Recent comments

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Just what I thought - a small group of friends with a personal agenda. And we’re supposed to believe that a summer intern has all the facts about what the scientists and management do and all the decisions they make and how they spend their time. It seems that a summer SCA intern is pretty much the lowest level employee in a park and certainly not privy to ALL THE FACTS. Sounds like you just don’t understand what work is going on around you.

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Eric,

    It was a government sponsored action~to eliminate wolves from the landscape~in order to entice ranchers to move their operations out here for a couple reasons. One; it isn't financially viable to operate ranching out here without a "cleansed" environment sans predators: Second; they wanted to have all the land "occupied" to deter the indigenous peoples from leaving their concentration camps... same story on the bison, they eat grass that is in short supply for the multitudes of cattle that they introduced to the region a little over a hundred years ago.

    The reason wolves matter is that they are a key component to a balanced ecosystem, without them things in nature can go awry with unpleasantries for we shameful humans.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Hey hats off to Tom for a very informative and well written comment! As someone who works in the field of paleontology, this is a very personal situation and we as scientist should all feel this way about such an awesome resource like Dinosaur. It sounds to me like Tom is speaking from experience and has facts to back him up! I am very concerned about the points that he has brought to the forefront, especially the very apparent shortcomings of park management and paleontology program manager. Consider me to be "On Board" and I will be writing the director as well as the Secretary of the Interior. Thanks for the great comment Tom!

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    First off I would like to correct a couple names that were misspelled in my earlier post – Mary Risser (Park Superintendent) and Ann Elder (Fossil Curator and Collections Manager) are now spelled correctly and my apologies for the miss-spelling. Secondly I would like to correct one error in a number that I had reported (as I am all about the facts and only the facts). Scott Madsen has secured funding for and directly supervised 11 (not the 12 reported earlier) paid (funded) interns through the SCA and GeoCorps since 2002. Mite I add that he has 2 more interns coming on board this spring (if they don’t gut the program before that time) to increase his total to 13 interns in 6 years. I would also like to add that Scott has had at least 5 volunteers work under him in the paleo program over the years and one of which (Dale Gray) has worked at DNM (within the paleo program) for 23 years and accumulated 10,750 hours of volunteer work time! Now onto the several comments about me having some sort of personal grudge or axe to grind? I had figured that there would be some comments that tried to discredit my factual information because unfortunately that is how our society works. However, that is part of the beauty of living in this great Nation of ours, in that we have something called freedom of speech and can all voice our opinions. That being said, I maintain the importance of people sticking to the stated facts, researching the issue, getting involved and posting educated and factual information. For those of you who have identified that clearly there is a very large problem at DNM and have chosen to get involved, I say great, stay involved and keep posting your educated remarks and information. For those of you that choose otherwise (that is to minimize or distort other people’s factual information or experience), I say you have the right to voice your opinion but maybe it would be better suited in another venue. Unproductive comments or accusations are part of the problem not the solution! For those of us who are taking a more educated and proactive look into this looming problem, it is very important to focus on and distribute facts and personal experiences. Case in point – the postings by PaleoPeace, Chance Finegan, Linda West, Dale Gray (23 yr. volunteer at DNM) and myself which are loaded with FACTUAL information and viable questions! Thanks to you Jen Stegmann for backing me as a fellow graduate student. Your remarks were appreciated and clearly came from an educated and intellectual standpoint. Also I would like to thank the editor for obviously noting the factual information and posting my important viewpoint. Please do your homework and stay involved! Thanks!

  • Interior Secretary Opens Door for New Gun Regulations in National Parks   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Bad people are gonna carry guns regardless of any foolish "rule" applied...let law-abiding citizens protect themselves, there won't always be a ranger around to save you. Same goes for crazies-infested college campuses.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    No quotas needed...the parks are doing fine with current visitation. No shuttles or buses either...(the rest of this sentence has been edited out.)

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Growing by 42 Acres   6 years 8 weeks ago

    It's good to see that the National Parks can actually expand and preserve some of our nation's history.
    I first visited the Wilson Creek battelfield in November of 1983 while on a business trip to Springfield. While visiting the country side, I came upon the battelfield site and drove into the park. At that time I was the only person in hte park so I was able to take my time and visit all of the interruptive sings along the roadway and peeked inside the Ray house. I also walked up a trial to where one of the cannon embattlements took place. I was in awe to learn how many men lost their lives in such a small battelfield. I also was able to envision the battles and sounds by reading the inturprative signs. It is hard to believe that such a battle could and did take place in this country. I relaize it may of been small when compared to others that occured, but still, i got chills when trying to visualize the incident.
    Cudos to the Battlefield Foundation and the National Park Service for the new accuisiton of land. Keep up the good work.

