Recent comments

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    I would be willing to pay for a permit but there should be no quota. To me, the quota is the sticking point. At the very least, an unlimited permit system would reduce the number of joy riders who show no respect for the resource. The income could be used for additional park staff and additional protection for wildlife.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    ANON, TRAM PROPOSAL...

    One good reason. The amount of "Wetlands" (you know those area the USEPA doesn't let anyone do anything on?) that would be required to be bulldozed over and paved to support the parking, tram turnarounds in various location along the shore area would do more damage than all the ORV have ever done. Logistically speaking the contracts to the Haliburtons of the world, the equipment the lot attendants, the notices let alone the waiting times just about put that idea out of reach. Would I ditch my SUV, which by the way is just as quite as you Prius, probably not. You see my Hatteras House is 140 miles Round Trip from the Home Depot, when you make that trip, you pretty much need something big to bring that shopping trip results back in one trip. You don't do it every week but when you do it's a major planning event. It also serves to haul the friends and neigbors around to the grocery store, resturants etc. Many of consider car pooling a necessity on the island. There are so many cars there during the peak summer months and limited parking you have no choice but to have 6-8 passenger vehicles. In the 20 plus years we've visited and owned property on the island, we've never witnessed ORV's with LOUD MUFFLERS, we have not seen anyone doing DONUTS, the Speeders and Dune walkers we have either spoken to directly or called the NPS to report these inconsiderate people. And you might want to know, none of these few incidents were commited by the FISHERMAN, they were young kids who would have done that on the beach, in the parking lot or anyplace else they thought they could show off to their friends.

    PHIL G. (thank you for not being anonymous, I like people who will admit to their opinions)
    The permitting system only sound good on paper. Let just look at the issuance of them to begin with. How many is an approrate limit? Do the homeowner get first choice? If the homeowners exceed the limit, do some homeowner get locked out? If the homeowners have the all the limited permits, how would a visitor on a weekly vacation, or weekend fishing trip get a permit. How long would that process take, where do you park all the applicants while the process is taking place. This isn't Cape Cod where there are no villages around the area that they issue permits. Everyone is a visitor to the beach there and the line up for days prior to the opening of the permit office. It's a one or two day deal, and you may well sit there and not get a permit. In NJ the IBSP permit used to be $50 a year, litterly from Jan 1 to Dec 31 you wouldn't have to leave the beach, now the permit is over $200 and your limited to certain hours and many other restrictions. Permits are just another money maker with no real conservation, wildlife protection or anything else. The only thing it does is create a bigger bureaocracy.

    The National RECREATION Area has done just fine for more than 50 years, The few birds that people are trying to entice to learn how to reproduce are not native birds, and those same people are not telling you about the large numbers of birds that are reproducing just outside the boundries of the actual park land.

    The only way to stop out of control protectionist is to pass S3113 and let the Professional Park Service staff regain control of their own park. That's what we pay them for. We shouldn't be paying the lawyers of special interest groups to run our parks.

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Ted,

    Thanks for the kudos, though without the depth and breadth of readers and their comments the site would be mono-dimensional.

    That said, re your thoughts on bears and hunting, the devil's advocate surely might ask why the brown bears in Katmai don't seem to associate hunters with dire consequences. No doubt they are desensitized a great deal by the photographers and anglers who surround them much of the viewing season, but after getting plunked by arrows and bullets, those that survive such encounters you'd think would learn to flee humans and pass on that message, no?

    In general, though, I agree that, more and more, national parks are turning into open-air zoos, ones quickly becoming genetically isolated as well.

  • Rainbow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Wow! Waterfall! It's been so dry around here lately, I didn't realize there was anything other than a trickle! Thanks, Kurt.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Frank,

    The soap issue has come up in this park as well. Our Chief of Mantainence has said that it is because the bathouses are not public restrooms (unlike the VC restrooms) since you have to pay to use them, and thus, are not subject to the same rules/ideas/standards that public RRs are. The Super is looking into it, though.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    How would a tram be an improvement over simply allowing ORV access while still allowing for reasonable bird closures? ORVs are currently doing no harm so what would be the point in implementing a tram system? Here are just a few drawbacks to your idea:
    Someone has to run and maintain the tram. The NPS is already understaffed.
    This would necessarily create a bottleneck for beach access especially during peak times.
    What happens when a bird or turtle nests in the path of the tram? No more tram and no flexibility to route around closures.
    Where will people park to catch the tram? There is currently not enough parking to accomodate this at any of the access ramps.
    A tram would, overall, be a major inconvenience. Would it really make enough of a "green" impact to make it worthwhile? I seriously doubt it. When I take time off work and spend my money to head to the beach for vacation, I would really prefer to access that beach on my on terms... not via a tram system.

