Recent comments

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Marylander -- I personally think that Glen Canyon should be on the list of everyone's list of 100 places to see before you die. Oh that's right, no one can see Glen Canyon because it's under hundreds of feet of water. I say make Glen Canyon as accessible as possible -- bring back Hayduke and take down that dam!

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Normally I am dead set against big projects in the parks for the purposes of recreation... but Lake Powell is different. It is unlike anything I've ever seen, it is spectacular, and it should be on everyones list of 100 places to go before you die. I am for this project 100% - make the lake as accessable as possible!

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Here's an idea. Any lottery should be open only to American citizens whose taxes pay for the parks. Seriously, if American citizens have difficulty getting access to the popular national parks that they pay for while tour operators catering to foreign visitors get preference, how much support will there be for funding for the parks?

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Just an update to my previous comment. In 1995 66 gray wolves were reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone Nat. Park. Today those wolves number more than 1200! More than 700 in Idaho. I'm sure if you checked the Elk population it would be down dramatically. After a phone call to a friend where I used to live, the Elk herd that wintered on my property are no longer there and the wolf sightings are happening more and more. So again I say MOVE THE ELK OUT and DON'T MOVE THE WOLVES IN! Don't get me wrong, besides my dogs , my favorite animal is the WOLF, a beautiful and interesting animal. Thank You for this site. The articles are wonderful and informative.

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 9 weeks ago

    I agree with JoeSF, why add to the existing problem? Why move wolves in? Why not move some Elk out? I lived in a remote part of Idaho for a few years and the Elk population was quite large. I personally had a herd of more than 100 that would winter in my front yard. Sometime in 1995 someone who had probably never been to this area of Idaho thought it would be a good idea to drop 25 or so wolves in to this area, not to cull the herd, only because there were no wolves in the area. When I left Idaho there were approximately 150. I don't know if these suit and tie people who come up with these ideas have ever had to live with wolves outside their front door, but I wish they would and maybe they would not be so fast to change the way things are in these places. Move 'em out, don't move 'em in. On a side note, I did witness the dropping of a Grizzly Bear in that same area of Idaho after a huge fight over wheather or not the bears should be introduced to the area. They were not there to begin with and should not be put there just because! I'm going to stop now before this comment becomes a novel! Thank You.

  • Arches and Canyonlands In the Fall: Rock Architecture and Dwindling Crowds   6 years 9 weeks ago

    I see you can do a lot of thinks in this beautiful place. To bad it's so far away from my country.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 9 weeks ago

    No, the parks should have the news stations broadcast overbooked conditions often during peak season. The information can steer people to underused parks so they can enjoy their holiday or at least alert them to the overcrowed conditon. I think many would opt to do something else if they knew in advance. This can be done at no cost since the federal government owns the air waves and it is a public service. The internet should be used as well.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Monument or Park, the key word here is "Dinosaur".

    Of course, the monument has lovely rivers, wildlife, botany and cultural resources. Park management has recently been using these other resources as justification for reducing the paleo program (see www.ubstandard.com, article on 2/19/08). Clearly ALL resources need protection and interpretation. However, it isnt called Dinosaur National Monument for nothing! Paleo has been identified as its core mission as well as being part of the founding legislation.

    What I want to know is:
    -- Is the priority balancing a budget or keeping the park active and dynamic?
    -- What sort of specific requests (and advocating for the need of a full paleo program) have been done by park management? That is, did anyone TRY to keep the program alive or merely favor balancing numbers?
    -- How are these decisions being made without a FY2008 budget in place while there is talk of a $200 million increase?
    -- Why have internal suggestions of alternative interpretive programs (since the quarry building closure) such as screenwashing demonstrations and re-opening of "outsourced" quarries not occurred? Did someone want to claim that "paleontology has lost its appeal"?
    -- Does park management fully understand the pitfalls of relying on outsourcing to continue the program?
    -- Do they know the value of the work currently being done by all staff?

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 9 weeks ago

    This is the problem with going back to the NPS mandate. Glen Canyon is a national *recreation* area. Perhaps the recreation areas should be evaluated as to whether they belong under the park service's purview at all, so that recreational users can enjoy them uninhibited.

