Recent comments

  • Park Police Arrest Men Who Brought a Loaded Submachine Gun to a Playground in National Capital Parks-East   6 years 4 days ago

    Hail to the NRA! Seig Heil!
    The Republicans gotta love this guy.
    Good job, America!

  • **** Viewing National Parks Traveler on Firefox 3.0****   6 years 4 days ago

    I'm viewing this with Firefox 3 and don't see a problem. Can you post a screenshot showing the difference?

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 4 days ago

    Frank, I'm sure you had a great time knocking around in those canyons, and that they're no worse off for it. Same goes for the idylls I've enjoyed in a host of remote locations while hiking, running, climbing and biking. The occasion for the original essay is the Economist speculating that American parks are in trouble. Managing them in a way that invites new users in and gets them involved with the parks is a necessity ... otherwise the parks become an expensive (and expendable) preserve for a tiny, aging and annoyingly intolerant sliver of society. If preservation were the only mission of the NPS then their mission would be simple: keep everybody out. The reality is that we're all "entertainment seekers" out there. All park visitors have impacts and all of them need to be managed. Besides. you and I both know that anyone who is willing to hike, bike or paddle more than a few miles from the parking lot is usually going to find a whole lot of solitude. If I have to go a few miles farther because the parks are filling up with enthusiastic supporters I'll consider it a blessing.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   6 years 4 days ago

    This reminds me of 1984 where they constantly had to rewrite history so everything is consistent. One of my favorite errors, and please no one correct it, occurs on a tombstone in a ghost town outside Zion: Here lies so-and-so, "Kilt by Indians".

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 4 days ago

    Mark: I, as a member of the Grant Grove Bushwhackers Club, condemn your view of off trail hiking. The best hiking is to be found off-trail, but you are right that it's not for everyone and putting on hiking boots does not automatically qualify you to be John Muir, although my hikers are far more suited to off trail than Muir's (pictured here).

    The pretentious attitude of too many park enthusiasts is that their activities are right and everyone else's are wrong

    Well, I don't know about value statements like "right" and "wrong". I do know that certain activities are "wrong" for me, however. For example, as a park ranger at Zion, I hiked all the front country trails. And hated them. Then I hiked the back country trails. I hated those, too. Finally, I got off trail. Why? Because on the Emerald Pools Trail, people hiked in high heels while talking on cell phones and blabbered incessantly about the most inane, inconsequential topics (I'm my pretentious opinion, of course.). In the Narrows, a group of Boyscouts were hooping and hollering at the top of their lungs while ripping chunks of moss off the water falls upstream from Orderville Canyon.

    So, I went off trail, exploring Zion's magnificent side canyons. I stayed off cryptobiotic soil and walked on slickrock or in washes, often without even leaving a footprint. I saw things very few have seen, and when I was there, I was the only one. Rock art, Anasazi ruins, big horn, waterfalls, fox, deep pools, cooled canyons. I am among the elite hikers who has seen these places without leaving a trace, so I will proudly wear the badge of an elitist.

    For me, this is what feels right in national parks: silence and respect. I hold no pretension that this is what's right for everyone. I do know that the way I choose to enjoy national parks doesn't interfere with anyone else's ability to enjoy a national park. Day tourists and entertainment seekers would do well to consider that.

    And we would do well not to increase any entertainment activities in parks that would interfere with other's ability to enjoy quiet contemplation or solitude.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   6 years 4 days ago

    So, any sinage left for posterity by the earliest explorers of the world, regardless of national origin, are now subject to grammatical "fixing" the self-annointed grammar police? I take it "Olde English" simply isn't an acceptable method of conveying one's ideas any longer. You go fellas......start correcting all those words ending with an extra "e" or that everso troubling vowel blend of "ou" (e.g. colour, favour) when a single "o" is sufficient. My, we've become SO self-righteous....being the "world's police" isn't good enough, we've determined we also have the right to correct language mishaps in a language that most citizens of this country can't speak or write properly anyway? Get a life, boys.

