Recent comments

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 days ago

    I disagree that other types of agencies or management systems can't do better than the feds.

    • State Parks vs. National Parks. I have been to Oregon state parks and they seem pretty well managed. But Oregon is only one state with a pretty small acreage of parks -- most of which are managed for recreation, not wilderness. Many state parks are not well managed. And they are much more subject to local political pressure than national parks. For example, in 2006 the Maine legislature passed legislation to allow expanded motorized access and bridges in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. The Allagash is a National Wild and Scenic River, but it is owned and "managed" by the state of Maine -- one of only a handful of such rivers. The Maine legislature caved in to pressure from a few local anti-wilderness interests and the timber industry, against the wishes of the National Park Service, which only has a minimal role in managing the waterway. The threats by the state are so great that American Rivers listed the Allagash as one of America's Most Endangered Rivers for 2008. The Allagash would be much better protected under National Park Service management.

    If you investigate the NGOs that Kurt mentioned in his latest post, such as The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, or the World Wildlife Fund, you'll find highly respected and decentralized, depoliticized, and efficient organizations that have preserved far more acreage unimpaired than the NPS.

    • NGOs vs. National Parks. National Park Service critics seem to have an inordinate affection for The Nature Conservancy and other land trusts. I am all too well acquainted with the work of TNC, WWF, and other NGOs. WWF doesn't own land and is working in other countries to create new national parks. The same with Conservation International. Good. But while TNC has done some good work, it is certainly not free of political maneuvering. In Maine, TNC signed off on a horrible deal with Plum Creek "Timber" Company to purchase "working forest" conservation easements that are completely toothless. They would allow logging, roadbuilding, mining, cell towers, sludge spreading, a number of "camps," and other destructive activities. In return, TNC has helped Plum Creek greenwash its plans for the largest real-estate development in Maine history -- the size of the City of Portland -- on pristine forestlands near Moosehead Lake. Other conservation groups are outraged by this deal -- TNC never consulted with them before selling out. Moreover, they oppose large-scale wilderness protection in the Maine Woods. TNC also allows logging in Maine, the Adirondacks, and the California redwoods, grazing, and ORV use on a growing proportion of their lands. Most of their lands do not allow camping or other overnight use. Finally, TNC lands -- like all other private lands -- are not permanently protected. For example, TNC was going to acquire and convey the Gray (Diamond A) Ranch in New Mexico to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Instead, they caved in to local political pressure and [url= ]sold the ranch back to corporate ranching interests[/url] that continue to allow destructive commercial livestock grazing and only allow extremely limited public use. None of these things would happen under National Park Service management. In fact, TNC lands could all be sold or developed in the future. All it would take is a hostile takeover of the board, a change in bylaws, and a decision to sell off or develop "preserve" lands, to reverse all the decades of preservation. There is no public oversight or accountability.

    I'll concede that the magnitude of preservation threats to the USFS and BLM are greater than those threatening the NPS (particularly logging, mining, and grazing). But the current political system has created significant threats to NPS preservation, as evidenced by NPT's many "plight of the parks" posts.

    • NPS vs. Other Federal Lands. I have worked for more than 20 years on National Park System, national forest, BLM, and wilderness issues. I am well aware of the threats to all of these land management units. Again, I'm open to seeing evidence to the contrary. But aside from designated wilderness areas, everything I have seen indicates that the threats to National Park System lands pale in comparison to the threats to other public and private lands.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 days ago

    I'd also like to mention that both Florida and Tennessee run a tight ship when it comes to their state parks. I visit both often and am quite impressed with the sense of pride that their employees show towards each individual unit. Most of the rangers stay put and are generally from the local area where the park is located and this seems to add a certain personal touch that I often find lacking in the NPS where employees are encouraged to move around and not stay too long in any single park for very long.

    I have long advocated that Canaveral National Seashore would make a fine addition to the Florida state park system and you could go ahead and throw in De Soto (essentially a Bradenton city park) and Castillo de San Marcos as well. None of these areas could truly be said to be of national significance and would be better off with more localized control and staffed by community based employees.