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 9 weeks ago

    The wolf solution will just cause the Parks to face the task of culling the wolves later on. I dont think thats going to make anyone happy. Having some wolves is ok but you cannot create a balanced eco sysytem in a bottle. Suing the Parks is a waste of Parks resources. If people are suing over the elk they will be suing over the wolves next. The numbers will build up.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Ouch. Shoot the messenger why don't you?

    The fact of the matter is that in the monument's past there have been efforts to see it renamed Dinosaur National Park, so that was an accurate statement. Would such a change have an overall impact on management of Dinosaur? Maybe, maybe not.

    But you can be sure the surrounding communities would love to see the change in designation as it would bring in more tourists. That's exactly what's behind the move down at Cedar Breaks National Monument to have it renamed a "park."

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 9 weeks ago

    What the heck is a "full-fledged national park.? You should know better. There is no difference in management by law or policy of a unit of the National Park System based on its nomenclature. When places like Cayuhoga and Congaree changed to national "parks" nothing changed but their names. YOu should be the voice of accuracy for parks, not a contributor to the silly nonsense that is perpetuated by the meaningless diversity of designations.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 9 weeks ago

    My trust of the NPS's ability to use the "best available scientific methods" as the basis of any decision is non existent.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 9 weeks ago

    I hate the idea of the permits, first and foremost. However, they aren't really necessary by the very design of the parks. Take Yellowstone, for example. Yellowstone is one of my favorite parks in the world, but I know if I want to visit it I need to make camping reservations WAY in advance. There are only so many camping spaces and hotel rooms available, hence only so many people can visit. Do I think those campsites and rooms should be done on a lottery: NO WAY!!! First come, first serve. Let it be known when reservations are going to be accepted and then let people reserve.

    Do I want to buy a campsite off ebay? Nope. The problem with a lottery is just like the problem with ticket scalping. People- who have NO intention of ever visiting the parks- register for the lotteries at all the parks, use every family members name, and when they become "winners" they put those up on Ebay for 200% markup. A 15$ campsite suddenly becomes 150$ and bad people rake in the money. Let's face it, that is the American way.

    However, and I do feel that the park service could and probably should increase their prices, on a first come, first serve basis, people who are truly interested become the 'winners.'

  • Grand Canyon National Park Officials Release Transportation Plan EA   6 years 9 weeks ago

    The shuttle busses will not work. No one will voluntarily give up their car for the bus. They will only work if mandatory like Zion.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Jim, how about the word massacre instead of slaughter...sounds more effective! Good input but much like a "term paper"!

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 9 weeks ago

    The reason for the slaughter of bison officially has nothing to do with carrying capacity, though the IBMP sets an arbitrary number of 3,000 bison for the park, and rules regarding testing and slaughter change at that point. When I mentioned carrying capacity - which is not a reason for slaughter nor would it by mentioning it make an article more balanced - in my editorial response above, I actually used it to suggest the need for expansion of bison range. I have never read the National Park Service mention the word "carrying capacity"; that's a phrase associated with critics of park policies, (and especially the use of science to describe that policy) in respect to the Northern Range, not the Park Service itself. The National Park Service slaughters bison ostensibly because it's a partner in the IBMP, which has to do with transmission of brucellosis.

    There is nothing shaky about the use of the word "slaughter"; as I said, that's in fact a word you'll find used by both sides. It is objectively true (which is actually a somewhat redundant adverb). However, if your complaint is that I did not adequately give the point of view of the partners in the IBMP for why they carry it out, and that that amounts to objectivity, I don't think you have shown how my own particular bias has made the story any less true. I pointed people to the NPS press release as well as the IBMP and quoted the major reason given for supporting the slaughter.