    Should've fined them another 5K for being pompous.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 4 days ago

    I'm surprised to read so many posts lauding the not-so-noble pursuit of hiking off trail! From the standpoint of recreation impact, a gaggle of tourists who stay on the trail will generally have fewer impacts on the natural world than an off-trail rambler in search of mystic connections with the landscape. The pretentious attitude of too many park enthusiasts is that their activities are right and everyone else's are wrong. Placing a birding guide in your daypack does not make you a field biologist, and donning a pair of leather hiking boots does not make you John Muir. Encouraging a broader spectrum of recreation options in national parks won't destroy them, and might significantly improve support for them, so long as the activities are well managed. Of course, some folks will always feel that they are exempt from bothersome restrictions like avoiding off-trail travel ... after all they're pursuing something noble, while the great unwashed are merely getting in the way.

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 4 days ago

    If it's national park wilderness you're looking for, Congaree has a special, exceedingly rare brand of it. It's one of those places where you feel as though you're immersed deep in a jungle, tucked away beneath the towering loblolly and baldcypress canopy, ensconsed in a world absolutely alive with birdsong and near Tolkienesque forested wonderment, seemingly days away from the nearest sign of urban civilization. The reality is, of course, Columbia isn't far away and highways border or come very close to the park.

    I've spent many hours wandering the trails of Congaree, sometimes as a refuge from the stress of finals while attending the College of Charleston. I first visited Congaree back in 2000 before they built the Harry Hampton Visitor Center and the park still had "swamp" in its name. The road into the park was gravel and the visitor center was little more than a cabin that doubled as a ranger station and bookstore, making the odd sense of remoteness all the more pronounced. Today, the visitor center is large, the road is paved and "swamp" has rightly been eliminated from the name, but the park is no less special.

    The best part: When I last visited in early summer 2007, there were only three cars in the parking lot. I had the trails virtually to myself, with only the ferns, abundant birdlife, turtles, cypress knees and towering loblollies to keep me company. I can't wait for my next visit!

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 4 days ago

    Dear Mr. Kiernan,

    Who are the "we" which you make reference to that will be expecting the assistance of Washington politics in maintaining the NPS? Through what precedent are you anticipating an abrupt shift in position that will release the influx of capital required to return the park infrastructure to the state of adequacy, let alone render the necessary improvements that would encourage an increase in attendance by nationals of this country? Your optimism, while admirable, has no basis in logic or recent history; indeed, only rhetoric and "good intentions", or shall we more accurately say, the outright lies that are election year lip-service, have served the NPS in terms of support from our national fund-masters on The Hill. I cannot support your position that the new administration has the slightest notion of fulfilling the past promises of administrations gone by, and will all of a sudden discover a windfall of available funds that they deem "expendable" and might even stop for a moment and consider routing to the park service. In case you aren't very astute with how political processes function, when a new administration is sworn in, their primary concerns and the immediate focus shift to those chits that supporters are calling in as repayment for "a job well done". The graft system is alive and quite well in our national political scope, and does not deviate or discern along party lines. Your optimism is best saved for the lame-duck era; for the most poignant and recent example, reference Wild Bill Clinton and the Utah land-grab that was the creation (also called expansion by some) of Grand Escalante.

    I fully realize that most of the American public is so woefully out of touch with reality as to believe that the federal government is actually making progress in maintaining our public lands, but as we both know that position is folly. Americans have the misguided impression that any group with the term "national" affixed to it's title is indeed the sole responsibility of our political system (e.g., the National Guard, the National Transportation and Safety Board, the Washington Nationals.....ok, bad example) and thereby the public can safely assume that these organizations obtain proper levels of funding, quality management, and a higher level of "immediacy" in the political process in which to operate. If the truth of the process be known, Americans should have the opportunity to witness the first-hand disintegration of the park service system as is related to political pandering, or at times just ignoring the issue just long enough to have it become less than a hot-button issue, thereby sequestering thing from public view and opinion. In the public sector, such behaviors are reprehensible at best, and are the root of termination from positions at worst. Yet the people whom you are counting on for the redemption of our public land holdings are not only encouraged to partake in this spectacle, they lose standing in the process by not mastering the techniques. I somehow doubt whether your support and faith in the system are justified. Please don't assume that all citizenry of this nation are as easily duped into joining your mindset as you would like us to be.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 4 days ago