    I like what they have done recently in St. George, Utah where the local Congressman from that district helped obtain funds to purchase a dinosaur track site that will be run by the county park system instead of the NPS, as originally proposed. County management of this area is less costly and certainly less bureaucratic and is a sound first step in finding better and more locally focused ways to run natural and historic sites around the country.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago

    I saw the article. And I think it's a valid concern, under the "keep quiet if you want to continue your upward movement in the NPS" genre.

    But I also believe rangers -- and perhaps you know having been one -- are told early on that it's against agency policy for them to speak out on any NPS-related issue, that that's the job of the public affairs staff. I know this was raised a coupla years ago on the Traveler during a Yellowstone snowmobile back-and-forth.

    That said, I think in any job today -- government, NGO, private corporation -- it's frowned upon to speak ill of your employer. That you might suffer some consequences for doing so goes without saying.

    Of course, J.T. Reynolds, Death Valley's long-time superintendent, often has spoken ill of some NPS decisions under the current administration. The NPCA honored him with an award a coupla years ago with hopes it would serve as a shield of some sort from retribution.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago

    Kurt, a recent AP article published prior to the controversial superintendents conference last month actually stated that many front line employees were against this money wasting conclave but were afraid to speak up out fear of retribution. I'll see if I can find it in the archives.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago

    Beamis, I think you don't hear active NPS rangers raising their voices not because they're frightened but rather because 1)They'd prefer to keep their jobs and any chance of upward movement and 2) I believe it's actually against the regs to do so.

    That said, it would be nice if some, under the cloak of anonymity, shared their thoughts on some of these issues.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 days ago


    One comment re the Oregon state park system, which you know way better than me. I had one encounter with Oregon's state parks oh, about six or seven years ago, long enough that I don't remember which one though I think it was inland of Sixes. I was astounded by the garbage and soiled TP that someone half-buried.

    That said, I also recall some state parks along 101 near Cape Blanco and Bandon that were downright gorgeous and well-kept.

    The bottom line, I think, is that you'll find some national parks that are wonderfully kept, and some that aren't so wonderful. Ditto with state parks. Ditto with corporate-run campgrounds.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago

    Barky----Ted's mention of the NRA was a reference to previous comments that he made concerning the bias that may or may not be present in a commission depending on who was sponsoring it.

    As for this commission bringing any real and meaningful change to a hidebound bureaucracy I can only point to the fact that the majority of current NPS employees are way too frightened to speak out about problems in their own agency because of a very well founded fear of retribution. Has anyone ever stopped to wonder why it is that only RETIRED employees have the courage to speak out?

    Again, I wish the commission well but really don't expect much more than some platitudinous final report that will soon take its place collecting dust right next to all of the other plans, reports and commissions that came before it.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 days ago

    Just one more post on this thread.

    "And they especially need to stop claiming that other types of land agencies or ownerships would do a better job of protecting these lands -- that's demonstrably false."

    I disagree that other types of agencies or management systems can't do better than the feds. I invite you to visit Oregon's state parks. If you investigate the Oregon state park system, you'll find it to be very decentralized and well funded. Additionally, you'll find hot showers in campgrounds along with highly maintained infrastructure which includes AFFORDABLE yurts and cabins and clean campgrounds. You'll also find soap in the campground bathrooms. You won't find any of these things at Mount Rainier National Park. A federal representative was pushing to move Silver Falls State Park, Oregon's largest park, to national park status. What would this accomplish? Oregon is doing a far better job than the feds.

    If you investigate the NGOs that Kurt mentioned in his latest post, such as The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, or the World Wildlife Fund, you'll find highly respected and decentralized, depoliticized, and efficient organizations that have preserved far more acreage unimpaired than the NPS.