    And, "regardless of my semantic take" is a flippant wave of the hand for your further charge that the word is "sensational." Again, I'd argue that it's no more sensational than the use of the word "landslide" or "rout" to express a political election; in fact, it's more accurate. While I certainly am an advocate sympathetic with Buffalo Field Campaign, nothing you have said suggests that the article itself is an advocacy piece. It's hardly different from the articles that have appeared in the local mainstream media in Montana, with the exception that it mentions the event, which is newsworthy (it's newsworthy on a national parks site when a group of people are out actively protesting the policy). The frustrating thing for me writing it, in all honesty, was that it wasn't an advocacy piece and that I took pains to make sure that it was not. If it were, I would have posted it on my own blog or in the comments section here (as I have - when I told Kurt and Jeremy that I would write articles from time to time, I made it clear that I was not likely to send them the opinionated pieces I reserve for my own Web site; they for their part set no limits on the sort of pieces I might write, as they put both kinds up, and I often have to decide whether an essay here - relevant to Yellowstone - belongs in the article or opinion section of my newspaper).

    Bias always comes out in reporting based on what someone chooses to write about and how one chooses to focus an article. That bias does not make something in and of itself any less objective. And, I would be the last person to ever want to use the emotional response people get from the use of certain language to convince them to follow a cause. In this case, I'm confident that I'm on firm ground with my word choice.

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

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Anon,

    Methinks you got a bad cup of coffee this morning. As the subdeck under the Traveler logo stats, the site is open to news AND commentary and life in the parks. Frankly, the initial post on Sunday was pretty straightforward and not an advocacy piece by any stretch. It pointed out the Park Service's position and even provided a link to the IBMP so folks could read up on their own and drawn their own conclusions.

    Did it cover the entire history of the subject, that livestock more than likely brought brucellosis to the park's wildlife, the carrying capacity issue, the conundrum that Montana officials are so worried about bison and yet elk, which also carry brucellosis, are seemingly overlooked?

    No. Perhaps it should have, but every post is not going to be a term paper on the issue at hand. The overriding intent of the Traveler is to raise or point out issues across the park system and, hopefully, spur a dialog into those issues.

    Indeed, follow-up comments touched on some of the other points in the bison debate.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Joe,

    Reporting 101: Get your facts right.

    The statement you attribute to me in fact was a snippet of a letter sent by the Association of National Park Rangers, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, three groups that have histories working in the parks and which have a vested interest in the outcome of this debate.

    And thanks for pointing out Sen. Coburn's amendment, although I also included it in my initial post, so I'm not sure you could claim I was being biased by overlooking it. In fact, if I truly were biased on this issue I certainly wouldn't have let any pro-gun comments appear on this site, would I?

    As I've said a long, long time ago, I believe in constructive debate. We may not all agree with each other's opinions or positions, but through civil dialog sometimes we can understand each other a little better and see things in a different light.

    You also are making a mistake by assuming my positions. I don't recall stating that I was afraid of law-abiding citizens carrying firearms. In fact, I don't recall taking a position on the 2nd amendment. To be truthful, in the past I've hunted and I have friends who own guns (none, by the way, who feels so at risk in a park to bring them along, legally or otherwise).

    My point of raising this issue in this forum was not to dredge up a 2nd amendment debate, but rather to focus on a national park issue. I don't care who protects their home and their property by whatever means. My focus was on public lands, specifically national park lands. Now, I would guess your reply would be that it is indeed a 2nd amendment debate because your interpretation is that the amendment should allow you to carry anywhere you want to go.

    Most of us accept that we're a nation governed by laws, and current laws prohibit the carrying of loaded weapons in most national park units. I personally see no need to change that law. I'm sorry you do.

    Now, as I did on an earlier, similar thread, I'm going to bring an end to public discussion because this topic has been debated plenty.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Good Lord. Is NPT now an advocacy rag? Jim, regardless of your semantic take on the word "slaughter" it still smacks of not only a breach of the shaky objectivity achieved on NPT, it's also sensationalistic and I feel strongly this is like something i might see on FOX or CNN.

    Slaughter means slaughter but you didn't even bother to mention the concept of carrying capacity in the first post, only touching it later in your response to comments. I highly doubt that the public, when presented with the oversimplified fact that BISON ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED STOP THE SLAUGHTER this is an objective question when you don't even bother to discuss carrying capacity in the park, the impact the larger herds may/may not have on the overall ecosystem and what the broader role of the Park Service is in maintaining ecosystem integrity. This is the type of thing that I would like to read on this site, balanced articles. Had I wanted to know that simply BISON ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED I'd just read the BFC's website. While I might agree with your premise please post something more balanced next time.

