Recent comments

  • National Park System Quiz 13: Mountains   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Finally, I get to rest on my laurels - 9 of 10 (but missed both bonuses). I was about to enroll in GEOG 370 after the last several quizzes.

  • At Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Things are Not Always as They Seem   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Are you kidding?

    Misuse of firearms is dangerous.

    The purpose of a firearm is not to kill everything in sight.

    The AK-47 is not inherently evil.

    All weapons were originally in the hands of warriors. When civilization was settled, and nomads became farmers, not everyone needed a weapon.

    Now, in modern times, if you, or anyone else for that matter, decides who gets to and who doesn't get to carry a weapon, firearm or edged weapon alike, you are stricly a fascist.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I believe the idea that National Park units were "something special" was tied directly to the public's perception centered around those first units, which included Yosemite and Yellowstone, which at the time of their designation were located in areas of the country that were traversed by few save the hearty; those who explored the "wild" country on vacation, and the mystique that grew out of the photographs, paintings, writings and the "lore of the old West" did indeed make these places "special". As government officials dipped their hands into the process, mostly revolving around an effort to bring pork to the local constituents, the whole process began a steady but undeniable downward spiral, diluting the meaning associated with the term "National Park" and the system as a whole, until every piddly nook and cranny qualified in someone's eyes as a "preserve" of some manner or other. Funding issues aside, now virtually every conservation group, be they historical, environmental, or whatever manner you care to mention lays claim to some portion of the country in the context of "significant", and while many of those claims are justifiable, no one has had the "stones" to confront the issue and draw the line as to what is and isn't "significant" or “special”, to the point where now virtually any tract of land qualifies in one way, shape or form. Shorelines, beaches, farmland, forest, barrier island, tundra, volcano, riverway, you name it; if someone's political purse can benefit from the designation, it'll find its way onto agenda eventually.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Lepanto - Well, seeing as John Reynolds and I have both been in senior management of the NPS and have been involved in the writing of bills and negotiation of designations with Congressional staff, I would have to counter that we are right in our assertion that the names are not as studiously determined as you may imagine. Your perspective that the public is less aware of the governing agency of the park is right - and that is exactly my point. We should WANT them to understand who the governing agency is and when a park is part of the National Park System. That is how we will gain support and funding for the NPS. We cannot depend upon locals doing the work for nearby parks. Americans must care about parks they have never seen and may never visit if we are to maintain the integrity of a national system. Coke stopped making Tab soda because no one associated it with Coke. They were not getting the benefit of the Coke name or the massive advertising dollars spent on Coke. Diet Coke solved the problem. The NPS should be thought of as the same. Get people to understand national park means any site in the National Park System and they will see their collective value.

    How did we ever get the idea that national "park" was something special anyway? There was no hesitation in naming Hot Springs a national park and it predates almost all the big natural areas that came later. Nor was they hesitation in naming Mesa Verde a national park and it is primarily a cultural area. It seems this notion that the title "park" is somehow something special to be horded and handed out only to certain worthy areas is a rather new concept - and not one that can be easily defended without having to allow the "exceptions" such as Mesa Verde, Hot Spring, Cuyahoga Valley, and Congaree. The exceptions render the defense of the "park" title unsustainable.

    Next year, Ken Burns series on national parks will be on PBS. It will cover only 53 "national parks." That will be unfortunate because it will continue to feed public misperceptions and will not encourage visitation, preservation, or protection of the other 338 units.

  • Man Bitten at Saguaro National Park by Gila Monster   5 years 51 weeks ago

    My Mom was one of the park volunteers. The bitten gentleman was taken to her house. She called 911 for the ambulance. The man indeed was not "all quite there", but then again he had already been bitten and was severely dehydrated. Mental illness or not, how foolish to fling any creature around your neck like that.

    Who should REALLY be getting the attention here is the NICE guy who stopped to assist this "homeless-looking" man on the side of the road. In our society today, I would venture to say most of us would drive-on by: myself included. Kudos to this nice guy who stopped, you might have saved this man's life!!! May we all be willing to take such a risk.

  • Rookie Firefighter from Olympic National Park Killed by Falling Tree in California   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I think your headline would be more powerful if it had one less word. Andrew Palmer was a firefighter, not a "rookie." Identifying him as a rookie highlights his inexperience and makes his loss seem understandable or even expected. Fire crews do have a dangerous job; they deserve our respect in addition to our thanks and support.

  • What's Going On With the Plumbing Of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    How cool! I was a teenager the last time I went to Hawaii and the volcano was not nearly as active as it is right now. What a great show for those lucky enough to be able to vacation there right now!

