Recent comments

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I would second the Udall connection and suggest newly-elected Senator Mark Udall from Colorado. As the former head of Colorado Outward Bound and a long-time congressman from CO as well as a whitewater kayaker, he understands the West, the public lands, and politics. I had the privilege of paddling the Yampa River years ago with Mark Udall as well as one of my heroes Mo Udall. Of course Stewart Udall was a great Sec of Interior during the 60's. It would be great to see Mark continue the family legacy.

  • Petrified Forest National Park is Still Being Stolen One Piece at a Time   5 years 49 weeks ago

    A synopsis of relevant information is available at http://www.nps.gov/pefo/parknews/park-boundary-expansion.htm. Here is a map that shows the authorized boundaries of the park:[url= http://www.nps.gov/pefo/parknews/upload/Draft_singlecolor_map.pdf] http://www.nps.gov/pefo/parknews/upload/Draft_singlecolor_map.pdf[/url] For more detailed information and updates you can contact the park's public information officer, Lyn Carranza at 928-524-6228.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 49 weeks ago

    This is indeed a political matter, I will agree. This is not about trust, but about power and control. I simply don't understand the logic which equates an indiscriminate homicidal maniac with any responsible, law abiding citizen who happens to be carrying a gun. You might as well argue banning fire extinguishers in buildings with good safety records. Or why not legislate mandatory seat belt free zones because there have been so few people injured in those specific locations? Ridiculous is exactly my point. "Lack of a need" doesn't hold water. As with any prophylactic, it's a preventive measure, there is no actual need for it... until a need actually arises.

    To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem.
    To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized -- merely the domesticated. Count my vote for change in our parks and on our streets!

  • Wilderness Designation for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Will Have to Wait   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Dang, I HATE when they move lakes around. Thanks for the pointer, Joe.

  • Wilderness Designation for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Will Have to Wait   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Lakeshore officials even went to lengths to ensure that Lake Michigan boaters could pull their boats up onto portions of beach that would fall within the proposed wilderness boundaries. While there had been consideration of extending the boundaries one-quarter-mile out into Lake Michigan to match the lakeshore's boundary, many boaters like to land their craft so they can have a picnic or take a hike, said Superintendent Northup.

    Somebody should politely suggest the proposal be resubmitted to include the proper Great Lake..!

  • Arches National Park Finds Its Birthday Overshadowed By Drilling Concerns   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Connie W, sounds to me your more worried about your oil stocks then saving the environment from rape, greed and pillage. We had eight years of Geo. Bush's non-sensical environment policies which are hell bent on pure exploitation of are natural resources. And, without a clue what conservation of are natural resources means. If Bush was smart, we would be far ahead of the game in alternative energy management. But, playing ear to the Big Oil companies is one of the main reasons why were in this energy pickle. More oil drilling close to the National Parks is not a solution to are energy crises but an insult to rational thinking and planning towards the future. Your idol Geo. Bush (I assume) has publicly admitted we use too much oil. A surprisingly strong comment from a oil siphoning lame duck President. With President elect Obama, soon to take office, I'm sure we can get this country rolling again and become a world super power (with integrity to spare) soon as we get are priorities straight and act together...and with less corporate shenanigans...were going to be just fine. Plus, take care of our of National Parks like good environmental custodians should. As far as wind, solar and other alternative energies (outside of are one way energy system called pro-oil) this should be a big priority and a huge step into the 21st. century...ask Boone Pickens! Connie, unless you live afar from the oil drilling areas in the U.S., you probably don't have to worry about the water table pollution (noted recently in parts of the country). I think you will be a lot healthier and happier with solar and wind power, instead of massive oil rigs drilled everywhere that burns the eyes. Let's step ahead into the 21st century and stop regressing towards a draconian life style of the 1900's...called the pre-industrial era. Something that Geo. Bush failed to see and do! His approval ratings at 28% (or less) is a testament of failures and misdeeds as President.

  • On the Political Front: Good And Bad News From the Bush Administration   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Good news, thanks. I tend to not like enforcing "pristine park" standards on lands outside the NPS boundaries, but I'd rather not have power plants immediately nearby.