    Geesh.

  • Bear Grass in Glacier National Park   6 years 9 weeks ago

    This image is from 2003 near iceberg lake:
    http://www.nps.gov/archive/glac/images/070503e.jpg

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    You said ….
    There is simply no legitimate or substantive reason for a thoughtful sportsman or gun owner to carry a loaded gun in a national park unless that park permits hunting. The requirement that guns in parks are unloaded and put away is a reasonable and limited restriction to facilitate legitimate purposes—the protection of precious park resources and safety of visitors.

    Thanks to your “unbiased reporting” many of us now have another reason to want to protect ourselves. For those interested the proposed law you are upset about says….

    “The secretary of the interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm in any unit of the national parks system if

    (1)The individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm: and

    (2)The possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge is located.”

    If you are so afraid of licensced law abiding citizens carrying firearms how can you feel safe allowing the police to have guns? Aren’t they citizens too? How about the rangers?

    Sadly the tragedy the happened at MIU will be probably be repeated again. We all know this. This is why some of us want to keep the right to protect ourselves. It is why you fantasize a world where everyone is disarmed and harmless. You can wait for Angela Lansbury to figure out who did what to you, god forbid, if you like. It is still a free country. Let's keep it that way.

    Joe

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 9 weeks ago

    I want to take a shot at answering the last couple of comments, particularly eric's, since he raises some very important ethical questions.

    eric asked about the proper size of the buffalo herd, and he asked whether it was better for a buffalo to be killed by wolves than by man.

    I do not think it is up to us to determine how big of a herd that we want, and the key to my answer to your question is that we have to rid ourselves of the belief that we are here to "manage" wildlife. The idea that the role of human society is to manage resources is I think a mistaken one. I don't think we have the knowledge to know how to do this while at the same time grasping all the consequences of our actions. The "management" ethics is based on an atomistic understanding of the world. It doesn't matter whether the atom is managing a particular animal, a particular disease, or even a particular ecosystem, the attempt to make moral decisions regarding what to do about buffalo and other animals is not a closed system. It is not possible to know the variables. So, we cannot really answer how many buffalo absolutely we would want, and we shouldn't even try. 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.

    In Yellowstone, from what I have read from range scientists, Yellowstone National Park historically supported a herd of about 1,000 bison. In the past, before the so called natural regulation theory took hold in the late 1960s, the National Park Service culled ungulate populations (notably elk populations) in order to maintain the quality of Yellowstone's Northern Range. As the bison population grows, there has been a tendency of bison to leave the national park boundaries. Now, the Park Service could try to regulate the numbers of buffalo so that they will be less likely to leave the park (by slaughtering buffalo), or they could let them wander out and try to reclaim a small piece of their historic range. No matter what, there are consequences in the choice that go well beyond humans' ability to manage the full scope of the situation. Yellowstone National Park is simply not an intact ecosystem (and an ecosystem is never a closed system, anyhow). The question for me again is by what reason does the National Park Service or any other entity justify stopping bison from reclaiming their range. By what right does it set up these boundaries and these numbers, which when push comes to shove, are arbitrary and based only on values placed on the range science.

    So, however you count the proper numbers, there is no rationale that justifies the killing of buffalo. Of course, you might challenge my premises, and we can continue that conversation (and probably should to move this conversation forward).

    Secondly, you asked about whether it's better for a buffalo to be killed by a human or by a wolf. Obviously, it makes no difference to the buffalo as far as any of us know. I don't know how we could ask each one to find out. Seriously, though, the question in terms of human action isn't whether one kind of dying is better than another, but whether one type of killing makes more sense than another. Why is it that we kill buffalo? Is that rationale coherent? We don't kill buffalo in order to survive, we don't kill them because we find ourselves with little choice, we do so in order to protect a certain social order that we've set up. We are protecting certain value judgments about that social order. Does that social order, whether we are talking about the livestock industry or whether we are talking about the Department of Livestock or about the National Park Service make any sense at all? In other places, I have argued that it does not. The burden, though, is still to show why the rationale for government-sponsored killing of buffalo is justified. We are talking about our actions here, and to the extent that our actions don't make sense, it is evident that we are harming ourselves (that's an argument one can find in Plato). And, in harming ourselves, we are also prematurely hurting buffalo, and we are not living up to our potential.

