Recent comments

  • Yellowstone National Park Releases Winter-Use Proposal   5 years 50 weeks ago

    How would a quiet electric snowmobile effect policy? If they would have a positive effect, how quickly could they be brought to market (if they are not already available)? I have seen a prototype in action on TV.

    Dan

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  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker: If I'm not mistaken, regarding the Enron collapse, there is various White House memos that suggest that Dick Cheney was involved indirectly to the scandal. Kenneth Lay and Dick Cheney did have a meeting in April 2001 regarding Enron's wishes to refrain the federal authorities for imposing price caps to stabilize runway electrical prices in California...and which eventually made into Cheney's energy plan. The memo states: "The administration should reject any attempt to re-regulate wholesale power markets by adopting price caps or returning to archaic methods of determining the cost-base of wholesale power". The intent was to mitigate higher electrical prices to enhance and increase private investment. Perhaps the White House did not have a indirect input to the Enron scandal but the inference is there regarding some meddling into the energy shenanigans. This is nothing new here regarding the Bush & Cheney loosey goosey policies regarding hands off on big business to exploit illegal profiteering.

    Question, why do mock those that try there best to express there opinions in the best way possible on NPT. Perhaps it's not in the best way grammatically or intelligently but they have a voice. Maybe it doesn't quite meet up to your standards of higher learning or reflect a lofty ivory tower of mentality with a Ph.D. If I'm not mistaken, your the one that has the background in chemical engineering. No!? Not all of us have been bless to live by the slide ruler. Anyway, your opinions are much enjoyed to read.

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Why is it a liberal slant? Can't you just leave a little room for doubt that Bush might just be doing what tha article says. It's pretty easy to check.

  • Winter's Not Far Off In Glacier National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Jane What a wonderful picture.
    Having recently moved from the Flathead I do so miss the Mtns.
    Keep them coming.

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Lame.......a term never more appropriately used than when in description of politicians. We've been saddled with nothing short of lame for more years than I can remember, dating back to 40's. Bush's leadership post-9/11??? THAT'S your idea of leadership??? I thought leading is defined as an ability to direct or manage for the betterment of the common good or specific to the group being "lead"? Pardon me while I regurgitate over the quality of our leadership.....

    Did I misinterpret on an above post or was someone actually trying to blame the current administration for the Enron debacle? How naive the general public these days.

    I agree with the intent Rick, but Beamis is right. Whether "we, the People" cast our ballots or not, certain factions of the governmental system are beyond the scope of the electoral process, at least as they pertain to an ability to effectively "change" with one electoral process. And the most ridiculous notion put forth that the gullible, ever-ignorant American public has swallowed hook, line and sinker is this absurd rhetoric purporting CHANGE by the Jackass Party. OF COURSE there will be change, but only due to that fact that a new family is moving into the Pennsylvania Avenue address. Politically speaking, that's change, and thereby no lies were made nor people hurt in the production of their commercial. The problem is that what the system needs isn't CHANGE......its REFORM. A does not equal B, and the differences between these two terms is not at all insignificant, but since most of the general public can't even speak or write proper English, put together a coherent sentence or comprehend the nuisances of the language (color and national origin be damned), or even grasp the simple yet subtle differences between the terms "democracy" and "republic", the public gets what it deserves. Maybe that's why funding for education is so hard to come by in this "great nation". If the masses actually understood the processes, reform would be the buzz-word, not some useless conceptual nonsense as "change". But the theory goes that if you use small words with multiple inferences, you can say many things without actually specifically saying anything meaningful. Ah the government practices of business as usual. But just as they promised, we sure got our change, didn't we?

    The most accurate slogan for this election WOULD have been:
    BLACK OR WHITE, NEITHER'S RIGHT
    EVEN GREEN'S A BETTER OPTION
    TUSKS AND MULES ARE FOR FOOLS
    REFORM THE ORGANIZATION

    Ok, so the pentameter is off a bit, sorry.

    GO OBAMA.....GO McCAIN.....and take the rest of the bastards with you!
    Maybe that should have been the slogan.

