Recent comments

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    NPT Readers and commenters--

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

    Rick Smith

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

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

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

  • Flooding Nurtures Life in Congaree National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

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

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

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

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

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

    v/r,
    Scott Lambright

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

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

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

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

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

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

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Oops. Though I can be a bit daring, I try to recognize when conflicting viewpoints are no longer 'discussing'; when the struggle is whether the glass is half-full, or half-empty. "Semantics", etc.

    My perusal of early literature of the Movement impressed me that a period ensued in which leaders who espoused a 'loose', 'accommodative', 'less-formal' form of protection for exceptional public assets, butted heads with other leaders who wanted a strict form of protection which made much-reduced use of compromise. I thought the former type represented a "Conservation" ethic, while the latter stood for a "Preservation" ethic.

    Since today the so-called Preservation ethos commands the high ground of talking-points and public-visibility, while the so-called Conservation camp plays a background (but significant) role, I assumed the 'victor' was secure in their position, and the 'contender' was content with theirs. If the meaning & use of the terms conserve & preserve is a troublesome matter, then I made an inadvertent error in framing the Democratic Party draft platform statement in those terms. If so, my apologies.

    As for National Parks, I agree without reservation that the main view is that they be "Preserved". I pick up little hint that 'Conservation' notions have meaningful traction with the public, viz Nat'l Parks.

    The 'draft platform', though, spends most of its time discussing non-Park lands. I brought up the conserve-preserve dichotomy, on the basis that most of the talk in the draft does not pertain to Parks, but to other public lands. While the main sentiment certainly appears to me to favor what I called 'preservation' for all the major, habitat-encompassing Parks, there does not appear to me to be a similarly dominant sentiment with respect to our diverse public lands.

    ... And I did not mean to wade into or create a dust-up over the use of 'conserve' or 'preserve' language in the case of non-Park lands, but rather thought the Democratic draft platform might be tipping their political hand with their choice of vocabulary. Whether 'open' lands should be 'conserved' or 'preserved' (or even what the 2 words 'really' mean) was not a chain that I meant to rattle.

    The Democratic Party draft platform appears to depict a relatively, um, 'conservative' political posture - and that was perhaps what I should have stuck with! ;-)

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Want to see something silly? Look at what the CONsent decree says has to happen on Sept 15;

    26. After September 15 all remaining unhatched turtle
    nests, once they reach their hatch window, shall be protected by
    full beach closures, in addition to the fencing methodology
    described in the Interim Strategy.

    At midnite Sept 14 the rules of common sense change. The full beach will be closed dune to surf. No human may pass this closure, not by walking or driving. Is it that the turtles want to go into the dunes to play with the gulls & raccoons? The turtles want to go for a swim, they don't want to use the high beach.

    The "fencing methodology" is a black 'silt' fence material. It is errected around the back side of the nests and a trench is dug to get this fence down into the sand. This traps overwashing seawater forcing it back onto the turtle nest on every wave. That is brilliant, normal overwash disipates over the beach except for here. Here the water is trapped around the nest to make sure these turtles have the hardest time possible hatching. What Aududon and Defenders have done here should be outlawed everywhere else for the sake of the critters they (sic) are said to protect. Yea, we can tell the best minds did not participate in designing this decree.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Anon,

    Quote:

    "It's actually the state of North Carolina and the FWS who oppose moving turtle nests and with good reason."

    I'm a bit puzzled by your response. Who gave permission for moving 11 of 17 nests in Pea Island NWR? I would guess the NPS, USFWS and the State of NC. Also, I think I covered the more important reasons for not moving and when it is possible to do so. Those reasons being incubation temp's relative to sex determination as well as the 9-hour "air bubble window". I'm sure there are a myriad more.

    If the USFWS and NC oppose the moving of nests, then who sanctioned these moves?

    Can you please expand on your "good reason" statement?

  • 4-Year-old Dies in Fall off South Rim of Grand Canyon   6 years 3 weeks ago

    i think its the parks fault. they need to make sure that the park is secure not just for children, but for everyone. the grand canyon is a huge cliff and if anyone lost their balance or anything else they need a fence or something to keep them from falling off. i mean they shouldnt even allow people to be that close to the edge.

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Ahh, Ted, you dare to embark on the debate over the meaning of "conserve" v. "preserve."

    When placed in the context of the national parks, as I'm sure you're well aware, that's a minefield. Perhaps more so when you look at the Organic Act and its reference to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired...(emphasis added.)

    If one is really to leave the parks unimpaired, shouldn't the mission be to "preserve" as opposed to "conserve"?

    That said, there are better minds than mine to kick that idea around.

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Good wrap-up, Kurt!