    As for "politics", I'm speaking of the following definition: "exercising or seeking power in the governmental or public affairs of a state, municipality, etc." As long as public lands are funded by taxes doled out by politicians, interest groups (such as the NRA, ORVers, hikers, the hospitality industry, etc.) will lobby congress to gain favor, and representatives seem to capitulate. The Forest Service is a prime example, and you touched on this with cattle grazing and logging. Taxpayers are subsidizing both because interest groups lobby congress. If public lands were not under the jurisdiction of Congress and were insulated by public trusts boards composed of members from university faculty, conservation organizations, scientists, local businesses, then lobbyists' efforts would be nullified. I have a hard time believing that the Nature Conservancy or other organizations listed above, if it managed the BLM lands you mentioned, could be pressured to allow tarsand development on these lands. The federal government, however, seems highly capable of being influenced.

    I'll concede that the magnitude of preservation threats to the USFS and BLM are greater than those threatening the NPS (particularly logging, mining, and grazing). But the current political system has created significant threats to NPS preservation, as evidenced by NPT's many "plight of the parks" posts.

    If national parks are to remain under the directorate of the NPS, which seems likely, then we must understand the political system to which it's attached. Funding will wax or wane depending on the political administration in charge. Unless we pry loose the politicians' grasp on the NPS, it will continue to be lobbied by dozens of interest groups. Under a parasitic, transfer seeking economic and political system, the battle to preserve these lands will rage with no end in sight at the cost of billions and billions of dollars, and meanwhile the parks will suffer.

    over and out

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago


    Nah, the NRA isn't backing the new commission. The NPCA is.

    There's nothing wrong with the NPCA ... there's nothing wrong with the NRA - and there's everything wrong with both.

    Each sets itself up to speak for a slice of the American people ... each slice at the far opposite ends to the political spectrum from the other. And that's fine.

    The NPCA speaks for a green-left viewpoint, and the NRA speaks for a red-right viewpoint. Each of those is fine - until one of them presumes to speak for the whole spectrum of the nation, because neither of them do.

    There is nothing that says a green-left organization is appropriate to lead discussions about our Parks, and a red-right organization isn't. The Parks are held equally by all of us - Green, Red, Polka-Dotted and just plain Muddied-Looking. Environmentalists don't own the Parks.

    If the Catholic Church resumes to pontificate to Americans, a lot of them will just blow the Church off. If the NRA presumes to speak for our Parks, Greens will blow them off. If the NPCA presumes to do the speaking, most non-Greens will roll their eyes.

    The NPCA wants an environmentalist-driven viewpoint at the Commission, but non-environmentalists have just as good a claim on the Parks, and they each have one vote come ballot-time.

    What we need, obviously, is a commission that is not driven by the views from one far end of the political spectrum or the other, but strives to respect the politics of each individual voter.

    The NPCA is no more likely to fill that role than the NRA ... and to answer Kurt's question, no more likely to come up with lasting or substantive results than previous green-driven leadership moves.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago

    Ted, where did you get the idea the NRA is backing the commission? I couldn't find that documented anywhere, do you have a link to any evidence?

    Also, what is wrong with the NPCA?

    Regarding the commission itself, I'm convinced that creating commissions is a cheap way to convince Americans that our government actually cares about an issue without actually having to do anything. Looking at some of the names on the list, these sound like professional "commissionaires" who simply sit on these things to collect a paycheck. Looking at the organization the commission will present their report, it sounds like another tome destined for a dusty shelf.

    If our government and elected officials don't care about the parks (which seems to be the case), a commission isn't going to change that.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 days ago

    First of all, that picture of the crowd at Cape Point is testimony to the popularity of the greatest fishing spot on the coast. It's a big attraction, and only accessible by ORV for most people. It's several miles from the nearest paved road, and the sand is very soft and difficult to walk in. What you can't see is cut out of the picture. The vehicles are "corralled" into a small space due to "closures" and the 4 miles of beach to the north have very few vehicles on them. On the South side, the beach is completely closed to people, so that area is vacant as well. These guys try to "spin" reality by claiming only 12 miles are closed. In fact, the areas they close eliminate total access to the areas they claim are open, barring a helicopter. As you can see by both the photos shown, over wash is a major culprit to bird nesting, along with natural predators(which the NPS are trapping and killing). ORV's are not the problem, they help many American citizens enjoy the beauty, and the dedicated fishermen that frequent the beaches do more to police the trash that washes up on the shore than the NPS by a long shot. I'm afraid the Audubon and Defenders groups are just using this to market for more money. Using SELC to spin "half truths" and "fake science", is nothing but "Tabloid" money soliciting. That's just my opinion of course, but I've been enjoying the OBX for 45 years, and my Dad before me, and my children were enjoying it before our access rights were taken away.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 days ago

