Recent comments

  • Upon Further Review – How Not to Protect Yourself from a Bear   5 years 46 weeks ago

    RJ -

    Thanks for an excellent comment, including the useful perspective on the small number of actual grizzly bear attacks.

    Hope you'll be back in the park this summer!

  • Upon Further Review – How Not to Protect Yourself from a Bear   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Great article, Jim. I spent last summer working as a field technician in YNP, and I could not believe just how many visitors to the park lacked that "common sense." As part of my training, I was required to take a bear safety course provided by the NPS at the training center in Gardiner, MT. The speakers provided us with some interesting mortality statistics of YNP since the parks conception, which are well documented in the book "Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park" (

    Something interesting to know, more people die annually from bison attacks than grizzly bear attacks. And over the course of YNP's existence, more people have died in park boundaries as a result of Native American ambushes than from grizzly bear attacks. Thanks for posting. Hoping that I will be back in YNP this summer working on, well, a grizzly bear study!


  • What's It Take To Hike At Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Thanks for posting this video, Kurt. After my first visit to Grand Canyon I made it a personal goal to hike to the bottom and back. I haven't yet, but this certainly renews my interest!

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    I agree that Frank N has said it all very well. I think introduction of wolves, if even for a time (i.e. until they start to cause more issues outside the park than they solve within), would be a very natural and viable option. An option mentioned in the article that I shuddered to read regards using birth control. What kind of birth control would that be, exactly? Hormonal therapy, such as what we humans have manufactured and think is so great for our bodies? Yikes! That seems to be so far off from a natural solution that it is downright scary to think about. Look at all the side effects to humans from these chemical hormones we put into our bodies. What sort of side effects would chemical manipulation of animal hormones cause? Furthermore, what about the fact that there are issues with pharmaceuticals (especially hormones) already present in our country's water, and although some argue that there are no effects to humans from these residuals in the water, there are documented cases of effects to aquatic species. So, it follows that any excreted bi-products/excess chemicals from these elk would enter into the parks' streams, which are the drinking water source for animals, as well as habitat for others. There might not be any immediate "trickle down" effects, but over time, we might be putting all native populations at risk. I certainly hope someone thinks more in the way of how the natural environment and progression of things works before they try to put some sort of a chemical "solution" into the mix!

  • How An Earlier Administration Bolstered The National Parks Through A National Program   5 years 46 weeks ago

    William Tweed has provided us with a fond reminder of the monumental role FDR's New Deal played in the development of the NPS. I'll be looking forward to reading his new book.

    Four out of the five parks I worked during my field career in the east were developed and restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In those four parks, the scope of work was huge, even by today's standards, and I doubt that it would have occurred in more prosperous times. Obviously, I'd like to see the current maintenance backlog eliminated and the NPS mission sustained by providing an unparalleled experience for visitors. Unfortunately for the NPS, the science of economics has made some serious progress in the last 60 years. What many economists are telling us is that any stimulus must enter the banking and credit economy NOW, not 2010, not 2011 or later through infrastructure development. In other words, a recovery cannot wait for NEPA, NHPA, ESA and other legal requirements or the years necessary to provide the A&E drawings nor through government-sponsored programs.

    On the other hand, the Obama administration may choose the FDR approach supplemented by a multi-billion dollar wealth transfer in the spirit of his campaign statement to "spread the wealth" across the nation. If this is the case, the NPS may eliminate some of that backlog, but the economic recovery will be weak and come at a very slow pace. We must remember that history tell us the Great Depression ended, not by the multitude of New Deal programs, but by the coming of the rapid industrial build-up in preparation for World War II. It's a scenario I'd rather not see repeated.

    My point is that, at this time, we should not place too much confidence in a stimulus package to benefit the NPS. The Service is simply not positioned to have much influence on the economy in the short term, and that may become very apparent as the current stimulus package gets careful review. We should hope that the Obama administration and Congress make the right choices to build an economic recovery in which we can restore and enjoy the parks. Either way though, I think Frank C reminds us of the bottom line: our children and grandchildren will be paying for this American bankruptcy with hyper-inflated dollars to China and India for many, many years.

    For further reading, check out Guy Sorman's article, "Economics Does Not Lie," in the Summer 2008 issue of City Journal. Also, Amity Shlaes's 2008 book, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, offers some interesting perspectives on that time, given our new understanding and appreciation of that dry science called economics.

  • What Interest Is a Civil War Battlefield in Virginia to Vermont?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    As a Vermonter, who's ancestors engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness, some who survived, some died, and of others which died months later in Cambridge VT, from lingering saber wounds, am willing to personally explain to those who are in authority in Orange County and in charge of this descision as to what exactly "Hallowed Ground" means. I am also sure and resolved, that there are others whom are of a similar circumstance as I that will join me there. My family has travelled this route before, we shall do this again, we need to "respect those who here gave their lives that this nation might live". Not shop at Wal Mart.

