Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Refuses to Let County Cut Highways in Roadless Section of Death Valley National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Ted Z.,

    Sorry - I did not mean to leave the impression that my aim was to defend Inyo County or weigh the merits of their claims. If Inyo is anything like my home Clallam County here on the Olympic Peninsula, they have approval ratings that make Congress feel well-loved! And they earned them! ;-)

    Really, my aim was to address the depiction of R.S. 2477 itself as bogus, which is fairly common but inaccurate & misleading. The statute still applies to rights-of-way from before 1976. It was repealed in '76, for new claims, but pre-76 ROW is explicitly 'grandfathered' under it.

    Ted Z. said:

    Several of Inyo County's claims involve routes that the County never maintained, as far as anyone can tell. (emph. added)

    The provisions of R.S. 2477 never required the ROW be "maintained", only that it be "constructed"1. It is quite common - 'the rule', actually - that successful R.S. 2477 claims have been neglected & overgrown for long periods. ROW does not 'go away' because it is not maintained.

    While several high-profile disputes have revolved around the claims, and I daresay even the antics of specific Counties, R.S. 2477 is not aimed at, restricted to or mainly utilized by Counties. Anybody - from Grandma Pettipoo to Native Tribes to the State of Alaska to the full spectrum of NGOs from hunters & dirt-bikers to tree-huggers & animal-rights radicals can & have successfully used R.S. 2477.

    1. Bearing in mind the law was written in 1866, the meaning of "constructed" and "highway" were a good deal more modest than today. 'Trails' routinely qualify under R.S. 2477, today, and the construction involved consisted mainly in moving logs & boulders aside and hacking back bushes & limbs.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, I read a biography of Stephen Mather. He, the first superintendent of the national parks, was the mover and shaker behind putting luxury lodgings in the parks. The thinking was that until the elite of Washington, D. C. and the east coast had what they considered to be a comfortable place to stay, they wouldn't support the expansion of the national parks system. So that's why there is a presidential suite at the Ahwahnee. It was a smart plan and he had the best interests of the park system in mind when he did it.

  • Freak Rockfall Kills Colorado Couple At Glen Canyon NRA   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Forever in our Hearts they will be. Coming up on a year and still no sign of Uncle Don. Rest in peace! Love you and miss you both still.... We still can't believe you are gone. Thank the Lord, you both knew the Lord. See you in Heaven one day!!!

  • Federal Judge Refuses to Let County Cut Highways in Roadless Section of Death Valley National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Mr. Clayton makes some correct observations, but I disagree on a few points.

    Some extremist counties across the West view R.S. 2477 not as a shield to protect legitimate transportation needs but as a sword to defeat protections for wilderness, wildlife, and water quality on federal lands. For example, Kane County, Utah, ripped out federal closure signs and placed its own signs opening routes to off-road vehicles in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. They did this on routes federal land managers had closed to protect the Monument from damage from ORVs. And the County had never bothered to prove that the routes met the standards for R.S. 2477 rights-of-way. See http://www.highway-robbery.com/lands/utah13.htm

    Several of Inyo County's claims involve routes that the County never maintained, as far as anyone can tell. One of the routes identified in the County's complaint drops over a huge cliff. See http://www.highway-robbery.com/lands/California3.htm . In short, these alleged "highways" aren't the life-blood of travel or commerce in the County.

    Further, while it's true that the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) did not vacate rights-of-way that were created up until 1976, counties must still prove their claims in federal court if they want to challenge federal ownership. Congress provided only one way to do that: through the federal Quiet Title Act. And that law has a 12-year statute of limitations. That means that if federal land managers have put the County on notice more than 12-years that they didn't think a highway existed - for example, by protecting the area for its wilderness character - then the county can't waltz in later and say "that's our highway." So, the recent decision is right that Inyo County waited too long.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    My favorite lodge in the Canadian Rockies is Num-Ti-Ja Lodge in Banff National Park. It is located on the shores of Bow Lake, just off the Icefields Parkway. This facility was personally designed and constructed by mountain man, adventurer, guide, and big-game hunter Jimmy Simpson. I highly recommend Room 13. The service at the Lodge is outstanding as are its views of Bow Lake, the Wapta Icefield, and the Bow Glacier. The scenery from the vantage point of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is featured on recent Toyota TV ads.

