Recent comments

  • Sky-High Ginseng Prices Boost Illegal Harvest in Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    I was surprised just a few years ago to discover Extension Agent literature & programs, to encourage Pacific Northwest landowners to consider the ginseng industry. This area differs from the usual range of the species, but evidently trials & trail-blazers have shown it practical. We have a standardized buyer-network, and a number of large-scale ginseng-farm operations. The hope is plainly that more small operators will take it up, since their conditions are more likely to yield the more-exotic & unique roots that are always sought-after. Big farms produce a very uniform product.

    So ... what to do about illegal digging in Smokey Mountains Park? If harsh penalties protected the plants, then the answer would be fairly simple. Evidently, though, for some the temptation exceeds their fear of getting caught. If penalties worked there should be large plants growing in those places that favor ginseng. The lack of abundant or large plants probably indicates that more-skillful illegal diggers are continuing their activities. (For example, I recognize instantly that parking a car where it will attract the notice & arouse the suspicions of a ranger is not the savviest way to go about doing something illegal in the Park...)

    A serious potential consideration in erecting a largely unenforceable and ultimately ineffective penalty-system is the potential for a Prohibition-like outcome. It could foster a network of criminalized buyers who overlook that certain suppliers of roots are coming in with a product of a quality that others cannot obtain (because it now exists only in the Park). It could help inure reasonably law-abiding people to the risks & stress, and help teach them the special skills of illicit & surreptitious picking, etc. Both of these could then lead to a proliferation of other illegal activities in the woods.

    Sez your buyer, Oil-Can Suzie:

    "Sure is an awful lot of black bears in the Smokies these days, ya know. Did you hear what dried gall bladders & paws are fetching now? Don't get caught of course ... but it's a lot more lucrative than these few scrawny 'sang roots you got here. Give it a thought."
    This was basically the undoing of Prohibition - it provided fertile ground & cover for a general proliferation of outlawry.

  • Hawaii’s National Parks Are Attracting Fewer Visitors   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Interesting observations about Native Hawaiians, Ted. But while it's true that many Native Hawaiians dislike "haoles" (whites) and have profoundly anti-development views, that's not been a significant problem in their direct relations with tourists. Take the Big Island, for example. Native Hawaiians who don't like haoles don't interact all that much with Big Island tourists. The overwhelming majority of hotels (including some of the finest in the world) are situated over on the west side (the Kona Coast), whereas the densest clusters of Native Hawaiian are on the east side, where there's comparatively cheap land south of Hilo. (The east side of the Big Island is the rainy side; Hilo is America's rainiest city. While tourists don't like rain, Native Hawaiians seem not to mind it.) In 1999, Sandy and I stayed for a few days at a resort on the coast south of Hilo. This was not far from Pahoa, which is certainly one of the most interesting little towns I've ever seen. Not once during our entire stay did we have an interaction with a Native Hawaiian that was anything but cordial. Let me hasten to add that I have never been damn fool enough to take a rental car up one of those long private drives that wind through the trees off the main road. Haoles are not now, nor have they ever been, welcome in those private places.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Anonymous,

    You provide an interesting & instructive account. Thank you.

    When I was a kid on the Olympic Peninsula in '50s & '60s, everyone liked to have a 'bear-story'. Most of them began by the teller holding up the thumb & index-finger with a gap of 1 or 2 tenths of inch between them.

    "Yep, it was out there, oh, 400, maybe 600 yards", thumb & index-finger bobbing up & down, "moving at around 40 mph straight up that steep hill through impenetrable brush like it wasn't there. He musta went airborne when he cleared over the top."

    That's basically all anyone ever saw of a bear - a tiny black speck near the limits of vision, retreating at its panic-maximum speed. If you watched the black speck for as much as a full second, that was an unusually long sighting.

    The reason bears acted like that, of course, is they were routinely hunted.

