Recent comments

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Broad brush cleaned and put away. My comments were aimed at some of the other posters, and certainly not at the author. Sorry if I was unclear on that. No offense intended.

    My point is parallel to this one brought up by Zebulon:

    The truth is that there is no rational reason to keep bikers out other than made up arguments that serve the wish of a few to keep public trails to themselves. In that regard, it seems that the NPCA is a bunch of rabid bike haters like the Sierra Club.

    And counter to comments like this:

    Mountain bikes in national parks are totally inappropriate, other than on carriage roads and other wide and heavily used areas.

    It was certainly implied by other posters, on this and similar threads, that hiking is the only access they want to see in the National Parks. I think that is clearly evident. I just don't see much difference from an environmental impact standpoint between the two, and dislike seeing mountain bikes and their riders demonized.

    I also am not advocating that we start opening motocross trails and such just because there are advocacy groups for them either. I just personally think that mountain bikes are a totally acceptable mode of transportation within our National Parks, and are as environmentally benign as hiking. I agree with you that the management issue would not be easy, but should we deny this group a chance at coexistence?

    I really hope that biking can and will be accommodated within the park system, within reason and limits, and that an agreement can be reached that will make most people on both sides of the issue happy.

  • The Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Invites You to Climb, Run, Jump, Slide, Roll, Whoop, and Holler   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I agree that Sleeping Bear is a wonderful place for hiking, Anon, especially on a hot summer day when cool breezes are blowing in off Lake Michigan. Gotta say a couple of things about that, though. Walking in loose sand can be a penance, especially in steeper areas. And the wind at the top of the dune scarp ("cliff") is sometimes strong enough to whip sand into your eyes. A very small price to pay for the gorgeous view.

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Whoa, that's an awfully big brush you're swinging, Dapster.

    I don't recall anyone saying that hiking is the only acceptable form of access to public lands. Indeed, as I've pointed out numerous times there are thousands and thousands of acres on national forests and across the BLM empire where mountain bikes are more than welcome. And, there also are more than 40 parks where there are mountain bike trails to varying degrees.

    Beyond that, I and others have pointed out that we like both activities.

    But why is it necessary that all recreational activities be permitted in national parks? Put another way, must the national parks be open to any and all activities simply because there's a support group that wants access?

    The Forest Service and BLM are multiple-use agencies. It's written in their missions that they are to manage their landscapes for different activities, whether they involve logging, mining, or recreation. The national parks are to be managed to preserve/conserve the landscape unimpaired for future generations, and for public enjoyment, but not necessarily for multiple use.

    And, as another pointed out, mountain bike enthusiasts are not being banned from backcountry trails in the parks. At the current time they just can't ride their bikes on them.

  • Pruning the Parks: Mar-a-Lago National Historic Site (1972-1980) Was a Gift the National Park Service Couldn’t Afford to Keep   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Well, Anne, you've asked some good questions, but I'm afraid I can't answer any of them to your satisfaction without doing a lot more research. I'm willing to delve more deeply into the Mar-a-Lago story (right after I get back from Alaska, that is), but perhaps there's somebody out there in Travelerland who already has the inside scoop. Can anybody out there answer Anne's questions?

    Chris, I strongly agree that National Register listing and National Historic Landmark designation are a good thing in this case. Though it turned out that Mar-a-Lago can't be a national park, it's a one-of-a-kind historic resource and a significant part of America's story.

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Exactly where is it written that hiking is the only acceptable form of access to our public lands? Also, where is that data that shows that hiking has absolutely no negative impact on the environment, and offends no one?

    You hiking purists need to come down from your lofty perches and realize that your mode of access to our national lands could be banned just as easily as biking, and for all the same reasons. How would you like it if your foot-bound access was suddenly stripped from you? Would you embrace it as “good for the environment”, and just hike away? Doubtful.

    You hate all motorized access, and you are successfully banning that. You also hate any and every form of mechanical device used for public land access, and are attempting to ban those as well. Are snowshoes next on your agenda?

    How long before the fickle finger of fate swings in your direction, and all human access is prohibited? It will probably occur within the span of our lifetimes, sadly…

  • Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Celebration Begins   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Fascinating article! One can just imagine the obstacles that construction of 469 miles of highway along moutain ridges through several states would meet. Thanks for bringing that facet of this marvelous highway to light!

    My family will be taking a drive along the portion between Routes 33 and 250 in Virginia this weekend to view the fall foliage. This has been a tradition in our family for many years, and we look forward to it as soon as the cool weather arrives every fall. The views are spectacular, and the nearly seamless way the road threads along the ridges is awe inspiring. What a feat of engineering.

