Recent comments

  • Whatever Became of the Decommissioned National Parks?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    A great topic! I think rather than starting with the question of what the National Park System shouldn't be, one should start with the quesiton of what the National Park System should be. A great definition I have heard is that the National Park Service should represent our Nation's greatest, natural, historical, and cultural treasures. With that being said, it is interesting to note that there are six Units in the National Park System that don't even carry the word "National" in their names, and which are very borderline significant. These are:
    - Catoctin Mountain Park
    - Fort Washington Park
    - Greenbelt Park
    - Piscataway Park
    - Prince William Forest Park
    - Rock Creek Park
    This list also doesn't include Wolf Trap Farm Park, which recently received the designation of "National Park for the Performing Arts", even though it seems to simply be the summer outdoor music venue for the city of Washington, not much different than similar such venues all around the country. Of those seven, the best case for National Park status that you could probably make out of this list would be for Catoctin Mountain Park (which includes the lands surrounding the Presidential Retreat at Camp David), but the others seem very lacking in "Naitonal" significance.

    The other interesting category would be those sites that are primarily recreational sites, centered around dam-based reservoirs. These sites include:
    - Amistad NRA
    - Bighorn Canyon NRA
    - Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
    - Curecanti NRA
    - Glen Canyon NRA
    - Lake Mead NRA
    - Lake Merdeith NRA
    - Missouri National Recreational River
    This list doesn't include a couple others like Gauley River NRA, Lake Chelan NRA, and Ross Lake NRA that are administered as part of other nearby Parks. Nevertheless, all of the above are certainly anamolous bits of the National Park System, since their resources are in fact the results of man-made dams. With that being said, many of them, including Bighorn Canyon, Curecanti, Glen Canyon, and Lake Mead, all have spectacular scenery, and Amistad actually protects an important paleo-art site. So, as Kurt's article suggested, even Units that seem somewhat questionable are often not completely without merit.


  • About The National Parks Traveler   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Kurt and Jeremy! Nice job on the website. Making a cool looking site like this is hard. I love your color scheme and graphics. Peace, and happy travels.

  • Mount Vernon, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Proposed To Become World Heritage Sites   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I know that the National Park Service will argue that it doesn't want to take on sites that are already being adequately preserved by other entities, but it seems particularly discongruous that the Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site is in fact an Illinois State Park. I personaly believe that the National Park System is greater than the sum of its parts, and if a site in public hands is significant enough to be a World Heritage Site, then I think that it should properly be entrusted to the care of the National Park Service. The other US World Heritage Sites that are not part of the Naitonal Park System are the Pueblo de Taos in New Mexico, and Monticello and the University of Virginia in Virginia.


  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I'm not yet convinced that the Centennial Initiative is going to do the job that the park system needs done. For starters, Congress has yet to pass legislation to authorize the initiative. Too, the extra $100 million that President Bush authorized for the NPS budget is a drop in the proverbial bucket in terms of what the parks need, and there's no assurance that the next administration will follow through on that appropriation.

    You're right that there's no need for a commission to delve into the Park Service's funding woes. Those are well-known.

    But I do think that "broader scope" that you referenced merits such a body. So much has changed since 1916. The NPS, I think, tries to adjust to those changes by updating its Management Policies, but as the last round of updates indicated those can be a political football.

    Private property rights definitely are a tricky issue that need to be addressed, as does the political nature of the current system. As I've mentioned before, I think having the NPS director politically appointed does a disservice to the park system, as you run the risk of every four years being led (pulled?) in a different direction. Better to have a non-partisan director with a term of six years who can take more of a holistic approach to managing the parks.

    Of course, even if such a commission were formed and given such charges as outlined by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, who's to say its recommendations still wouldn't gather dust?

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    NRA propaganda? Because the country is so "stressed" at the moment? Right, I'm sure people are thinking"Oh, I sure hope I'm not adding to the stressful situation present in the country when I use this handgun to defend myself against this robber/attempted rapist/physical assailant/rabid animal." If you're being attacked, the stress level in the country has just jumped anyway, because YOU'RE the one being attacked, and therefore STRESSED! Personally, I'd rather the bad guy be the one "stressed" from a gunshot wound, rather than myself from a knife in the heart or seeing a loved one killed in front of my eyes. But because the NPS has made their domain a place to "unload and unpack...leaving the heavy metal at home," guess who sees a bunch of easy pickings in a remote area, far from help?

    In those places (indeed, in many places), you cannot count on police, park rangers, or even Good Samaritans. In those cases, YOU...are...IT!

  • Entrance Fee Repeal Legislation Would Have Little Impact on National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Sens. Baucus and Crapo miss the point - Americans do not already pay to use their public lands through their taxes. While taxes do pay for the protection of public lands, these taxes do not cover usage. A person visiting public lands imposes additional costs on the land, such as wear and tear on the facilities, and the time of Rangers, etc. It is only right that someone who visits public lands 10 times in a year should pay a little more to cover these costs than someone who only visits once.