    I think a major point you are missing, Anonymous tram person, is ORVs aren't hurting birds or turtles. So, a tram would resolve nothing but it would have a significant negative impact on the human outer banks experience. It would really be pointless. So to answer your question, would I give up my ORV for a tram? Perhaps if it was my only option I would consider it but it is not a good idea so I most definitely do not support it.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Regardless of the issue with birds and turtles, there needs to be some sort of ORV permitting system. There are simply too many people out there sometimes, and if you make any public resource completely free, it will be abused until it is destroyed. A good, LIMITED beach driving system is probably acceptable but nobody wants to give an inch. Negotiated rulemaking committees don't work because given the choice, tackle shops and real estate representatives would rather have nothing get passed than agree to any reasonable restriction in the name of "economic development". A note to the fishing people who have posted on here: people who don't agree with you don't "need to be informed". They know the facts and still disagree with you. And those "Plovers Taste Like Chicken" stickers aren't helping your case any.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Anon,

    Thanks for responding. The parks do indeed belong to us all for input. No argument from me there.

    However, I'm a bit puzzled by your questions. Many folks believe that an ORV/SUV simply moving abouton the sand is detrimental. How would heavy equipment effect an area that many deem too sensitive for light vehicles? Diesel exhaust vs. gasoline? Tank treads vs. tires?

    While this system would probably work, it would destroy the "Ramps", or dune crossovers that lead from the hard surface road to the beaches, allowing for storm surge overwash and dune destruction. The area is also laid out such that ramps are usually many miles apart, and the logistics of having to pick up every single family group at random spots along the beach would be nearly impossible. It would require an immense fleet of said vehicles. Imagine being stranded with a sunburnt child, waiting for hours to leave the beach, when you could leave immediately in you own vehicle. What then, of a serious medical emergency? Family emergency back at home? The logistical requirements for such a large area would be astounding, and impossible to manage.

    Please, do go to this NPS website, which has all the ramps in question marked and shows just how desolate this area is:

    http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm

    It will also show you how the bird and turtle closures are laid out. Good info all around!

    Last item: If said system was indeed feasible, and proved BOTH useful and practical, sure I'd ditch my ORV. But again, knowing the area as well as I do, and also being a Mechanical Engineer with 20+ years of practical experience, I just cannot make myself believe it to be possible.

    Just my $.02 worth....

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thank you Beamis - I appreciate your encouragement!

    I am a little red, and a little green, unacceptably liberal, and disgustingly conservative. But I've been handicapped & disfigured this way for a long time, and it doesn't really bother me much anymore. ;-)

    I saw right away that the National Park Traveler is an exceptionally well-done resource, populated by folks who respond in kind to Kurt Repanshek's quality efforts. I look forward to participating more.

    This weekend I have a family reunion to attend (another specie of open-air zoo!), but look to returning in a few days!

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Dapster: They clean miles of beaches with heavy equipment in California and on the east coast beaches. I don't think it's a deep sand traction problem if we had tram system that was designed with special treaded tires and hooked up to a dune tractor. Just food for thought! Besides, I thought the National Parks belonged to all of us for in put...regardless of the issues. Isn't that why we have Kurt's very informative blog: National Parks Traveler!? Incidentally Dapster, if we could prove that the tram system could work (and it's economically feasible) would you give up your OVR to use it?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    *Sigh...*

    Here we go again. Many of you are making "armchair quarterback" decisions from 1000's of miles away, having never even set foot on Hatteras island. For shame, people! It's tantamount to me as an East Coaster telling someone how they should be running Yosemite, even though I've never been there.

    I live in Virginia, and have had a summer residence on the Island for 15 years. My first trip to the island was ~1972. Let's just say that I'm pretty darn familiar with the area AND its flora and fauna. MUCH more so now that I have had environmentalist special interest groups shove an unfair lawsuit down my throat against my will. I have also learned that said eco's ignore hard scientific, peer-reviewed data, instead relying on "Spin" and half-truths to "speak for the poor animals".

    MRC: Your comments make little sense to me, as in :

    "And to all who complain about the hardship for business owners: Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a national park. It is the duty of its administration to run it to the benefit of the nation and the general public. Not for the local community."