    Today, Olympic Nat'l Park people are chewing their nails to the quick, getting ulcers worrying when the first Olympic bear-attack will suck them into the developing hurricane that now threats to ravage wildlife management professionals & institutions all across North American. They're in denial, their heads in the sand. See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil.

    Even quite recently, I would have said, "No, though hunting carnivores would do the trick alright, I can't see them coming around to it".

    Now, though, I definitely can see it, and I don't think it's very far off. I now think that the situation with bear & cougar has been allowed to degenerate to such a state that it is now all but inevitable the Parks will be forced to embrace hunting against their own bias & prejudice, and weather the withering flak they will get from anti-hunting allies among environmentalists.

  • Hawaii’s National Parks Are Attracting Fewer Visitors   5 years 47 weeks ago

    The security-driven 'airport experience' is an increasing deterrent to air-travel. Many complain about it. The chronic economic crisis for the airline industry, wage-reductions for pilots, and recurring stories of lax maintainance, all could understandably serve to reduce the willingness of a sensible person to entrust themselves to a 600 mph vehicle of dubious reliability.

    There are, as well, social problems in Hawaii which may make vacationing there less pleasant. Increasingly strong anti-development sentiments are becoming conspicuous in the Island scene. Some of this might spill over as hostility toward visitors. As well, there appears to be a trend in the U.S. to express greater sympathy for such social conflicts.

    Using environmental classification schemes, great swaths of the entire Hawaiian archipelago have been declared 'no-go zones'. It is now against the law to go ashore on the great majority of Hawaiian islands, and this causes resentment and impacts a potentially lucrative touring enterprise. President Bush, otherwise no big fan of environmental issues, has been especially keen to re-classify the archipelago.

    I have for some years now begun to wonder about the long term future of the State of Hawaii. Effects on tourism & Park-visitation seem like components of a larger social drama there.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    They have tried relocating bears in Great Smoky several times, and the bears always return to the place from which they were taken. This bear was aggressive. I hate killing animals too, but the bears are overpopulating the park. It's time allow very limited and cautious bear hunting.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    You're lucky if you've had only one encounter with a black bear. Unfortunately, you do not live near the Smoky Mountains where there are WAY TOO MANY bears!!! The density of the black bear population in the park is approximately 2 per square mile now. That can not be healthy for bears and is certainly not safe for hikers. I've been to the park 3 times since moving to Georgia from the Midwest a few months ago. I love hiking, but have already had 2 close (less than 30 ft.) encounters with full-grown black bears on designated hiking trails in the park and have seen at least 20 more from a greater than 30 foot distance. These bears are, in no way, afraid of humans.

    The first bear was not aggressive. My boyfriend and I were caught near the summit of the uncharacteristically deserted Chimney Tops in a thunderstorm. I was eager to get back to the car, but we had to wait about 45 minutes for a full-grown bear to get off the trail directly ahead. Eventually, he receded about 15-20 ft. back into the foliage just to the side of the trail. He turned and watched as we quickly passed, but, despite our making loud noises, did not flee the scene.

    The second bear was a mother and two cubs on the heavily visited Laurel Falls trail. This one growled at hikers. We turned back, along with a group of about 20 people, because we had already hiked 9.6 miles that day and were just too tired to deal with a bear. Back in the parking lot, we heard rumors that the bear had run at a mother and baby in a stroller.

    Most unnerving to me, though, was the seven (yes seven!) bears we had seen in a group earlier that day on the comparatively isolated trail to Ramsey Falls. There were a lot of food wrappers, beer bottles, and even a Kentucky Fried Chicken Bucket left behind on the trail, so it's no surprise that there were bears in the area.

    We also saw two smaller bears from a distance at the Rainbow Falls Trail......... exactly 4 days before a young boy was attacked by a yearling on the same trail.

    I have read that some of the deterrents (ie. non-lethal bullets) park rangers have been using have been making the bears more aggressive and that noise does not frighten many bears because a significant number of them have been found to have very poor hearing.