  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Is a new Commission really needed in light of the Centennial Initiative? Moreover, if the only goal of the Commission would be to make the case that the National Park Service needs more funding, I doubt that it would represent good bang for the buck. You could probably paper-over the city of Washington with Commission Reports that identify the need for more spending on national priorities. On the other hand, the quote you site from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees suggests a far broader scope, that could tackle really tricky issues like how to handle issues like "viewshed", air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution, migratory animals, and development for visitor's services around a National Park System that includes over 390 different areas? How do we reconcile the private property rights of National Park neighbors, and the all the other needs of National Parks that stop at National Park boundaries?

  • Congress Authorized Expansion of Petrified Forest National Park, But Forgot to Fund It   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Sabattis, good to hear from you again. NPT has missed your voice.

    My point, and obviously it failed to clearly make it from my brain to the page, is that Congress loves to designate NPS units, but fails to follow through by adequately funding them. In the past I have questioned the propriety of some proposed park units (Paterson Falls comes to mind), but today's intent was to focus on the failure to properly fund NPS units.

  • Congress Authorized Expansion of Petrified Forest National Park, But Forgot to Fund It   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I think that you fell one step short of making your point here. A priori, there is nothing wrong with Congress debating the creation of new National Parks will not fully-funding previous-authorized expansions of existing National Parks. After all, the resources in the proposed National Parks may be just-as or even-more threatened than the resources adjoining the existing National Parks. I think that your point, which you hint at, is that you consider this list of proposed National Parks (and to be fair, National Heritage Areas - which are much different animals) to represents resources that are in far less urgent need of protection that these resources adjoining Petrified Forest National Park.

    With that being said, it is a little unfair to take a dig at the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in this context. The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee has the power to propose bills to *authorize* Parks, but does not have the power to propose bills to *appropriate funds* for Parks. That responsibility falls to the Senate Appropriations Committee...


  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

    From the Plaintiffs "Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Defendant-Intervenors (the “Motion”)."

    The following is provided to illustrate how DOW, AS, and SELC are misrepresenting certain stated facts in their injunction. It is similar to misquoting or taking verses in the bible out of context.

    This is how the present their introductory first fact:

    "Congress created Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 1937, declaring that it be “permanently preserved as a primitive wilderness” and that “no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible [] with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna of the physiographic conditions now prevailing in the area.” 16 U.S.C. § 459a-2.

    The above said fact was extracted in part and does not represent the true fact as written by Congress.

    Here is what Congress actually states in 459a-2, "Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area.

    The truth of the matter is that the areas DOW, AS, and SELC want to close are especially adaptable for recreational use, particularly to all the items listed by Congress and it is worth noting that ORV use is considered a recreational activity of similar nature.

    The point of the matter is that once you start looking at the real facts, it is clear that DOW, AS, and SELC are misleading.

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    A long term solution would be to restore the Hetch Hetchy valley by removing the dam. This would probably take 50+ years to accomplish, but at least there'd be another valley to visit once it's complete.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Two words: Invasive Species.

  • FY2008 Budget Provides Seasonal Increases At Glacier National Park, But Hamstrings Other Operations   6 years 3 weeks ago

    No fear, ReBecca, help is on the way in the form of the new superintendent, Chas Cartwright, former superintendent of Shenandoah, and prior to that Dinosaur National Monument's superintendent. And yes, it was Chas's brainchild in 2002 to eliminate the paleontology staff at DNM; I imagine he must be delighted that his efforts have finally come to fruition. I would also imagine that if he could save money at Glacier by getting rid of the glaciers, he would do so.

  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    One can only hope that the "green" movement can be enlisted to protect the parks. Their voice and political clout is increasing, if saving the parks can be considered a green initiative, maybe that will turn the tide.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    A reservations system works well for Denali National Park. The only entry into the park is by reserved seats on the bus, which must be made well in advance. And they aren't exactly cheap either. But it protects Denali from being overrun with vehicles and people.

    Reservations are required for spaces on the boats to to Channel Islands National Park.

    Boat tours are required to see Kenai Fjords National Park (and they are really expensive).

    So a reservations system isn't impossible. I don't see block reservations being sold on E-Bay anymore than they are for the buses in Denali or for hotel reservations in Yosemite. You put down a credit card and make a reservation. The NPS couldn't require a reservation to enter via the Tioga Pass road, that's a state route and one of the only passes over the Sierra Nevada. But reservations to enter Yosemite Valley would be a workable solution.

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Good! The less people the better I say!, It is less likely to interfere with Nature at it's best with Less People!


