Recent comments

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Sabattis, the people who diss Steamtown -- and that is a LOT of park advocates -- have no quarrel with the commemoration of railroading history in the National Park System. The issue centers on the tainted political process that resulted in the selection of the Steamtown site. Steamtown would never have made the cut (there being so many more appropriate sites) were it not for a powerful Congressman who rammed it down the Park Service's throat. Now, in much the same manner that "Pearl Harbor" symbolizes sneak attack, Steamtown stands for "park barrel politics" -- the political process through which elected officials, with re-election in mind, subvert the objective site selection process and instead use back room vote-trading and raw political power to deliver national parks (read "tourism dollars and jobs") to their constituents back home.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Marylander, I can sure sympathize. My own dawn visit to the peak of Haleakala -- probably the only one I'll ever get to make -- wasn't rewarded with a glorious sunrise either. It's a good thing that there's so much more to Haleakala National Park than a (sometimes) glorious sunrise witnessed from the mountaintop. What a fantastic place Haleakala is! One word of warning about sunrise-chasing on the 10,023-foot Haleakala peak. It's C-O-L-D up there in the predawn darkness, so bring a blanket.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Two years ago I tried for 13 straight days to see sunrise at the top of Cadillac Mountain... only to make the drive and be buried in fog each and every time. So, my vote goes to North Rim of the Grand Canyon. [If we could include areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service, not just national parks] my vote for 2nd place finisher would be a remote campsite in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area where the calm lakes became an intense pinkish orange just like the sky... pretty awesome. P.S.: My trip to the top of Haleakala: buried in clouds!!

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Linda, you obviously know nothing about bears. Just ask an Alaskan about bears. People who know about bears will not even put out their garbage without a gun. As people encroach on the space of bears they lose their fear of humans. This in turn increases the likelihood of an attack. And I sorry to tell you my friend but bear spray is virtually useless in most real life situations. But you should be safe since it sounds like you never go in the back country anyway. If you ever do go in the woods please don't feed the bears so I would need to shoot em.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 49 weeks ago

    T-Fly

    Tell your sob story to the women who are raped or killed in our national parks each year. I am a gun owner and I have a PhD so am I too stupid to protect myself? You are not getting any points with me sugar. Perhaps you're scared of guns in parks because you have not had experience with them? An individual with a CCW permit can current carry that gun into the grocery store near the park but not into the park per se. The main reason for the establishment of these laws was to reduce poaching. The unintended consequence has been to create victims. Gun free zones don't work. Why do you think mass murders often happen in gun free zones but not at gun clubs or gun shows?? Come on put your thinking cap T-Fly on I am sure you can come up with a fantastic reason to account for this well known fact.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I'm a bit dismayed by the comment that blows off "Steamtown" as political pork. Railroading is a very large part of our Nation's historical and cultural heritage - to me it seems only appropriate that there should be a National Park Service Unit devoted to interpreting this historical and cultural legacy. On my visit to Steamtown, I was fascinated to see a railroad turn table in operation, and was entranced by the exhibits there that let me touch the stories of Americans from 100 years ago whose lives were shaped by the railroad.

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   5 years 49 weeks ago

    In fairness, despite the comment about the "generally neglectful attitude", it should also be noted that the Bush Administration / Republican Congress (I list both only because I'm not sure which took the lead in this proposal) passed a law in 2005 that created a new grant program for "Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands" that uses transportation dollars to fund transit options in National Parks, Nationl Forest, USFWS Refuges, and BLM Lands. In other words, the use of "transportation dollars" for this means that these transit programs don't come out of the Department of the Interior's Budget (they come out of the Dept. of Transportation's budget), and so these projects don't have to compete with other Park Service priorities for funding.

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I'm curious as to what the source of this funding is - the first paragraph makes it sound like a Congressional earmark, but the last part sounds more like a private charitable donation. Perhaps the most surprising thing, however, is why hasn't the Park Service entered into an agreement with a private concessionaire to offer tour boat service? Would it really be so impossible for a private tour boat service to make a living in Voyageurs?