    You are correct this is "Sad stuff".
    You said " I live in California and we keep motorized vehicles off most of our beaches, Go read a book about sea turtles- we've just about wiped them out, and we do not know what the effect of that will be." So you dont allow vehicles on the beaches which are vastly different from our beaches here on the right coast. There really is no access to the beaches on Hatteras if you dont have an ORV or cottage rental on the beach.
    By not allowing vehicles on the beach out there have you seen the turtle population rebound?
    We seem to have an abundance of turtles here in the Chesapeake Bay. I see them almost everytime I go out on my boat 1-2 times a week. Im all for conservation of wildlife. The problem I have is people are willing to help but certain enviro org dont seem to want any help other than a donation!. Will money save or help with the turtle population if you have free volunteers working together? I dont think so. If it were really about the wildlife things would be done differently. I dont drive my ORV on Hatteras by choice but the crap that is being forced upon our so called free society is just that crap. The Interim Plan was a step in the right direction but without DOW and Audobon sueing how are they suppose to support theirselves. They need to make their payroll from somewhere and under the consent decree they did just that. Made their PAYROLL! You and I are paying their fees. Its all about the Money with them. You being from California and not knowing the geological layout of Hatteras yet commenting about ORV is tellng me alot about your views. Gay marriage is legal out there isn't it? You didnt hear me commenting on what happens in your state did you?

    Such short sightedness.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 4 days ago

    Anon Ex-CAHA employee,

    Thanks for pointing out the errors in my data. I’m certainly not an expert, but have become much more learned in these matters since April 30th of this year. As I've said before, the only benefit of the CD that I've truly seen so far is the knowledge that we have collectively gained about the species in question. Comments from on-the-ground folks like yourself help us all to learn more about this subject. Spirited debate such as this is also fruitful to all in that it is a great form of “Brainstorming”, where all ideas and opinions have merit.

    Perhaps my time quotes necessary for raking nests are understated. However, my comments were not directed at raking every single nest out there, for that would be a daunting and probably impossible task. Rather, I was referring to only the nests that are adjacent to ramps/blocking through access from ramp to another, or are in high predation areas. While I respect your time and observations as an NPS Biotech, I would still very much like to see this theory tested. I’m not exaggerating about civilians wanting to volunteer their help, either. I still like to see theories scientifically tested and proven to either pass or fail, and not discarded off-hand.

    Pursuant to the nests moved in PINWR versus CHNSRA, do I understand your comments to mean that PI is part of the DOA/USFS? I also comprehend that there are different protocols, procedures, etc. between the two bureaus. However, if we are talking simply about species conservation coupled with the plausibility of relocating turtle nests, ignoring which dept. of government that they report to, I still can’t see why it is done one place and not the other. EX: If a turtle nest in area A is moved for reason B, under gov’t. banner C, then I see no reason why a nest in area X cannot be moved for reason Y under banner Z. The hatchlings do not know the difference, and the risks are identical.

    Yes, I would like nothing more than to see a better survival ration than 1:3000. As a PADI certified Divemaster, I have been lucky enough to encounter these intriguing and beautiful creatures on many occasions while on wreck dives off the Hatteras coast. They are truly a marvel to see while swimming, as their massive bulk is not a detriment to their movements in the underwater environment. I certainly wish them nothing but the best chances for survival.