  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Pardon me Kurt, I meant "conscience" not conscious. Sometimes anger gets in the way with words regarding the Bush & Cheney administration. Sorry!

  • Big Cypress National Preserve: Is More ORV Access In Bear Island Unit Wise?   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I have a few things to say one is that i know many OVRer and 98% of them care more about a trail then most vistor because that is there backyard i have seen it from south florida to the northwest. I have lived all over the US and they are in every state and are great people and most adhear to the treadlightly plan. I have seen so called vistor come to the everglade and dump more trash in two to four hours then most off-roader do in a weekend. The other is that in the above writting MR.Matthew Schwartz say " Superintendent Gustin is out of line and is violating a previous park service decision. She should fulfill her duties as steward of an irreplaceable piece of public land and change course immediately. But it was her decision to close said lands and isn't her job to work with all the poeple in the area and its her decision to reopen the the trails. This is something i don't get when the National Park Service shut down an area of land they are doing a great job and has your surrport but when they do something that you think is wrong like reopening land they are in "violation" but thats what my tax dollar are for to pay her to make that decision. He also says there are only 2000 permit holders but this is from lack of knowing the trails are there. I know many people in south florida that would get said permit and use land and its trails. Another thing is that alot of those 30 miles of "trails" are gravel or dirt road something else he leave out. I know because not only have i lived in south florida along time but it is also where i was born, i have been there many time my self riding a bike or walking and i belive that ORVer sould also be welcome.

    Thank you

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    This is an excellent ruling! We need to understand that " such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations" means just what it says. The present NPS leadership seems to be placing visitors ahead of the resource. That's short sighted and damaging to the resource. Again, the courts got it right on this one!

  • World War II Sites in the National Park System   6 years 3 weeks ago

    There are a lot of war monuments and memorials that are not in the US Park system. I have been to the two Pacific arena national cemetaries that include memeorials. One is in Honolulu the other is in Manila. Both are very inspiring and a tremendous tribute to the men and women who are buried there.
    Here is the url to the American Battle Monument Commision; It includes information for other wars as well.
    Best regards

  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Yes we do need a commission to keep our National Parks a priority in the minds of any and all who hold the power to give or take away funding. However, have we seen anything in the current roll of potential leaders of our country who have any interest at all in changing anything within our park system??? Do you really believe anyone who says they will make changes? Didn't our current administration make hollow promises for change? How do we change the general attitude of all those who don't seem to care about what happens to our Parks? How do we refocus the NPS mission and get it back on track? How does the health of our parks compete with the likes of funding for war, funding for oil research, funding for a green movement, funding for education, funding for cancer research, etc., etc. How do we make our National Parks a priority, indeed how do we even get parks on the list of "things to do" in our country anymore? People have to start caring about the future, have to start paying attention to what's ahead for us, have to start rebuilding and erasing past mistakes that have been ignored and are accumulating and making our park system weak. Maybe this new green movement will help bring attention back to our park system through the lenses of our climate and air concerns. We need this commission to give us our voices back, yes?

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Nicely said Jim. It is amazing to me that it is so incredibly difficult for some people to understand such a simple concept. Please continue voicing your opinion on this issue. You have a very good way with words.

  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    With the Bush administration running out the clock as are do nothing president, expect the worse from the NPS. The next administration will have a monumental task in cleaning up the Bush & Cheney environmental mess with the Park Service. Such a travesty of a administration without a conscious!

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Raising the fees for the most admired parks will exclude that part of the people, that has the most limited options anyway. Limit the number of admissions by reserved tickets will lead to a secondary market of tickets with very much the same result. If the NPS wants to have even the most crowded parks open for all, they need to divert part of the visitors to secondary areas. In Yosemite that would mean to reduce the capacity of the valley and compensate by creating options elsewhere in the park.

    At least returning visitors must be diverted out of the valley, as I doubt it will be possible to tell first time visitors not to go to Half Dome, El Capitan, the Merced meadows and of course the waterfalls.

    The Wawona area can take more visitors. The Sequoias of Maripose Grove and Chilnualna Fall should be put in the foreground in marketing the park. The visitor capacity there should be expanded. Maybe that is possible with the Hetch Hetchy area too. The upper Tuolumne Meadows probably are ecologically too fragile to allow for mass tourism, but the White Wolf/Yosemity Creek/Porcupine Flat region might be another possible part of the park, where visitors could be diverted to.

    To make this viable and relieve the valley, I believe, fast and reliable mass transport from those more remote areas into the valley is necessary. Have busses with good on board information systems go there.

  • Whatever Became of the Decommissioned National Parks?   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Who the heck is "Claire Burtons"? If you mean Clara Barton and somehow think that her life and story aren't worthy of a central place from which to tell it, you are sadly mistaken. Now Glen Echo Park -- that's certainly a big question mark...