Recent comments

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Rick, I appreciate your reply and base some of my statements on what I hear from my friends who are still employed in the agency and are now in the ranks of mid to upper management. Many of them tell me that they wish the NPS would get back to the basics of what it means to be a ranger instead of straying off in pursuit of the latest fad or WASO generated initiative.

    In the case of one ranger friend it means having a staff that is actually knowledgeable and conversant about the resource entrusted to its care. The unit where this person works has a staff that is not as well versed in the natural history of the park as it should be and tend to view it more or less as a stopover point on the career ladder with which to snag a management position and then move on to greener pastures in a more glamorous western park or preserve.

    Trying to improve the situation has been an uphill struggle and somewhat damaging to their career as they have been rebuffed more than once by upper management due to the perceived irrelevance resource knowledge has in pursuing the latest and greatest bold new initiative handed down from WASO such as podcasting and laughable claptrap like the "Interpretive Renaissance".

    Luckily for the American people this particular person loves the park in question and is more interested in learning further about it and finding better ways of protecting it than moving around the country in pursuit of a position description to place on an SF-171.

    I agree that this has been a good thread and I hope some of the commission members have been reading NPT in preparation for their upcoming task. Kurt should be the chair. All in favor say aye!

  • Toyota's Donation to Yellowstone National Park: Corporate Greenwashing, or Good Partner?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Riches in Yellowstone amount to plowing buffalo off the northern road in the winter, grooming the other roads for snowmobiles and snowcoaches (the rich rubbing the backs of the rich), and a budget to slaughter and haze bison, build overly large visitor's centers (now called education centers) - so if it were up to me, I would be glad to give the money and cars away. But, alas ...

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

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    http://forum.reddrumtackle.com/showthread.php?p=103427#post103427 (copy and paste to the browser you choose)

    The above pictures (taken at 3:30pm 8/31/2007 on the with the same point in the background as the SELC) combined with the un-doctoring by Ted Clayton above clearly refute the SELC photo as both a doctored photo and an irregular occurance. This was Labor day weekend in 2007 without a consent decree in place. For all of those who care to comment without ever having set a foot in the sands of this paradise please shut up. I traveled out to the point that day around several bird closures as I have for several years. These species have been protected by both the NPS and the persons who enjoy these beaches. Please also note my son in the photos above is an prime example of what you will see if you ever get the courage to visit. Calling him crass and obnoxious is why I will repeat "YOU WILL NEVER WIN THIS BATTLE" because we fight for these memories and you fight for a few birds that really have not the sense to use the areas given to them already. PS I know Mr Pitt personally and he did not doctor his photo, but he did include it to show that the entire seashore (and the facts) are not what the SELC wants you to believe.

  • Toyota's Donation to Yellowstone National Park: Corporate Greenwashing, or Good Partner?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I see no problem with the dontation. What concerns me, and as I have written about here before, is this is yet another example of the have and have-not park system that is developing. Yellowstone has the largest budget of any park (but not the most visitors). Plus, it takes in millions more from fees. There are many, many parks that are struggling with tight budgets that would love to have somone donate cars to them. But, the rich and famous get the attention. When it comes to national parks, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    No one has suggested that these areas be "sacrificed", just that maybe the rangers would be wearing different uniforms and driving different colored trucks.

    The Kissimmee Prairie State Preserve (50,000 acres) is the last remaining piece of undeveloped natural Florida prairie left on the peninsula and is considered to be of great national significance by scientists and preservationists all across the fruited plain. I'm happy to report that after a recent visit to the Kissimmee Prairie it is doing just fine as a unit of the Florida State Park system. The rangers were knowledgeable, the campground was clean and the trails were well marked and free of litter. Florida was treating its national treasure quite well.

    Monticello, Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, is certainly one of the most important historical homes in the U.S. and is doing just fine outside of the purview of the NPS, as is Mount Vernon and the Hermitage.

    Just because something is important doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be subjected to federal control. In fact the places I've mentioned are much better off without the politics, budget shortfalls and institutional neglect that is inherent in a massive federal bureaucracy. It would be a sad day indeed if any of the places I've mentioned above were to come under the administration of the Department of the Interior.

    Americans are quite capable of successfully administering nationally significant areas without the involvement of Washington, DC. I'm quite sure that most of my fellow citizens would agree.

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

    We stayed in the Devil's Campground the night of the collapse. During the night I thought I heard thunder. But it never happened again. Then early that morning, my family and I hiked the Devils Garden Trail (in 107 degree heat!) and came upon the collapsed Wall Arch. At this point in the morning, park rangers were only just being alerted to the collapse. We took lots of pictures and continued to view the rest of the arches on that trail. Amazing!!! Arches is my favorite NP. So Far....!!!!!

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

    Unfortunately these things tend to happen. What i'd like to know is, where were the parents when this happened?