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   5 years 51 weeks ago

    It's ironic that H.R. 6184 was introduced by Michael Castle of Delaware, the only state without a national park.

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I believe that every state should have at least one National Park, and by the way anyone know of any areas in Delaware not yet a state or other type of federally park land that could become a great National Park

  • Lightning Strike Kills Park Visitor at a Sandy Hook Beach in Gateway National Recreation Area   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Over hear on Long Island it was pretty bad. Twelve people got struck by lighting. It down poored like their was no tomorrow. Lighting blasted every minute, it was scary if you were out. I got stuck at Ikea. Where were you during that stormy mess. [Ed: The three people struck by lightning on that beach at Sandy Hook are included in the regional 12-count.]

  • Mountain Bikers to Seek Access Through Listening Sessions   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I think that this is a great success story. I believe that it is long overdue for the Park Service to realize that hikers and equestrians are not the only valid trail users in the parks. What many of those who would like to lump cyclists in with ORV users do not realize is that there is a much clearer distinction between motorized and non-motorized recreation, rather than mechanized versus non-mechanized. It was stated in the above article that “most hard-core hikers are bikers, anyway,” yet I would flip this around to say that most mountain bikers are hikers and understand well the need to co-exist on the trails together. Those of us who like to ride on trails do so primarily to visit our favorite places and enjoy the scenery and natural elements that are found there, albeit via our bicycles.

  • Mountain Bikers to Seek Access Through Listening Sessions   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Thought you might like the follow-up on your "dodging bikes" comment at Big South Fork. I hate to disappoint you, but mountain biking was apparently a success:

    Shared-use Big South Fork trail deemed a success

    By Morgan Simmons (Contact)
    Sunday, October 7, 2007

    An experiment to permit mountain biking on a trail in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area previously designated as hiking-only has come to a close, and the result is good news for mountain bikers.

    For the past year, the National Park Service has used the Grand Gap Loop Trail to test a shared-use management strategy that allows mountain biking and hiking during the week, and only hiking on weekends.

    Big South Fork spokesman Steve Seven said the pilot project brought no negative comments from hikers, and that the only complaint from mountain bikers was that the trail was closed to them on weekends.

    “Based on the feedback we received from hikers and mountain bikers, we made the decision that the testing phase was over, and that the project was successful,” Seven said.

    The Grand Gap Loop Trail, in the heart of the 125,000-acre park, is seven miles long and features numerous dramatic overlooks into the main river gorge. The trail is single-track, and rated moderately difficult for mountain biking. Some sections of the Grand Gap Look trail skirt the edge of the bluff line, while others pass through boulder gardens and rock shelters carved out of sandstone.

    While “user-sharing” trails are not new — the Tsali Trail system along North Carolina’s Fontana Lake designates alternate days for mountain biking and horseback riding — this is the first time the Big South Fork has put the concept to the test.

    Now that Grand Gap Loop has passed the experimental phase, managers at Big South Fork can designate more trails as shared use between mountain bikers and hikers as directed in the park’s new general management plan.

    One candidate for inclusion into the time-share system is an extension off the Grand Gap Loop that leads to Station Camp, along the Big South Fork River. When this trail opens, the seven-mile Grand Gap would expand into a 16-mile loop, with 13 miles of that being single-track.

    The park’s general management plan also calls for portions of the John Muir Trail and the Rock Creek Trail to be opened to hiking and mountain biking on a time-share basis.

    Big South Fork is one of the few national park units that allow mountain biking. Congress authorized the park in 1974 to protect the Big South Fork and its tributaries and to provide a variety of recreation opportunities ranging from hunting and fishing to hiking and horseback riding.

    A key player in promoting mountain biking at Big South Fork is the Big South Fork Mountain Bike Club. In addition to building and maintaining mountain bike trails, the club patrols the park to aid and assist mountain bikers. The Big South Fork has about 400 miles of trail overall — 130 miles for hiking, and about 160 miles of multiple-use trails that allow horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking.

    In addition, the park has three dedicated mountain-biking trails (open to mountain bikers and hikers but not horseback riders) near the Bandy Creek Visitors Center. These are the Collier Ridge Trail, West Bandy Trail and the Duncan Hollow Loop.

    The park’s new management plan calls for the mountain-biking trail system to expand from eight to 24 miles, with the potential for more trails in the future.

    Joe Cross, president of the Big South Fork Mountain Bike Club, said he is not surprised that the Grand Gap Loop experimental project received such positive feedback from mountain bikers and hikers alike.

    “Most hard-core hikers are bikers, anyway,” Cross said.

    Morgan Simmons may be reached at 865-342-6321.