    However, I would pose this question to you: If moving only some of the nests and introducing the already proven technique of artificial incubation would produce better results than on-beach measures, would you give THAT a chance?

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 4 days ago

    Sea turtles are indead protected under the endangered species act. You can check out the status of each species here:
    Everyone is intitled to their opinion, but please, give the right facts. Pea Island is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, not the NPS or Cape Hatteras NS. For years, the number of nests moved in Pea Island has raised concerns but they are usually moved because of possible loss. In the seashore, trained staff are allowed to move nests when the same conditions exist. Under previous superintendents, some nests were moved after pressure was brought to bear from ORV access groups because the nest location would cause a full beach closure.
    Putting up the filter fence, which blocks light from houses, beach fires, and ORVs, framing the nest, expanding the enclosure all takes several hours. Volunteers are not the answer all the time. Cape Hatteras lost it's full time volunteer coordinator in the summer of 2006 and this position has not been replaced. At the time, the coordinator was based in the seashore and worked with the schools, community groups, and interested parties to encourage resource stewardship, help train volunteers, id projects, etc. Now, the volunteer program is managed by the chief of interpretation which is based 70 + miles away in Manteo and there is no full time coordinator. Do you really think the Chief of Interpretation really has time to put into a volunteer program? I wouldn't blame the superintendent for not wanting community volunteers--there is no one to train and oversee them.

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 4 days ago

    Sure sounds like fire management is going to be given even more money if the Democrats win the White House: "we will . . . provid[e] the federal agencies with resources to reduce the threat of wildland fires . . . and ensure that national resources are in place to respond to catastrophic wildland fires."

    The Los Angeles Times published a story last month claiming that air tanker drops in wildfires are just for show and that their use "can be a needless and expensive exercise to appease politicians".

    Increased use of aircraft is helping to drive up the cost of fighting wildfires. The Forest Service spent $296 million on aerial firefighting last year, compared with $171 million in 2004. Aviation costs amount to about one-fifth of the agency's fire-suppression spending.

    That's a huge jump. How much higher of a jump can we expect next year? Of course, lobbyists are involved:

    Aviation contractors, including many smaller companies, look after their interests in Washington through Helicopter Assn. International. The trade group has reported spending $856,000 lobbying Congress over the last 10 years on a variety of issues, including funding for wildland firefighting.

    The "change" promised by the Democratic party seems skin deep at best. Americans need to end the cult of the presidency and realize that the presidency was not intended to be an office of monarchical or messianic powers:

    The chief executive of the United States is no longer a mere constitutional officer charged with faithful execution of the laws. He is a soul nourisher, a hope giver, a living American talisman against hurricanes, terrorism, economic downturns, and spiritual malaise. He—or she—is the one who answers the phone at 3 a.m. to keep our children safe from harm. The modern president is America’s shrink, a social worker, our very own national talk show host. He’s also the Supreme Warlord of the Earth.

    Whomever we elect as president, it will be business as usual in Washington. Lobbyists, such as aviation contractors, will set the agenda. The president will not "save" our national parks, so we ought to stop looking to that office for help. If we want to protect our parks, we ought to start looking for answers outside the political system.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 4 days ago

    Sad stuff. I live in California and we keep motorized vehicles off most of our beaches, even proposing opening beaches up to vehicles would cause a riot. The internal combustion engine is dying, but it will take a generation for those die hards to let go. Go read a book about sea turtles- we've just about wiped them out, and we do not know what the effect of that will be. Such short sightedness. In CA fishermen and people who care about the ocean now for the most part work together on these issues. I sure hope that makes it's way east.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 4 days ago