    And yes, you're absolutely correct that people don't always know how to behave around wildlife, but to imply that people are being attacked because of their own carelessness or other actions that provoke or entice bears is unfair. Often, people are being attacked because of OTHER people's actions or the simple fact that bears have too much contact with people in this part of the country and are not inclined to avoid humans.

    I would absolutely love to hike the Appalachian Trail through the park, but even with bear spray, I have my reservations. I'm afraid the rapidly increasing threat of violent bear attacks may make the trip just too dangerous.

  • Is Climate Change Driving A New Forest Regimen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Normal Plants May Emit Methane - in the open air

    This is a story that hit the natural-sciences world like a ton of bricks, in the last couple years. Environmental scientists - not to mention activists & enthusiasts - often reacted with disbelief. Methane is a greenhouse gas, like CO2, only much stronger.

    It is generally known that decomposing plant matter sealed off from atmospheric oxygen generates methane (anaerobic). That plants growing normally in the oxygenated air (aerobic) can also emit methane is a new & dramatic assertion. If it is true and the quantity is at all significant, there will be serious & fundamental ramifications for climate models and climate-change theories.

    The original work was done by Dr. Frank Keppler, at the Max Plank Institute of Germany. Subsequently, Dutch workers who doubted the possibility devised a highly elaborate experimental set-up, which failed to show an emission of methane from plants. Since then, though, additional workers have used simple (conventional) plant-gas measuring set-ups, and they too are finding emissions of methane from living & dead plant matter, in the presence of oxygen.

    There is a correlation between the generated methane, and the light that falls on the plant material. Ultraviolet light seems particularly implicated. This would make the effect photosynthetic, rather than metabolic. Another example of an unexpected photosynthetic effect is the generation of hydrogen peroxide from water on the surface of exposed wood. This is why unpainted lumber and dead trees in the forest turn silvery-gray - the hydrogen peroxide bleaches the wood ('peroxide blonds' use the bleaching action of hydrogen peroxide on their hair).

    There is a current article updating this topic at the Environmental Research website, titled "Plants emit methane even in presence of oxygen". This article basically confirms the preliminary results found by Keppler.



    Plants do emit large amounts of reactive hydrocarbons. The 'smoke' of the Smokey Mountains is a haze of terpenes, isoprenes and assorted volatile hydrocarbons emitted by trees. The same effect is visible around the world. Plants give large amounts off materials which would be classed as pollutants, if they originated from human activities. Phytoplankton in the ocean does the same thing.

    As the plant-methane story unfolds, perhaps the greatest value it will bring us is to remind that complex systems are full of surprises, and that simple cause & effect acccountings - such as the popular assumption that humans are causing observed climate changes by releasing CO2 - are unlikely to hold up well as the situation becomes better-understood.

  • Is Climate Change Driving A New Forest Regimen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Is climate change the simple & direct cause of the current outbreak of Mountain Pine Beetle? It might be, but commonly events like this beetle-infestation reflect a set of often complexly-interacting factors, and the precise cause-and-effect train entails a lot of uncertainty ... 'mystery', even.

    For example, at this very moment astronomers and a large array of other 'interested professionals' are squirming in their chairs, waiting for the beginning of the next sunspot cycle. The previous cycle hit rock-bottom some months ago and we are now sitting in the trough, or lull. This lull has had an exceptionally (record?) low number of sunspots, leading to speculation that something unusual may be in the offing for the coming cycle. Astronomers are anxious to test several competing models of sun-behavior against the pattern of the new cycle. The tip-off lies in the precise way that the new cycle begins.

    Earth-bound natural-science professionals are anxious to see whether any correlations are evident, between the unusual current and potentially coming sunspot behavior, and their respective fields of study. Climatology, zoology, botany, ecology and others all show some degree of linkage between sunspot cycles, and events in these fields. Again, not usually a 'simple & direct' causation, but a complex of interactions.