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    G. Pinson uses the example of the Yellowstone bison management controversy to seal his argument that critics of the Bush administration are not to be trusted where matters of environmental stewardship and national park management are concerned. I think that Traveler readers are sharp enough to realize that a body of evidence is the sum of its parts, not any individual part (as the instructions to juries make abundantly clear). An overwhelming body of evidence supports the conclusion that systematic weakening of environmental protection laws has been an identifying trait of the Bush administration, and that the pace of the activity has accelerated dramatically in recent months. No amount of bobbing and weaving is going to change that. I've predicted that the pace will become even more frantic in the weeks to come, and I cordially invite G. Pinson and anyone else to monitor the relevant events and heap ridicule on me if I'm proven wrong.

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    John K asks me if an Obama administration would be any better. I don't know, nor can I say whether McCain would do any better either. What I can say is this: no matter who occupies the oval office, we'll be carefully monitoring his environmental stewardship -- especially as it regards the national parks -- and we'll hold his feet to the fire if he uses unethical tactics to undermine the laws Congress has enacted to protect environmental quality.

  • Yellowstone National Park Releases Winter-Use Proposal   5 years 50 weeks ago
  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I'm an independent who is sick and tired of politically based misrepresentations by democrats and republicans alike. My 6th grade teacher taught me "Figures don't lie, but lier's figure". I'm thinking you and your partner, Repanshek, are figuring you have a gullible readership. Your article cites the Grijalva report and links to an article wherin several allegations of said report are reprinted. Let's look at Democratic congressman Grijalva's first allegation (that's all that's needed to prove we can't trust anything he states):

    Grijalva states "The Bush Administration has presided over the largest slaughter of bison since the Great Plains herds were slaughtered nearly to extinction by unscrupulous buffalo hunters in the late 1800s. "

    What Grijalva doesn't mention are these facts which are attained from various websites of Buffalo advocacy groups and from the New York Times (hardly friendly to the Bush Administration)*:

    1) In 1996 (during Bill Clinton's reign) about 1000 Yellowstone buffalo were "slaughtered"*. That means, until 2008, the Clinton Administration "presided over the largest slaughter of bison since the Great Plains herds were slaughtered nearly to extinction by unscrupulous buffalo hunters in the late 1800s." The 2008 numbers were a wee bit larger, so Grijalva's point isn't a lie depending on what you mean by "presided over". I can't help but wonder if Grijalva, Repanshek, and other democrats, were denouncing the Clinton Administration in 1996 for their record of slaughtering bison.

    2) A rooster crows at dawn, but does that mean he's responsible for the sunrise? Or does he just "preside over" the sunrise? Neither the Clinton, nor Bush administrations, were responsible for the culling of the Yellowstone Buffalo herd, in 1996, 2008 or any other year. The herds are adminstered over jointly by a group of federal and state organizations, but it is the state of Montana that has authority for the culling of the Yellowstone herd.

    3) Buffalo are only killed if they leave the park. No Buffalo are killed within Yellowstone. There are fears that the Buffalo will not only damage rancher's fences and other property, but also spread Brucellosis to the rancher's cattle herds. Buffalo advocates say these are unrealistic fears, but in the past many of the park's buffalo have tested positively for Brucellosis. Brucellosis in humans is known as undulent fever. While it is unlikely to be spread from Buffalo to humans, even through a cattle intermediary, it is still cause for concern among the ranchers surrounding the National Park and also the states in which they reside. To ship cattle out of state, the state (without expensive testing) much have a "brucellosis-free" status indicating that brucellosis has been eliminated from it's cattle. Foreign countries can refuse to accept American beef, if they fear it might be contaminated, or use contamination to excuse protectionism against American beef imports (it's happened). Montana spent an estimated $30 million between 1985 and 1997 to maintain their "brucellosis-free" status. A rancher must slaughter any of his cattle infected by brucellosis and cannot use, or sell the meat. Anyone that has traveled in Montana, or Wyoming, knows that they have small economies relative to a state like California and those economies are highly dependent on cattle. So, not only does an individual rancher have fears of his livelyhood being decimated, his state also has fears of huge financial hardship. Unrealistic fears aren't so unrealistic when there are big consequences to yourself.