    This statement contradicts itself. The local community is BOTH the general public AND part of the nation. Not all of the CHNSRA is national park land, either. There are villages with privately owned land scattered along the lenght of the island. Do you dare suggest that these folks must just go away in the name of extreme environmentalism? Again, put yourself in their shoes, if that is possible fot you to do.

    Again, with this statement:

    "It is a national park, not your backyard."

    For tens of thousands of people, it is both. Please educate yourself before you spout such rhetoric. You seem to very little knowledge of the area. I truly wonder if you could find it on a map.

    To the Tram guy:

    You also sound completely clueless as to the geography of the area. Disneyworld, it surely is not. A tram system with cute little trailers attached would go about 10 feet in the deep sand before becoming hopelessly stuck. Study the Google Earth map of this area. It's basically the Sahara desert with a coastline. Your idea, while well meaning to be sure, is simply not feasible.

    The crux of the argument is: Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted to implement the Consent Decree. Thousands of visitors and locals alike have had their way of life severely affect, with no scientificly proven benefit to the several "poster children" species in question. The human species is being forced out of its god-given place alongside our animal brethren.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Frank.....my point is more directed to the limitations in skill set that candidates bring to the table. You can only hire from the available pool of candidates, substandard as they may be, and the lack of intellectual development and presentation skills has nothing to do with the NPS, since to the best of my knowledge, they aren't in the business of either basic or remedial education. While it's true that the content of the presentations to be given is indeed the responsibility of someone "higher up" at the NPS, those who are most interactive with the crowds have the duty to competently express the material and subsequently field whatever questions or concerns arise within each unique group after the speech. You can train a chimp to do most anything, but over and above the specific skills with which you endow him or her it is still, after all, just a chimp. Reading or memorization of prepared materials is quite easily accomplished. Thinking and responding over and above what you've just recited is quite another issue.

    That said, I'm quite sad that you're guide was a moron. The person in the uniform is a direct reflection on the organization that they represent however, and that thought leaves me personally feeling less than enthusiastic about the present state of the NPS overall.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Yes, the closing have had a detrimental affect! I love the birds, the deer, the fish, and all the other critters! I have done all I can do to drive with care, protect the animals and environment, leave with more trash that I brought, and reported violators. But while I am currently on the island for my family vacation I have made the hard decision not to return after vacationing years and years here, along with other weekends during the year. I find it interesting that I see no more wildlife than what I saw the first time I was here, even though the closures are now in place. I can't for the life of me understand why the bird fanatics can't accept Pea Island as the refuge it is, no driving there either...greed begats greed I suppose. In fact, we come here about the same week every year...I think I actually see less people, less cars. Has it hurt the economy? I bet it has...bad.
    Please, somebody open the beaches back up!
    sv

  • Decisions on Controlling Elk in Theodore Roosevelt, Wind Cave National Parks Likely to Linger Into 2009   6 years 2 weeks ago

    I'm not sure that in extraordinary circumstances allowing hunters to help the NPS cull elk herds is such a bad idea. As a Denverite and frequent visitor to Rocky Mountain National Park, the elk are so abundant and unafraid of people that I've seen visitors walk up to grazing elk near a Trail Ridge Road overlook and pet them. I'd rather the NPS use their sharpshooters and birth control, but when the elk are wreaking such great havoc on Rocky's ecosystem and visitors are displaying such ignorance in the face of fearless elk, drastic measures must be taken. I'm no fan of hunting in national parks, but perhaps in extraordinary circumstances such as these, a few hunting permits should be issued to the public. I don't think extraordinarily rare hunting permits would be an affront to national parks as institutions. I think it's a step toward increasing the viability and sustainability of those parks and their ecosystems. Releasing wolves into the parks is a mistake unless managers of the public lands surrounding the parks are prepared for wolves in their territory. I think that may be wise in the long run, but I don't think the public and the Park and Forest services are ready for that yet.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Owen, You've made some great points here, especially about what worked in the NPS's "golden age" of interpretation. To answer your question, I feel both hiring and training are root causes for the decline in interpretive program quality. Your mention of a "plethora of restrictions and preferences placed on hiring" missed a few other problem spots which include veterans' preference and non-competitive hiring status for permanent federal employees. These two practices can have disastrous effects in middle management as those with extensive front-line NPS experience are passed over for those without NPS experience. I've seen this happen many times.