    That's how I would answer eric.

    And, that really also suggests how I would begin to answer the Anonymous comment that follows it. In Anonymous's piece, there is a criticism of Buffalo Field Campaign for going after the National Park Service instead of the beef industry. While that's not even true - Buffalo Field Campaign in fact has called for a boycott of beef - on the face of it, the criticism is merely one of strategy and not principle. However, looking deeper, the person here suggests that the livestock industry is the only real enemy of the buffalo and that the Park Service is merely a victim of circumstances. That's ludicrous. As the people actually carrying out and participating in the process of policy making, the National Park Service has absolutely no mandate to kill buffalo, and the people who wear the uniforms of the Park Service - as individuals - have even less so. If the real target is the livestock industry, then one way you go about pressuring a change is to pressure those who are in partnership with that industry to make that partnership less palatable. The National Park Service has always been seen as something of a bad partner in brucellosis management; they are therefore the lowest hanging fruit in the corrupt partnership to go after. And, it's all the more outrageous when they find themselves in league with these people. In fact, it's groups like the National Park Service which are giving the policy teeth whenever they kill a buffalo. One wouldn't expect USDA or the livestock industry to change their stance after so many decades of zealous efforts to rid brucellosis from cattle. They would be the hardest group to move; they can only be moved by pressure. However, the National Park Service has a mandate to protect wildlife.

    And, on that note, though what I say may not be popular, eating beef is also enabling the slaughter of buffalo. While I doubt any boycott of beef will work (unless there are a lot more episodes like we have seen in the news over the past couple of days), it does make it easier for the livestock industry to press their case so long as their coffers are being fed by those who eat beef (at least beef from those tied to the industry). But, I think many of our agricultural practices have been tied to the same sense of entitlement that people take for granted (just as they take for granted the notion that everything on earth is here for humans to "manage.") As Gandhi said, the cow is also sacred. By that, I mean that the animals stuck in our agricultural system are just as much victims as are the wildlife in Yellowstone. It's very hard to call for free-ranging bison without at the same time recognizing the fundamental problem within the industry. That doesn't mean that we should be quick to throw farmers out on their ass; in fact, if anything I said should be clear, we shouldn't be trying to figure everything out. We cannot possibly do that. What we can do is in a situation that presents itself to us, recognize when there is no justification for our actions. And, there is no justification for the National Park Service slaughter of buffalo.

    Strategically, there may be a reason to direct more action against the livestock industry. Certainly, the connections are necessary. The National Park Service, however, is culpable. That they are stuck in a bureaucracy does not make it less so; it does suggest that there are fundamental problems with the systems of "management" with public lands. The only way I know to take that on is in the local context; for me, free roaming buffalo is part of that context.

    There's so much more to say; this has opened a pandora's box. But, eric is essentially right about one thing, as I interpret the context of his questions. There are radical implications in criticizing the slaughter of buffalo. At a basic level, most people recognize the contradiction in what the NPS is doing in killing animals they are supposed to be protecting. But, when we see the full context of the contradiction, what it calls for is something much more than simply stopping the slaughter. Are we willing to embrace where reason leads us? Are we ready to roam?

    In any event, stopping the slaughter would be a nice start.

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

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 9 weeks ago

    This is typically what is happening in all parks. Outsourcing and finding other agencies and volunteers to do the jobs employees used to do. Look at Corp of Engineer parks at lakes to see how well it has turned out. This could soon happen in our National Park areas also.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 9 weeks ago

    As someone who has visited Dinosaur numerous times to see the granduer of what was the wall of bones I was deeply saddened to find the building closed that housed this magnificent display. Now the Superintendent is letting the only 2 people who maintained the wall go? How can that be outsourced to the state of Utah and to University students? Why not the research paleontologist? What do you need interpreters for? To show which trail to walk, and what plant is there? That's not why I went to Dinosaur National Monument and paid $10 to get in. This shows the bias in the management of Dinosaur National Monument, that the reason the Monument was created is being deemed unnecessary. The Superintendent and management should be ashamed of their actions.