    On the Arctic Ocean this summer, young, thin ice blanketed an almost historically normal amount of the ocean surface well into August. This resurgent icecap coverage would most likely have resisted melting and lasted into fall ... serving to reflect the sun's energy and prevent warming of the ocean's water. As it happened, an unusual and unseasonal windstorm broke apart the ice and expose most of the water that was exposed in recent summers - due previously mainly to unusual melting, which did not take place this summer.

    The fact that the new ice held together for much longer this summer, and did not melt (it just broke apart, and will mostly re-freeze as more-compact 'jumble-ice') is a significant deviation from the recent pattern of a progressively thinning & retreating Arctic Ocean summer icecap. We will be watching very closely next summer, to see whether this summer's apparent rebuilding of the Arctic icecap continues, or whether 2008 was just a blip in a otherwise relentless melting of far-northern ice-coverage.

    Much has been made of the retreat of Arctic Ocean summer-ice. Many who hold that climate change is driven by anthropogenic CO2 have made strong claims for a fairly simple & direct cause & effect. This summer, however, was obviously 'bad news' for those who point to the Arctic Ocean ice and demand, "See? See what humans are doing?".

    Well, maybe events in the Arctic Ocean are an effect of climate-change, and maybe it's due to something more complex, and subtle. If it is due to climate change, maybe the cause of that change is human-generated CO2, and maybe it's a little more complicated. Whatever the actual case, there is no doubt that proponents of anthropogenic climate change have shoved a lot of chips into the center of the table, betting their credibility that a few summer's melting trend on the Arctic Ocean will continue.

    In 2009, we may have the opportunity to see why 'traditional' science professionals are reluctant to make simple cause & effect assertions about large-scale natural phenomena. Buy your tickets early and get a good seat - it could be quite a show!

  • Hawaii’s National Parks Are Attracting Fewer Visitors   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Hawaii vacation costs haven't gotten completely out of hand. Far from it. To help stem the decline in tourism, the first in seven years, the Hawaiian hospitality industry is offering dramatically cheaper lodging. Mainlanders planning a fall or winter trip to Hawaii can now score some of the best in-season room rates and travel package deals that have been seen in the islands for quite a while. This can go a long way toward offsetting the higher cost of air travel. For example, a couple taking a week-long vacation in Hawaii this month will pay about $460 more for airfare than last year, but can shop around and find hotels with weekly rates priced $300 or $400 less than last year.

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Get over it? No way! Immediately after the very first VIP in human history got special treatment (say, the clan leader who got the best cut of meat from a fresh kill) there emerged another new class of human called the Envious Working Stiff. I'm an EWS myself, and that's why I wrote this article. Man, how I'd love to be treated like a VIP instead of an EWS when I visit Gettysburg (one of my favorite national parks). Bet you would too, Joe. As for die hards, well, all kinds of die hards are welcome here at Traveler -- even the ones who send us nastygrams. The die hards we most appreciate are Die Hard National Park Advocates.

  • Is Technology Compatible With The National Park Wilderness Experience?   5 years 47 weeks ago

    We each experience nature in our own way. My way is to try to capture in photographs what I see; to put into words the thoughts and feelings it elicits. So I will travel with cameras and a laptop. Someone else may find their experience enhanced and more relaxing if they listen to music. It's just not relevant that "I' prefer the sounds of the forest.

    At 61, I'm currently planning a year-long 'live in my van' road trip and plan to visit a number of National Parks. My 'sons' insist that if I'm traveling alone, I 'must' have a cell phone and GPS. That's for 'their' sense of security that Mom's okay. My feeling is that while I don't want them to worry, a cell phone and GPS aren't going to keep me safe. They see a need for it where I see none. The point being: what's important to one isn't important to another - who's to say one is right, the other wrong? I say if you want to take something with you, take it. It's your trip.

    A song from the forties comes to mind as I plan my journey: "Gonna take a sentimental journey; Gonna set my heart at ease. Gonna make a sentimental journey to renew old memories." Who knows? The kid with the IPod may, forty years from now, be encouraged to take a sentimental journey when songs he hears today whisper "go for it, do it one more time".