  • National Park Service Agrees, Conditionally, to Keep Yellowstone's Sylvan Pass Open For Snowmobiling   5 years 52 weeks ago

    Gettin' my sled ready!

  • Rookie Firefighter from Olympic National Park Killed by Falling Tree in California   5 years 52 weeks ago

    I went to Port Townsend High School with Andy, he was a really good kid. I pray for his family and for everyone close to him.

  • Rookie Firefighter from Olympic National Park Killed by Falling Tree in California   5 years 52 weeks ago

    A tragic loss - and a reminder that the men and women who serve on fire crews day after day all across the country have a dangerous and difficult job. They all deserve our thanks and support.

  • National Park Service Agrees, Conditionally, to Keep Yellowstone's Sylvan Pass Open For Snowmobiling   5 years 52 weeks ago

    Irregardless of the actual costs to keep this route open for winter travel, it's a shame that much or all of a badly needed budget increase for the park will be diverted to this one project.

    Here's a key to the bottom line: A 2008 Wyoming travel guide has a full page color ad on the back cover. The "headline" for the ad reads, "Cody has a nice city park. It's called Yellowstone."

    It's all well and good for local communities to receive economic benefits from the spending by visitors to nearby national parks, but when local economic benefits become the driving force for decisions on park operations, park resources and values often suffer.

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   5 years 52 weeks ago

    Bears are curious intelligent animals and I think as long as there are humans nearby who eat, litter and recreate there are going to be inevitable encounters that result in some sort of conflict. Unfortunately the bears are usually the losers when this occurs.

    A protected habitat is one where bears are isolated from contact. In a park with trails and lots of hikers this becomes increasingly problematic. I think most of Yellowstone is generally free of these types of encounters because of it's large size but, again, with millions of visitors annually it's just bound to happen.

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   5 years 52 weeks ago

    But what happens to the bears if they don't have the habitat protections of a national park?

    There are some parts of Yellowstone that are simply off-limits to humans so as not to interfere with grizzlies. Should more limits be instituted?

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   5 years 52 weeks ago

    When you create a national park and then invite millions of people to visit them these kinds of things are just bound to happen. That it doesn't occur way more frequently truly does amaze me.

    Littered campgrounds, folding chairs
    Feed Doritos to the bears
    Honey, quick, the polaroid

    ------From the Dead Kennedys song "Winnebago Warrior"

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   5 years 52 weeks ago

    Hello the bears were here first!!! if there is a problem with bears getting a taste for human food then the number of hikers per day should be cut down, and a limited amount,and type of food regulated per person.I do not see the sense in shooting a bear for the reason of finding food ,this is their territory.If anything else small game for them to eat should be bred and distributed in the part so it can breed and feed the bears.Whatever bear eat,im sure they like their kind of food better first off.

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   5 years 52 weeks ago

    An attractive feature of these special coin series is the large seigniorage (or profit) representing the difference between the face value of the coins and the costs of their mintage.Substantial gains result from public hoarding/collecting of coins placed in circulation as well as the sale of uncirculated proof and silver coins to collectors.

    The U.S. Mint estimates that the 50 States Quarters® Program will end up garnering about $3.7 billion more for the U.S Treasury than regular quarters would have.

    If the proposed "parks and sites" series is authorized, it is expected to produce a profit in excess of $750 million over ten years. Whatever the profit may be, it will accrue to the U.S. Treasury (general treasury), not to the national parks.

  • Electric Map Going Away at Gettysburg National Military Park   6 years 6 hours ago

    I am incredibly disappointed with the Park Service decision to discontinue the electric map presenation. In my opinion, although the program was "low tech" by today's standards. it gave the viewers a feel for the North-South-East-West of the battle field for a preliminary orientation before the actual driving (or walking tour). Add in the nostalgia factor and it was the perfect place to take visitors and students not only for the history of the battle but also for the history of the map itself.... Is there a way to petition the Park service to bring back this piece of history? I will not be taking any more visitors and friends and students to Gettysburg unless the map is reinstalled. Mourning the demise of another piece of history in its own right....The removal of the map speaks volumes about the inept management and lack of vision on the part of the Park Service. Please....
    Get rid of the food court and the gift shop and make room for the map!!!!! It will be worth the effort!

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   6 years 6 hours ago

    I am sure the Mint made a fortune on the state series. I hope revenues from the national parks series goes to the upkeep of the parks system.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 7 hours ago

    No. You spray your buddy by mistake in a panic attack and are lunch for the bear.

  • Is the National Park Service Obligated to Better Promote Proposed Change in Gun Regulations?   6 years 8 hours ago

    Kurt, excellent rebuttal and it helps reading between the lines better on thee issue.