    The quote that you extract from the Democratic Party draft platform uses the word "conserve" for non-Park lands, and "protect" for the Parks. It then segues back to "conserve", in mentioning millions of new acres for hunting & fishing. Nowhere in this passage do we see "preserve", and that may be significant.

    Acknowledging, as you do, that this is a very general statement lacking specifics, had I read the same words credited to the GOP, I would have shrugged, nodded noncommittally, and given it passing marks as reflecting the interests of rural conservatives.

    "Conservation" and "Preservation" are the two key words in environmentalism. To conserve denotes multiple uses, and accepts imperfection. We "conserve" our Nat'l Forests, while logging them at the same time. We "conserve" elk-populations on public lands, while hunting them, thinning them if necessary, and feeding them if we think that enables multiple goals.

    To "preserve" is to reduce or eliminate multiple uses, and to focus on the single goal of unmodified natural habitat, "untouched". Preservation is the preferred policy-term for today's dominant environmentalist factions, especially for Park lands. Nonetheless, conservationist-environmentalists have made large contributions to our habitat-base, and wield meaningful political influence.

    This platform-statement reads like it was substantially guided by conservation-principles, rather than preservation-ideals.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   6 years 3 weeks ago

    It seems to me that the action by park service and courts simply effects the restoration of a historical site to its original condition.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Kirby et al,

    An important part of my reaction to concerns expressed here on the National Parks Traveler that we are at risk of 'Shock & Awe' development in the Parks, stems from my experience with Olympic Nat'l Park. I have only superficial & spotty exposure to other Parks.

    For those who know the Olympic situation, worries about amusement park-style commercial ventures in Parks across the nation are something of a head-scratcher. "Really?"

    There is no sign of the slightest tolerance for any rinky-dink Tiki bars on the Queets River, nor anything of the sort anywhere else. Exactly the opposite: the Park is unrelentingly hostile to all in-holders, with especially intense animus for businesses of any sort. The unit management have been pressuring all concessionaires throughout my lifetime (and before), and when they finally 'break' them, they close & raze the facilities.

    For those who do not know, the Olympic Park hosts one of the highest-profile hydroelectric dam and reservoir-lake removal projects in the United States (or world). The Elwah River (draining the north-central Olympic Peninsula & Park) contains two dams, one within the Park. Both totally block salmon-migration (A really stupid (I daresay, "criminal") oversight ... or, was it purposeful - to take the salmon away from the Elwah Tribe?).

    Both Elwah dams are slated for removal, quite soon. This will be a historic project that will receive high media coverage. Congressional funding has been approved.

    There is zero prospect of a dam on the Queets. Nor anywhere else in the Park (or even outside it). Dams are totally yesteryear - certainly in this part of the nation.

    New roads? Better paving? No sign of it. No, the Park closes roads, dawdles for long periods to fix serious damage, then leaves the roadway in a condition that clearly communicates, "Please realize, we maintain this road at all, only under protest. We hate it, and it will be gone at the first excuse we can find".

    That is the reality in Olympic Nat'l Park. In 50 years, the only new facilities I know about in the northern & western parts of the Park, have been a few new toll-shacks in the roads. I am not quite saturation-familiar with the eastern & southern Park - but I have never heard of anything supporting new business anywhere in Olympic. Any attempt to say, develop a little in-holder parcel on the Queets River into a cute tourist-trap would meet a raging, fire-breathing dragon in the Park bureaucracy. No fooling.

    The Park itself develop new tourist venues? That's a ha-ha.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

    It's actually the state of North Carolina and the FWS who oppose moving turtle nests and with good reason.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   6 years 3 weeks ago

    OK. Let's have a little fun. What spelling/grammatical errors have you spotted on signs in parks. I'll start. There's a sign at Pt. Dume, Malibu, California (a state beach) which talks about the sea life clinging to the rocks as 'muscles'. Now unless Arnold himself is down on the shore, the spelling should be 'mussels'. I'm always surprised that no one spell checks these things before money is spent building and installing the signs.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Have you read the horrible grammar that is on the brass plaque that was left on the coast of California by Sir Francis Drake? I don't think I would change that either. And, while I agree with Rangertoo, I've noticed that some governmental agency went through all the historical highway markers and put a metal tag over "the N-word" censoring the descriptions of Mark Twain's character in Huckleberry Finn. You can easily discern what used to be acceptable in the 50s and the poor attempt to correct it. Replace the whole sign! Oops, I think I just argued for parity.

  • Presidential Politics and the National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Thanks, Kurt! Check out the ads here: www.npca.org/media_center/psas or watch a video production of Sam Waterson's radio PSA created by a Law&Order fan.