    It seems to me that a recurring theme in the use of public recreational space in general, and National parks and recreational areas specifically, includes a battle between people who want to use machines in their recreation and those who do not. Another recurring theme seems to be whether the effect of mechanized enjoyment of public space is considered in its totality, including its effects on natural resources and wildlife. At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, both these points are in play, the second in particular.

    In my view, public recreational space exists for the enjoyment of all. There should be no debate about this. For Cape Hatteras, the debate seems to center on whether the recreation of machine-based citizens collides with the purpose and mission of the Seashore – as a public resource for all, and as a natural resource and sanctuary and refuge for wildlife. ORV proponents at Cape Hatteras seem to discount that the national seashore and recreation area is for any and all who visit, not just for people who wish to drive on the beach – this includes sharing equally in the natural resource and its wildlife, and not unequally or involuntarily bearing any negative impact of ORV activity. More important, they forget – or are perhaps unaware – that the paramount mission of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is protecting wildlife and the natural resource, not serving people.

    The enabling legislation creating the National Seashore is very clear on why the CHNS exists is clear – that it is to be a primitive wilderness, and that no development or plan for the convenience of visitors be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physical structure prevailing. Given this mission and enabling legislation, it is very difficult for me to understand why efforts to protect the resource and its wildlife can be a point of objection. The law is the law.

    Putting aside whether ORV activity has overwhelmed the natural structure capacity of the Outer Banks – the photo of door-to-door ORVs at Oregon Inlet is absolute and unquestionable fact, and if there were a photo of ORVs at Cape Point at the tip of the Outer Banks on a busy day, there would be a second line of ORVs parked behind the first; the damage to dunes and beach structures on the Outer Banks because of irresponsible driving cannot be denied – the effect ORV activity on wildlife must be considered.

    It must be noted that the current situation with respect to ORV activity at Cape Hatteras and protection of wildlife is because the National Park Service has failed to develop an acceptable ORV management plan for CHNS as required by Executive Order and NPS regulations. Not because “eco-terrorists,” as they often are referred to in Outer Banks ORV circles, have hijacked a process, as the Outer Banks ORV community charges. A lawsuit brought by environmental and wildlife groups based on the NPS’s failure to develop an acceptable ORV plan led to a U.S. District Court Judge signing a consent decree which settled the suit, and which defines the regulations in place now. Provisions of the consent decree specifically protect wildlife that otherwise would be endangered by ORV activity. The law is the law. Worth noting is that the federal judge issuing the decree, rather than being a liberal activist judge legislating from the bench, was appointed by Ronald Regan, and at one point had been a Senate staff member of Jesse Helms.

    The consent decree process included public consultation and comment, and was agreed to by the organizations bringing the case and the National Park Service. And agreed to by the two North Carolina counties directly affected by the case, and representatives of a coalition of local ORV and fishing groups – the counties and the groups having participated in the case as interveners.

    I for one am very pleased that an objective approach toward protecting the Cape Hatteras resource is in place, based in law. Deciding what wildlife species or what natural resource is to be protected based on public pressure or which individuals’ or special interest groups’ purposes are served cannot be considered responsible – or fair to all – in any way.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 days ago

    If anyone doubts how highly politicized the NPS has become, check out this graph showing the establishment of NPS units by type and year. You'll find that far more NPS sites were created during election years (to curry favor in home districts in the hopes of reelection). And if you check out this graph, you'll see that non-"national park" and non-"national monument" (such as national recreation areas, national historic sites, etc.) consume over 60% of the NPS operating budget.