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I didn't point out GYC's support of delisting to suggest that I support it as well. I was sitting at a table yesterday in Bozeman with some buffalo supporters, and the conversation turned to wolf delisting. I won't share most of what we talked about, but I will say that we were talking about Montana's plan - the supposed best of the bunch - and how bad it really is. And, that looks relatively good compared to Wyoming where in parts of the state they will be classified as vermin (which is also how they classify coyotes).

    I pointed the article out simply for people's information. A GYC rep has written guest columns here on the snowmobile issue; it's just interesting to see how they've broken with other groups on wolves.

    And, yes, there is a remarkable lack of solidarity when it comes to buffalo. But, that's all I'll say about that for now.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    OK, lets see if I understand this whole mess. At one time Wolves were abundant in all of these areas. Then, they were almost killed off by hunters, ranchers etc... so the wolves were placed on the endangered list and were safe from some of the awful deaths Mack had described. Then someone decided there were not enough wolves in certain places (I agree with Fred, who and how do the wolves get counted?) so they were placed in these areas. Why? So humans could get a glimpse of them? Now it has gone back to too many and some folks want to basically kill or I mean cull the herd so to speak. Now it looks like the lives of a lot of wolves will suffer some pretty awful and inhumane deaths. What is wrong with this picture? After the dust settles, there will once again be too few wolves out there and the whole nasty process will go through the greusome cycle once again. OK, No I don't understand this whole mess!
    I'm not a tree hugger or hunter or a rancher or a government official, I'm just a lowley dog trainer who enjoys the great outdoors and probably will never understand this nonsense! Thanks for listening.

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Under the government's proposal, Ms. Willcox tells me, in most of Wyoming outside the Grand Teton-Yellowstone area wolves will encounter a "shoot on sight, free-fire zone."

    The above statement doesn't reveal the whole truth. Wyoming's management plan classifies wolves as both a trophy game species and a predator and the predator status has nothing to do with their biological role and everything to do with how they are slaughtered - er, ah, "managed."

    In the trophy game areas, just outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton, hunting licenses will be issued. In the rest of the state, the wolf may be killed by ANY MEANS, BY ANYBODY, AT ANY TIME, no license or firearm required.

    In the "good 'ole days," livestock producers have been known to trap or snare wolves, cut their leg tenons and let their dogs shred them alive.

    Wyoming's wolf management plan would not prohibit this method where wolves are classified as predators.

    Wolf pups, in their dens, could be doused with gasoline and burned alive.

    Somewhere, on the 'net, I saw a wolf with a shark hook through it's muzzle, hanging above the ground. Can you imagine the slow and painful death? I wish I'd saved the pic.

    Wyoming's wolf management plan would not prohibit the above methods where wolves are classified as predators.

    Get the picture? It’s going to be really nasty but you know what? There won’t be any witnesses. Well, there won’t be any human witnesses, anyway. The Creator will know.

    --

    Here’s GYC’s press release:

    http://www.greateryellowstone.org/press/article.php?article_id=1835

    Note GYC chair Todd Graham is a “ranching consultant” from Bozeman. What is a “ranching consultant” and why is he the chair of GYC? Someone told me Graham is or was the manager of the Sun ranch where a ranch hand ran repeatedly over a wolf with a ORV to kill it? Anyone know if he was the manager in charge?

    I think GYC’s decision to endorse the premature delisting is a huge mistake. I suspect many of their members are extremely disappointed.

    GYC is essentially endorsing Wyoming’s dual-status classification, in effect approving killing wolves outside the trophy game areas by any means whatsoever, by anybody, at any time.

    --

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    JTR has a point. Sounds like Tom is airing a personal grudge.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I don't see anything "refreshing" about personal invective. Tom obviously has an axe to grind.

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    the head of the gyc is a member of the ranching community, which has not been favorable at all to the wolf recovery for the most part, in addition, they have been virtually silent in the bison migrations, which requrie they be rounded up and slaughtered if they leave the park,,,,up to appx 300 have been sent to slaughter already this year, so dont think that because a group that has Yellowstones name in it is a wolf friendly group

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    First, this seems like such a political decision. I wonder if those in charge at DNM are only 'in it' for themselves... Hmmmm.....