    The parks don't have a voice to say "not in my backyard", unlike the rest of us.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Arches National Park Finds Its Birthday Overshadowed By Drilling Concerns   5 years 49 weeks ago

    What's the difference if it's an oil well or one of the damned ugly windmills.

    Evironmentalist don't seem to mind when windmills spoil scenic vistas. Drive along I-81 through the Poconos and enjoy the spectacle of these monstrously ugly windmills along the ridgeline. It's a liberal mindset against oil that makes a windmill somehow less of an eyesore than an oil well. (Unless, of course, you're Teddy Kennedy or John Kerry and someone wants to put a windmill farm off the coast of your beloved Cape Cod, then it's suddenly unacceptable.)

    And I find it interesting that liberal environmentalists always throw down their trump card - "there really isn't even enough oil there to justify drilling". They're obviously idealistic academics unfamiliar with the business world, otherwise they would understand that an oil company isn't going to invest in the expense of drilling where there isn't much oil to be found. It's either fantasy or bold-face lying to suggest otherwise. AND... if oil companies did follow such a poor business plan as to drill where there was only 6 months worth of oil, than guess what...in six months the oil well would be gone along with the oil. No more ugly well...but we're still stuck with those damned windmills. How would a string of windmills along the Canyonlands look to you?

    It's the same old sorry song that most Americans are getting tired of. The militant environmentalist don't want us to drill for oil anywhere because it violates their Environment/global warming religion that they worship at the alter of St. Al. Their goal is to rid the world of carbon based fuels and have us all live on wind and solar. Yeah, good luck with that. Unless some more efficient means of alternative energy is discovered we either cover every inch of available space, including the national parks, with solar panels and windmills or we get real and drill, baby, drill!

  • On the Political Front: Good And Bad News From the Bush Administration   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I believe you can add Great Smoky and Shenandoah to those three, and possibly Mesa Verde. There have been recent efforts to build one in Utah, and it possibly could have impacted the air quality at Capitol Reef, but apparently the EPA rejected its permit application due to a lack of controls over carbon dioxide.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    John Berry is a personal friend. I have known John for 21 years. He would be an outstanding choice as Interior Secretary. Make no mistake about John's conservation credentials. Conservation is a passion. Upon leaving Interior in 2000 (having served in the #3 position for 3 years -- Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget) he became Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He left NFWF to become Director of the National Zoo where he has brought to the zoo his commitment to conservation.

    John has been involved in the coaltion you mentioned. As I understand it it has a mandate far beyond the issue mentioned in the your posting. John is a strong proponent of wildnerness areas and believes strongly that no mechanized vehicles belong in the wildnerness. He also recognizes that balances on other public lands must be reached that allow such vehicles but that are also protective of wildlife. He worked hard to make sure that the vehicles that were allowed in were less polluting and less noisy.

    John will be a great and creative Secretary of the Interior if nominated by President-elect Obama. The country will be lucky to have someone of his quality.

    Kevin Bliss
    Washington DC

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

    Victory for Human Rights! We can now carry in National Parks legally.

    Hooray!

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Berry is the best choice out there because he is a committed conservationist, the only candidate with experience within Interior and a track record of leading and managing large organizations, and is highly respected by Members of Congress from both parties. Beyond the serious conservation issues the next Secretary will face, they will inherit a Department that has not been effectively managed for decades. He turned the National Zoo around...can any of the other Interior Secretary candidates say they have done something similar?

  • On the Political Front: Good And Bad News From the Bush Administration   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I'd love to see a list of national parks threatened by proposed coal-fired power plants that will be helped by keeping the existing air quality rule in place. Here's three I know of: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave National Park.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Yoy know in terms of being environmentally friendly Wal-Mart is not as bad as many people think. That being said, I was not so sure as what should be done at first. The park has to end somewhere, but the store would very close to the park in fact too close and the land is historically. In the end, I hope the Wal-Mart is not yet good points have been made on both sides.

