of the national park.

  • Rangers Catch Snowmobilers Riding Illegally in Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Haha, when reading this I thought, "Well at least this is one post that all should agree on!" Little did I know that some people consider even THESE rules to be "arbitrary [and] idiotic."

    You ever get the feeling that some people simply defend the most extreme points-of-view as an intellectual exercise? ...Well that certainly isn't the case here, because surely no one doing this as an exercise would cite a hibernating squirrel as proof that snowmobiles have minimal wildlife impact. Or believe that wolves eating other animals is a horrible thing. Or paint all those in favor of wolf reintroduction as ignorant Subaru (??) drivers. Or claim that anyone who holds an opposing view to simply be jealous. Or accuse another of pettiness because of one's own made-up claim of being associated with "evil."

    Nope, certainly not an intellectual exercise here. Just a simple man trying to stand up for the truth in the face of "completely misinformed," "prone to exaggerating," "completely biased," and "naive" "bunnies" who are "direct[ing] all their hate" toward "reasonable people." When will society ever stop oppressing the righteous and blaming the blameless?

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Tahoma--Thanks for the recommendation. I have driven through the park on the way to Alaska one time. It is magnificent but I did not have time to explore the interior of the park.

    Here is what the Parks Canada website says about Kluane:

    "A gem in the family of Parks Canada's national treasures, Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada covers an area of 21,980 square kilometres. It is a land of precipitous, high mountains, immense icefields and lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant and wildlife species and provides for a host of outdoor activities. Kluane National Park and Reserve is also home to Mount Logan (5959 m/19,545 ft), Canada's highest peak.

    As part of a larger system of national parks and historic sites found throughout Canada, Kluane National Park and Reserve protects and presents a nationally significant example of Canada's North Coast Mountains natural region and the associated regional cultural heritage. Fostering public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of Kluane National Park and Reserve while ensuring ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations is Parks Canada's goal."

    If I am not mistaken, Kluane is inscribed in the list of World Heritage Sites with Wrangells St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on the US side. Together they must represent the largest World Heritage Site in the world.

    I have been fortunate to spend quality time in Wrangells and Glacier Bay. Both parks contain stunning landscapes, significant wildlife, and a diversity of cultural resources. They are neat places.

    Rick Smith

  • On Stimulus Packages, Lobbyists, and Congressfolk   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Borrow and pave. Great strategy.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Surely a representative of the magnificent Canadian Parks should be nominated. Kluane and the Rocky Mountain group are outstanding. Our northern neigbors do an especially good job at interpretation and visitor

  • The Consequences of the Legal Bear Hunt in Katmai   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Let me start by saying that I consider myself a hunter. I have no problem with well managed and regulated hunting taking place in national preserves in Alaska, so long as it is in keeping with the stated mandates and intent of ANILCA. I agree with Jim Stratton insofar as the need for the National Park Service to take a greater role in setting bag limits and general management of the KNP bear population. It is interesting to note the fairly rapid increase in bear harvests in the preserve coincides with growing incursions of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) into the preserve. Prior to 1990, ATV incursions into the northern preserve were extremely rare and actively discouraged by the park. This policy was largely abandoned after this time, and ATVs became increasingly common. Most incursions originate north and west of the preserve boundary. ATV access allows bear hunters to travel well beyond the confines of lakes and rivers. Hunters on foot rarely walk more than a mile from their basic means of transportation in search of game. Traveling via ATV tremendously extends their effective hunting range and opens areas previously largely untouched. As the data suggests, bear the size and make up of the affected bear population is being affected. It is also possible that bears may be avoiding traditional concentration sites. In addition to changing the timing of the hunt and possibly setting lower harvest limits, management should consider the possibility of placing limits on motorized access for certain areas during the hunting season. A 2-to-4 mile radius around key bear concentration sites might help to rebuild bear populations and increase opportunities for bear viewing. This would not prevent hunters from walking or even paddling into such zones in search of bears.

  • On Stimulus Packages, Lobbyists, and Congressfolk   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Kudo's to the congress if they will stick to the already identified backlog (there is plenty of it there). I fear that what is happening is parks are writing new projects and moving quickly on other projects in their infancy because they see funding opportunities. Just because there is money available doesn't mean you can bypass the processes that ensure they are doing the right thing. Lets not throw things like environmental assessments, environmental impact studies, public scoping, cost assessments, government bids, scopes of work, specifications and good contracting practices (including quality assurance and quality controls) out the window. These processes take a lot of effort and manpower. If the Parks are to recieve this funding they will have to increase staffing drastically to do things right. The Park Service needs this stimulus, but they also need base funding to do the job. To throw money at the problem short term will create a careless spending spree that will injure the reputation of the service. The last thing we need are million dollar pith toilets.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Good afternoon--

    We have received only two additional nominations for the best international parks. Come on, NPT readers, we know you are world adventurers and have visited many parks or other protected areas outside the US. We really would like to pick your brains on the best ones out there. Give us your suggestions.