    Myself, my fiancee and our 5 year old daughter stayed at Leconte Lodge and hiked it via the Alum Cave Trail on July 31st. We never let our daughter out of our site, because nature, although beautiful is very dangerous. I'm just glad the boy didn't suffer severe injuries.

    "Remember, if you carry it in, carry it out"

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Canaveral National Seashore encompasses more than 57,000 acres. It is a rare undeveloped stretch of Atlantic Coast and one of the only protected remnants of an ecoregion that WWF considers to be "critical/endangered." Only by ignoring Canaveral NS's enormous ecological importance could one claim that it does not have national significance or doesn't seem to amount to much. This area (and De Soto and Castillo de San Marcos, which have also been suggested for sacrifice) deserves to be in the National Park System and should stay there.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    To introduce a few things about myself, i have been backpacking, rock climbing, ice climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and road biking for the majority of my life. Everywhere from Yosemite to Chennai (formally Madras in India). I love tossing on my pack and walking off into the woods for a week or two as often as possible. I do not own a Segway, but would if i could afford one, not because i am lazy, fat or our of shape. but because they are simple a different way to enjoy your surroundings as well as something to be enjoyed all on its own. i have spent some time riding them around. Bob pointed out many truths about the segway.

    the average speed of a mountain biker on single track is 12 mile per hour, and they go much faster when their path is more than a foot and a half wide. segways max speed is 12 mph. a segway also does not take up any more ground space then a person standing (by design). My Jamis takes up a fair bit more.

    What is most important here is people being able to experience the parks the way they choose too, so long as they are not destroying the parks. which i see no way a segway destroys the park any more than a person on foot or a bike. The inventer of the segway Dean Kamen invented the segway not get rid of walking. He made it so people who get in their cars to drive 2 miles would have some other solution that isnt a bike. after all bikes have been around over a hundred years yet hundreds of millions of people still get in their cars and drive 2 miles to do what ever, the segway offers two new things for national parks.

    A new way to experience the parks, which means possibly seeing more encouraging people to come back and explore the great outdoors even further.

    it also gives people a new fun and safe means to see the parks that doesnt involve driving a car or motorcycle. the segway is a new solution to get people to stop driving cars where they dont need to be driven, it isnt like those people havent ever seen a bike, or are unaware of the troubles that face the environment today.

    correcting a few things, if a segway hits a person, everyone gets hurt and the segway stops. this isnt a train hitting a house cat. Riding a segway is work, just watch the documentary 10mph, and see how tired that guy is each day. i have been avoiding stereotypes here, but i have never seen an "lardass" riding a segway actually.

    What makes an experience more than anything else are the people. if we are friendly, respectful and enoy of each others company it doesnt matter if someone is jogging or on a bike or a segway, everyone should have a wonderful positive experience. it is when people turn sour toward each other that our experiences at the national parks are ruined.

  • That Booming You Hear in the Skies Over Yellowstone National Park? It Soon Could be the Sound of Artillery   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I am always amazed at how the US Government forgets that there are several branches, at least one of which should be willing to do the job as part of the training we pay for anyway. I was in the army and trained at Fort Sill, OK which is the UA Army Training Location for Artillery. The tax payer pays lots of money for training its artillery troops. Retraining is conducted on a regular basis anyway. Why can't the training be conducted in a real life setting where nature throws everything she has at them. Why shouldn't we finally get a bigger BANG for our buck. Of course it would have to be overseen by the National Park Service. Gee would that be possible? Two branches of the Government actually communicating over something worth while? Nah for get it that would NEVER happen. Oh will guess I was just thinking a little out of the box.
    Take Care and Enjoy OUR National Parks
    Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
    Chuck

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

    Jon,

    I expect that we will see many more carnivores, and perhaps with a delay, the full complement of major carnivores/omnivores, most everywhere.

    But I doubt we'll get there by throwing Fluffy to the wolves.

    Instead, we'll get there by hunting & killing 10% of the wolves, grizzlies, cougar and black bears each year. Roughly.

    Hunt-conditioning is the missing component in most conterminous management plans ... but it will be easily enough implemented, once we get serious about having them, and living with them. We're headed there.

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

    The trollys were tried a few years ago on one of the NE beaches. I can not recall but a google search should find it. I have also seen where the same enviro-groups have played the same game on Assateague. They just changed the bird from plover to something else.

    Here's what I see. The NPS has not improved CHNRP since the 70's as far as access for pedestrians and ORV's. The two groups trying to do what both thinks is right have proposed very different solutions. The pro-access group has proposed more parking lots/boardwalks/bathrooms to help with the beach traffic. This would eliminate most of the overcrowding during the summer months and give a great deal of the visitors somewhere to go. Pro-access has also proposed actively providing habitat for the birds and deterring the preditors.

