Recent comments

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 2 days ago

    I have to agree with rmackie -- the national parks need to have systems in place that allow "maximum capacity" cutoff points. As a park visitor, I would rather have to plan a trip months in advance in order to secure parking and hiking permits (even for day-use) than get to the park and spend most of my day stuck in traffic, circling a parking lot, and seeing more people on the trail than I do on my morning commute in downtown Chicago.

    Yosemite is probably the best example of how this overcrowding makes what should be an awesome natural experience into an exercise in utter frustration. But all of the popular parks suffer from some version of it.

    Baxter State Park in Maine has a model that I believe could be a good starting point for instituting maximum visitation controls in the parks, and Glacier National Park and Denali National Park both already have reasonable systems in place for managing the numbers of hikers in any one area of the park using combinations of permits and parking restrictions. No one wants to tell people that they can't come, but I also believe that as park visitors, we'd all be much happier if we could come to the parks knowing that we'd have a relaxing and peaceful experience, even if it means some added inconvenience in the planning stage of the trip.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 2 days ago

    If I remember correctly, there are a number of notices in park brochures and signs along the roads that say something like, "Park in Designated Spaces Only."

    But of course, for some people, that only applies to others.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    If it's anything like what I see here at any random spot on the Klondike Highway most days, all it takes is for one car to spot a bear and pull over. Next thing you know there are half a dozen cars on either side of the road doing the camera thing. It doesn't have to be scenic, historic, or even to have wide shoulders - it just takes one wandering animal.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Clearly a no-win situation for both the staff and visitors when this kind of over-capacity use occurs. It sounds like extending the season for shuttle operations in future years could be part of the solution, if funding can be found to do so.

    In the meantime, information like this press release at least helps gives visitors fair notice of the situation. It's certainly true that having "no parking signs" lining park roadways is not desirable, but without them or other public information efforts, once one or two people decided to pull off to the side of the road and park anywhere they want, the sheep syndrome will kick in, and other drivers will assume it must be okay to do so.

    The worst case would be a situation where someone parks his vehicle in a way that blocks traffic and slows or logjams it completely. I've never met a ranger yet who enjoyed spending his or her time writing parking tickets, but sometimes that's the only way to convince people to follow the rules.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Needs Fixing In The National Parks?   4 weeks 3 days ago

    $74K on weapons and ammo seems a bit excessive. 203K on signs is beyond excessive and most we're "closure" related.
    They collected millions in permit fees but could not afford to pay for lifeguards, something IS wrong here.

  • Wind Cave National Park Sends Elk Herd To Neighboring Custer State Park   4 weeks 3 days ago

    I find it interesting that this movement of elk was allowed given the the high rate of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) present in this elk herd. I understand there was a project that monitored the presence of CWD in this herd and it was expected that study to give good information for further understanding of CWD. It is apparent the disease is not devastating to cervidae (deer,elk) as the department of agriculture and Department of natural resources and the fish and game departments are leading people to believe. Elk have been moved across the United States for purposes of repopulating other areas with elk that do not currently have viable herds. The only accepted method of determining whether an animal is CWD infected is to kill he animal and view a cross section of the brain stem. When CWD is alleged to have been found in a private cervidae herd the government bodies that regulate that herd require all animals to be killed and tested and to trace every animal that moved in and out of that herd. This elk herd that was heavily "infected" with CWD should have been exterminated by all standards that are allowed for those with private herds. This standard or regulation must be changed as our own state and federal governments demonstrate by their actions that CWD is not a devastating disease and that herds affected do not reduce from CWD and they in fact increase without treatment or interference of man.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    EC, you are correct, if an area is posted "No Parking", that is an obvious violation. The problem is that on many roadways, this is particularly true in Yosemite, there are many road shoulders, etc, where it appears it is OK to park, in another words it is not signed. It is also true how many places you can squeeze your vehicle off the pavement, thinking this is OK. Efforts to reduce this issue include moving boulders/barricades, etc closer to the pavement so vehicles cannot pull off, some of it of course is not to have the whole road signed on both sides. In effect, while traffic has increased, parking has been substantially reduced. It is a catch 22 situation as parking is reduced, more and more vehicles are allowed to enter. It puts everyone in a tough situation including the rangers that have to write the tickets because we are not dealing with the cause of the problem, to many vehicles at one time. There are some that say, well that is OK, I just want to drive, I will not stop, but the congestion on the roadways from this policy is a huge problem also. I am not sure I have any answers, but at some point, a visitor capacity maybe needed, be it shuttles or cars, that was the whole issue of the 15 years of litigation over the Yosemite Merced River Plan. It appears the issue is still unresolved in Yosemite as it is at Zion and other areas. It is interesting to note that when I was first employed in Yosemite NP in 1960, the only real peak days were the 3 summer holiday weekends. At that time people were allowed to pull off anywhere they could find, including all along both sides of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley. It was quite a scene. Being 18, I had no idea this was an issue, I thought it was just the way it is. It began to change in 1968.