    The polling results demonstrate that national parks are a key positioning issue for candidates; they help to define a candidate’s character in a positive way, reflecting a forward-looking agenda that embraces what is best about America. In the following memos posted on NPCA's website for public access, the pollsters offer counsel to candidates, campaigns and consultants as to why Democrats and Republicans should talk about the national parks, and how to do it effectively. Let's hope they do.

    Memo to Republican candidates, campaigns and consultants here: http://www.npca.org/legacy/polling/NPCA_Republican_Memo_0508.pdf

    Memo to Democratic candidates, campaigns and consultants here:
    http://www.npca.org/legacy/polling/NPCA_Democratic_Memo_0508.pdf

    Andrea Keller
    National Parks Conservation Association

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

    It is indeed a fact that in the CHNSRA, Post-CD, all nests within the 50-day window require full beach closures for a certain distance either side of the nest to ORV’s and in some cases pedestrians as well. The reason for this is: Tire tracks make it difficult for the hatchlings to reach the sea after hatching. That makes sense, but here’s the kicker: Beaches are closed from 10PM until 6AM. Turtles only hatch at night, so ORV’s are out of the picture during the hatching event. As to the tire track scenario, a two-man crew armed with garden rakes and 15 minutes of time could make the stretch of beach in front of any nest flat as a pancake, allowing for daytime passage of ORV’s. This could be accomplished by civilian stewards, the NPS rangers themselves, Audobon Society volunteers, or pro-access group volunteers. Pro-access folks have been symbolically lining up to volunteer for such a detail, and other services such as nest sitting as well. The question of such volunteerism has been suggested to Spt. Murray, but no final answer has come down. However, there is a very realistic fear that the SELC et al will not endorse it, as civilian volunteers are not “trained” in such areas. It’s pretty much an all-or-nothing mindset for those guys.

    There’s also the fact that on Pea Island NWR to the north, 11 of 17 turtle nests were moved to make way for an upcoming dredging/sand replenishment operation on the South side of Oregon Inlet. Nests are not moved in the CHNSRA, even in light of the Pea Island situation. Nests that are directly adjacent to access ramps could be moved to previously closed areas away from beach routes, allowing for more miles of access/through routes to adjacent ramps. Why can nests be moved in an area <30 miles distant, but not in the CHNSRA?

    The most prevalent explanations for not moving nests are that with all reptile eggs, incubation temperatures dictate sex of the hatchlings. Also, turtle eggs contain an air bubble within the egg that the embryo uses to breathe during gestation. The air bubble attaches itself to the top of the egg nine hours after hatching, so any moves of nests must be done within this 9-hour window.

    Every morning in the pre-dawn, NPS Rangers ride ATV’s down the coast in search of newly laid nests. Once found, they are temporarily roped off by the ranger on the ATV, thus protecting them from any intrusions. The decision as to the possibility of moving nests in dangerous areas could be made at this time. Dangerous areas could include high-traffic areas and areas known for high levels of predation.

    Nests are moved regularly in all areas of the world that the loggerhead chooses to nest in. There is one blatant exception: They are NOT being moved in certain parts of the CHNSRA, which are currently being controlled by Audobon Society mandates.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 3 weeks ago

    To me, this isn't about whether Frank can get to his solitude now, but whether his children or grandchildren will have that option. It's a fact that a majority (vast majority, in many cases) of the land in each park is wild, kidless, and free of anthropocentric sound. Take Ted's beloved Olympic. There are about 5 or 6 places, each the size of a soccer field or two, that everyone gathers. And Olympic is gigantic. It takes 7 or 8 hours to drive around the thing at 50 mph. Even tight little parks like Acadia provide shelter from the masses with a quick trip off-trail. Finding solitude now isn't the issue. The problem is the fact that wilderness is not entertaining, kid-safe, or user-friendly. Thus, the screaming masses that speak with their wallets in the cafeterias detest wilderness. The more wilderness that is converted to tourist-friendly land, the better off the parks will be - financially, if not morally. If I was in need of a thousand-dollar medicine to save my life and had not a penny to my name, you might find me holding up a convenience store. Likewise, I believe it's prudent to be wary of the behavior of the NPS should its financial woes worsen.

    Ted, I went hiking up the Queets valley a couple weeks ago. Neither words nor pictures can do justice to that place. But I'm also picturing the slope at the trailhead being a waterslide that shoots out the river. They'll be lifeguards there of course. ( I almost drowned fording it on the way out.) The gravel bar between the Sam's and Queets will have a little Tiki Bar. I can see the dollar signs now. We'll need to pave the road in, of course. The winter floods might be a problem. Perhaps a dam up near Service Falls. That canyon could hold a lot of water...

    That's the nightmare I have every time I hear the parks aren't entertaining enough.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Nice to see that Cape Hatteras is finally doing what it needs to to protect wildlife at the seashore. It's been overrun by 4x4s for far too long.