    Second, I need to admit it, I found Tom's rant refreshing. I myself am a graduate student in natural resources, and while my first love(s) involve the mountains of Colorado and Alaska, I am thrilled to see a young person so passionate about his field, our resources and our parks. Even if the example given involves only one park.

    I am frequently dismayed by both the disconnect evident between many in my generation and our parks and wild lands. I deal with these issues too frequently in my own research.
    _____

    "To defrauded town toilers, parks in magazine articles are like pictures of bread to the hungry. I can write only hints to incite good wanderers to come to the feast.... A day in the mountains is worth a mountain of books." -- John Muir

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Jim,

    Might be time to take a deep breath, enjoy a nice juicy Montana rib eye, and then consider heading back to Washington. Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and YNP have been dealing with these issues long before you left the Washington "anarchy activist" scene to head the wilds of Montana. The BFC pushes enough of the emotionally based, fact minimizing media releases on the local and regional media.

    It's not 1872 when the Park was founded, and the bison will never again roam freely at their whim across the regional ecosystem. Railing at the "Bush administration" and all of government from the top down won't really address a solution - unless you're an Obama supporter - he's all for changing the way all life works in America (though I don't think he's clarified his bison position).

    Seriously, you'll last a lot longer in Bozeman (I'm from Bozeman too) if you work to find solutions (that indeed means an element of compromise will be in order - on all sides - of this and the wolf issue). Riding into town on a white horse and telling everybody who's been living, working, and recreating out here for years how the "cow ate the cabbage" (sorry, a bit of old Montana humor) won't make many friends, and most importantly won't fix the things that need fixing.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Owen--I should have introduced myself better. I'm that 76 year old retired math teacher, football & track coach. Korean War vet, who worked for the Forest Service & Park Service for about 25 years (summers). My wife Shirley & I packed up the family of 4 boys after each school year and headed out for Yellowstone Park (Old Faithful), where I was a commissioned Federal Law Enforcement officer, AKA Park Ranger (protective). We practically lived in the back country during those years, visiting just about every cabin in the Yellowstone backcountry with our boys. They learned to hike during all the years of their lives, and so did we. So, I suppose that we have hiked several hundred miles in the Yellowstone country. Also, having been a coach all those years, we know what it means to TRAIN! Thanks for your tips. If you can think of any others, we welcome them. Thanks for your fast response. Ken

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    This discussion on the paleontology program at Dinosaur National Monument has degraded into some kind of personal vendetta. This isn’t discussion - it’s pure vitriol. This kind of post reeks of a private agenda and should call into question his entire argument. The moderator of this site should weed this sort of stuff out.

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    One environmental group has actually come out in support of delisting.