    There are areas where visitor capacities have been set to deal with overcrowding in various forms. At Mammoth Cave NP, all the gateway communities have internet connections (including the local motels, campgrounds, etc.) with the Park. Signs tell you during the peak season if the cave walks are booked for the day, but if you stay at one of the out of park facilities they can make reservations for you. This done (and you may have to wait a day, which I did), you drive to the main VC and Cave entrance, no problem parking, and you are on a wonderful cave walk. This is a an excellent way to deal with the crowding issue, a win win for everyone. I do think that we have parks that have peak visitation periods that need to either build more facilities (and that is never ending) or have a system in place that permits only the entry allowed for the infrastructure in place. (let alone the ecological considerations). In fairness to Yosemite, their current Merced River Plan is an effort to do just that. Thank you Traveler for an interesting post.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Agree rick b. If it is illegal it should be ticketed. Perhaps there is a better solution, but until then illegal is illegal.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    I agree with Muddymoose, it is a difficult situation for the park, but if you are going to invite the people in it is assumed they will find a place to stop to take a picture, view wildlife, go to the bathroom, etc. I think expanding shuttles is a good idea and so is closing the entrance for short periods time. This is much better than asking a Ranger to write a ticket after the person has paid his fees (and costs of getting there), because he simply wants to stop to see the park (exactly what happened to me at Arches). It is a tough issue, Yosemite Valley has the same problem on peak summer days, as does Arches and many other areas. It is disconcerting on some peak summer days to see our visitors being frantically waived through intersections, no time to even say hello to them, just keep them moving. The public deserves better than that. My hat is off the Park Managers, but lets close the gate for awhile, an hour or so or more. The local community will benefit from the business, and once the person enters he will not be in a traffic jam with the threat of ticket being issued. It will also make life a lot easier for both the rangers, other employees and the visitors them selves. Perhaps someone can help, but I think the main road is a through highway, there maybe some justification for letting people without stopping for through traffic only, but congestion on the road may be an issue also. I do not know.

  • UPDATED: Case Of Hubbell Trading Post Indian Trader Heard By 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals   4 weeks 3 days ago

    RickB, I think your post is right on. It is not anyones intent to be vindictive or smear persons. I think, and I know it is easier said then done, to just fessup, things usually work out better than the stonewalling, etc. We are all human, we make mistakes. I was involved in a prescribed fire in a major park that got away from the fire management team. The Park Superintendent at that time was really a personable up front guy. He immediately went to the community groups affected by the incident, and simply stated, we made a mistake, we are here to admit that and make right what we can. What a difference his position made with everyone. He was an excellent example of good leadership.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Needs Fixing In The National Parks?   4 weeks 3 days ago

    According to www.usaspending.gov, Hatteras spent $203K on signs from FY09-FY13. The park spent $74K on weapons and ammo during that same time period. That spending represents 1% of the $27M that NPS contracted in goods and services for Hatteras.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    To the average visitor being ticketed for parking along roads is going to seem like BS when there's no shuttle service and nowhere legitimate to park. What are they supposed to do, drive around aimlessly? If parking is full the only real options seem to be to allow people to park wherever they can, or close the entrance.

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    I don't get it.

    Where is the bad press for issuing a ticket for a place posted no parking?

  • Zion National Park Might Ticket Illegal Parkers   4 weeks 3 days ago

    I certainly hope they expand the shuttle service. Seems like a much better idea than the potential damage and the bad press they'll get from ticketing folks.

  • UPDATED: Case Of Hubbell Trading Post Indian Trader Heard By 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals   4 weeks 3 days ago

    Sorry Kurt, I was just pointing out the association of one of those mentioned above as a defendant in this lawsuit to someone else at the center of another recent NPS scandal and how I believe it is indicative of a certain clannishness in the agency that leads to these problems --to put it in more diplomatic terms.

