Recent comments

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Why do the Park Rangers need to carry handguns? They don't have a need too if they're not as effective on bears and the Rangers (assuming that they are people too) have a higher chance of hurting themselves. Furthermore, as "Frank N" points out

    Your chance of being the victim of a violent crime while visiting a National Park have also been demonstrated to be less than your chance of being struck by lightening.
    and since you only have a 1 in 1.9 million chances of being injured by a bear then why the need for bear spray? Just think of the amount of steel that goes into producing each can not to mention most bear spray is oil-based.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spends more time managing people then it does the fish and game.

  • NPS Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases at National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I have said this before: We the taxpayers have been shafted and burden with the sickening Bush-Iraq war, along with a deliberate wrecked economy (to prevent legitimate entitlements for poor and middle class), with the high cost of living, along with ridiculous huge profiteering by the oil companies (granted by Bush & Cheney Administration)...and now with the housing crises to boot. I say us Americans, who are the back bone of this great Nation (and economy) are being screwed to death by the Bush administration. I say after all this abuse to the American taxpayer: Open all the parks and make it a no fee system! If good people like SaltSage 236 continue to voice and advocate the importance of the National Parks and it's spiritual values (that it enhances) along with it's profound learning experience, we should be so delighted to visit the parks without question of fee hikes...peferrably without fee hikes or even better...a nominal fee or no fee system! If we can support a corrupt and needless war, then I'm sure we can manage and afford are National Parks with a viable budget that would allow such a no fee system.

  • NPS Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases at National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I think it's absurd and offensive to compare the national park experience with that of a $40-per-head amusement park. Amusement parks exist for entertainment. National parks exist to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of our national and natural heritage and identity -- an absolute necessity for informed citizenship.

    A visit to a national park is an experience all Americans should be encouraged to do, not only as taxpayers who ought to be funding the management of the national parks, but as citizens who need to be inspired by America's natural beauty, know how our ecosystems work and understand the nuances of our history so they can gain a greater sense of patriotism, a historically- and environmentally-informed view of issues debated among the people and decided in the voting booth and a better understanding of the need for conservation and wildlands. Such an experience -- hardly comparable to an amusement park -- ought to be free for everyone because it's so fundamentally important to our future as a nation.

    All a kid needs is a brief encounter with a yellow-bellied marmot, a bear catching fish in a river or an encounter with an African American basketweaver telling the story of her people (at the fee-free Charles Pinckney NHS in SC) to become more aware of the environment she inhabits and the injustices committed in this country's history. That will plant the seed that knowlege of our past is vital to our future and nature is something beautiful and necessary for the wellbeing of humanity. Those experiences are priceless.

    Charging $25 to get into, say, Grand Canyon is patently unfair, an almighty rip-off to taxpayers and is cheating every one of us, especially those for whom a visit to a national park is a very expensive proposition. National park entrance stations shouldn't be barriers to our natural and national heritage, they should be welcome mats to our taxpayer-funded parks, encouraging all to come and experience the beauty and history celebrated there. It is absolutely imperitive that we demand that Congress quit cheating our national parks and the people who enjoy them so our entrance fees don't keep away those hungry for knowledge and inspiration gained through recreation.

  • "LeHardy Fire" in Yellowstone National Park Explodes to 600 Acres   6 years 4 weeks ago

    If people want to keep up with this and other fires InciWeb is an excellent site. Updated information on this fire can be found at

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

  • NPS Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases at National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Betty, you raise some good points. The parks as currently priced are a great value when compared to amusement parks, theaters, etc.

    But let me be the devil's advocate for a moment or two. In theory, Americans pay for the national parks through their taxes. True, there's traditionally always been nominal fees to get into the parks. But there's pressure in some areas to push fees even higher. The question to be answered/debated, is how high is too high? In the overall scheme of things $25 isn't much, although to some it's a half-tank of gas, or perhaps lunch. If Director Bomar hadn't stepped in with the fee freeze, a visit to the parks would have gotten even more expensive next year.

    Along with the entrance fees, more and more parks are charging higher and higher fees for interpretive experiences. The growth in these fees is directly related to Congress' failure to adequately fund the national parks. When you start adding all these fees up, a visit to a national park is not exactly the bargain it used to be, especially when you add on lodging and dining costs.