    Dan as for ypu point will it ever end........no. Example: Cutting down a historically tree in New England.

  • Petrified Forest National Park is Still Being Stolen One Piece at a Time   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I do hope the problem is solve in time, but in the mean time does anyone know what is going on in terms of expanding the park.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Dan,

    What needs to be said, and folks need to be educated on with regard to the Wilderness site is it is ON the battlefield, not adjacent.

    Fact is the site is included within the boundaries of the original tract of land considered "battlefield" under the initial survey by the War Department.

    This isn't a case where someone is seeking to preserve some locality where Elvis once sang, or where the first cheeseburger was served. This site is linked into the watershed event in American History.

  • Trails I've Hiked: Golden Canyon, Death Valley National Park   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I have to agree, Golden Canyon is worth the effort. I did this particular hike during early May (a few years back). The temps were in the 90s as I recall, and I could not imagine hiking that trail if it were any hotter. We actually did a bit of a loop from the Highway 190 parking lot, uphill to just beneath Zabriskie Point, and then back down through a different side canyon.

    Your point about extra water though can't be stressed enough. There were four of us, each with just one liter of water. In hindsight, it probably would have been wise to carry no less than two liters a piece, maybe as much as a gallon, seriously.

    We had heard a story of a fellow the summer before dying on the trail. He left the lower parking lot feeling very fit. By the time he reached the half-way point (or some point far from his car), he was very thirsty. Apparently the effects of dehydration amplify very quickly, especially in a place like Death Valley. Because his body could not perspire, he found himself physically unable to make it the few miles back to his car and water, his internals shut down under the stress.

    But ... don't let that stop YOU from enjoying this hike! Just bring extra water. :-)

  • This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos   5 years 49 weeks ago

    MRC - Thanks for the additional information on the fossils and more on the living history.
    Jim - glad for the confirmation that this is one of those sometimes overlooked but very worthwhile parks.

  • This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos   5 years 49 weeks ago

    We came by Scotts Bluff one sunny morning back in October and were delighted with our visit. As often with Park Service units it has been the most unassuming and less well known that have been the most enjoyable. Scotts Bluff was certainly one of those. The visitor centre is something of an antique and well worth preserving.

  • This Park Has Scenery, History and a Treasure Trove of Art and Photos   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Thanks for bringing attention to this often overlooked gem in the NP system. Scotts Bluff is amazing in its variety, from the history of the Oregon Trail (and not to forget the California Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail and the Pony Express, which all ran together on the same route in their respective times), to nature with the rocks, cliffs and bluffs, to art by Jackson.

    But you failed to mention that Scotts Bluff is significant for fossils as well: The parks fossils have been declared "types" for some characteristic layers from the Oligocene Epoch (40-25 million years before present). And one should mention that on weekends in summer the park has living history demonstrations with horses, covered wagons, cooking pioneer style and lots of other fun activities for families.

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Anon:

    Actually, my plan would keep interest groups, including the NRA, from influencing park management. Once parks are removed from federal ownership and management, the second amendment would not apply. Individual parks, freed from political chains and federal bureaucracy, would be able to determine if people would be able to carry firearms in the privately managed parks.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Dan-----well said. Your insight adds an important dimension to this debate.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 49 weeks ago

    There's so many good textbooks written on the subject of mallization of America. City planners have fought for years to stabilize regional planning fiascos that corporate interests tries to shove down are throats...Walmart is one of them with their jaded wing tip shoe lawyers. Dumps in the backyard of the minorities, freeways zoned in the backyards of the middleclass, and the rich in gated communities afar from the maddening crowd. Now it's coming folks, the mallization of the National Parks...Geo. Bush style! Let's see folks, you now have oil and gas leases at the borders of the National Parks and soon to come, a spiffy Walmart to enhance the natural beauty of the parks. Can't beat it! They say, take an inch and grab a foot Walmart style...and screw their employees. The American way!

  • What's the Latest On The Search for An Interior Secretary?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Frank C, if so choosen...please keep the NRA influence out of the National Parks...which I dare you won't do...Mr. Gun shop!