    I have posed this question before about this road in all seriousness, and shall do so again:

    Could this road be built today, under the countless EIS's that would be required, and following NEPA protocols? (Let's assume budget constraints do not exist, and lands are acquired as they were back then, for simplicity).

    Please, I would like to hear your thoughts on this hypothetical question.

    dap

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Such a nonsensical argument. About we ban all hiking and make biking mandatory? How would you feel about it? Bottom line, the government should not be deciding what activity is best for us as long as said activity does not impact negatively the parks. And just because you enjoy the trails on foot does not mean that I have to.

  • Pruning the Parks: Mar-a-Lago National Historic Site (1972-1980) Was a Gift the National Park Service Couldn’t Afford to Keep   6 years 4 weeks ago

    What's funny is that this may have not been a bad thing as it is still a NHL with easements granted to the National Trust for Historic Preservations.

    It is one the only sites of its knid still left and is in great shape.

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Was Charlotte put to rest in CA? We were best friends in childhood and I didn't hear until months after the incident what had happened. I tried to find her Mom's address to get in touch with her and she had moved from the last address I had. Any information you have would be appreciated. You can get in touch with me at

  • Pruning the Parks: Mar-a-Lago National Historic Site (1972-1980) Was a Gift the National Park Service Couldn’t Afford to Keep   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Bob,

    Wow, what a story. Who had the idea of giving this to NPS in the first place, and were there objections to this at the time? Were there tours, etc., during the 8 years that NPS had it? It would be fun to see the brochures and interpretive materials, if any still exist. Thanks for digging up this fascinating episode!

    Cheers,
    Anne

    Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Ph.D.
    Historian & Author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History
    Chapel Hill, NC

  • Photo Shoot: Today's Cameras Make It Easier to Capture the National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I define luck as preparation meeting opportunity.

    That's a great definition, and one that anyone who attempts much outdoor photography can appreciate!

  • The Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Invites You to Climb, Run, Jump, Slide, Roll, Whoop, and Holler   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Don't forget to continue on after the top of the hill. Continue for two miles through low hills of loose sand out to Lake Michigan. By the time you get back, you have had a great workout. Done properly, it is a lot of fun. Done improperly, it can also be a lot of fun as my son and I discovered when we lost the trail, wandered through scrub and ended up at a 500 foot cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. On our way back we came across a deer jawbone that the wind and sand had bleached clean. It is an amazing place.

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    A point that seems to be missed by the mountain biking community is that no one is banned from hiking trails, only their bikes are. They can still enjoy the trails on foot, just like the rest of us.

  • Photo Shoot: Today's Cameras Make It Easier to Capture the National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I can't believe this is real... yeah, I guess you are right, with new digital cameras we can all be great photographers, there isn't much to know in making pictures, it all depends on your will to spot unique wonderful places like this one above.

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    During the outdoor boom of the 1970’s many areas suffered severe damage due to the increased number of hikers. Hikers built illegal trails and camp sites, widened trails, littered, and ruined the outdoor experience for those who had come before; in short we did everything we accuse Mountain Bikers of doing now. Fortunately, Hikers learned the error of their ways. Today the “Leave No Trace” ethic is common among hikers. Education is the key; most people don’t want to damage the environment they just don’t know any better.

    Mountain Bikers have and will continue to embrace the same ethic. They must if they want to maintain their sport. I think bikers suffer from commercial advertising stereotypes that portray them as ADD afflicted, Mountain Dew swilling, extreme sports morons, who come down the trail backwards while juggling chainsaws. This is rarely the case.

    The illegal use of hiking trails and the illegal construction of “stunts” is a legitimate concern and I have seen the damage that can result. I’m sure it’s only a small minority of Bikers, but it seems to be condoned if not encouraged by many in the Mountain Biking community.

    While working with a local hiking group’s trail maintenance crew the leader made a decision to leave a fallen tree across the trail to stop bike use. Predictably, the next year there was a new trail around the tree. Whose fault was that the Bikers or the Crew Leader who made a dumb choice based on his personal bias? Hikers have to realize that not giving Mountain Bikers a place to ride is not going to lead to the end of the sport; it’s only going to lead to illegal use and abuse. An illegal user has little impetus for doing maintaining and improving the trail, while a legitimate user does.

    I have heard hikers say that “Bikers never due trail maintenance…” and a post above makes the same accusation about hikers. In truth, we are both independently doing the work, if only we could only work together. There are many that enjoy both sports and I could never understand why we perceive each other as enemies, we’re all out there because we love the outdoors

  • Landscape Painting Donated to Grand Teton National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Kurt,
    Thanks for writing this article.
    I stumbled across it looking for Harrison Crandall and was astonished to see a picture very similar to one we have in our living room with seasonal differences and a broken tree stump.
    Please pass this on to Quita if you have contact information for her.