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   5 years 49 weeks ago

    The "sky is falling" amateur climatologists love to point out the increase in man-made carbon dioxide emissions due to the automobile and the mechanisms related to the Industrial Revolution. All well and good. But as Bob pointed out above, our Mother Earth and her environment is a slightly more complicated issue than we would care to imagine. And basing the doomsday forecast on 135 years worth of meteorological data is akin to standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, peering in for a few minutes and believing you've "seen" all that comprises the Abyss. Funny how it goes that until recently our planet had the ability, much as does our human physiology, to effect repairs and maintain the status quo in spite of us. Unfortunately, we have begun to cut away at the very foundations of planetary climate maintenance and garbage control. The amount of carbon dioxide emissions is not the issue, per se, unless you couple that along with what we have done to reduce the effectiveness of Earth's ability to "recycle" those gases but our new-found love for slash and burn agricultural techniques. By reducing the rainforests at a greater rate than ever, and not having time to replenish those mature stands of trees that were once able to shoulder the increased burden of burning off the vegatation requried to maintain the delicate balance in nature, you in effect over-burden that remaining plant life, some of it lethally, and thereby the snowball races down the hill. You can take whatever steps you like to "green" yourself, but the real issue qutie literally is the lack of green that we have let proliferate on our planet.

    Unfortunately and most conveniently, Big Al doesn't mention much about that, since it involves upsetting the "developing" world.

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   5 years 49 weeks ago

    So you're happier with the theoretical benefit not losing our place on Earth with species extinctions, habitat loss & environmental disasters. If you lived in the southwest, you would have been out of water for the last few years had it not been for Lake Powell. I think we should do all we can to make it easier for humans.

  • Yellowstone Bison Population Healthy; Montana Priming For Hunts   5 years 49 weeks ago

    If the available range for bison is expanded, it might be nice to be able to hunt them the same as deer or elk. Idaho and wyoming are all about elk feed grounds because they make so much money via outfitters, even if these turn into disease hot-spots. I just thought that such an opportunity might make people want to support bison populations more, ya'know, give them a way to really benefit from it.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 49 weeks ago

    "We the People" ceased to be the government since the onset of the 2-party system, both losers know matter how you define the term. You have no true options any longer when it comes to your representation in Washington. Recently some good men have made the trip, seen the system, refused to play and left after one term. Rebuilding America first sounds so noble, but since Dem-donkeys and Rep-tuskers can't sustain the profiteering domestically without intense scrutiny from the media, foreign interests will be the primary source of political payback for the forseeable future. Which means funds being peed away to rebuilding foreign countries, supporting the overthrow of foreign governments and maintaining the ridiculous system of foreign aid in our "buy your allies" campaign. With funding for domestic programs of all nature continually being pared for the "war effort", whatever that may be, your faith remains with DC? Bureaucratic meddling knows no bounds, and if by chance there might be monies to divert to campaign supporters, the money will be cyphoned off prior to any real progress in "cosmetic" improvements to our homeland. Face it kids, Washington pols don't give a damn about what "the people" think, except for that brief period in an election year, where they will say literally ANYTHING to place a smile on your face, even though by now you must be absolutely stupid in you buy into their crap. Most are too concerned with lining their personal retirement funds and those of their financial supporters, and the only way to accomplish that is to play kiss-ass with the few tenured on Capital Hill. Since these programs don't fall under any particular "pork" jurisdiction with any real impact on local economies, little will be contemplated and even less with be enacted to bring the public lands up-to-date. There simply isn't enough money in it for DC to care about. Unless, of course, you happen to be a significant source of campaign funding...........