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Obviously there are true Die Hard Republicans that cannot take any joking. Most high ranking Government personnel do not have to pay to visit certain site within the United States, it has always been that way and will always be that way. People need to get over that.

    Your Humor was refreshing, thank you.

  • The Wilderness Act At Age 44   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Thanks for your comments, Ted. I especially agree that "...the very foundation premises of the [Wilderness]
    Act are often little more than romantic whimsies that defy fact & reality. However much incidental good it
    has done, no matter how ardently it might be embraced, as a policy statement & guide, the Act is flawed &
    weakened by both the way it was written, and the way it has been applied." Wilderness managers do need
    more flexible guidelines for our spectrum of 'wildernesses', but I fear that legislative attempts to improve the Act would probably result in even more flaws and weaknesses.

    My main point was that there are those within the Park Service (and allies such as the Horsemen), that resist
    the concept of wilderness, not that people, bridges, or boardwalks don't have a place there. At the other
    end of the spectrum, purist preservationists also sometimes cause loss of respect for the NPS and the idea
    of wilderness when they attempt to apply a 'pristine' standard in basically 'scenic drive' National Parks like Mount Rainier. For an example see Page 3, Reply #74, on a forum for NW backcountry skiers:
    http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=10692.50

    I suspect both our posts are pretty far from the discussion Kurt had in mind, but since you mention the
    Ozette boardwalks, here's some additional facts to chew on. You're absolutely right about the prehistoric
    and European use of the area. I'm pretty sure even the NPS was in the boardwalk business before the coastal
    strip was designated as 'wilderness'. It probably made sense when the cedar for the boardwalk could be
    "extensively but...selectively logged" from windblown trees adjacent to the trail. After 2-4 cycles of
    replacement, this was no longer a viable option for most sections.

    By the 1990's, all the cedar lumber for Ozette boardwalk maintenance and replacement was purchased from Canada and flown to the trail at great expense. The replacement cost at that time was about $60/linear foot; no doubt it's much higher now. Bear with me through a little arithmetic. Having 30,000 linear feet of boardwalk with an average service life of twenty years meant the Park had to replace an average of 1500 linear feet every year at a cost of $90,000. This was almost a third of the entire Olympic Park annual trail budget spent on about 2% of the maintained mileage. Many visitors, managers and staff loved the boardwalk and seemed unable to grasp that this was completely unsustainable. Talk about "romantic whimsies that defy fact & reality". In addition, the slimy, tilted, sometimes frosty sections resulted in about one litter evacuation (mostly broken legs) per week in the busy season.

    I could make a similar analysis for the hundreds of bridges, but hopefully, I've made my point. Any given
    wilderness (or 'frontcountry') development may make sense as a response to a particular situation. However, each ultimately adds to the overall maintenance load, even if fubars like poor design are avoided. If your favorite tool is a chainsaw, it's not surprising that you'll see most problems as having a carpentry solution.

    I'm not totally opposed to National Park development, even in our finest wilderness, but it needs to be at a
    sustainable level, whether we're talking trails or $103,000,000 museums. The usual NPS response to
    questioning their policies and priorities is: 'we only have limited resources'. Well, almost all of us have limited
    resources, but most of us live within our means, something the National Park Service has not yet learned to do.

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Well, that was a total waste of time.

    Shouldn't satire have some sort of comedic content?

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   5 years 47 weeks ago

    I suspect the historians you are mentioning are only looking at the Holocaust as the sole, representative incident of genocide.

    The main historian I'm quoting from is James Axtell, who is a noted historian who taught at William and Mary. He uses Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassonhn's ("The History and Sociology of Genocidal Killings", "Genocide: A Critical Bibliographical Review", and "The History and Sociology of Genocidal Killings: Analyses and Case Studies") definition: "a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group, as that group and membership in it are defined by the perpetrator. [Emphasis original.]" Excluded from this definition are victims of a two-sided war or natural and unintended disasters and victims of individuals acting outside state authority. Using "genocide" to refer to warfare is a contradiction in terms.

