Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    It's ironic that most of these comments are in favor of keeping snowmobiles out of YELL, yet most of the commentators on CAHA issues want motorized access. Perhaps many of the CAHA people aren't interested in YELL? Or is YELL somehow different than CAHA? If so, is it really our - or anyone's - prerogative to say that one park is more deserving of protection than another?

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Let's see if this one holds...we've been here before. Its time to give the park back to the native species as much as possible during the stressful times of winter (especially last year), and to allow those who visit the park in winter for the very reason of skiing within a pristine landscape with no mechanical noise--or as little as possible. This just goes to show how the NPS gets stuck between a rock and a hard place by trying to appease every single group out there who believes they have a right of access and a right to block access. Its time for the business's who rent sleds to step up and buy a coach or two and stop whining about their right to access. Respect the park, repsect the decision, respect the science used to make the decision, and move forward.

  • Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Nice article, Chance. Especially like this part:


    The Park Service should consider adapting the WebRangers program to work as an application for Facebook or Myspace, the two most popular social networking sites. Youth would then be able to proclaim their NPS pride right on their profile, and learn something in the process.

    The 'net is the only true social circle right now, other clubs & organizations (like the Scouts) are going the way of the dodo.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Huzzah! And what a way to bring a flame-bait topic to NPT! ;-)

    I'm not a big fan of motorized recreation in any NPS site. As I always say, the NPS is not there to guarantee recreation, it's there to protect America's natural wonders and historic treasures. Allowing activities that threaten the integrity of those wonders needs to be prohibited (or at least controlled to lessen the impact).

    I don't know that much about that part of Wyoming, but I'm sure there are plenty of places people can snowmobile for fun.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Don't forget that decades ago Steamtown was a private interest in Vermont (I remember hearing the ads on TV when I was a kid). The original owner (er, perhaps I mean primary financial supporter) died in the 60's and the Vermont park went out of business. So would Steamtown survive today as a private concern again? I am actually a fan of separating the NPS from the federal government (turning it into some sort of an NGO), and that means it would have to survive as a self-supporting enterprise.

    Beamis, to clarify my earlier comment, I wasn't making a comment as to whether pork-barrel projects are worthwhile or not, or whether the government (and thereby the taxpayers) should spend millions (or billions) in ill-considered economic development projects. I'm simply stating that the NPS shouldn't move sites simply because they're in an economically depressed area, which I got from the tone of your earlier post.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Another case of one person (judge) deciding how a public asset can and cannot be untilized by the public.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Art Sedlack was ahead of his time!

    At any rate - here is a relevant historical article on the history of snowmobiles in Glacier Park and Yellowstone.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3951/is_200310/ai_n9338664/pg_1

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I have to say, this seems like a good thing to me. Hundreds of loud, polluting machines will be kept out of yellowstone. You don't need to tear up the landscape if you can ride in snowcoaches.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Way to go, Judge Sullivan! And congratulations to the dedicated people at GYC, Wilderness Society, NPCA, SC, WWA and NRDC who have kept at this fight all these years! (Cheers to JC and KB!)

    I only hope that when Palin revs up her rhetoric against this decision that our conservation-minded pols don't shy away from speaking out in defense of park protective policies.

    Thanks for covering this, Kurt.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    STEA is another example of "build it and they will come" mentality compounded by Rust Belt welfare handed out where commercial capital will not go. In the bit of research I've done on this issue over the last day or two, it seems that STEA was half of the anchor designed to revitalize downtown Scranton. The other half was the Mall at Steamtown, funded by UDAG (federal money) grants, state grants, the PA state employees pension fund, and the IBEW (electrical union) pension fund. Apparently not a bank dollar in sight. The Mall of Steamtown's history page indicates projections for visits to STEA at the time the mall was developed (about 1995) was 500,000. Here we are ten years later and visitation is about 70,000, and the Mall at Steamtown is facing loss of several tenants either through bankruptcy or moves to better markets in the suburbs. This is not good for the park regardless of ownership/management.

    I recall back in the mid '80s that the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, the cradle of American railroading, was a potential competitor with the STEA concept. For whatever reasons, the B&O's extraordinary collection of American railroad stock and its significant history were not enough to overcome that of what's been described as a "third rate collection of mostly Canadian stock" and a very narrow focus on the steam story. I suspect it's politics at it worst. Regardless, today the B&O Museum is a remarkable success story with visits of about 250,000 per year. A comparative history of the development of these two sites over the past 25 years would make a great MA thesis, and probably answer many of the questions raised in this post/thread.