    Your point about volunteering also is well-taken. But more and more parks are being forced to use more and more volunteers for jobs rangers used to handle. Full-time rangers aren't yet an endangered species in the parks, but some might say they're certainly threatened.

    So coming full circle, if we continue to allow Congress to give short-shrift to the national parks, fees for entry to the parks and interpretive programs in theory will grow to the point where some Americans will effectively be locked out of a national park visit, and more volunteers -- some wonderfully adept, some not quite so -- than rangers will be running the show. Is that a good thing?

    Should we as supporters of the parks stand idly by and let this happen, digging deeper into our pockets to get into the parks and, in some cases, to wander through history (ie paying $12 a head to tour the gun room at Springfield Armory National Historic Site), or should we pressure Congress to adequately fund the parks?

  • NPS Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases at National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I disagree with this move by Director Bomar and I totally agree with the second comment sent in.
    People pay $40+ each for one day in a "water park", whereas the carload can visit our National Parks/Monuments for considerably less than that. If they plan on visiting several times and/or several parks, they can buy a season pass good for all for less than one person single day at an "amusement park".
    This is one of the fairest fees of all as it is only paid by persons enjoying the benefits ! Congress certainly isn't doing much to help pay for our National Parks and the money has to come from somewhere ! Parks have to be maintained and the money has to come from somewhere.
    If you live near a park and love it, please look into volunteering. If we would all only help one weekend a year that would mount to a tremendous savings.

  • National Park System Quiz 13: Mountains   6 years 4 weeks ago

    12 for 12!

  • About The National Parks Traveler   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I have just recently found your site. I love it. I have had the oppertunity to visit Yellowstone NP seven times in the last 15 years. To be able to have information on the park in just a click is great. I think you are doing a great job. Thank you.

  • NPS Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases at National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    You want to talk discretionary? How about ball games, plays, or movies? You say $25 is overpriced, yet you probably don't think twice about paying $9 for a movie ticket and another $9 for a popcorn and coke.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I'm humbled to discover that someone aside from the gun liberals reads anything I post Lepanto. And true enough, I failed to be specific and painted everyone with the same broad brush, which is a sure recipe for disaster, or inaccuracy at the very least. But I take umbrage with one part of your explanation, that being "More than 3 out of 4 of all proposals to establish new parks are either thrown out or radically restructured to better match the need and character of the resource, and the viability of the preservation, management and interpretation strategy. While I don't dispute the numbers, per se, the thought that the restructuring is in the best interests of the character of the resource or the viability and management of the preservation is a notion that you'll have a difficult time substantiating within the confines of the operation of the our federal government and it's affiliated land management tentacles, including but not limited to the NPS, BLM, EPA and more other acronyms than I care to list. The federal strategy, if in all actuality one does exists, appears to be less structure, diligence and character-based and more slanted toward the "pressure of the moment" as applied by various groups and private persons at this moment to remain nameless. Realistically, what portion of the continent would be excluded from the idealistic notion of "preservation and character"? Some would ascertain that preservation would justly be all-inclusive of our westward expansionism, with it's humble beginnings being the Jamestown settlement, through our "colonization" of the Arctic refuge, Hawaiian Islands, Guam, the Atolls, etc. All are very unique environments that could readily qualify under the "preservation and character" clause, and an argument could also be made that from an interpretive standpoint, they need to be in the all-inclusive club as primary examples of nationalism, indomitable spirit, heritage, or whatever other hot-button words you care to attach to the cause. My point, though poorly stated, was more centered around WHO is behind the classification of the environment, and that is generally a governmental boondoggle. Little actual science of any discipline involved generally, just opinions laden with pressure from sources with no interest in a "national" view, but mainly centered in local issues less than pertinent to "preservation and interpretation" as a whole.

    Just consider this for a moment. Interpretive trails, common to local recreation and park areas. Expand that to a national view. Imagine the geographies that would be required to formulate a TRUE interpretive trail that did justice to the Lewis and Clark or many other expansion-related expeditions. What about an all-encompassing historically accurate interpretation of the injustices attributable to our government resulting in the Trail of Tears and the multitude of other Native relocations? I'm fully aware that such things currently exist, in miniature. A plaque here, some signage there, a bronze marker tucked away in a field........spare me, please. If these were to be truly preservation-related issues, vast tracts of land would have to be designated as "historically significant" and preserved in a manner more akin to the way the Civil War Battlefields have been, until recently considered hallowed ground. But I don't see anyone pursuing these arguably more "significant" projects, more significant that is than wasting time renaming the current parks, monuments, mountains, shorelines, etc., with any sense of urgency.