    Removing the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep from Washington is not only practical, it's mandatory. They've done nothing but ignore the issue for decades, and the backlog continues to grow exponentially due to that negligence, and is not localized by region or any other factor. No place across the system are monies being allocated save those few projects that can be held up a "shining examples of your tax dollars at work" that play like press conferences in front of constituents and a media circus. A special taxing body needs to be enacted, independent of federal bullying and able to stand on its own as a true representation of "we the people". A system based on ALL citizens and taxpayers of the country equally, since we are indeed referring to what are supposed to be public lands. Possibly tied into your 1040. Possibly based on sales or utility taxes, or a deduction directly from your payroll based on any number of factors, such as family size. The possibilites are numerous as to the most efficient method of collecting the revenue. Whether you choose to utilize these lands or not, since you are part of the system you're responsible for the maintenance and upgrade, which is absolutely no different than the system as currently devised. The major differrence is that being removed from federal hands, the monies are more-than-likely to end up where they belong, as opposed to some Swiss bank accounts belonging to your ever-lovin' lobbyist groups. Sounds more than fair to me.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 49 weeks ago

    "What fatigues me -- and a number of other NPT readers I've spoken with -- is that you repeatedly (and I suspect deliberately) fail to make the necessary distinction between the politically-appointed masters of the NPS and the public servants who work in the trenches despite those masters to achieve the mission of the agency."

    Unfortunately it is not easy to have much confidence in either group. As hard as it may be for you to believe there are many of us out here in the hinterland who don't see much qualitative difference in lifetime tenured agency bureaucrats (whom I am quite familiar with) who have a big stake in maintaining the status quo or in vote grabbing pork-minded politicians swilling freely from the feeding trough. You'll find this to be a common viewpoint among the vast majority of the American populace.

    I know that there are many dedicated front line employees toiling honestly as park rangers who I am certain would be just as skilled and proficient in their work if they were to someday come under a different form of management. Many of them would actually advance and thrive once the shackles of petty politics and civil service work rules were removed and the careerist self-perpetuators shown the door. I know this to be true because I interact and live among NPS employees, most of whom would welcome a radical change in the way the business of park management is conducted. Due to a culture of fear and reprisal their voices remain mostly silent when it comes to speaking up about what is wrong with the way they are forced to "achieve the mission".

    Mr. Longstreet, you have yet to confront or engage me on any of my ideas, suggestions or replies but steadfastly attack me as being unrealistic or full of antagonism towards your agency. That's certainly your right but I can assure you that I am not in the minority when it comes to seeking other ways to accomplish societal goals without the heavy hand of the U.S. federal government.

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I see your point, Anon, but I think you’re a bit off the mark in implying that we are part of the problem instead of part of the solution. All of us here at Traveler agree that reducing vehicle-related air pollution in our national parks is a high priority goal. Towards that end, Traveler endorses a variety of policies, practices, and alternatives, including – to name just a few – using cleaner burning fuels, providing concessionaire-operated shuttles or trams in the parks, and encouraging park visitors to walk or bicycle whenever and wherever practical. The Park Service is slowly but surely implementing these and other measures, constrained by woefully inadequate resources. (And in the opinion of many, a generally neglectful attitude on the part of the Bush administration.) Eventually we may routinely be able to tell people that they can enjoy their national parks without driving their privately owned vehicles on the park roads. Meanwhile, those POVs remain the only practical medium through which the vast majority of the public interacts with the parks. I rather doubt that many of those POV-using visitors would agree that driving in a national park is just “driving around for the sake of driving around.” It is for leisure-recreational-educational purposes, and telling people they shouldn’t use their POVs in this way is tantamount to telling them not to visit the national parks. Traveler will continue to publish information that will help readers make informed decisions about POV use in the parks. Wherever possible, we will draw attention to alternatives to POV use that are currently available in the parks. This Windshield Touring article offers several examples of these policies in practice. It tells readers planning Acadia National Park visits that they should consider leaving their POVs in Bar Harbor and riding the Island Explorer shuttle instead. It tells how Denali’s managers have gotten people out of their cars and into concessionaire-operated buses on the shuttle road to protect wilderness values. It suggests that a circuit of the loop road at Cades Cove in Great Smoky might best be done via shuttle or bicycle instead of in a POV. We welcome additional suggestions about how Traveler can promote clean-air alternatives to POV use in the parks. And yes, you can be sure that Traveler will be spotlighting public transit issues and options whenever and wherever possible.