    Or that they are unwilling to have any shadow tainting American history.

    Historians such as Axtell try not to focus on the "lightness" or "darkness" of the past, and maintain a professional detachment, what Axtell terms "a lack of personal interest in the evolution and [ultimate outcome] of past events [emphasis original]". He also cautions against the reduction of Indians to "passive victims", which they most certainly were not, because it denies "them an active role in the making of history, theirs and ours together." The ultimate goal is true understanding after an extensive examination of all the historical evidence.

    that a lopsided war eradicates a race of people is the very definition of genocide

    First, you said "Saying that a particular race was not completely eliminated as a reason not to use the term genocide is lame at best." But then you go on to state "eradicat[ion] a race of people is the very definition of genocide". Which one is it? Can't have it both ways now.

    At any rate, it is clear that some, as I have been in the past, are too close to maintain a professional detachment, so I am at the end of my rebuttals on this particular subtopic.

    Whatever our disagreements on semantics or the interpretation of complex historical events spanning 500 years, I hope that the Sioux can someday regain control of all Federal lands in the Black Hills, including Mt. Rushmore.

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Bob Janiskee;

    I am pleased & amused by your sortie into the satiric & sardonic. A wise move (tho wisdom is seldom cheap, much less free...).

    Naturalistic & ecological venues have long been cursed by their stuffed & anal demeanor. Those who learn to loosen up the treatment will move ahead, while those who stay behind, will, um, stay behind?

    Yeah - like the Prez is going to pull up to the Hurricane Ridge road toll-booth and hold up traffic while the attendent tries to sell him an annual pass! Bwa! ha! ha! ha! ha!

    ... And as for the live ammo flying overhead & riddling your igornant page: "Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner!". ;-)

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Barky, the most successful government run genocides are usually perpetrated upon their own subjects. On this infamous list Chairman Mao comes in at #1 with a figure estimated to be between 40-60 million dead Chinese with "Uncle Joe" Stalin a distant second with around 35-40 million dead Soviet citizens of many different ethnic varieties. This makes Hitler's Holocaust appear to be quite the pittance on the world stage of 20th-century mass killers.

    Stalin's famous quote on genocide still rings as true as the day it was uttered: "One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are a statistic."

  • The Wilderness Act At Age 44   5 years 47 weeks ago

    tahoma et al;

    You raise several interesting particulars about Olympic Nat'l Park, in the context of Wilderness.

    Let's consider those boardwalks first. Most boardwalks are in the vicinity of Ozette, at the north end of the Olympic Wilderness Coast. The name encompasses the largest lake on the Olympic Peninsula, the short river that empties it, the coastal Cape & beaches adjoining it ... and the Native Tribe (and Reservation) that lived there for thousands of years. (The last remaining families moved to the nearby Makah Reservation, and the Ozette Native sites are now unoccupied.)

    The reason there are boardwalks in the Ozette area is that this is what we call a 'cedar swamp', so the ground is often too wet & mucky to make a reasonable trail. Some will object, "Then why put a trail there at all? Since it is Wilderness, why not just let it be Wilderness?".

    Before this country was Wilderness ... before it was Park, the entire perimeter of Lake Ozette had been homesteaded. They built the first modern-style boardwalks. The surrounding forest was extensively but usually selectively logged. Indeed, much if not all of the Olympic Wilderness Coast strip was logged in the days before steam engines and heavy equipment. It was practical for ox-teams to skid large logs a short distance downhill to the beaches. Once on the beach, logs and other products could be towed or loaded on small ships and taken elsewhere for processing and marketing. Timber-stands further from the water were, in the early days, too hard to get to and it was not practical to move logs long distances overland.

    So the coast-forests were extensively 'cherry-picked' (not usually clearcut, in the early days) - and cedar was extensively salvaged for roofing shakes (always, in fact, the most valuable component & biggest economy-driver in these coastal forests). Even easier than logs, obviously, cedar-blocks were brought down to the beaches, then loaded onto small ships. No roads serviced this rugged terrain.