    Even once skilled and talented interpreters are hired, the NPS cannot retain them due to the seasonal nature of employment. As others have mentioned, what kind of professionals want to work for $15,000 a year and live without benefits? So, until the NPS scraps its arguably unfair hiring system and commits to paying its educators a livable wage and providing them with benefits, I think we will continue to see a decline in interpretation.

    Kudos to all those out there who somehow made it into the system and are working hard to deliver quality programs while moving every 6 months and scratching out a meager financial existence without receiving recognition or quality professional development.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    As for the Anonymous that wants and answer to "Can someone give me one damn good reason why a well managed motorized tram system that fits well ecologically with the Cape wouldn't work?" HURRICANES, INSURANCE, LIABILITY, WHO SALL RUN THIS? Shall I continue. This again proves the point about the people who reject the idea tha man and beast can cohabitate. THEY CANNOT RESEARCH OR THINK FOR THEMSELVES!!!!!!! TUNNEL VISION. Please people before you tear into someone who drives a vehicle on the beach put some thought into your comments and before you try to save the beaches from the horrible demise of the SUV please realize without us paying into the economy is the outerbanks there would be no outer banks National RECREATIONAL seashore.

  • Creating Cape Cod National Seashore Forced the National Park Service to Think Outside the Box   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Bob - you make so few mistakes (and even the ones you make are provocative in the best way !),

    and your readers so much enjoy your pieces,

    my guess is you get 100% credit for everything you do for us.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Frank, is the problem really one of recruiting subtandard employees, or is it the absence of training, auditing, and mentoring?

    If it's the former, how does the NPS as a Federal agency rise above the plethora of restrictions and preferences placed on hiring and pormotion of women and minorities that now prevails throughout the Federal government, and beyond? Certainly, the NPS can recruit the best of the best minority candidates to achieve the over-arching goal of building a professional staff that is diversified in gender and ethnic background to reflect the fact that the NPS and our parks are for all Americans, not just white males.

    In my era, the NPS worked hard to hire the best of the best candidates, even for seasonal positions. There was a strong preference for candidates with an academic background in the natural, geological, and cultural sciences. Experience as a professional educator was given a high priority for seasonal hiring. Law enforcement procedures and interpretive techniques were part of on-the-job training. Guided walks, formal presentations, and evening programs were audited frequently and evaluated often.

    We were also encouraged to audit the programs of our peers. Observation of excellence in the performance of one's colleagues was incentive in and of itself to achieve a high standard in one's own work as a ranger-naturalist. Of course, positive feed-back from the public helped greatly in that regard as well.

    However, if the problem is mostly due to a decline in NPS training, auditing and mentoring of newly hired employees, then I wonder what has happened within the NPS structure to allow a culture of apathy to flourish? Regardless of the organization, there are two fundamental objectives of management: (1) to maintain standards of performance, and (2) to demonstrate to staff that management cares about them and the effectiveness of their product.

    Could it be that the performance expectations of us former NPS'ers are that different from the general public? My friend, PJ Ryan, editor of the newletter Thunderbear, once said, "The primary reason why interpretation in the NPS has experienced a decline over the decades is that no one has ever sued because they experienced a substandard presentation by a park ranger."

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Will someone please provide one scientific reason, backed by real data, to support the extreme closures dictated by the consent decree? I'm not asking for answers such as pristine wilderness, protected seashore, lazy fishermen, loud ORVs, blah blah blah. Give me one real reason to destroy a tradition that has been in place at Cape Hatteras for many decades. Show me one piece of scientific data that proves any animal species is in danger of becoming extinct due to ORV access at Cape Hatteras. The Interim Plan provided more than adequate protection for shore birds and turtles while providing reasonable access to some of the best fishing locations on the east coast. A return to that plan would not be detrimental to the wildlife on the island. The vast majority of ORV users on the island care deeply about conservation. There can be a compromise. Should the wildlife be protected? Absolutely. The consent decree, however, attempts to proctect a handful of birds (some of which are neither endangered nor threatened) through restrictions that go far beyond what is reasonable. I would argue that it has not and will not help the birds at all.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Could be that maybe one of those fools who are permitted to carry, might just save your life one day.

  • Visiting the Parks: Yellowstone National Park's Shoshone Lake   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thanks so much for writing about bats, Kurt. I actually do mention bats in one of my essays in almost just the way you do - as part of a story to suggest that Yellowstone needs new myths, that those myths need to consider what's not being written about.

    It's really neat to read this story about bats, especially in a way that makes them stand out. Prior to this, my dominant memory of Shoshone Lake was being nearly devoured by mosquitoes.