    The prices for rooms at Crater Lake Lodge in Crater Lake National Park, starting at $143.00 per night, are quite a bit lower than the prices quoted for many of the other top ten lodges. I think the prices for the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite starting at $450.00 US, with suites going over $1000.00 per night, are far beyond the economic means of the greater majority of national park visitors.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Traveler's Picks for Where to Get Wet in the National Park System   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Of course there's the chance to get wet by wading or swimming in the deepest lake in the USA at Crater Lake National Park. Hike down the Cleetwood Trail to Cleetwood Cove and let your feet dangle off the boat docks, or better yet, go for a swim. Take a ranger-guided boat tour to Wizard Is. and use either the docks or the boulders composed of andesitic basalt lava as a platform for diving into the lake.

    Crater Lake is among the purist lakes in the world, since practically all of its water comes from direct precipitation, mostly in the form of winter snow. A very small amount of lake water comes from the melting of snow accumulation on the inner caldera walls and from inner caldera springs.

    The water in Crater Lake is extremely clear. A Secchi disk reading was recorded on June 25, 1997 at a depth of 41.5 meters (136 feet). This is the maximum depth at which the disk can still be seen by someone observing from a boat.

    The best time to get wet in Crater Lake is in August and early Sept. During these months, the surface water of Crater Lake may appproach 60 degrees F, but don't dive too deeply; the water temperature drops precipitously with increasing depth. Swimming in Crater Lake in June is only for the brave and courageous. The maximum surface temperature of the lake during this month is merely 48 degrees F.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    10 lodges......average MINIMUM cost per room a scant $280.50 per night + tax, (as you'll see noted in the article, room rates begin at the base prices listed and most accommodations within the lodges are notably higher, especially if you require a "room with a view"), min/max for BASE rooms of $85/$550, and 85 bucks doesn't even get you a bathroom. I wonder if you get a bed or a cot in a closet. If you seriously can't think of anything better to do on your visit to "our national parks" (OK, I'll cut the Canadians in, but Dr. Bob's right, San Fran doesn't qualify) with your $300+ dollars than literally waste it for one day's lodging, with no meals, gratuities, or any other amenities included, you deserve everything bad in life that happens to you. Really folks, for what amounts to paying the equivalent of almost $40/hour for a place to sleep, or $30/hour if you sit on the veranda and have a cocktail or two, oops, forgot to factor in the cocktail....make that $40/hour either way, you must be educationally impaired.

    In other threads we've bandied about the pricing of simple entry fees to certain NPS units being well above the level that allows for a large segment of society to even consider visiting. I say, kick out corporate run lodging, let people know they've about to embark on a trip to a National Park, not some damn country club, spare the useless amenities which only serve to drive the cost of day-to-day business operations through the roof, regain control of basic operational costs and stop running these lodges as luxury hotels. If a certain segment of the population stops visiting because they aren't going to be treated as though they're "special", fine, let 'em stay home and watch TLC, Discovery, PBS, or the other outlets where these fine landscapes are displayed. All that money being wasted, no monetary benefit to the NPS, and people actually have the gall to raise issues with the entrance fees and permit costs? Somebody needs to kick you in the vertical smile and dislodge your head from the orifice in which it’s become "lodged".

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Kurt, you're absolutely right about Curry Village. That is more accurately called a tent slum; crowded, noisy, filthy bathrooms, penned in between the roads and parking lot, large unappealing dining hall with food that provides calories but nothing else. TML and to a lesser extent White Wolf Lodge have a different ambience entirely. Small, quiet, better dining, uncrowded...at least until I posted here about how wonderful TML is.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    This is a general comment. I am in no way saying this child provoked the situation. I've visited this area many times and have encountered bears several times. I've heard stories about people leaving food out and/or not latching trash containters so they could attract bears. I've witnessed a few dumpster diving bears and they act pretty fearless of humans. Why do people leave food traps? I'm not sure if they're hoping to get a photo on vacation or what. But, I believe this is what helps to create agressive bear behavior near humans. In Cade's Cove, I've seen people stop their cars and jump out with their cameras to get as close as possible to capture a bear photo. I think people need to be more respectful of nature, but I also agree that if relocation isn't a possibility, the animal should be destroyed for safety reasons. It's sad, but the behavior most likely will not change once they're agressive.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I almost mentioned TML, Kath;-)