  • What Interest Is a Civil War Battlefield in Virginia to Vermont?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    A) Wal-Mart blows.

    B) Why anyone would want more development in this day and age, economy in the crapper, is beyond me. There is simply no impetus to make this type of investment. People poo-poo those who stand in the way of development, but look where all that development led us: a nation on the brink of ruin caused by too much development which has crashed housing markets, etc., etc.

    Here in my part of the world, they clear-cut old farmland to put up a plaza that now sits half-empty and will likely be emptier by the end of the year. Great planning.

    I was recently in that part of Virginia, and there are plenty of Wal-Marts in the area, doubtful more than a 40-minute drive in either direction. Another is not needed.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Spending Their Days Rescuing Skiers   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Good question, Steve. You might find this post interesting, as it explores that question and provides your answer.

  • Grand Teton National Park Rangers Spending Their Days Rescuing Skiers   5 years 46 weeks ago

    why don't the Rangers charge for the service, finding idiots should not be at taxpayer expense.
    Idiots are idiots and should pay for their mistakes.

    The police charge for false alarms at houses, why not for out of bonds idiots?

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Frank N-

    Excellent comments and one could not say it better. Western parks went from being islands of civilization in a sea of wilderness to islands of wilderness in a sea of civilization.

    Regardless, I foresee future hindsight exposing this program as being yet another example of poor management decision making - leeches for a fever instead of medicine.

  • How To Buy National Park-Related Gifts Without Leaving Home   5 years 46 weeks ago

    A new pewter ornament of Thor's Hammer at Bryce Canyon National Park is now available online at Inner Peace Designs. I have been collecting National Park ornaments of all types for quite sometime. I dedicated my Christmas tree this year to our Nation's parks. I received so many positive comments from it, I think I will do it from now on! The pewter ornaments Inner Peace carries have a beautiful finish to them and makes any tree comealive. The detail they put in their pieces are amazing. View them for yourself at this page.
    Can't wait for more to come. I'm hoping for Yellowstone to be next.
    Happy viewing!

    Alan E.

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    The problem is that allowing a public hunt would establish a dangerous precedent. This "culling" is similar to what they used to do in Yellowstone back in the forties and fifties. It was finally stopped in the sixties which, of course, led to the famous (infamous) Northern Range herd of the early ninties of 19,000 plus animals; several thousand of which died of winter-kill the year that the wolves were reintroduced. Of course the wolves got the "blame" even though they were still in their holding pens. What they discovered in Yellowstone was that "culling" elk doesn't solve the problem. Elk numbers may have been lower, but the remaining animals still hung out in river bottoms and ate every single aspen or willow shoot to the ground, destroying habitat for beavers, fish, songbirds and even moose before moving on. Only with the reintroduction of the apex predator, wolves, and the establishment of the "ecology of fear" did elk learn once again to act like elk instead of cows. Now they are constantly on the move and entire habitats are making a dramatic comeback. Even red fox and pronghorn (two species heavily preyed upon by coyotes) have benefited, as coyote numbers have been brought under control by the wolves.
    Reintroducing wolves to Rocky Mountain National Park is the obvious right answer. Problem is that in a few years the wolves will be spreading beyond park boundaries, and nearby ranchers will be insisting that their numbers be "culled". The real problem is that Rocky Mountain National Park is too darn small. All of our National parks are. You can't contain an ecosystem inside park boundaries. Even Yellowstone, as large as it is, has seen this with the bison controvery.....and wolves. Unfortuneately, when most of these parks were formed they could not have foreseen that civilization would one day encroach right to their borders; and even if they had, the effects that would have.

  • What Interest Is a Civil War Battlefield in Virginia to Vermont?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Just to clarify the other anonymous post, this development is in Orange County, not Spotsylvania as is referenced in the letter.

  • On Interior Secretaries, National Park Stimulus Funds, And Oil Shale   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Will the Department investigate cases where Fraud in the lease agreements on land that belongs to private citizens. This is in my case Forgary and illigal notarization is invold, a particular state and municpal government.
    ie,. County, city , State Taxation?

  • On Interior Secretaries, National Park Stimulus Funds, And Oil Shale   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Anything is better than what came before him.

  • What Interest Is a Civil War Battlefield in Virginia to Vermont?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    We live in a couminity a little North of this area on 600 acres that has destroyed almost all of the northern encampments in Falmouth, VA. We feal that the engagement was the beginning of the Overland War Campaign, the bloodiest campaign in American history and the turning point in the war in the Eastern Theatre. The North's participation in re-uniting our country needs to be recognized as National Park experience of our American History.