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I can't help but find it the teeniest bit ironic that NPT sometimes publishes articles about climate change and the parks, yet is also publishing an article about driving around (read:burning gasoline, contributing to climate change) for the sake of driving around...hopefully, there'll be something on public transit in the parks :)

  • 2008 National Park Service Centennial Projects Run the Gamut, From Traveling Trunks to Biodiversity Inventories   5 years 49 weeks ago

    From a basic accounting standpoint, expenditures on items that are greater than $5,000 and have a useful life of greater than one year, are typically considered to be capital expenditures, and would not typically be funded out of an "operations budget." At some point, I think it would be good to not be so grumpy. First the concern was that the Centennial Challenge wouldn't be funded, or wouldn't receive enough private mach. Now its that the money is there, but it is going to different priorities. My goodness - these projects represent $50 million in additional funding for the Parks! Isn't it in order to just be a little positive about this development? Sure, maybe power hook-ups for campsites aren't your priority - but they are surely a priority for anyone who has been turned away from an NPS campground because it was full! And yes, while the processes of democracy and of private matches has resulted in a hodge-podge of projects, this system is probably better than all of the other ones.

  • Congressman Introduces Legislation To Double The Size of Big Thicket National Preserve   5 years 49 weeks ago

    An interesting idea - but how should Congress prioritize scarce dollars for National Park System expansion? Should these dollars go towards Petrified Forest in-fill, for example? Or go for relatively new resources like Big Thicket?

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Yes, "nothing seems speedy when the Federal government is concerned", but at the end of the day, that is probably one of the advantages of democracy - not one of detriments. Extended periods of consultation have been used by defenders of the Parks on many occasions to prevent ill-considered decisions that would adversely affect the Parks or the government at large. In this case, I do look forward to improved natural quiet at Grand Canyon. At the same time, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that the Federal Government is being rather slow and deliberate about making a decision that would ultimately cost some well-meaning individuals their jobs.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Beamis and Frank:

    What fatigues me -- and a number of other NPT readers I've spoken with -- is that you repeatedly (and I suspect deliberately) fail to make the necessary distinction between the politically-appointed masters of the NPS and the public servants who work in the trenches despite those masters to achieve the mission of the agency. I for one, admire most of those colleagues and what they are attempting to accomplish as part of, yes, a United States Government bureaucracy. When you have reserved your suggestions for political reform and restructuring to the posts that are indeed on that subject, you'll see no argument from me. May I suggest (as Frank has indeed done in the past on occasion) that you stay germane to the topic Kurt leads with: in this case, there are severe safety issues in the national parks and other DOI facilities. While we await the governmental reorganization and wholesale replacement of most of the incumbent managers of the national park system that you so fervently wish for, I'll ask again, more specifically: what's your realistic solution?

    J Longstreet

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Thank the Lord for the vet & volunteers who saved the wolf's life. I shed tears for this beautiful animal, when I read about the valiant effort. The moron who snared these wolves ought to be made to wear a tight snare around his/her neck. Yes...that's my opinion about those people. They're all just a waste of good oxygen!!

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 49 weeks ago

    My deepest gratitude to the volunteers and to Dr. Denise Albert for their conscientious pursuit in finding this half strangulated wolf. Your efforts are most admired for it's conduct in the love of all "beautiful things large and small". A job well done!

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Hey - How about some GOOD news for a change ?? This is GREAT !!

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   5 years 49 weeks ago

    It is amazing that these people are allowed to waste such resources on something they have never seen. I personally challenge any of these yahoos to show me video of what they claim. If in fact these accusations were true don't you think they would have a picture of donut marks with hundreds of oil puddles on their website? I have been staying if Frisco for over ten years and I have abided by every sign designating a habitat or nesting area. These idiots lose sight that when they eliminate all the traffic (ORV and Pedestrian) from the beach there will be no reason to rebuild it from the next hurricane.

  • Public Comment: Grand Canyon Overflights Noise Reduction   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Thanks for linking us up Kurt!

    If there's a volunteer out there who wants to take on this task....

    Don't know about that, last time I volunteered it took me four years to get out of it!
    :-)

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Yes, a permanent web page of issues and comment periods with how to / where to voice our opinions would be very advantages for us “National Parks Traveler" users.