    4) The Buffalo are not being slaughtered to the point of extinction as Grijalva would like you to believe. He knows he's planting that thought, when he uses words like slaughter and extinction in his false accusation. There are an estimated 250,000 buffalo in the United States (from various sources including the N.Y. times. PBS estimated only 200,000 plus). They are mostly located on private ranches, but there are large herds in many Federal and State Preserves. I've personally seen herds, in excess of several hundred buffalo, in The National Bison Range in Western Montana, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in N. Dakota and Custer State Park in S. Dakota.

    5) Meat from culled brucellosis-free Yellowstone buffalo is donated to local tribes and food kitchens. Custer State Park (one of the best parks in North America for viewing wildlife) has funded a lot of it's costs by auctioning excess Buffalo (more than the park can maintain) from it's herd.

    6) The reasons why Buffalo stray across Yellowstone N.P. boundaries, leading to their culling by the state of Montana, is that the Yellowstone Park ecosystem, is not able to maintain a herd of more than a thousand, or so, year round. In a bad winter, hundreds, perhaps a thousand buffalo can freeze to death or die of starvation. In one year, it's reported 850 died. I don't know if that was a modern record, exceeding "all since the frozen buffalo records established by the plain's Indian administrations of the 1700's and 1800's."

    Conclusion: Based on this one issue: A) Grijalva is not to be trusted. But he is a partisan politician and his "report" probably earned a lot of good donations from "concerned environmentalists". Do some investigating of your own and see if you can debunk a few more of his allegations B) This websites authors are probably "concerned environmentalists" (aren't we all?), but accepted Grijalva's partisan "report" hook line and sinker. Instead of a "them against us" mentality, true environmentalists should strive to build coalitions with hunters, ranchers, fiscal conservatives etc etc. to build a broad based consensus on preservation. That means compromise and the end of misrepresentations.

    * See New York Times article ("Shooting and Harsh Weather Take a Toll")

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Mr Janiskee, do you think an Obama administration will be any better, guess what "it'll be worst," then you'll be wishing for somebody else. its easy to pick on George Bush, but nobody remembers his leader ship during 9/11 and afterwards. President Bush has done plenty for this country and the environment and our national parks which i greatly cherish, lets look beyond the negetive and quite gripping. and be appreciative! for what we have.

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    As long as we are compelled, under threat of imprisonment, to surrender a hefty portion of our net worth to the IRS each and every year we can bitch as loudly as we want.

    This year especially there is no lesser of two evils. There is socialism or fascism. The true American spirit should guide every voter to have no part of either.

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    No matter whether you think that Obama or McCain ought to be the next president, let's all get out to vote tomorrow. No one can bitch who doesn't.

    Rick Smith

  • Is Climate Change Driving A New Forest Regimen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    A very interesting discussion of a complex - and very important - topic. The connection between the beetle and the grizzly was fascinating!

    As Kurt notes, the results of mountain pine beetle infestations can be seen in large parts of the west. Another inevitable result will be some dramatic fires in coming years.

  • NPS Entrance Fees Waived on November 11th for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Beamis - an excellent question!

    First, here's why there is no entrance fee at the Smokies:

    The land that is today Great Smoky Mountains National Park was once privately owned. The states of Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as local communities, paid to construct Newfound Gap Road (US-441). When the state of Tennessee transferred ownership of Newfound Gap Road to the federal government in 1936, it stipulated that “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed…” to travel the road.

    You can read the full explanation here.

    Congress keeps tinkering with the fee program, so it's had some changes since I retired in 2001. I did a little research, and believe the following is accurate, but I'm happy to have anyone weigh in with corrections if needed.

    The current version of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) was enacted in 2004, and runs for ten years. Fee program funds are restricted to designated uses, which currently include "projects to reduce the backlog of infrastructure maintenance; trails; cultural resources projects to rehabilitate historic structures, restore cultural landscapes and protect museum objects; visitor orientation and education through visitor center improvements, amphitheaters repair and replacement of exhibits; repairs of campgrounds; replacement of informational signs; and, backcountry user education."