    Of course, not all tent cabin accommodations were created equal. While Curry Village utilizes the same tent cabins as those at TML, I'd never put Curry Village on a "best lodging" list.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Thank goodness my favorite, the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, a group of tent cabins in Yosemite, isn't on the list. It's hard enough now to get a reservation there. Staying at the TML is a much more authentic national park experience than at all those fancy places far removed from nature.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Kurt: You established a new word in your blog that has been a important contribution to the National Parks: Parkitecture! When I review some the architecture or "parkitecture" of the past that was established back in the 1920's, and post war 1930's with the civilian conservation core (CCC), I take a moment to reflect with respect (and great awe) the men and women that put these enormous projects together and gave us some of the most beautiful architecture, bridges, trails and infrastructure of the world. The enormous undertaking of these projects still today brings us much pleasure to see and visit. The past architects had a very special talent blending in the natural surroundings of the landscape with it's design concepts that fitted well with it's environment. More less to say, "form follows function" which was coined by the famed architect Frank L. Wright. I deeply regret today, we don't have that same passion and movement to re-establish our National Parks on the same level or plateau of inspiration, dedication and commitment, which definitely reflects from the lack of true leadership in this country. The National Parks today are nothing but a parasitic breeding ground for corporate interests and to the corporate pimps that pander for it's greed.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Such lists, of course, are entirely subjective. That said, there are some glaring omissions, such as Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn, if you like rustic atmosphere, or Lake Hotel, if you prefer elegance. Either, in my book, surpass Many Glacier, which, though in a spectacular setting, needs some serious restoration work and renovations. The rooms are small and cramped, the furnishings shabby. Or at least they were when I visited in 2005.

    Also missing is the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley, another top lodging in my opinion. And what of the Stanley Hotel, which, although outside the park boundaries, long has been tied to Rocky Mountain National Park?

    What goes into the perfect national park lodging list can not easily be defined. Do you want rich, rustic flavor, such as that which originally went into the Old Faithful Inn, the Bryce Canyon Lodge, Grand Canyon Lodge, and other creations of the original "parkitecture" movement? Do you want more modern amenities and, dare I say, class, such as can be found in The Ahwahnee and Lake Hotel? Should the setting be remote and presumably pristine? Should a decent restaurant be part of the package? What of cost? While Jenny Lake Lodge certainly exudes rustic charm with service to boot, and meals included, $550 a night seems a tad much, no?

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I agree that including Canadian parks is cheating. And no lodges from Yellowstone? As for Cavallo Point: I know this is an adapted use of Fort Baker buildings, but why was it allowed? The concessions laws say that the NPS should not have concession operations where the service or merchandise can reasonably be secured outside the park. There is no shortage of hotel rooms in San Francisco. For years, people have approached Cabrillo National Monument with proposals to build a hotel or restaurant there. There can be little doubt that with its spectacular view of San Diego, such a place would be a financial hit. But, there is no way to justify such a concession at the park. Sure, Golden Gate NRA wanted to find a way to preserve the historic buildings at Fort Baker, but why a commerical lodging business? I think this website has previously noted the many odd workings of GGNRA - is it a national park or a government/private sector land management enterprise? Good question.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I'm from the USA and oddly enough, the only two lodges on the list that I've stayed in are the Canadian ones. Although both were great experiences, Banff Springs Hotel is in town and doesn't really feel like it's in a national park. Jasper Lake Lodge is one of my favorites. High on my "to do next" list are Many Glacier Hotel, Crater Lake Lodge and Paradise Inn. I agree with you, though, the rates are a bit intimidating. So, what makes the perfect national parks lodge list? What parameters would you include?