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 49 weeks ago

    This string of comments makes clear that there are three competing issues here.

    The first, most obvious knee-jerk reaction is the anti-Wal-Mart moralizing. "On second thought, don't we have enough Wal-marts? Do we really need one more?" A lot of people out there have objections to Wal-Mart's business model, and will gladly grasp any proffered handle to jerk them around. In this case, Wal-Mart can be accused of profaning the Wilderness battlefield, automatically ranking them in some eyes with Protestant (or Taliban, if you prefer) iconoclasts. This reaction is irrelevant here, which is the point made by the first two Anonymous posters. In terms of land-use policy, Wal-Mart should be viewed as no different from any other large retailer, and little different from many other kinds of development.

    The second, also irrelevant, is the aesthetic reaction. Wal-Mart, with its big, unadorned buildings, gaudy colors, free overnight RV parking in expansive, well-lit lots, and teeming masses of unwashed proles can always be counted on to attract the disapprobation of the aesthetes. Kurt's objection to the Golden Arches' visibility from the Park City ski jump is in this category, and no surprise since the blaring reds and yellows of McDonalds were Public Enemy Number One for the aesthetes since Wal-Mart was an Arkansas five and dime. According to this argument, proximity itself is metaphysically harmful to the site. Presumably, ugly Wal-mart's presence has a negative metaphysical effect on the mana accumulated at a site like Wildnerness, which decreases exponentially with distance, presumably like electromagnetic radiation. So a Wal-mart a mere quarter mile from a park's boundaries represents an impairment in a way that the same store 5 miles away would not. To the aesthetes, I say be glad that Wildnerness is in a region where trees can block unwelcome views (with consequent mitigating effects on accumulated mana). If you can accept the place of department stores in the community, but object merely to the architecture, then talk to Ed McMahon of the Smart Growth Network, who beats that particular drum for a living.

    The third issue is the relevant one: what do we do about parcels of land that are of historical or natural value, but are destined to be developed for other purposes? What we are dealing with is not often recognized for what it is: a superfluity of sacredness. There are so many places of importance that it would be wasteful to preserve them all. Yes, wasteful. Preservation is subject to the law of diminishing returns; how many acres does one need to preserve, appreciate, and educate about the Battle of the Wilderness? The boundaries must go somewhere; there must be a line between sacred and profane space. There must be a finite number of acres sufficient to the task. If we just buy up every adjacent parcel at risk of development, there can be no end to it.

    One technique that is cynical in inverse proportion to its effectiveness is the attempt to shame, harass, or obstruct Wal-Mart into withdrawing. Wal-Mart employs a lot of people, and provides returns for a lot of investors, and to that end they are in the business of providing low-cost retail and services. That's what they do. They have some awfully clever demographers, geographers, and economists punching numbers, shuffling paper, and identifying profitable sites. They are extremely good at it. They have no reason to avoid an available site because it's historic, much less because it's adjacent to something historic. If they sacrificed the site to a competitor, or bought the land or its conservation easement for the purpose of preservation, they would be betraying their shareholders (i.e., your IRA, your pension, your retirement).

    So what's the solution? With a surfeit of sites, we have to be like a doctor in triage: in the time available, with the resources available, how can we salvage the most, and most important, resources? The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission is doing triage, but like anyone charged with that unpleasant task, they are dismayed at how many must be abandoned to save a few. Doctors have cursed this necessity since time immemorial (think Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H), but it remains necessary. There remains the problem of local government's all-too-common inability to manage these problems, which is a weakness of democratic government--few county supervisors are equipped to deal with this kind of thing.

    Kurt is right, these debates over land use are intractable. We go over this stuff again and again, in a thousand contexts. But confusion over the real issue only makes it more difficult. It doesn't matter if the planned development is a Wal-Mart, an REI, a hospital or a low-income apartment community, but when it's a Wal-Mart (or McDonalds), expect the Wal-Mart-haters and aesthetes to come out in droves, and endlessly complicate an already difficult situation.