    Hello to Quita from my father Rey Holmen who came to the Tetons in the summer during college visiting his brother in law Fritioff Fryxell (park ranger) and to work on photography with Harrison at his Jenny Lake Studio in the mid 30's. I believe you know my dad also. We later came out as a family many times and visited your father last when I was in about 15-16 and that would have been around 1967-68 perhaps.

    I have a great photo of "Hank" standing by the house in Blacktail Butte with the Tetons in the background.
    Please feel free to contact me by mail if you would like a copy.

    My father is now 92 "this week" and we'll be celebrating as he comes out to Park City to visit over Thanksgiving.

    Kurt, In lookiing you up I see you live here in Park city also! Small world!
    I hope we can get together some time. I'd be very interested in talking with you about your experiences in the Tetons.

    Thanks so much for writing this article.

    John

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    It's hard to argue the selfishness of mountain bikers, when you figure out that we're the ones being kicked out of thousand of square miles of land for no rational reason. The whole "different experience" concept is a smoke screen. I don't see why our government should decide how, we, the taxpayers who fund such parks, should be enjoying the parks (obviously as long as that enjoyment does not impact the environment). The mental shortcut is that MTBers zoom along, frighten the poor hikers who are there for mental contemplation of the pristine landscape... Bikers enjoy the landscape (otherwise, we'd all be sticking to road biking) in their own way, and that should be good enough. At that point, the typical Sierra Club argument is that by riding along and having fun, this takes away from the hiker's desire for solitude and peaceful enjoyment of nature. Well, that might be true to some minor extent, but those are public lands. If one wants absolute solitude, one should buy his/her own private Idaho. On public trails, we all need to share.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Frank -

    Sorry, you missed my point, so perhaps I wasn't clear. I wasn't attempting to establish what percentage of poaching was done by CCW permit holders and what kind of weapons were used. The key point is that removing the prohibition against carrying any type of loaded weapon in a park eliminates the single most valuable tool in the battle against poaching - because it then becomes necessary to wait until shots have actually been fired before a violation occurs. Once the trigger has been pulled in a poaching case, whether or not the person has a CCW is irrelevant.

    All the discussion about CCW has arisen because possession of a CCW is the vehicle the NRA and the administration have chosen to use as the vehicle to revise the existing regulations. If they had chosen instead to simply allow anyone to carry a weapon in parks, as some would prefer, then most of the issues that I and others have raised about public safety, poaching, etc. would still concern me.

    The current revisions are based on possession of a CCW as the "ticket" to get guns into parks - I'm only saying that some people will take advantage of that opportunity to "do wrong."

    Life would be immensely easier for rangers if, as you suggest, that "roaming park roads at 2 a.m. and checking out fields with [a] spotlight" would be evidence enough of intent to poach and the loaded gun would be irrelevant." While some parks do have local regulations against viewing wildlife with artificial light to help deter poaching, the reality is that "intent to poach" without a loaded weapon won't get you much mileage before most magistrates I've dealt with. Possession of the loaded gun is the key element in proving "intent", and if that possession is no longer illegal, the ability to reduce poaching will be seriously hampered. Yes, that's an opinion, but I'll take it to the bank after 30 years of dealing with these folks.

  • IMBA: Not Every Park Suitable For Mountain Biking, No Interests, Currently, For Trails in Wilderness Areas   6 years 4 weeks ago

    NPCA is overreaching in its conclusion. There is a strong desire by mountain bikers to bike in national parks, so the need is there. The public process/environmental review is code word for: "let's throw a bunch of nonsensical redtape into opening any trails to mountain biking so that we don't have to come out and say out loud that we hate bikes".

    Safety: it's a myth. Everybody talks about safety when it comes to mountain bikers, but nobody mentions anything about dangerous horses. Double standard... Truth is that the safety argument is completely overblown, especially in the back country where just about nobody ventures.

    Impact to environment: another myth. Scientific studies have shown that mountain biking impact on the environment is minor, about equal to hiking and definitely less than horse riding.

    The truth is that there is no rational reason to keep bikers out other than made up arguments that serve the wish of a few to keep public trails to themselves. In that regard, it seems that the NPCA is a bunch of rabid bike haters like the Sierra Club.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments!

    My primary purpose with this article wasn't to revisit the question of whether JNEM should have been added to the national park system- or whether it should remain. As long as it is part of the system, I'd argue that it should be managed by the NPS, under the same standards as other units - and not have major decisions that would drastically alter the nature of the area handed over to local special interest groups. No doubt those groups would be delighted to have the American taxpayers continue to pick up the tab for day to day park operations and probably at least part of the cost of their urban "revitalization" project while they remake the park into the image of their choosing.