    Just want to agree with what FHTS had to say about buisness being off this year.My family started coming to the OBX about 25 years ago.We fell in in love with Hatteras the first day there.We averaged two to four trip a year up until this year.We work hard all year to be able to do this.With the closures this year affecting most all of the areas we fish that changed.My family is now three familys.Of the three familys only one trip this year.We will be in Hatteras the 1st week of october.This trip was booked in oct of last year before the concent decree.My choice here is go or loose by money.No refunds for beach closures.We are one family.How many others who came this year will not be back next because of the closures.Many that come to the CHNS this year had no idea what was happening.I have all the respest in the world for our beaches and the wildlife that is there.But enough is enough.We can land on the moon .Fly around in space.But we can't figure out how to drive around a turtle nest without doing harm to the eggs.You've got to kidding.I feel for all of the buisness owners on the OBX.Next year will be worse if the management our beaches is not returned to NPS and access is returned.Thanks for listing. CLM

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 5 days ago

    NPT Readers and commenters--

    I was born in 1938. Whatever one's politics are, I never thought I would live long enough to see a black nominated by one of the major parties to be its candidate for the Presidency. It's one measure of how far we have come in race relations in this country. The campaign itself will be another measure. It remains to be seen whether it will be forward progress or not.

    Rick Smith

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 5 days ago

    Yeah, you were within shouting distance as you came down 127. You're just teasing me now. I really want to see Congaree in flood, or at least damp. We were there in April of last year and it was pretty dry. We had to portage a few spots on Cedar Creek that I imagine are passable in higher water.

    Those Michigan traffic jams are a state treasure. We're thinking about making construction zone state parks.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 5 days ago

    Kirby, while returning from northern Michigan last Saturday I cruised down M127 and hung a left on I-96 at Lansing to head over to US 23 South (where I participated in a 70-minute traffic delay just north of Ann Arbor). By my reckoning, I must have passed within a few miles of your house. Heck, if I had known you wanted to visit CONG, I could have given you a ride practically to the front gate.

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 5 days ago

    Stop it, Bob! You're making me want to look for plane tickets to Columbia. My wife will wonder where I went when she gets home from school.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 days ago

    It's a fact the the turtles are nesting in large numbers on the whole east coast. It's also a fact that they are not endangered or threatened. So why the massive closures?
    CHNS rangers kill so called predators of plovers, such as fox, racoons, feral cats and nutria yet go to EXTREME MEASURES for the turtles. Nest to dune closures, even if the nest is far from the dune. They also put up a black corridor to the water to guide them which is fine and I feel it is enough protection with a small roped off area. Closures to the dune line are unnecessary. It just seems to me that it's one more excuse to keep people off the beach.
    As a resident of the area, I have seen businesses down this year and I fear it will get worse next year. I'm sure the economy plays a factor but the beach closures definately have contributed.
    People come here yearly for our beaches, many of the most beautiful are accessible only by orv unless you can walk a couple of miles. Even walking is also out of the question with the closures.
    Enough is enough. The park belongs to the prople and we can co-exhist but there are those who want humans out.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 days ago

    And the reason for full beach 24/7 nest-to-dune for pedestrians is what?

    And the closure during the day for ORVs when the nests are enclosed by a barrier is what.

    I would love to see the data to verify the 3/3000 statistic. Can you point me how and by whom this number was arrived? Or is this truthiness?

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 days ago

    As a former official NPS employee that no longer works in CAHA some of your facts are wrong. There are criteria for moving turtle nests in CAHA and it does happen. I myself moved one with a record 168 eggs of which a more significant portion did not hatch than usual. The primary reason for moving it was to allow greater access for ORVs to South Pt. on Ocracoke, and to prevent the complete closure of this area at the Day 50 closure expansion. Another major criteria for moving a nest is if it IS right next to a ramp, and blocking access.

    Further, it is completely unfeasible to rake turtle closures every day. Over most of CAHA there are only 1 or 2 people on duty for each island every day in the Resources Department. ATVs do not pull drag fences well over sand. A 150 foot buffer required for turtle nests from nest to hard sand takes at least 1 hour to rake by one person. Multiply that by an average of 30 nests per district and you have one person spending 30 hours just raking tires tracks out of the sand. Not to mention the average 30 minutes it takes to remove all the blown sand from the filter fencing used to block out headlights at nights around every turtle nest after day 50. Generally there are 5-10 nests with filter fencing. On average as a biotech I spent 2-5 hours per day just digging back the sand that nature put there. There is no way current resources (paid or volunteer) can cope with removing the effects of ORV tracks.