  • How To Buy National Park-Related Gifts Without Leaving Home   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I emailed Inner Peace Designs to see when they will be finished with their new National Park Ornaments. They expect them to be online and in stores for sale but the end of September erley October. I already own several pieces they sell. What beautiful work they produce! I've been to Sedona, AZ where they make ornaments of all the red rocks. I haven't seen anyone match their quaity. Can"t wait!

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 5 weeks ago

    To be fair to the writer, it's in the "US and Canada" travel section. Looks to me like whoever wrote the headline didn't read the whole thing.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I was at Landscape Arch on Monday around 1:00 pm. I can confirm that it was bloody hot. My other family members made us turn back rather than continuing the final 1/4 mile to Wall arch. I'm sorry now that I didn't push them around the next bend of the trail. We also had some rain that evening where we were, near 4 corners. I would support the theory that the week of hot weather followed by a rapid cooling and maybe a bit of rain as the straw that broke the arches back :-)

  • Federal Judge Refuses to Let County Cut Highways in Roadless Section of Death Valley National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    You said of Inyo Co.'s action:

    County officials had hoped to take control of the routes using a repealed, 19th-century right-of-way law known as R.S. 2477.

    The BLM R.S. 2477 Rights of Way page summarizes:

    Section 8 of the Mining Act of 1866 provided: “and be it further enacted, that the right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.” The statute was self enacting; rights being established by “construction” of a “highway” on unreserved public lands, without any form of acknowledgement or action by the Federal government. This section of the statute was later re-codified as Revised Statute 2477. R.S. 2477 was repealed by FLPMA on October 21, 1976, with a savings provision for rights established prior. (emph. added)

    That appears to mean that although new claims after 1976 cannot be established, those rights-of-way that were established before 1976 are protected under the statute.

    If Inyo County did once have some sort of now-neglected rough road-bed carved across routes in Death Valley, and/or they show on various old maps, etc., then they probably have the legal traction to push their claim on up the appeals-chain, if they want to.

    A cornerstone of the R.S. 2477 situation, is that the historic & ongoing ANCSA and ANILCA Lands Claims Settlement process in Alaska have incorporated R.S. 2477-based resolutions into major legal precedent. These were not squabbles between dirt-bike riders and preservationists, but a matter of Congressional Record.

    A glance at the Google search returns for r.s. 2477 show that those of an environmentalist/preservationist orientation are inclined to portray the Statute as a meaningless curio which their opposition is attempting to misuse. Old usage-routes, though, are legally covered, and court cases are begin won.

    R.S. 2477 can lead to quandaries. Private landowners, some of them for generations, have been challenged to allow recreational riders to use long-neglected routes on their land.

    There is a popular movement (largely environmentalist & allies-driven) to 'convert' abandoned railroad right-of-way into magnificent public trail systems. If I am not mistaken (correct me if I am) these are in some cases based on R.S. 2477.

    Inyo County may have damaged their claim, by bulldozing part of the routes they wanted, without seeing the claim through the courts first.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Anonynous do you have any idea how much exercise you can get on a snowmobile. You have obviously never been on one and therefore have no idea what it's like, and furthermore snowmobiles are a way to get out and experience nature and if you knew anything about it at all you would realize that that is why alot of people snowmobile and that you can see alot more on a snowmobile than walking. You also talk about skiing. Did you even think for a second that skiing requires a lodge and lifts that will destroy alot more than a snowmobile trail that wildlife will actually use? Think of it this way, many people go out and take road trips along scenic routes to experience wildlife and scenery. Snowmobiles are the exact same thing except you don't go as fast and you're not enclosed so you're experiencing everything even more. Maybe takling away snowmobiles from Yellowstone would be the best thing but only because of pollution. I say maybe because with new engines coming out they are quieter and cleaner than ever. Snowmobiling has nothing to do with obesity or blood pressure because i guarantee you that most snowmobilers are more fit than non snowmobilers and it has nothing to do with a younger generation because snowmobiling has been around for a long time. I would be very happy if our generation was all for snowmobiles, but the popularity has declined because (people) like you telling people that snowmobiling is bad for you. It may "amaze" you that people are bringing in "motorized crap" but what amazes me is how much you're willing to bash something you obviously know knothing about. I can't beleive someone this stuipid could acually think he knows anything about what's best for people or Yellowstone.