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

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Can someone give me one damn good reason why a well managed motorized tram system that fits well ecologically with the Cape wouldn't work? Instead of being wall to wall with ORV's, we could have good spacial geography between acquired fishing posts...and with better visibility. We could have connecting cabs (like say ten light connected cabs to a jeep) to a good transporter...like in Yosemite. Drop offs and pick ups could be at pre-designated locations which can discussed with the local citizens of Cape Hatteras (and with pro access groups) and the National Park Service. To prevent over crowding, set up a quota system to prevent massive crunch time during peak tourist season. Is possible to set up such a tram system that could be beneficial to wildlife with less human impact on the shoreline and yet still provide the visitor with a quality fishing experience...and with less intrusive motorized traffic on the shoreline. Basically, the theme is to think green! In regards to your comments Stephen C., this is not a "eco-nazi" plot to throw you out of your ORV, but a proposal that might instigate some kind of environmental change that could be beneficial to man and wildlife without all sharp provocative forces clashing who owns the Cape.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    The true impact of the consent decree will not be felt until next year. The agreement was reached May 1st, after many reservations were already made. The increase in occupancy tax revenues quoted in the article is inflated by Dare Counties increased efforts to collect the tax from private homeowners, which is where the majority of the increase comes from.

    The impact of the Judicial Consent decree that limited beach access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore is having a major and direct impact on park usage and the local economy. According to National Park Service information total visits to the park were down by 144,548 visits in June 2008, or over 20%. Total visits to the park have declined by almost 15% for the total year. (1)
    According to the NC Dept of Revenue, the state taxable revenue reported in Dare County in the May period declined by 16% ($11.8M) compared to May 2007. For the same period Hyde county Revenue was down 15%. During the same time period taxable revenue for the state of North Carolina did not decline (2)

    Walking and ORV beach access are major attractions for visitors to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The unnecessary limits put in place by the consent decree are now having a dramatic impact on the park usage and the local economy.

    · June Park visitor access downs 20.92%

    · June Park Service campground usage down 24%

    · Vehicles on Bodie Island down 27% in June

    No other National Park in the area experienced such a significant decline.

    Visits to Wright Brothers National Memorial are up 8.26% year to year. (3)

    Visit to Blue Ridge Parkway National Park are only down 3.7% year to year. (4)

    Sources

    (1) Cape Hatteras National Seashore Monthly Public Use Report, http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/viewReport.cfm

    (2) NC Department of Revenue, Monthly Sales and Use Tax Statistics for the Fiscal Year

    a. http://www.dor.state.nc.us/publications/monthlysales.html

    b. Dare County Taxable Sales: May 2008 = $64.2M, May 2007 = $76.1M. ("May data reflects sales primarily in April.." which was the first month of ORV and Beach walker restrictions )

    (3) Wright Brothers National Memorial Monthly Public Use Report

    http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/viewReport.cfm

    (4) the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park Monthly Public Use Report

    http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/viewReport.cfm

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    ATTN PHIL G and the REST of the uniformed:

    To all here who state their opinions the Pro Access people are the ones who do not use lies to get our stories told. We can and will show you scientific studies and real data that will and does refute any and all claims by the special interest suing groups. In fact I can point you to all the data you want using the NPS/CAHA website, But I am sure that you will hold your hands over your ears and start screaming so your brain will not be poisened by the truth. I am sure the you PHIL G live greener than any human alive, but to insure your comments are true why dont you post your address , occupation, and please include pictures of your bicycle you use to coomute to your job. I also would like for you to stop putting everyone in the same group I for one have no need for welfare, but unlike you I would like my kids to be able to see the world while not sitting in a sealed glass container. ... lets see you prove your side with scientific data.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    @Tommy Linday: It is sad to hear about your back and I wish you well. And I understand that you would like to go to remote places despite your condition and need an all terrain motorized vehicle for that. But please understand that your wish is unreasonable in a National Seashore. Please accept that with age and illnesses all of us have to say goodbye to some activities we could do in our youth and can't anymore. It is not acceptable to demand that the public has to allow us each and every action we wish to compensate for our individual limits. Motorized access to undeveloped parts of the shore line is not consistent with the dedication of a National Seashore and must be phased out.

    And to all who complain about the hardship for business owners: Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a national park. It is the duty of its administration to run it to the benefit of the nation and the general public. Not for the local community. As business owners: Be happy to make business with visitors, give your input to the administration, but do not expect the park to be run according to your percieved needs. It is a national park, not your backyard.