    I don't think there was much in the comment that hasn't already been stated in decisions rendered by federal courts.

    If you don't mind I will provide this link to a story from the NPS's own internal website that will allow the reader to connect the dots themselves should they choose.

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/parklandsupdate/Yt7THs5dYsY/j6kv3A0uohYJ

  • UPDATED: Case Of Hubbell Trading Post Indian Trader Heard By 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals   4 weeks 3 days ago

    We have removed a comment from this thread that went over the line and, in some circles, might be viewed as libelous. While the author of that comment might disagree, like it or not the Traveler is not the vehicle to malicously tar-and-feather individuals, whether they're public officials or not.

  • UPDATED: Case Of Hubbell Trading Post Indian Trader Heard By 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals   4 weeks 4 days ago

    I just don't understand why it is so hard for people and organizations to do a mea culpa. In my life it has been most therapeutic for me, and most healing for relationships, when I've looked at a situation and said, "Ya know, I screwed up. You were right. I'm sorry for what that did to you. How can we make this right?" But I don't find other people doing this all that often, let alone groups of people.

  • UPDATED: Case Of Hubbell Trading Post Indian Trader Heard By 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals   4 weeks 4 days ago

    My knowledge of this case rests basically on the book "The Case of the Indian Trader" by Paul Berkowitz. The book is an excellent read and the issues raised by Mr. Berkowitz, to my knowledge, have never been addressed by the NPS, malfeasance at its best. That said, I agree Lee, the NPS and WNPA actions were simply wrong. I hope that some obscure legal technicality does not hurt Mr. Malone's chances.

  • UPDATED: Case Of Hubbell Trading Post Indian Trader Heard By 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals   4 weeks 4 days ago

    Let's hope that, somehow, justice may finally prevail.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Needs Fixing In The National Parks?   4 weeks 4 days ago

    The real problem is the continued mismanagement. The NPS priorities are so screwed up that they have allowed this problem to grow out of control. From the top of the DOI and all way down we need a serious personnel purge.
    The priorities I have seen are LE and regulation related, purchases for new guns, tazers, cameras, and "no" signs. Maintenance, visitors and visitor services are last on the list.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Needs Fixing In The National Parks?   4 weeks 4 days ago

    Meanwhile, plenty of wasteful, flavor of the month, pet projects are fully funded. The Pro Ranger program first comes to mind as it attempts in their own words to 'create the rangers of the future' while people who are ready to hit the ground running get bypassed so they can expend scarce resources on a program to create a whole other set of candidates who fit the PC criteria.

    But hey, I guess creating some new wonderful "innovative" program looks a lot better on a resume than just making sure the basics, like maintaining trails, are taken care of.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Seeking Input On Proposal To Open Short Trail To Mountain Bikes   4 weeks 4 days ago

    Since mountain bikers are all capable of walking, and since mountain bikes are very destructive of parks and wildlife, bikes should be restricted to paved roads.

    Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb10.htm . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

    A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

    Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

    Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

    To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video: http://vimeo.com/48784297.

    In addition to all of this, it is extremely dangerous: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb_dangerous.htm .

    For more information: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtbfaq.htm .

  • Ramsay Cascades Trail At Great Smoky Mountains National Park Temporarily Closed   4 weeks 5 days ago

    Danny,
    There are many trails in the Smokies that are dangerous. Does that mean they should be closed? I mean, someone could fall off the jumpoff or Chimneys. Should Eagle Creek be permanently closed because of all the dangerous crossings? Instead of playing the role as continuing apologist for the NPS, how about considering the fact that many backcountry enthusiasts enjoy the thrill of navigating the objective hazards as they come without a government solution to fix the backcountry or make it off limits? I realize you are a guide in the Smokies but most of us do not need guiding and don't make our money off of having trails "groomed" for customers. Think of others when you make these types of non representative statements please.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Needs Fixing In The National Parks?   4 weeks 5 days ago

    As a form of cyclic maintenance, a thorough housecleaning of NPS management should be at the top of the list: http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/detail/IN10

  • Ice Caves At Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Coming To End Of Season   4 weeks 5 days ago

    I'd love to see those ice caves. Around here through the winter wherever a waterfall exists they turn into similar formations, which I always call 'my cathedrals', as to me they appear similar to the upright pipes of a grand organ.