    See the press release from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Allow me to shine some light on a different aspect of the "Gutting of the paleo program" at DNM. I have recently served as an SCA (Student Conservation Association) Intern at Dinosaur for 3 months during the summer of 2007. I filled a Paleontology research assistant internship position under the direct supervision of Scott Madsen (one of the individuals who is being "Axed") a 20+ yr. employee of the NPS. Scott's official title is the "Park Geologist" but more importantly he is the paleo lab manager, chief fossil preparator (who's talents are recognized nation wide), and field (excavation) coordinator at DNM and has been the absolute heartbeat of the paleo program for the last 20 years. As an undergraduate student I had the AMAZING opportunity to work with Scott Madsen as well as many other very well known paleontologists during my time at DNM. I came to DNM as a senior college student very interested in vertebrate paleontology but unsure weather I wanted to pursue furthering my education and or career in paleo. Within the first week that I worked with Scott, all my questions or doubts were answered and I knew whole heartedly that vert paleo was my calling. As an intern I learned more from Scott Madsen in 3 months than any semester throughout my college career. He is truly one of the most knowledgeable paleontologists that I have ever come in contact with. As a mentor, I have never had a better one and he taught me all I needed to know to get started in the field of vert paleo and more specifically skills as a fossil preparator. During the summer of 2006 (June), as the President of the Buffalo State College Geology Club, I lead a trip to points of geologic and paleontological interest throughout portions of Colorado and Utah. As our final stop we visited Dinosaur National Monument. It turned out that we made it there one month before the closure of the Quarry Visitor Center (Bone wall) and I will tell you that we were all completely amazed at the amazing display of fossils. For those of you who don’t know, DNM is THE ONLY site of its kind (and stature) in the WORLD! Yes that’s rite folks the ONLY place like it in the WORLD! Scientifically speaking it is a "meca" for paleontology and the work that has been done there has only scratched the surface! There are so many other discoveries to be made and sites to be worked at DNM and this should absolutely be made a priority by park management but "UNFORTUNETELY" it HAS NOT been included in DNM's "Core Operations" plan and science is suffering. During my first week at the park it was blatantly clear that the management at DNM has a "CANT DO" attitude as they repeatedly squashed any idea or plan that would give the public (visitors) what they wanted to see which are paleontologists in the field, making discoveries, before their very eyes! Mr. Madsen had initiated a plan to excavate a known micro site at the Rainbow Park are of DNM as well as another known locality just below the quarry visitor center. He had a plan in place as well as the resources to accomplish such a plan and Marry Risser (Park Superintendent), Wayne Prokopatz (Resource Manager) as well as Dan Chure (Park Paleontologist) denied permission and squashed the plan with NO formal reasoning as to why it couldn’t be done! Now I ask you (the public), what do you want to see when visiting Dinosaur National Monument? I propose the answer to be - dinosaur bones and paleontologists at work? Well, the quarry visitor center which contains the fossil wall is closed for good reason as the building is moving and self destructing at a rapid pace. So this leads to my next question - If you can’t see the fossil wall what do you want to see instead? I propose the answer to be - alternate exhibits and paleontologists at work in the field making new discoveries? Am I on to something here? Mr. Madsen's plans would have given thousands of visitors a first hand experience of witnessing fossil excavations in progress as well as operations and techniques associated with such work. Instead the visitors (which numbers continued to drop throughout the summer) got to take a 10 minute tour of a make shift visitors center containing very few (and poorly done in my opinion) exhibits, listen to a ranger talk about what they could have seen, take a guided walk on the fossil discovery trail (where they get to see mostly scraps of badly weathered bone) and then get a 30 minute bus tour of the park that they could have done in their own car. I will add that amazingly the Chief of Interpretation did allow us to give a live fossil preparation demonstration at the make shift visitor center. This demonstration was a HUGE success and we averaged 6-10 visitors watching at any given time with some crowds much greater in size. People were amazed, curious, very inquisitive and appreciative of the chance to see paleontologist at work. So now I ask, what are the priorities at DNM (an amazing paleontological and geological resource)? It appears to me that the priorities are everything but paleontology. So why is paleontology not a priority at a paleontology based park? What is the future of one of our National Treasures? How can you have a paleontology program with just one (hands-off) paleontologist who works out of his home and is rarely seen at the park at all? How can you have a collection of fossils with no collections manager (yes that’s rite Marry Risser is also eliminating the curator position held by Ann Elder who is another 20+ yr. veteran of the NPS)? Why are collections currently being stored in car garages (employee housing) and an old beat up semi trailer? Is this proper care for our National Treasures? I think not! How can their be a functioning paleo program without a fossil preparator/lab manager/field coordinator? The answer is that their flat out CAN NOT be a functioning paleo program with only one person at the helm. Dan Chure CAN NOT replace the need for the 50+ years of combined experience and knowledge that Scott Madsen and Ann Elder bring to their respective positions. Hiding behind a smoke screen of "outsourcing" and "partnerships" is not the answer! For those of us in the paleo field, we all know how expensive "outsourcing" can be. Paleo consultants come at a price of over $30.00 an hour in most cases. As far as partnerships go their has been NO formal partnership with ANY outside organizations other than BYU who has FAILED miserably at producing any viable work at DNM to date. As a student in science I was and still am very DISTURBED by this negative attitude and absolute failure to provide both the public and researchers access to this amazing resource. Since 2002 (the last attempt by upper management to decimate the paleo program) Scott Madsen has successfully supervised and mentored 12 interns from both the SCA and GeoCorps. At least 90% of these interns have gone on to further their education and or career in vertebrate paleontology. Who will take on these valuable interns when Mr. Madsen's position is cut? The answer is NOT the park paleontologist because since 2002 he has had only 1 intern! Let it be known that in the 13 weeks that I worked at DNM as a paleontologist research assistant, not ONCE did the park paleontologist meet with me or give me ANY formal training or information whatsoever! In fact, I only met him briefly in passing and it was one of only 3 times that I physically saw him out at the park during those 13 weeks! Marry Risser says that this is the man who will oversee the program? I feel that this is even a larger problem looming over the program! It's high time that other students, researcher's, community member's, politicians and the general public (tax payers) continue to get involved and speak out against this MOST IGNORANT decision!