    I forgot to comment on these points:

    • Politics. Yes, the National Park Service is political and so is everything else. I'd like to hear which public agencies, corporations, or nonprofit organizations are not political. In any event, politics is not always a bad thing. In fact, I think the graph showing how new park designations follow congressional election cycles is a positive indicator. It does not at all prove the conclusion you seem to draw -- that the new parks created during these periods were unworthy. It is very difficult to pass new national park legislation, especially since the 1980s. History shows us that most National Park System units took many years to go from vision to reality. What I think is going on is that members of Congress know that national parks are popular. That makes them more willing to go along with park proposals when they know they are up for election. That's a good thing, not a bad thing!

    • Budget, Part II. Why is it a problem that non-"National Park" sites get 60% of the budget? Most of the heaviest-visited sites are not full National Parks. And many involve historic buildings and archaeological sites, which cost a lot to restore and maintain. So what's wrong with allocating adequate funds for them? I refuse to accept that we can't get the funding that is needed for the National Park System. A couple of days of the Iraq war would fund the whole agency for a year.

    I repeat, national park advocates need to stop being negative, obsessing on flaws in the parks, and trying to find ways to cut the National Park System. And they especially need to stop claiming that other types of land agencies or ownerships would do a better job of protecting these lands -- that's demonstrably false. This is the losing approach that has helped to perpetuate inadequate budgets and undermined efforts to add outstanding new areas to the system.

  • Saguaro National Park Officials Considering Use of Microchips To Slow Theft of Namesake Cactus   6 years 6 days ago

    This chip-technology is called RFID, Radio Frequency Identification.

    Because this new technology elicits privacy concerns and has a negative public relations image, the industry promoting it has shown a propensity for approaching potential users who have an attractive & positive profile, and who have some plausible application for RFID. The industry offers to assist in designing a way to solve some problem they have.

    The shortcoming with this activity is that on a number of occasions, the arrangement is not especially practical or workable. It puts RFID in the news in some commendable & sympathetic context, but is less than effective in solving the problem.

    A common misconception about RFID is that it can used to 'track' the chipped object, the way we might track a radio-collared animal as part of a wildlife study. That is not how it works. Instead, the chipped object must be scanned, at close range. At Wal-Mart and other large stores where valuable merchandise is chipped, scanner-coils are built into the store doorways (or invisibly into the floor). In other situations such as a veterinarian's office, subjects are examined with a hand-held wand-scanner.

    If plant nurseries that deal in the types of plants being poached from Parks are set up to use RFID routinely in their business (it can be used for inventory ... by scanning a plant a hand-held PDA might report the last time it was watered, fertilized or its price), then chip-implanting wild protected plants might reasonably lead to additional information about poaching activities.

    If nurseries do not use RFID this way, then it is a huge burden to expect them to suddenly begin doing so.

    If plant-poachers are selling fairly spectacular specimens directly to housing-developers for incorporation into new construction landscapes, then approaching the local builders' association (say in Tucson) to start scanning plants, as good as accuses them of buying hot plants on the black market. Similar illicit services might be offered directly to established home-owners.

    Any experienced plant-person can readily distinguish between a plant that came from the wild (and thus was likely poached) and one that was grown commercially. The problem isn't so much to identify wild plants, with say RFID - they are easily identified by eye - as it is to secure the cooperation of those who are in a position to intercept & halt the demand-chain ... and those parties are mainly nurseries, builders & home-owners.

    If any or all of those parties are surreptitiously encouraging/rewarding poaching, then we can chip Park-plants until they glow in the dark, and it won't solve the problem.