    Parks which collect fees retain 80% of the money for use in that park; the remaining 20% is distributed by the NPS Washington Office. That money goes to parks which don't collect fees, parks which raised limited revenue through fees, and for special projects.

    So, parks such as the Smokies can receive part of that "national 20% pot." In the bigger picture, the NPS budget was handled as follows during my career, and I suspect it's still basically the same: Congress appropriates money for park operations each year, which the Washington office then doles out to all parts of the system. That process can be complicated, but factors including fee revenue available to each park help determine how much each individual park receives for the year.

    You'll find more than you probably want to know about the fee program at an NPS site and Interior site.

    Finally, here's the official explanation for why there is a fee program: "The rationale is that those who use specific services and facilities should pay for a larger portion of the costs, rather than require taxpayers who never use the amenities to assume the entire cost."

    I hope that helps!

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Yea for President Bush... these laws should have been gutted years ago. GO President Bush, slash, slash away...

  • Is Climate Change Driving A New Forest Regimen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I wasn't aware that climate change was so serious. I thought we were just talking about a quarter of a degree or so. I don't understand how such a very small change in temperature can change the temperature variances on the mountains.

  • NPS Entrance Fees Waived on November 11th for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Jim----not wanting to stray any further than we already have, I'd like to ask how does Great Smoky Mountains National Park manage to operate without charging any entrance fees whatsoever? It's one of the nation's busiest and is also quite large in acreage.

    What makes it different from parks like Yosemite and Zion that charge money to enter?

  • Winter's Not Far Off In Glacier National Park   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Jane -

    What a wonderful shot - thanks for sharing it!

    This is a good reminder that the resources in our parks are worth protecting for all to enjoy.

  • Don't Forget Buffalo National River When You're Looking for Fall Foliage   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Craig -

    I hope you have good weather and a wonderful trip! This time of the year was always one of my favorites when I worked at the Buffalo.

    Yes, this is one of those "under the radar" parks for many people - and I suspect a lot of those who enjoy using it would just as soon keep it that way :-)

  • NPS Entrance Fees Waived on November 11th for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families   5 years 51 weeks ago

    For those who want to skirt the entrance fee for political or other reasons -

    It's an interesting question about whether an entrance fee is "double taxation," since taxes are not paying for the services provided by the entrance fees.

    I suspect that given their choice, most NPS employees would prefer to eliminate fees completely, if those same dollars could be provided from appropriated sources. (The exception might be the employees who are hired to collect the fees :-) Other than the revenue generated, the other main plus of entrance stations is some element of security at the gate, and a chance to provide information to visitors when they arrive.

    Unfortunately, the reality is that the political decision has already been made to squeeze as many dollars out of visitors as possible, with the goal in some quarters to turn the park's into a self-supporting business, run as much as possible by private enterprise. Given the state of the economy, I wouldn't place any bets on the odds of replacing fee revenue with tax dollars, and would guess that fees are here to stay.

    That said, under the present system, Congress long ago figured out they could cut funding to parks by charging a toll at the gate, and fee dollars are the source of funds for projects that directly benefit visitors. When visitors (for whatever reason) find ways to avoid paying a fee, what's really being penalized is visitor services.

    So ... as long as you don't hike any trails, drive on any roads, enter any buildings, attend any programs, or flush any appropriate fixtures, let your conscience be your guide when it comes to ways to skirt the fee. (I'm having a little fun here, because some of those facilities and services are being paid out of appropriated dollars, but some do depend on fee revenue. I'll leave it to the conscientious objectors to figure out which ones they've already "paid for" on April 15th.)

  • Don't Forget Buffalo National River When You're Looking for Fall Foliage   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Jim,

    My family and I are going to northern Arkansas this weekend. Should be a great trip for fall color.

    I have spent many a week floating the Buffalo at Gilbert.

    It so nice to see a report about the Buffalo as it seems to be forgotten as being a "National Park"
    .