    This misplaced sense of self-worth is just one of many shining examples of why I view our current political figureheads with such a high degree of contempt. As they do me.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Well, PC, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) certainly has been in the news a lot lately. As Traveler has reported, Rep. Cubin has vigorously supported the controversial (and very expensive) plan to keep Yellowstone’s Sylvan Pass open for snowmobilers. I don’t find any mention of Devils Tower National Monument on Rep. Cubin’s official website. Perhaps you could provide additional details.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Barbara Cubin has filed a bill that would block the renaming of Devil's Tower N.M. to Bear's Lodge.

  • National Park System Quiz 13: Mountains   6 years 4 weeks ago

    ...with Virginia's Mt. Rogers in an NRA. You're right about the high points. I wouldn't expect a slight rise in western Kansas or a little bump in Florida to be a national park. I just would have thought states like MT, ID, CO, AZ, NM, SD, OR, NV, UT, etc. would have more of their high points just by chance fall into an NPS area.

    Technically, the summit of Whitney isn't in Sequoia NP - as per number 10 above, so California doesn't even count. I had NC in my original count because for some reason I was putting Mt. Mitchell in GSMNP.

  • Telegraph Fire Closing in On Yosemite National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    The Telegraph Fire started on Friday afternoon. By about 6pm on Saturday, the smoke was pouring over the Sierra Crest into the Hoover Wilderness, 50 trail-miles northeast of Tuolumne Meadows. It looked like a storm coming in, except for the orange sunlight. By 10pm, I was awakened in my backcountry campsite, just outside of the northeast boundary of the park, by smoky air that made it difficult to breath, or to sleep.

    Late on Monday (July 28) I drove through Yosemite Valley. I couldn't see the top of El Cap from Tunnel View. I could barely make out the outline of Half Dome from the Camp Curry parking lot. It appeared that the entire DNC concession operation was running off of diesel generators (which didn't help the air quality any). We drove back to the Bay Are via. Highway 120 rather than risk being turned around by a road closure on 140.
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
    A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.

  • Should the National Park Service Drain the Capitol Reflecting Pool to Save Birds?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Come on, that's D.C. - facts are overrated, just give it the right spin.

    How about a press release "National Park Services provides free botox" Washington, 07/30/2008 The National Park Service provides the residents and visitors of the National Capital with a new service: Get botox for free. Just pick up a dead duck or dig in the mud on the Reflection Pool and extract the valuable botulinum."

  • Should the National Park Service Drain the Capitol Reflecting Pool to Save Birds?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I think it is a no brainer - drain the pool! Then find a way to recycle the water. I can't believe there is no recycler already. Everyone who has a pool knows that you need to recycle or aerate the water to keep it from becoming stagnant and a breeding ground for mosquitos and bacteria! Here in the Phoenix, AZ area you can be fined for having standing, stagnant water due to the diseases born by mosquitos, like West Nile Disease.

  • National Park System Quiz 13: Mountains   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I also counted five contained in the national parks themselves: TX, CA, WA, TN and AK. Not totally surprising considering many state high points are just that - high points - and not true mountains or significant features.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Dear Rangertoo

    Let's not use "authority" as evidence of the value of our opinion. I think I have had as much, or probably a bit more involvement with more park designations and interactions with congressional staff than John -- don't know in comparison with you -- but I don't think that in itself makes me right and John wrong. I was not saying there is no politics in name designation, I was objecting to the absolutist simplicity of saying the names 'are not . . . . ANYTHING OTHER [emphasis added] than the political whim of the Congress when designated.' Again, I ask you, go down the list of all the parks, and see if ALL the names are so whimsical and debased, or if only a few examples are.

    The Coke point IS interesting. But it was not about "The Coca Cola Company" it was about the specific product, Coke. When the company tried to introduce new coke, the brand or the corporate name could not save it.