  • Star Party Scheduled for June 21-28 at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    More than likely they were two bright meteors occurring 1/2 hour apart that were part of the show of the spectacular August 11 and 12th Perseid meteor shower.

    At 9:30 PM at night at the Grand Canyon, the waxing gibbous moon would have been high in the southern sky, causing only the brightest of the Perseid meteors to be readily visible. The best time for viewing the Perseid meteors would be after the moon set in the west, perhaps after 3:30 AM. Then, the meteor count could have exceeded 100 per hour.

    Comets are seldom seen with the naked eye. Once spotted, however, they do not appear to be moving, except when plotting their position among the background stars from one day to another. Most comets are quite dim and observed using mounted binoculars as grey-green fuzzy objects with bright centers.

    Comet tails become visible when the comet nears the sun and the icy head of the comet begins to vaporize and reflect sunlight. This means that comets with tails will be observed mostly after dusk or in the pre-dawn sky, unless the tail of the comet forms while the comet is further away from the sun than is Earth.

    Comet P17/Holmes, which was visible last fall high in the eastern sky within the constellation Perseus, was situated between Mars and Jupiter when it suddenly exploded. Its brightness increased by over 1 million times in 42 hours. This was supposedly the result of an impact with a small asteroid or an internal explosion from the build-up of internal gases that caused much of its head to vaporize, expand, and reflect sunlight.

    The coma, or visible vaporous head of this comet, became the largest object in the solar system at the time, but since the comet was almost directly opposite the sun from Earth, no tail could be seen. The the tail of comet P17/Holmes was pointing directly away from the sun, and thus, it was also pointing directly away from any observer on Earth. At the time, it appeared to be the second or third brightest star in Perseus.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 5 weeks ago

    The Rangers want to go to the party too! I mean, why shouldn't they have armor, APC's and automatic weapons? The police and law enforcement groups have gotten out of control in this country feeding us all crap "we are being outgunned by the criminals!" they say. Oh yeah? Has ANYONE seen any credible increase in the criminals using, carrying and killing with automatic weapons? With Body armor? it is a myth designed to keep their budgets high and you a second class citizen. Authorized Personal Only.

    While they have been trying to disarm us, since 9/11 the government has authorized virtually every office to carry weapons when they see fit. Not just the FBI either. The FCC, SEC, FDA, State Deparntment, EPA and so on. Seriously, a note from their boss and they can carry anytime anywhere and that is that.

    Editor's note: This comment was shortened for clarity.

  • Commission Formed To Explore Future of National Parks   6 years 5 weeks ago

    National Rifle Association to Formulate National Parks Future *
    *Not true. This comment is satire!

    Two former U.S. Senators have today announced that the NRA (National Rifle Association) has assembled an august body of experts who will assist the American nation to overcome the cumulative maladies of a decaying National Park System, to formulate in consultation with a range of regional experts a viable course for our treasured but endangered Parks over the coming century.

    I was very relieved to read through Kurt Repanshek's report of this new commission, and then see him summarize by gently clearing his throat and pointing out - at this stage - the lack of accountability or authorization for any such commission.

    If anybody with the necessary funding and access to media-release platforms can assemble a blue-ribbon commission to advise on the future of our national assets, then what's to prevent the NRA from backing the next such proposal?

    There are, after all, more than a few retired Senators who are NRA members.

  • National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I'll keep my money in my wallet. $80 is not reasonable. Since I was only a parks user, a 60% increase in fees to me is too much. I will take my chances, pay fees at the parks when I go, and probably plan fewer visits.

  • Commission Formed To Explore Future of National Parks   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Earlier in this discussion, Rick Smith made some excellent points. I would hope they come to the attention of this commission.

    I know these commissions have their pros and cons, but the reality is that in the present system the NPS operates in a political environment. If this latest commission will address the kinds of questions raised by Rick, and the result is some additional support for parks in the political arena , it seems this has an opportunity to be helpful.

    Jim