  • Visiting the Parks: Petroglyph National Monument   6 years 6 days ago

    Wikipedia has the original map in full size at - on the NPS web site there is only an edited version with lower contrast:

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 days ago

    S. please stop exadurating. Yes it is Oregon Inlet north side (Bodie Island Spit). The fact that it is an Inlet would mean there are currents and tides flowing back and forth to the sound. Tell us more about these drownings. Just by chance was the symbolic fence run down blocking retreat from an unusual high tide by just a couple of feet? Or, was it run down by civil disobedience? Could you also provide the dates and locations that "birdwatchers" organized and participated in a beach cleanup on the beaches of CHNSRA? Show us what fruit you have plucked with a FOIA search.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 days ago

    S.R., please stop exaggerating. An inlet is where the tide and current flow into and out-of the sound. Just when was a beach user drowned from swimming in the inlet, not in a "rip current"? The swimmers I have seen have been on the calmer sound side by the bridge. Please list the the what's, whens, who's of these many dog bites. Plus just by chance is the symbolic fence you refer to being run over, one that cut off retreat from an unusual high tide by a few feet? Or was it just run down by civil disobedience? I am also curious about just how many times, and at what locations inside of CHNSRA did an organized trash collection effort involve "birdwatchers"?

    Exaggerating has not gotten anybody anywhere in these times. Post up your FIOA info. Now tell us how bad it was at Oregon Inlet (Bodie Island Spit) this year 2008. If compared to the staggering figures from years past, they would have had to build a second story to the Inlet beach this year. Got any pictures to show how bad the ORVS were stacked up on the spit, this year, 2008?

  • Visiting the Parks: Petroglyph National Monument   6 years 6 days ago

    There is a nice NPS map of Petroglyph Nat'l Monument on the University of New Mexico website; go there to see a larger version. The page also mentions Native-related issues pertaining to the monument.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 6 days ago

    I'm observing more and more Cynicism, people who think with their subjective view is the right one makes me wonder if they think this planet and other lives on it are theirs to dictate. These parks are for all, not just the ones with the preconceived notion that what they think the parks are for. We need to quit trying to dictate what others should be doing. The land is for all of us to experience, not just what one or a group of people thinks their experience should be. The concept of Freedom is being pushed more and more out. This land is all of ours, not just one or a group of persons. Keeping an open mind isn't that tough, preconception of what will happen is prejudice. If we think that we are entitled to our individual right for peace and tranquility and the other doesn't have a right to ride a Segway. We have stepped out of our personal zone and trampled on another’s. We all have a right don't we? If someone thinks that the other one doesn't have a right to choose then we're moving towards a Communist country.

    Mark who wrote "it's a motorized vehicle. NO." Nice observation Mark, I see you see things in Black or White only. Such an open mind you haven't. Your analogy of no motorized vehicles on bike paths to keep speed down to keep it safe for others. Bikes travel faster than Segways, bikes can travel up to 30 MPH while Segways are limited to 12 MPH. Nice try...or was it? I usually insist that others do their own homework but, we all need a helping hand once in awhile.

    I challenge everyone to let go of the 'Controlling Attitude', this is what America is about. Give others a chance, many more are as much intelligent, responsible and respectful as fact the majority. I have a simple analogy myself; we all know we don't need the Speed limit signs, it's the few that ruin it for the rest. That's always going to be that way, laws and rules don't fix things.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 days ago

    National parks are far from pristine, and the NPS has played a major role in facilitating their degradation.

    I never said that national parks are perfect. But you're letting the perfect be the enemy of the very good. You have cited a few oddball situations as if they're the norm in national parks -- they're not. But they are the norm on other federal, state, and private lands.

    • Mining, Oil, and Gas. I'm sorry to hear that there are a few old mining operations, waste dumps, and junk yards in national park areas. They should be eliminated. But how much land do these cover? A few hundred acres? Major expanses of national forest and BLM lands are threatened by mining, oil and gas drilling, and oil shale and tar sands mining. Mining is a looming threat, even in highly sensitive ecosystems and roadless areas such as these. Oil and gas drilling is a huge threat on national forest lands in California, Pennsylvania, and across the country. BLM lands are even more threatened, such as those in Utah and Colorado. Then there are plans for vast oil shale and tar sands development on millions of acres of BLM lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. It's absurd to even begin to compare the tiny infractions on National Park System lands to the massive abuses on other public lands.