    And Pea Island is not under the jurisdiction of the NPS at all. It's a completely different agency who's mandate is different from the legislation establishing the NPS. The main mandate for the NPS system is to preserve as is for future generations. Other agencies within the federal system like the Forest Service under the Dept. of Agriculture are mandated as multi-use and have more relaxed rules and protocols about what can and cannot be done to the environment within their areas. The NPS is the strictes precisely so that there will be natural areas in the future.

    Of the 3000 eggs laid every year on average on Ocracoke, only 3 of those babies are expected to grow to adulthood to reproduce. Don't you think giving those three a chance is worth it?

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 days ago

    Posted by
    On August 27th, 2008
    At midnite Sept 14 the rules of common sense change. The full beach will be closed dune to surf. No human may pass this closure, not by walking or driving. Is it that the turtles want to go into the dunes to play with the gulls & raccoons?

    Not sure, could be........but if I were a betting man...I would bet that it has something to do with getting Night Driving Permits starting on the 15th and ensuring that ORV's stay off the beach. And yes, contrary to Mr. Wenks testimony to the Seanate Subcommittee, this is "Precedent" setting new environmental rule, as well as the excessive buffer distances mandated, and they WILL effect the Fall fishing season. All of these new "Precedent" setting new environmental rules were made outside of the NEPA process without and public input (contrary to all press releases you read) and no consideration on the context and intensity of the effects which could have "Significant" effect on the quality of the human environment required by 40 CFR 1508.27. I believe these are "Significant" affects on the human environment, never saw this listred on the Federal register, also against NEPA policy. Wonder why not??? If I am not mistaken.....the buffer distances put in the consent decree are USGS Protocols developed for CHNSRA, basically opinions by their technitions, and to this date, have not date listed on the publications, nor have been peer reviewed per their process so they can be considered "Best Available Science"......

    I guess I could go on and on....however, this is making me ill and anxious, so I believe I will end here. Have a great day

    Scott Lambright

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 days ago

    The reason for the full beach closures after Sept 15 is because the night-time driving prohibition is lifted. Headlights behind the nests will cause the emerging hatchlings to travel toward that light.

    Shut off the electricity to the islands every night and they wouldn't need that black fencing, which is used to block theORV, village and lighthouse light which disorients the emerging hatchlings.

    Your comments reveal nothing more than willfull ignorance. You have computer access, you should already know this as the information is but a keystroke away.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 days ago

    1. Only nests which reach 50 days after Sept 15 require a full-beach closure, even if they are more than 30 m from the dunes - because night-time driving begins with permits on Sept 15. (all nests behind which an ORV corridor cannot be established also require a full-beach closure).
    2. Sea turtle hatchlings can and do emerge in the daytime. (they hatch up to three days before they emerge)
    3. Because a sea turtle's sex is determined by the temperature at which it incubates the park is prohibited by the governing entity (NCWRC) from moving nests just because they are in ORV areas. PINWR's case is different as its beaches are highly erosion prone and nest loss is high. CAHA is permitted to move nests in high erosion areas, or nests laid below or too close to the high-tide line.
    4. In 2004 civilian volunteers were used to rake out tracks in front of sea turtle nests in an attempt to open the beach for a fishing tournament. They did not live up to the agreement.

    And yeah RDT folks, I am anonymous as I prefer to be able to get out of my driveway without having to sweep up nails with a magnet, as others have had to do. I prefer to eat or shop without getting harassed. I prefer not to see my picture and address posted at up at the Post Office, as has been done by those seeking to incite violence against others. I prefer not to worry about being shot or my house burned down just because I have a differing opinion.