    Spotsyvania County would like to build lots of new homes in new developments in back of Wall-Mart. In this troubled time, the county is supporting the new tax money that would be received and newly created jobs in their area. There is no new real push for the county to look for a new place to improve their tax base.

    April is the last chance to have a good visual experience for visitors of the battleand allow a historical monument to the Vermont 1st Brigade that fought on the Wilderness Battlefield during the Civil War, that were temporarily buried there after the battle. Those pits still sit alongside the road. The new administrations astronomical bailout's fund might be a good place to look for help.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago


    You are right. Galapagos is a national park. Here's what I wrote about it for this contest:


    I visited the Galapagos as an invited speaker at a Latin American protected area conference held on Santa Cruz Island. What a break! I think this is one of the areas that really lives up to the brag of being one of the world’s treasures. It is, of course, not without its problems, especially with shark fishermen and an expanding human population on Santa Cruz that threatens the island’s environment. It doesn’t help that Santa Cruz is also the headquarters site of the park and the home of the Charles Darwin Research Center. During a break in the conference, the superintendent of the park, Miguel Cifuentes, asked me if I wanted to go diving. I eagerly replied that I did. When we got to the dive site, however, I looked over the side of the boat and saw maybe 50 or 60 hammerhead sharks circling in the water. That didn’t seem to bother Miguel, but it ended my diving adventure for the day.

    Can you tell us a little more about Gros Morne NP? I have never heard of it before and I am curious why it is called the Galapagos of Geology. Do you have a photo you can send Kurt?

    Rick Smith

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Can't we auction the right to shoot the animals? The money could go to good use in other areas of the park.

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

    Ray, thanks for the information. In that case, I can certainly understand the need for strict enforcement.

  • National Park Quiz 39: Winter   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Rob. I've left the item as is, and the answer remains the same (False). However, I've changed the accompanying explanation to indicate that some national parks do adjust admission fees seasonally, although most do not.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   5 years 46 weeks ago

    C'mon guys....staying on the rails isn't any fun. The majority of the more significant discoveries I've made have come from a position tangential to the mainstream of conventional wisdom. Sorry though for the unintended irritation.

    The major gist of the point was, as Barky noted, the definition of the term "significant" as it applies to this icon and in the general historical context. It is not universally accepted that the Lewis and Clark expedition was a defining moment in our country's history. Expansionism began at Jamestown, not in St. Louis. Charting the unknown was an undertaking from the onset of the European Occupation. And speaking from my obviously anal reality, I see not the import of the launching point nor the eventual end point, but more in the entire trail that is "significant". Beginnings and endings are mundane, but specific routes are what hold the true impact of an adventure.

    But enough of that. This specific site aside, it appears that a common theme for delisting, deregulation, demotion and the like is from the standpoint of cost effectiveness within the system. From that position the above referenced comment was generated. Delisting for economic gain, such as is bandied about with certain of our eastern battlefields, who by the way, in my opinion, are of far greater historic significance than is the Arch, has unfortunately already been successfully attempted. And where encroachment has been achieved and any semblance of original site-lines obliterated by modern architecture, history is forever altered. So if as currently exist markers pertaining to many of my original examples in State Parks, those cute little "Historical Overlook" waysides, etc., a similar bronze plaque was run up a pedestal to denote the point of origin of some event such as was once represented by the Arch, Little Round Top, the Angle, Bunker Hill, Little Big Horn or the like, what would be the loss to history? If we see the value of the real estate as the greater good, then what of our heritage? Has placing flowers at the site of a fatal accident grown to be more in vogue than marking the highlights / lowlights of our path through time?

    Nature reclaims through progression of the inevitable. Mankind distorts through the unnatural processes of remolding the landscape. The differences between those methods aren't at all subtle. So if it was good enough for inclusion under some initial judgemental process, for better or worse, it should remain in the network.

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    They should have given the meat to local food banks !!!


  • National Park Quiz 39: Winter   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Phew! Missed two questions. However, there was a lot of guessing going on. In regards to question #3, however, I have run across a couple of exceptions. The entrance fee is dropped at Crater Lake NP during winter. And, at Muir Woods they open the park up early (before official opening hours and don't charge) for those who are out on their early morning walks (which is very good of them), before the hordes of buses show up.

    rob mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography,

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    As I understand it, the meat will go to folks who participated in a lottery. None of the shooters will be allowed to keep antlers or meat.

  • Sharpshooters To Begin Reducing Elk Herds in Rocky Mountain National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    It seems so sad to kill the elk,but I really am not educated enough on this issue to know the right answer. I hope that the elk meat is eaten. The hunters should not be able to make money on antlers or anything else from their kill. I hope that the birth control will prove to be a solution.