    FWIW I think STEA is a prime candidate for deauthorization if we want to go by NPS guidelines and put political expediency aside. It would make a fine state or local museum with a concessioner or non-profit operating the excursions. A potential model for this is Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) where a cooperating entity (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad) operates excursion on Service-owned track. Another model may be San Francisco Maritime NHP where innovative methods and community involvement have resulted in the restoration and operation of several vessels.

    As a former Service employee, I feel for the park staff, knowing that they are doing their best under really tough circumstances. They are well aware that many of their colleagues think the $172 million spent at STEA could have helped the NPS gems crumbling under the impact of millions of visitors. All of this reminds me of Ronald Reagan's response when he signed the Cumberland Island National Seashore's wilderness designation back in the early '80s. Basically it was, "Don't even think about sending me something this absurd again." He signed the politically charged legislation knowing it would be a land management nightmare. Sure enough, it has been a legal and management quagmire from the beginning, and will remain so until 2100 when - let us hope - all the CUIS life estates and their inevitable extensions expire. STEA's future seems almost as troubled, given their complex, costly responsibilities, diminishing resources, and limited alternatives.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    "(T)his is not blanket permission to have fun in the parks in any way the NPS sees fit."
    Right on Judge Sullivan!
    Reminds me of one of my favorite Aldo Leopold quotes, "Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind. "

  • Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Thank you Chance.

    And I credit my Mom for sharing the Smokies with me.

    May you find the peace and joy in the mountains as I do.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    There is no mystery about what is going on here. Just have to look to see what elected officials live near Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

  • Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Yes, I agree that Indiana Dunes has received less attention than it deserves in Traveler. I'll try to remedy that at some early opportunity.

  • Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove   6 years 5 weeks ago

    You want diversity in a small area? Try Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Only 15,000 acres with more than 1400 species of plants, including more than 30 species of native orchids, and 46 species of mammals. I wager no other NPS area has so much in so little space.

  • Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity   6 years 5 weeks ago

    You know, maybe we should think about relaxing the advertisings restrictions on NPS.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Ok,

    The story on Steamtown is this, the much of the place of the park is historic and worth protecting but "sort off" on a local and regional scope. However, it was the rail yard and headquatersfor one of the first lines in the USA and is one of the best examples of "age of steam".

    The park should be using this to there advanage and have focus general on the national history of steam engines not a local one.

    The park might also do better as a site National Historic Site run much as the one in Newport is run, as an affliated site run by National Railway Historical Society with an agreement with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to give its title.

    However, I do think that Beamis does make some good points, but also think that economic development is not a bad thing for a park to do and that a compromise could be reached.

  • Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Chance, thanks for a lovely, thought-providing essay. Another important player is the philanthropic community (private and corporate foundations), as well as the donations that individuals give to their national parks and the friends groups that support the national parks. Much more funding is needed than is currently available.

    For example, I spent last weekend in Voyageurs National Park with 21 volunteers, including 11 college students. We helped the National Park Service restore disturbed areas of the the Park by planting trees and removing exotic plants. My organization could easily have found another dozen student volunteers if we had had additional funding to transport them to the Park and feed and house them. (And it was only due to the generosity of the Beim Foundation and the resourcefulness of the National Park Service staff at Voyageurs National Park that we were able to get as many students there as we did.)

    We are currently looking for funding to bring student volunteers to Voyageurs National Park in 2009, and it will take a lot of legwork. Just to give you a sense of how competitive and time-consuming the funding race is, we recently applied to a funding probram, seeking funds for volunteer trail maintenance in the Park. We were not successful, and only 14 of the 73 groups that applied to that program in the same time period that we did were funded. It took us a few hours to complete that funding application. We will go through that process with at least another five foundations this year, plus requests to individual donors, in our quest to find the money to get younger people to Voyageurs National Park.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    My error Beamis. The annual Little League tournament games at Cooperstown are indeed not the "official" LLWS finals. More of a preliiminary finals would be accurate.
    Ah, good 'ol Monday mornings, when the fingers and what little brain I have remaining aren't coordinating too well.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    ON PARK ORGANIZATION CODE LETTERS:

    NPS people should be wary of using any Park Org Code in any discussion of any national park. Not only is it hopeless jargon, but it trivializes the meaning of the name of the park. Fortunately, the National Parks have names that actually mean something. Many National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests have names that have nothing to do with what the resource is. Parks should be proud of their names, and NPS people should use the name.