  • NPS Entrance Fees Waived on November 11th for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families   5 years 51 weeks ago

    If you don't want to pay an entrance fee (maybe for political reasons) or you can't afford to pay an entrance fee, you can avoid doing so by entering the park when fee gates/visitor centers are closed, entering the park on foot, entering and leaving a park on back roads, or visiting an employee of the park. You can also try taping a receipt to your car window. Or course, these don't work in every situation and park, especially historical parks, so I suggest coming up with a disability for maximum fee-free access. Entrance fees are a form of double taxation and Americans hold the right to civil disobedience as a means of protest.

  • NPS Entrance Fees Waived on November 11th for Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Families   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Why veterans? How about nurses? Fire fighters? All law enforcement personal? Paramedics? Social workers?

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Originally posted on 11/2 but edited on 11/3 to insert a missing word without realizing it would change the location of the post.

    Bob,

    I share with you the dismay about the power of executive orders and think that perhaps in most cases they should not have the force of law. That said, I do take issue with the tenor of your post.

    My issue with your post is not the statement of facts (it seems fairly clear that the Bush administration is rushing to weaken environmental protection laws and regs), but in

    1) the presumption that you know all the motivations of the Bush administration, perhaps best illustrated by

    To his Republican base, and especially the powerful interests to whom he is beholden, George Bush is saying, “I have fought the good fight to get rid of those ridiculous constraints on economic development.” To the rest of us he is saying: “Put that in your hookah and smoke it, you tree-hugging, bunny-loving, eco-freaks!”

    2) the assumption that any weakening of environmental protection laws and regs is a bad thing. Sometime laws and regs are a good idea at the time and at a later time are no longer needed. Sometimes laws are bad to begin with. I want "cleaner air, cleaner water, healthier wildlife habitat (although the last not at the expense of human habitat), but that doesn't mean that I believe the every environmental law and reg is a good thing. It seems to me that frequently once you involve law and an unthinking bureaucracy, things have to be done whether they make sense or not.

    Mark

  • Lame Duck Bush Administration Hastens to Weaken Environmental Protection Laws   5 years 51 weeks ago

    It's unfortunate that raising concerns about environmental issues is so quickly cast by some as a liberal vs. conservative or a partisan issue. As pointed out above, administrations of both parties have used their final months in office to push through whatever fits their agenda. That may be a reality of our "system," but I don't think it makes for good public policy.

    Whether or not you object to the current rush to modify public land policies and regulations probably depends largely upon your view of government regulation in general. It doesn't require a detailed analysis of history to confirm that little or no regulation has often resulted in serious harm to the environment, human health and our quality of life. It's also easy for the regulators to get out of hand. The difficult trick is finding an appropriate balance.

    I agree that environmental (and other government regulations) can often use some adjustments, but logical and responsible decisions on complex issues will rarely result if they are based solely on the ideology of the "party currently in power," and if they are rushed through to meet a deadline based on political expediency.

    If the current changes that have suddenly emerged on the scene in recent months are so critical, I have to wonder why they weren't brought to the table in the first year of the administration instead during of the final months. Perhaps the answer is that in at least some cases, they simply can't withstand reasoned analysis - or they would be seen as a political liability for someone running for reelection.

    One of my greatest concerns with the current administration has been the way it has made a mockery of the public comment process. A case in point is the current "review" of public comments on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act.

    According to news reports from the AP and other sources, Interior received about 200,000 comments on this proposal. If public input is to have any meaning in our system of government, a reasonable analysis of those comments should be made as part the decision-making process. However, the agency reportedly intended to complete the review of those comments with a team of 15 people working over a 4 day period of presumably 8-hour government work days.

    Several commentators have noted that this effort by Interior would require about 6,250 comments to be reviewed every hour. That means that each member of the team would be "reviewing" at least seven comments each minute, or as one observer put it, just about long enough to slide each paper across the reviewer's desk and into the trash can.
    Yes, some of those comments are form letters, and can be categorized as "for" or "against" fairly quickly. Others, however, include thoughtful and detailed material which deserves at least an honest reading.

    Whether you agree with the proposed changes or not, if our system of government that supposedly grants "power to the people" is to function in a healthy way, those who are elected or hired to act in the best interests of the people need to perform those duties in a manner worthy of their hire. Sadly, I don't see that happening in situations such as the one I've just described.