    • Roads. Of the 84 million acres of National Park System lands, almost all of it is roadless backcountry. About 40 percent of the National Wilderness Preservation System is in national park units. You think 8,500 miles of roads spread across 84 million acres is a lot???? The National Forest system has 380,000 miles of roads! And that's not including countless miles of ORV "trails" that crisscross the national forests. The BLM is even worse. For example, the agency is proposing the designation of 1,947 miles of roads for ORVs and conventional vehicles crammed into just 1.4 million acres in the Monticello Field Office area in southern Utah -- adjacent to roadless national park lands, by the way. That's 22% of the total National Park System road system! And this is typical of all BLM lands. So national forest and BLM lands have at least 100 times the road density of National Park System lands. It's a joke to even compare them.

    • Logging. When it comes to logging, there's no comparison between the National Forest System and National Park System. Yes, over the last 118 years Sequoia National Park has apparently cut a few sequoia trees (and that's not a good thing). Meanwhile, next door in Giant Sequoia National Monument, "protected" by the U.S. Forest Service, the agency has already done extensive logging and has been rebuked by the courts and members of Congress for planning additional illegal logging under the guise of "fire prevention." Conservationists are advocating transferring the National Monument from the Forest Service to the Park Service because they know that the Park Service offers the best protection available for this area.

    • Livestock Grazing. You didn't mention livestock grazing, but it is almost nonexistent on National Park System lands. However, it is endemic on national forest, BLM, and even many national wildlife refuge lands, and it is deeply subsidized by the public. Livestock grazing is tremendously destructive to native ecosystems, endangered species habitat, scenic values, and recreational uses. It is almost everywhere on western public lands -- except national parks. In fact, National Park System wilderness areas provide the strongest protection of any federal lands, because the do not allow grazing.

    • Natural Experience. I don't know where you have gone in national parks and national forests, but I have been in a lot of both across the country. As touched on above, the natural experiences on national forests, except in wilderness areas, are being destroyed by logging, drilling, mining, roadbuilding, and other abusive activities. There are a few areas in national parks like the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, Yosemite Valley, Cadillac Mountain, and Cades Cove in national parks. From the way national park advocates rail about these areas, one would think that they are typical. In reality, along with roads and other facilities, far less than 1% of National Park System lands are developed at all. At least 99 percent of National Park System lands are designated or de facto wilderness. There is no question that overall, the national parks are far more natural than national forests or BLM lands.

    • Budget. It's totally unrealistic to think that we can decommission some National Park System areas and still keep the money in the system. That would be the next step in the downward spiral. The anti-park forces want to totally get rid of the parks and privatize them. By talking about eliminating parks, you just offer them an opportunity to get their nose under the tent. And I don't agree with your premise that Golden Spike, Steamtown, or any other national park areas should be eliminated, even if it would free a few million dollars for other parks. I think E.O. Wilson addresses the futility of this grasping for crumbs approach well in the latest National Parks mag.

    • Bureaucracy. I'm sure that anyone who has worked inside the National Park Service has had negative experiences with the bureaucracy. I'm fully supportive of significant reform of the agency, which clearly has some significant problems. But I can see the results of National Park Service versus other public land management, and it is far superior. The facts speak for themselves. My point is that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. The idea that National Park System units even come close to being as threatened as other public and private lands is a dangerous myth that needs to be debunked.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 days ago

    The challenge facing a Commission underwritten by the National Rifle Association to study the future of our Parks would be that the NRA is known to bring a specific & strong bias to the table.

    The exact same issue arises in the case of the National Parks Conservation Association, backing a commission for the same purpose.

    Furthermore, the National Parks Conservation Association has shown no better ability to work beyond their preferred viewpoint than the National Rifle Association.

    Neither organization recognizes the validity of the full spectrum of the American public, and that limitation disqualifies each of them equally, in any project to define the future of a resource held in common by all citizens.