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service also uses 4-letter ORG codes just like the National Park Service. See what is happening to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge since oil development advocates realized what a benefit it would be NEVER to have to say "wildlife" or "refuge" whenever they spoke of the Arctic NWR. So: they reduced it to the ORG code they had been hearing from FWS bureaucrats who would call the refuge "ANWR" when they met and in their correspondence.

    Now, mainstream media have picked that usage up. So far, you don't hear politicians or people in the media say "YELL" when referring to Yellowstone NP, or "GRCA" when speaking about Grand Canyon NP, or "YOSE" when speaking about Yosemite NP: this is further evidence that the use of "ANWR" is done deliberately to demean a majestic national wildlife refuge. NPS people should take note, and never use ORG codes in place of the names Congress gave units of the National Park System.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Cape Hatteras wildlife and visitors will benefit from a reduction in ORV traffic on the beaches. When I went there, it was a disappointment to see how the motor vehicles dominated the beaches. Something had to be done because beach traffic kept increasing, and bird nesting populations were rapidly going downhill. Assateague Island National Seashore could be a good model for regulation at Hatteras -- half the beach mileage is open to ORVs, half closed. Only 145 vehicles are allowed in the Maryland part at any time, 48 in the Virginia part. Drivers must display an annual permit issued by NPS. The consent decree was a valuable first step toward reasonable long-term limitations on ORVs.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Mr. Clayton,

    I was using STEAM in reference to Steamtown NHS, although the correct alpha code is STEA (mea cupla). I am fully aware of steam (ie - water in its gaseous state) and its importance to the economy since I live in TVA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_Valley_Authority) country and my entire life owes itself to steam-generated electricity.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker-----two minor points of clarification: I believe that STEAM is the NPS unit designation for this park and the Little League World Series is held annually in Williamsport, PA.

    [Ed: The NPS code for Steamtown is STEA. It seems that the Park Service has a hangup about using codes with four letters or less.]

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    it's not like STEAM has much of an impact on the national economy

    I think that was another bit of tongue-in-cheek Ted. Nobody could possibly possess a level of ignorance that great to make that statement in all sincerity.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I've been an avid railroad enthusiast since I was able to walk, having grown up along the maintenance feeder siding of the main AT&SF yard in the country. I'm also a member of the NMRA, have an expansive working 1920's-50's layout in my home which, spans 3 rooms (delivers burgers, hot dogs, chips, etc. around the house) and have 2 of my boys involved as modelers now as well. Like Marylander, I never pass up the opportunity to ride the Durango to Silverton line, the Grand Canyon Railway (in summer only, when the steamers are in use), along with many other scenic, historic, and fascinating "tourist" lines across the country. But the idea that everyone with an interest in the history of railroading in America would flock to Scranton was a bit naive. Certainly, there are a few million of us in the nation who hold the steam era near and dear to our hearts, and consider this the Golden Age of railroading, but there just as assuredly aren't anywhere NEAR enough of us who would care to make Scranton an annual destination and throw down enough cash to support a park centered on the history of a local faction of the national scope. This ain't like another out of the way destination of even smaller stature, Cooperstown NY, where you have literally millions of baseball die-hards willing to migrate each season (and out-of-season for that matter) to watch the well-marketed Little League World Series, the ex-Hall of Fame Game and the annual induction ceremonies. Personally, a railroading-centered vacation would have to encompass WAY more than hours of driving to a single location for one lousy encounter, and there just isn't the plethora of other railroading opportunities along the way coming from most any other direction to make that type of a trip attractive. Even at Cooperstown, you can manage to take in games in Detroit, Cleveland, Philly, NY, Pittsburgh, etc. such that you can help justify the investment of time heading out to "middle of nowhere NY".

    That said, disposing of the inventory shouldn't be a major concern. There are numerous privately funded groups across the nation who would be more than happy to acquire vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock. Local museums, such as the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. survive on showcasing these icons of the American expansion movement, run special excursions on them, and have a "moving exhibit" available for viewing every day of the year. Trust me; the hardware wouldn't go the scrap heap.