    And before the settlers, homesteaders and loggers, this Wilderness had been the core-home of accomplished cultures for millenia. And, they had modified it to suit their needs, extensively. The most conspicuous Native impact in this region, are the 'prairies', important examples of which the Ozette trails pass through. These are extensive fields or meadows, which the tribes kept clear by annual burning. See "Natural History of the Ozette Prairies". For those with a keen interest in Ozette & its issues, be sure to also collect this hard-to-read but provocative & fascinating "1895 Map of the Ozette Prairies"

    This is far from "untrammeled" country. It is anything but a place "... where man
    himself is a visitor who does not remain." These are the leading characteristics that define "wilderness" in the Wilderness Act. Man has made this place his home for thousands of years, and European settlers flocked here.

    The Olympic Wilderness Coast is extremely picturesque, and it is easy to agree that it merits special status & protection. However, but for a brief tragedy that saw most of its owners die, then be bought out by timber companies, then bought out by the Park, it would be today as it has been for thousands of years: Prime human habitat, fully occupied and extensively trammeled.

    The Wilderness Act has doubtlessly enabled the preservation of regions that might otherwise have fallen under on-going industrial development, and that is a good thing. However, the very foundation premises of the Act are often little more than romantic whimsies that defy fact & reality. However much incidental good it has done, no matter how ardently it might be embraced, as a policy statement & guide, the Act is flawed & weakened by both the way it was written, and the way it has been applied.

    I am all for 80% solutions, realistic compromises, and incremental & step-wise progress. The Wilderness Act has largely lived up to my own personal standards - 'flexible' and 'desultory' though they often are. But as a formal document meant to serve as official government policy, it ought to be heavily rewritten, or replaced.

    It is a delicious irony, that this Olympic Wilderness Coast is held up as a "jewel" among our Wilderness treasures, despite a profound human presence and the presumed depredations of a century & a half of logging & loggers. Both of which folks either ignore or are unaware.

    See the lead image at The Last Wilderness: Lake Ozette, An Introduction for, clearly & paradoxically, plain photographic evidence of extensive logging right up to the edge of Lake Ozette - and on the side usually thought of as "Park". The fact that it has been logged does not impair anyone's enjoyment of this delightful country.

    The facts & realities in the case of the deservedly famous Olympic Coast Strip plainly indicate that the natural values we all seek can, have & do coexist with humans & human activities. Humans and their enterprises do not necessarily 'sully' nature, and we do ourselves no favors to make such an assumption.

    The Olympic Wilderness Coast stands as strong evidence that the Wilderness Act, its authors & many supporters have the underlying ideas & conditions significantly askew. It would do us good to reexamine what it is we are really after, and what kinds of requirements must be attached ... leaving aside those which encumber rather than clarify the goal.

    The confusion & contradiction of Wilderness Act is dramatic, and that could impair the next incremental steps we might make to an even-better set of environmental & habitat policy-tools for tomorrow.

    By accepting that humans & wilderness are not incompatible, we stand to benefit by the inclusion of regions in which it is not so easy as it is on the Olympic Coast to overlook the fact that trammeling & occupation by humans are part of many other none the less for wear & tear natural habitats.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   5 years 47 weeks ago

    The quotes below are from Frank C's original post:

    We must be careful before tossing a morally loaded grenade like the word "genocide". Applying a mid-20th century term to historical actors is problematic at best.

    The word "genocide" did indeed come into use during the 20th century, but that does not mean it cannot be used to describe actions prior to WWII.

    As the above numbers show, American Indians were not completely wiped out of North America.

    Neither were the Jews, nor the gypsies, nor any of the other socio-ethnic groups targetted during the Holocaust and other, similar events. Saying that a particular race was not completely eliminated as a reason not to use the term genocide is lame at best.