    Questions of the future of our National Parks belong before real representatives of the people: both the NRA and the NPCA aim to promote a specific viewpoint - and discount all others.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 days ago

    What country/state is CHNSS in ? The correct name is CHNSRA, and for those that are clueless the RA stand for RECREATION AREA,not reserve area. As far as the supposed endangered species there are none on CHNSRA. Both the plovers and turtles are threatened,not endangered. One of the reasons that these animals are in the threatened category ia that in numerous foreign countries they are table fare, some of the same foreign countries that we send taxpayer funded aid to. Maybe this gives some validity to the" tastes like chicken" adage. According to the Census Bureau by the year 2050 the US population will increase by almost 50% to 439 million, and if the wackos have their way the available beaches will decrease by the same 50%. If this happens the only beaches future generations will ever know will be the Ocean Cities,Virginia Beaches etc.
    Some people seem to believe that Promises such as "Free and Open Beach Access " are meant to be broken. The disabled have no right to enjoy the beach in direct violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act. The safety of the American public is of no concern, ie the Bonner bridge, lightning shelters for beach users, means of access for the disabled and eldery, the animals are so way more important. Why is the American public being punished for the failure of the NPS to do its job? Do the plovers really need 1000 meter buffer zones, do all turtle nests magically require full beach closures on Sept 15? Show us the science, you can't because it doesn't exist and we all know it.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 days ago

    Anonymous (not verified),

    There is no question that lots of cars drive out onto the Cape beaches. There is also no question that some are offended that this long-standing practice takes place. I accept those two things, at face value.

    The issue I have raised is that one of the photographs Kurt Repanshek used to illustrate this article shows plain evidence of having been altered in a manner that exaggerates the density of the cars on the beach.

    I have found the source of this image that Kurt uses here, on the Southern Environment Law Center website, labeled "©SELC". I see no opportunity to view a larger version of the picture.

    It is possible to create this alteration unintentionally. We can stipulate the dimensions of an image as it displays on the webpage, in code. Normally, though, we are careful to keep vertical & horizontal proportions the same, since a picture 'looks funny' if we change them. This picture 'looks funny' in a way the creates a stronger impact than the picture would have in its original proportions.

    It is unethical to modify an image - to use distortions of the facts - to increase the force of the message one hopes to convey. If Southern Environment Law Center is indulging in this practice, it would reflect adversely on them & their mission.

    I made a webpage to display the image in 3 widths: the width used in this article and on the SELC site, and at 2 wider widths. If you are not sure about the distortion-question, study these versions for a few seconds.

    Increasing the width of the image does not make the cars go away. There are still lots of cars there. It does make it clearer, though, that the image was substantially altered.

    It would be helpful to have access to a larger version of this image; preferably the original.

  • Visiting the Parks: Petroglyph National Monument   6 years 6 days ago

    Thanks for introducing me to Petroglyph National Monument. I didn't know about this one. El Morro National Monument near Grants, NM is another area of petroplyphs and historical graffiti that is fun to explore.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 1 week ago

    Having worked at Cape Hatteras NS as a ranger for many years I can identify the locations for readers in these two pictures. The top picture is Hatteras Island with Hatteras Village in the background. It was taken from South of Ramp 49 in an area that is open to ORV usage before it reaches a seasonal closed area in front of Frisco village during summer months. The amount of beach that is ORV accessible is relatively small when turning south from the ramp; most visitors prefer to go north towards Cape Point. During Saturday when most of the houses turn over the beach on Hatteras is empty which is probably when this picture was taken, or later in the fall as the beach may be this beautiful until late October or early November.
    The second picture is Oregon Inlet. Yes, it can be absolutely this packed every day during the summer and fall weekends. This picture is not doctored. It is crazy, it is scary, and I wouldn't go to Oregon Inlet if you paid me a ton of money. Yes, there is a symbolic fence to protect bird nests and turtle nests but people run it over. The current and tides rip through the inlet and people drown because this isn't a safe place to swim and yet people continue to flock to this insanity. At night people have fires as large as their cars, dogs run loose biting people and rangers, it's Mardis Gras moved north. And before anyone shouts me down check the public record--FOIA requests can be your friend.
    Now, many ORV users can be respectful. Many users--ORVers, walkers, birdwatchers support the seashore by volunteering and removing trash, presenting programs and helping in many ways. It's not just the ORV users that volunteer to clean the beach, it's a community effort.