    There is always the danger when executives, or experienced senior managers of the NPS, appear to the public to be making the issue about themselves or their works, than the tangible thing-itself the public does care about, that the public will drive a wedge between their identity of the resource and their identity of the agents/leaders.

    It may be possible to re-name ALL national parklands 'national parks,' but it is particularly silly to start with Golden Gate. Golden Gate is a collection, it is not one unit with a resource-based identity. And, I disagree that Mesa Verde is mis-named. It is a landscape of coherance and clear identity.

    I agree with you that all sites are equally significant.

    As this search for identity continues on, the USA will also need to keep in mind the nternational issues associated with naming. John will remember the outburst from Parks Canada when his group tried to include sport hunting within the 'national parks' in Alaska. Canada said it and the World had followed NPS leadership on names and established national policy, and the USA should not so "whimsically" throw away that understanding. I am not saying this by itself should prohibit us making changes to help public understanding, but we should be thoughtful and fair if we take these steps.

    Lone Hiker, I have been impressed by the insight and authenticity of your many posts, but you are just wrong about Congress and elected officials. More than 3 out of 4 of all proposals to establish new parks are either thrown out or radically restructured to better match the need and character of the resource, and the viability of the preservation, management and interpretation strategy. It is true, I regret however, that the quality of the congressional committees of authorization, their leadership and their staff has deteriorated. This is across the board. Congress in recent years has pullied away from large vision and new legislation since the high-water mark under FDR. At the same time, we should be careful about how we describe areas of significance to some, but perhaps not to you or to others. I remember when James Watt started to reconsider all the parks established under the influence of M. Udall and Phil Burton. Many of them told the story of African American Heritage or women's empowerment or real cultural significance, and the people who opposed them were either people who only knew what they already knew, or who deliberately were trying to divide those park people who were seeking more resource preservation from those park people who were struggling to manage what they had.

    Senator Scoop Jackson in 1976 tried to recognize the need to protect significant resources everywhere through his National Land Us Planning legislation. This was really the last gasp of comprehensive environmental legislation, and it was stopped cold by a coalition of fear and reaction that assumed that environmental legislation will destroy rights to land and person. More recently, national heritage areas seem to be an alternative way, bottoms up, of uniting the buisness and environmental sectors locally around strategies to protect large landscapes that have distinct character. I have heard the former head of planning in Philadelphia/NPS, Glenn Eugster, say his goal would be for heritage areas to replace Jackson's as the strategy to allow Americans to protect what they care about nationwide. It makes sense to recognize the broad value of many places as opposed to trying to divide preservation by trying to say one place is good and the other one not. Look at the examples of Italy and Britain that have struggled successfully to maintain the special character of many landscapes throughout their countries, to the delight of international travelers.

    Finally, Lone Hiker, it seems to me while politics may be messy, it is really a good idea for Members of Congress to be pushed by their voters to try to protect important places. This is democracy, not pork. Back in the day when barons ruled all landscapes, no one's opinion mattered. The only places set aside where those where the elite deigned to create an environment that the elite thought pleasurable to them or edifying to the commoners. It seems to me it is a great idea for congress-people to compete to be conservationists. A diversion from attacking the motives of other countries, threatening war, building dams or give-aways to corporations or treating corporations as if they had the rights of individuals.

    And when such politicians find a resource that can command a public constituency that really cares about what that resource is and what story it tells, then the task of Congress and the NPS and the rest of us is to try to provide for it the right management framework, and with a name that conveys meaning.

    This is the kind of politics America needs.

  • Should the National Park Service Drain the Capitol Reflecting Pool to Save Birds?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    No doubt an easy choice - you can have a pool with dead birds and tourists getting sick from sticking their hands in the pool, making the pool an ugly sight - or you can have an ugly empty pool but no one getting sick.

    On the other hand, maybe it would give the Capitol Police something better to do than harass people.

    Any word on why the pool is so polluted? Does it have anything to do with the fact that a freeway (I-395) runs under it?