    If that occurs, I'd suggest it represents a significant weakening of the integrity of the system as a whole.

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I put no confidence in the McCain & Palin ticket to upgrade and enhance our National Parks to the stellar quality that the National Parks Conservation Association advocate. With Palin (Alaska's famed "drill-baby drill" Governor) bragging about her so called record as a top flight oil minister for the State of Alaska, and her exploits as a gut bucket moose hunter and wolf hater, I do find her to be another exact carbon copy of the Bush Administration. Sarah Palin is most extreme and dangerous as McCain to the point where I feel our National Parks will be even more deeply in peril...if both elected (or selected). That is to say, I fear more rape, pillage...and greed! It appears Obama has a more pragmatic and common sense approach in handling our domestic and foreign affairs with diligence and transparency...and that includes a holistic approach in saving and upgrading the National Parks and our environment...sometime that has been terribly lacking since year 2000.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    I was at JNEM this past August. I really enjoyed the time I spent there. I thought the Museum at the base of the Arch was very good. Unfortunately I did not have much time to spend at the Old Courthouse since I needed to drive back to Chicago. This park is very different then the other 50+ parks I have visited this year. I liked the history about Lewis & Clark. I liked the history of building the Arch. I enjoyed going up in the Arch. After visiting the Arch it did make me sad knowing the vision and engineering creativity that built the Arch has now been outsourced to other countries. I like the JNEM the way it is now and I hope they don't change it.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Re the NRA mention, IMBA posted the article, The Fight for Trails -- What IMBA Can Learn from the NRA, on its website without disclaimer and without disowning it, after deliberately seeking permission to do so. What are folks supposed to think when they land on that page, that IMBA opposes the NRA's deft form of lobbying, or that it's intrigued by it?

    There are indeed myriad lobbying and special interest groups out there. I would venture that all folks agree with some, disagree with some, and good care less about most. Would the world be better off without them? Probably yes, and probably no.

    How do you decide which are the good lobbying groups, or the bad?

    Why is someone castigated for opposing one or favoring another? Why is condemning NPS management decisions or styles OK, but questioning IMBA not?

    Zebulon earlier commented that opponents to mountain bikes in the parks are "selfish." Well, couldn't that argument be flipped? Couldn't the mountain bike community, which already has access to Forest Service and BLM lands, along with many state parks, be accused of being "selfish" for wanting to now enlarge its footprint in the national parks?

    As I've pointed out many times previously, the National Park Service has a decidedly different management mandate for its landscape than do the Forest Service or BLM. The national park experience is supposed to be different than those one has on forest or BLM lands.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Taking an opinion piece from Mountain Bike Magazine, in which MB writer Joe Lindsey stated that "public relations ideas Carter pioneered at the NRA merit study" and changing that to IMBA "has indicated an interest in emulating the National Rifle Association" is disingenuous.

    Over 400 interest groups have lobbied this Department of the Interior this year, and the NPS has been lobbied this year so far at record levels. The Sierra Club has lobbied the DOI and NPS. So has Campaign for America's Wilderness, Defenders of Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Helicopter Assn International.

    I agree with rick that NPT should come out against all lobbying groups that are "lobbying hard, and not always forthrightly" and the political system rather than picking on those lobbying a political cause that doesn't match NPT's editorial slant. The real problem isn't the NRA, NPCA, Sierra Club, or IMBA; the real problem is the political system.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Does anyone really doubt that once the camel has its proverbial nose under the tent, the next push will be to remove all restrictions on loaded weapons in parks? I sure don't.

    Slippery slope fallacy. You've also misinterpreted Chris W. Cox's statement, not that I think the NRA is better than any other lobby, including the ACLU or CNPSR. Cox stated that the Kempthorne's decision to review the ban is an important step in the right direction. And it is. It is an important step to restoring the Second Amendment on federal lands.

    The issue of wildlife poaching is also a red herring argument, which is used to divert the attention away from CCW permits.

    The current law prohibiting carrying concealed weapons has not stopped people from attempting to kill wildlife in parks. Additionally, the National Park Service does not keep comprehensive statistics on how much poaching occurs in its nearly 400 parks, so it's impossible to determine what percentage of of poaching was done by CCW permit holders and what kind of weapons were used in the incidents (concealable handguns or rifles). Without statistical evidence showing there was a decline in poaching following 1983's gun ban in national parks, I don't think anyone can make the case that this rule change will increase poaching.

    As far as punishing poachers, I think "roaming park roads at 2 a.m. and checking out fields with [a] spotlight" would be evidence enough of intent to poach and the loaded gun would be irrelevant.