    Additionally, American Indians played a role in their own fates; they did not submit to concentration camps to be numbered and gassed. They made treaties, traded, conducted warfare, intermarried, and so on.

    Quite true, absolutely. The problem is only one of technology, however. The intent of American governments, both colonial and federal, was to drive away the natives and claim lands. They were only so successful because of lack of the means to make the job complete. The level of crimes that were perpetrated by Europeans on native populations were no less immoral simply because they didn't have the means.

    We ought to lay down labels of blame and instead try to understand the complex set of events Columbus set into motion.

    It is far too late to lay blame on anyone. At this point in time, the past is simply series of facts to be decoded and understood. The problem is with the trivialization of horrendous events. Our nation has many, many blemishes, and to excuse them away with semantics is disingenuous

    What happened here was not genocide; it was a lopsided war with one side possessing superior technology and the other side having no immune system to smallpox and other diseases inadvertently introduced by Europeans.

    Laying aside the fact that some military commanders used smallpox as a weapon (in well-documented incidents), the very idea that a lopsided war eradicates a race of people is the very definition of genocide! Every genocide committed on the planet can be traced back to a lopsided war! This is true of the Nazis or the Hutus or the Khmer Rouge (in which case, it was intelligentsia who was targetted for elimination). Superior military forces systematically killing the weaker people -- the definition of genocide.

    I suspect the historians you are mentioning are only looking at the Holocaust as the sole, representative incident of genocide. Or that they are unwilling to have any shadow tainting American history.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 47 weeks ago

    It's simple Dave, National Parks are NOT immune to crime. If they were, there'd be no argument.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Frank,

    With all due respect, the fuller context of the quote does nothing to change the force of it. It's not particularly different than the saber rattling we see by any President who claims to want peace. Peace is always cheaper.

    Is it that common when saber rattling to claim that all of a people should be annihilated who rise up in war?

    If you want more for Jefferson, there are plenty of assimilationist quotes, which are no less egregious.

    As for the so called consensus among historians, which there isn't on this question, the issue is whether it's appropriate for historians to be making moral judgments. When historians are doing nonsensical things like ranking American presidents and making moral defenses of historical actors, then they are no longer doing history. They are doing things that any person can do who can justify the moral principles to the historical record. This is an especially touchy subject for me because my own academic background is in both history and philosophy, and one thing that drove me from pursuing history further was the maddening tendency of many historians to engage in moralizing as though they were engaging in history.

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

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    Please note that I've added the following comment at the beginning of the referenced article: **Warning: If you do not understand the concept of satire, do not read this article!!** [Ed. The warning's been removed, having failed to serve its purpose. Nastygrams continue to pour in. Where's a foxhole when you need it?]

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    This is certainly not an objective view of National Parks. You've failed to understand and learn one thing those of who have worked for government have learned, that the more things change the more they stay the same. All Presidents get special treatment when they visit ANYWHERE. I should know, my husband was a Secret Service agent for 28 years. You just outed your political persuasions and Democrats are really bitter people, aren't they? You still can't over losing an election eight years ago. I'm sure you will have the same bitter feelings when you lose again this time so you'd better be prepared. May I suggest meds and a good psychiatrist to overcome those negative feelings. They aren't healthy and you've still get a long way to go. Until then, please bite your fingers before you post any further immature MySpace-like crap. Then again, maybe your're just upset you weren't given the same treatment. Get over it.

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    I realize that your personal pride in the product you post is in full swing, but the first response to your blog pretty much covers the maturity of your current product. All you accomplished with your rant was show a pretty advanced case of BDS.

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 47 weeks ago

    I think it's great that the POTUS is visiting what has to be one of the most hallowed places in our country. I wish I was there with him. I'd give him a free tour also. But... he doesn't need me when he has an incredible author and guide like Mr. Boritt, who happens to live there, by the way. Who cares if he doesn't wait in line, doesn't pony up the admission fee, or gets free tours. This is a guy that works all day every day on behalf of our country..... he's the President, for God's sake. I just wish he'd get to other places in this great country.