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

  • NPS Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases at National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Kudos to Director Bomar for a good decision. American families struggling with gas prices and the credit crunch aren't likely to be willing to pay increased rates for something as discretionary as visiting a National Park. In fact, at $25, Parks like Grand Canyon are already overpriced - and that doesn't include your backcountry permit! If the Parks are priced so high that working families don't go, then the NPS loses its constituency and base of support, which is a terrible loss for all concerned. The Parks should be reducing entrance fees, not just freezing them, although that is a good first step. And Congress should get busy passing Senate bill S.2438 The Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act, which would eliminate layered fees for backcountry access and interpretive programs even after an entrance fee has been paid. The sense of ownership Americans feel in their public lands is diminished every time you have to pay yet another fee to visit them.

  • National Park System Quiz 13: Mountains   6 years 4 weeks ago

    The question about Mt. Whitney's western slope being in a park got me thinking about how many actual state high points are within national parks. Seems like a surprisingly low number. I count six, with five in national parks and one in a national recreation area. Anyone want to see if I'm correct? I had to have missed a couple.

  • National Park System Quiz 13: Mountains   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Finally, I get to rest on my laurels - 9 of 10 (but missed both bonuses). I was about to enroll in GEOG 370 after the last several quizzes.

  • At Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Things are Not Always as They Seem   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Are you kidding?

    Misuse of firearms is dangerous.

    The purpose of a firearm is not to kill everything in sight.

    The AK-47 is not inherently evil.

    All weapons were originally in the hands of warriors. When civilization was settled, and nomads became farmers, not everyone needed a weapon.

    Now, in modern times, if you, or anyone else for that matter, decides who gets to and who doesn't get to carry a weapon, firearm or edged weapon alike, you are stricly a fascist.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I believe the idea that National Park units were "something special" was tied directly to the public's perception centered around those first units, which included Yosemite and Yellowstone, which at the time of their designation were located in areas of the country that were traversed by few save the hearty; those who explored the "wild" country on vacation, and the mystique that grew out of the photographs, paintings, writings and the "lore of the old West" did indeed make these places "special". As government officials dipped their hands into the process, mostly revolving around an effort to bring pork to the local constituents, the whole process began a steady but undeniable downward spiral, diluting the meaning associated with the term "National Park" and the system as a whole, until every piddly nook and cranny qualified in someone's eyes as a "preserve" of some manner or other. Funding issues aside, now virtually every conservation group, be they historical, environmental, or whatever manner you care to mention lays claim to some portion of the country in the context of "significant", and while many of those claims are justifiable, no one has had the "stones" to confront the issue and draw the line as to what is and isn't "significant" or “special”, to the point where now virtually any tract of land qualifies in one way, shape or form. Shorelines, beaches, farmland, forest, barrier island, tundra, volcano, riverway, you name it; if someone's political purse can benefit from the designation, it'll find its way onto agenda eventually.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Lepanto - Well, seeing as John Reynolds and I have both been in senior management of the NPS and have been involved in the writing of bills and negotiation of designations with Congressional staff, I would have to counter that we are right in our assertion that the names are not as studiously determined as you may imagine. Your perspective that the public is less aware of the governing agency of the park is right - and that is exactly my point. We should WANT them to understand who the governing agency is and when a park is part of the National Park System. That is how we will gain support and funding for the NPS. We cannot depend upon locals doing the work for nearby parks. Americans must care about parks they have never seen and may never visit if we are to maintain the integrity of a national system. Coke stopped making Tab soda because no one associated it with Coke. They were not getting the benefit of the Coke name or the massive advertising dollars spent on Coke. Diet Coke solved the problem. The NPS should be thought of as the same. Get people to understand national park means any site in the National Park System and they will see their collective value.

    How did we ever get the idea that national "park" was something special anyway? There was no hesitation in naming Hot Springs a national park and it predates almost all the big natural areas that came later. Nor was they hesitation in naming Mesa Verde a national park and it is primarily a cultural area. It seems this notion that the title "park" is somehow something special to be horded and handed out only to certain worthy areas is a rather new concept - and not one that can be easily defended without having to allow the "exceptions" such as Mesa Verde, Hot Spring, Cuyahoga Valley, and Congaree. The exceptions render the defense of the "park" title unsustainable.

    Next year, Ken Burns series on national parks will be on PBS. It will cover only 53 "national parks." That will be unfortunate because it will continue to feed public misperceptions and will not encourage visitation, preservation, or protection of the other 338 units.