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Who counts these wolves? Can their numbers be considered accurate? We should be demanding verification of the counts. To remove the wolf from the endangered list without accurate data would be tragic.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Objections to the notion of a "philosophical debating club" aside (I think philosophy has nothing to do with debate), the National Park Service has in fact changed management policies over the years based on a prevailing management ideology.

    As people, our only concern should be what is right and justified and whether the actions are. If NPS is incapable of making decisions based on anything rational, then it's imperative that people organize against their absurd behavior until it changes. If that seems unrealistic, then they've lost all meaningful hope. And, all this discussion really is just a debating match, just pissing in the wind. But, then, there are no winners; we all lose.

    I don't know whether the world can ever or should ever have 30 million bison roaming again - who can possibly answer that question - the question really is what we are justified in doing now. And, if NPS is incapable, is impotent to act (and they may well be, but on the particular issue of bison slaughter, they probably can do something), then it only makes the call stronger for people to take more radical action, such as that carried out and called for by Buffalo Field Campaign.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Cycling at Haleakala National Park Given "High Risk" Rating   6 years 8 weeks ago

    You can always do what my wife and I did several years ago. We went to Haleakala Bike Company. They took us to the top to see the sunrise, then took us to the entrance of the National Park. NPS does not allow bike shops to let a person ride from inside the Park without a guide. Right outside the entrance they unloaded bikes, had us test them, and sent us on our way. The great thing about doing this was that we got to go at our own pace. Others went faster or slower. We laughed when we saw the groups going by that had to stick together. To me, the ability to go at our pace was thrilling. We rode our bikes back to the bike shop, picked up our car and were on our way. Even if the NPS stops it inside the park, you still have this as an option.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Jim,

    "The question shouldn't be how many bison should there be but rather why we think we are right to control the number of bison within a certain number. And, more than control that number, why we think we are right to control the movements of these animals."

    The point you raise is philosophical and National Parks management is not a philosophical debating club. They manage the little piece of the North American eco system that is left. The romantic vision we hold of a buffalo herd of hundreds of thousands roaming an endless sea of grass is sadly gone.
    Lobbying for a National Park dedicated to a large buffalo herd would certainly be interesting. My dealings with National Parks people always has resluted in the ' two hat speach'. One hat agrees with the environmental side but the other defers to the states ecnonomic plan. In reality governments and their employees are interested in jobs and tax revenues (economic development). A roaming buffalo herd isn't an alternative for them. Maybe a rich Indian Tribe would want to combine the concept with a casino?

    Yeah..I know.

    Joe

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    First, re the exchange between Arizonaman and Kurt about "full-fledged national park" status, the nomenclature is indeed meaningless as far as policy, but it still has an effect. "National Park" has more cachet with the public and often translates to more visitation, which will sooner or later influence management.

    Alas, at Dinosaur we can not "be sure the surrounding communities would love to see the change in designation." The name change proposal back in the '80s withered in the face of local opposition, because the old guard of the Uinta Basin is dedicated to extractive industries. Their rallying cry was that park status would require Class I air quality designation and prevent further energy development (and God forbid that we should breathe clean air instead of building a multitude of coal-burning power plants with which to turn the entire Basin substrate into a giant oven for extraction of shale oil... but I digress).

    In any case, energy still ties into the present Dinosaur debacle. Had the quarry been closed 10 or 15 years ago, in a downturn of the boom-bust cycle, I think there would have been a lot more uproar about closing the Basin's number one visitor destination. Now, local motels, restaurants, campgrounds and just about everything else are packed with oil/gas employees. The impact of the quarry closure on tourism has hardly been noticed—except, one suspects, by NPS managers who are thinking, "Now's our chance to gut the paleo program, when nobody's looking."

  • Clinton, McCain, Obama Answer Questions on National Parks   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Well Kurt, much said by all three candidates, but we'll see how well-loved the National Parks are with the next administration. Anything is better then the present Bush & Cheney administration. Such a pathetic waste of eight years!