    Rick Smith

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Spending Their Days Rescuing Skiers   5 years 45 weeks ago

    "Park rangers credit Mr. Gamba and Mr. Thornberry with doing everything right to keep themselves safe and attempt their own self rescue. They carried the basic necessities and kept their wits about them during an unexpected night out in the Tetons."

    Obviously they weren't idiots, if they were they wouldn't have been found alive. Do you have any idea how much it cost to investigate a death in a national forest? Nothing close to the singe heli trip it took find them.
    I'm sure both gentlemen would be happy to pay for this expense out of their own pockets, but since we do live in America I'm happy my tax dollars went their rescue efforts. Don't be an "idiot" and be happy we live in a country that has emergency services and actually care about finding others.
    Would you feel the same way if this had happened to one of your family members or friends?

  • The Consequences of the Legal Bear Hunt in Katmai   5 years 45 weeks ago

    I do not support hunting of bears. It is like if we have superiors over us , are we happy to be just killed and be hunted???? Hunting lower species is a pure sign of weakness. So's not a sport anyway.

  • The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring   5 years 45 weeks ago

    February 2, 2009 comment update ...

    Managed to find Hyperion in Juanuary - the world's tallest redwood.

    That's the redwood tree covered in the final chapter of the book.

    Got some decent photos.

    Coincidentally, the valley with this tallest redwood also had the most traces of bear activity I've seen so far.

    Very fine looking valley - trees draped with moss and fish scurrying in the stream.



  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 45 weeks ago

    when we get the opertunity to hunt we go for the bigest and best. large rack , large and healthy excetera . this is best for us but worst for wildlife. we would never shoot a weeker target we harvest the best leaving the sick criopel and small to survive . the other apex preditors select the week and dieing as pray . we are not competing with them there nitch is diferant than ares . the wolf is constinatly thining the herd of the sick and are necessary for sustaning a helthey herd. i hunt elk where well established wolfs and grizzleys exist the hunt is nt eazy but quite doible if wolf populations get higher we have the opption to hunt them and should do so . nature is trickey but man is smart enough to be good stewards .

  • "Inland Tsunami" at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area Wasn't the First of Its Kind   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Opps. Meant to write "feet" rather than "meters." Regardless, it was a whopper!

  • "Inland Tsunami" at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area Wasn't the First of Its Kind   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Actually, the highest such wave on record occurred on July 9, 1958, in Lituya Bay on the shoreline of the Gulf of Alaska. Based on survivor reports and physical evidence, the wave swept up adjacent mountain slopes to a height of 1500 meters.

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 45 weeks ago

    The intent to create a capsulized eco system with imaginary boarders is not reality. Today in the lower 48 we have no chance of creating and sustaining a "Natural Environment" migration routes, patterns and elevation will not allow enough property to be set aside. Mainly because the adjacent property in most cases in already developed and we can't relocate a town of humans.

    Experiments with nature are dangerous, unpredictable and expensive. In a time when we will be short on funds we need to look for more practical was of managing our National wonders. I have lived for over 5 decades, adjacent to one of these wonders. I am frustrated every year that man and his influence or activity is never considered in the equation? Yet we are here, I feel a dose of reality is needed. We will never be able to recreate a true wilderness area, so why don't we start managing them with a little more logic instead of pure emotion and science alone.

    I support that heritage hunting be introduced in National Parks, were herd reduction is necessary. Using Man as our predator has many advantages over wolfs. Man can be introduced into an area quickly, he can be better controlled for what sex, size and species to harvest. He can also be removed from an area just as quick. Best of all man predators also fund themselves, so they would be little to no expense to park budgets. To allow hunting is to allow a heritage skill that allowed man to survive and populate the country. If we loose these skills, we to could be in danger. We need to insure that man maintains his or her survival skills, and that future generations are not dependent on surviving on Mac Donald's and Wal-mart super stores alone.

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 45 weeks ago

    Here in Utah at least, elk do indeed conflict with people. Especially on our highways. Driving I-80 east of Salt Lake is almost like driving the Dodge'em cars at Lagoon amusement park. Splattered elk carcasses and car carcasses litter the roadside. And despite a very active hunting population throughout the annual season, elk numbers continue to increase. Maybe ROMO isn't in this fix yet. But public hunting in a national park? No, no, no! Much too dangerous a precedent. Ranger sharpshooters are a MUCH better solution.

  • Rangers Catch Snowmobilers Riding Illegally in Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I don't know what's worse...having people on NPT write extremist statements that paint people with broad brushes and display their obvious hate for others, or the fact that I actually wasted my time reading those people's attacks of each other.

  • Rangers Catch Snowmobilers Riding Illegally in Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Don't think too hard Jim. It's not they were unaware, its when idiots post arbitrary idiotic laws, reasonable people tend to lose respect for the law. What's wrong with you people? I certainly would never advocate riding snowmachines around the herds, scaring them up and running them around. Most snowmachiners enjoy all types of outdoor activities including skiing, hiking, camping, etc. I've seen country on the back of my machine that you will never see because it's 30 miles from any road. I can see where that might elicit a sense of jealousy from you, but to associate me with evil because I've found a more efficient mode of transportation is a little petty, isn't it?