    Although claims of only a few miles of beach were closed this summer, miles upon miles of beaches were landlocked so to speak because of closures on both ends of the open areas. No way to get to the open beaches.

    I would like to see more parking lots with bathrooms and boardwalks so people will a place to go. I would also like to see access sand roads behind the dunes to bypass the bird areas without disturbing them. They are already built just locked. I would also like to see areas made more hospitable for the birds and less hospitable for preditors. Along with this needs to be an unlimited permit system for ORV's with the proceeds used to keep the parking lots and public areas maintained and a written test to get a permit.

    The park service needs to get in the 21st century! There are over 300 million people in the US and the park has not been significantly improved to provide sufficient service to the citizens of the US.

    Finally, there is a place just inside the hatteras inlet that is not on the maps. It is a set of dredge islands created by dredging the inlets to keep them open. These islands are un-official NPS property and off limits during bird breeding season. That where 1000's of the birds are. They have there own island. The kicker here is that Audobon and the bird counters will not include these birds. That's right. The birds are here- don't be fooled. Look hard enough there are published pictures that they do not want you to know about so they can plead their case on the unknowing public.

    Don't be fooled. Find out the truth. Put the park back in the hands of the NPS not a judge and a paid lawyer.

  • Summer Slump? Lodging Deals To Be Found At Shenandoah National Park   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I visited the NPS Stats Olympic Park page, and the monthly visitation report shows us up 15% from last year. I was a little surprised, but it's understandable.

    I live along Scenic Highway 112, the old Strait of Juan de Fuca coast-route out to Cape Flattery, and the usual route for people going to the very popular (Park) Lake Ozette area, but am not on the direct route most Park-visitors travel. Hwy 112 is most-used by fishermen and RV campers who stay in commercial resorts.

    Hwy 112 has a single 1950s style General Store & gas pumps before the fishing-towns (a good 50 mile run), and they have told me that fuel sales are down.

    I got a chuckle out of the NPS Stats page for Olympic - they are counting a quarter million visitors at Lake Crescent, which I know 90+% just drive right past the facilities there. But the only Highway (101) that goes around the Park passes through the Park at Lake Crescent: they have no choice but to drive through and be counted as 'visitors'. Looks like a gimmick to me!

    But obviously the Park is getting a little traffic-bump this summer ... while the off-Park route is running lean.

    The 'wide asphalt' visitors on Hwy 101 will be largely the true-blue consumer-tourists, hitting the main stops and breezing past the details & complications. On Hwy 112, I see some big RVs or rigs towing ungainly things, that are obvious uncomfortable on the skinny tarmac and probably shouldn't be there ... but they aren't too common. We get a more-adventurous slice of the traffic, along the Juan de Fuca Strait coast.



    But hey - do you think the price of fuel has stopped climbing? People are mostly still toughing it out in the $4 a gallon range, but at some point (not too far off) there could come a break-down in customary habits & patterns.

    Next year, maybe two, we could see drastic things going on with fuel. The general plight & specific fallout for the Parks may be small potatoes for the nation as a whole, but it will be a sub-theme that complicates an already-difficult picture for the Nat'l Parks.

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

    Take a walk around the pool sometime and try not stepping in goose guano. It's a sickening experience. I walked with my daughter to tell her about the MLK speech and she asked if it was this stinky back then too.

    Come to think of it, Forrest Gump's eventual wife Jenny waded through that pool of water and later died... way before her time. It's true! We must drain the swamp!

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Go to islandfreepress to read the truth. Look for Dr. Mike Berry's comments.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I do not think some of you know what is actually going on here even though you have visited recently.

    1. The 08 restictions included pedestrians. No you could not walk on the beach without facing a $5000 fine/imprisonment and more beach closures. this was done by a federal judge without public/park input.

    2. The seashore has had few improvements for access for pedestrians and ORV's in the last 30 years. In the meantime, the US population has grown to over 300 million people.

    3. The pro-access groups that support ORV use are also proposing more access for pedestrian use that include more parking lots, bathrooms, and boardwalks for pedestrians. This would eliminate the overcrowding of vehicles as most would park in the parking lots. Yes there are a lot of vehicles in the pictures. Its most likely July or August. The other 10 months the beach is mostly a few fishermen or nature lovers. A few dozen at most.

    4. Basically the NPS needs our help getting into the 21st century so the park can be enjoyed not closed. There is room for all if managed properly.

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

    Someday we'll finally realize that the introduction of more carnivores into the ecosystem is the only long-term answer that will work. Yes, Fluffy and Mr. Ed are part of the food chain too.

  • Fort Donelson National Battlefield Commemorates the North’s First Major Victory in the Civil War   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Donelson also has a beautiful bald eagle pair that nests very near the fortification area on the water. A nice eagle foto I snapped last Spring, perhaps 50 feet from the Hal Jesperson foto above, is currently on my blog's header image (http://homeschoolrangers.wordpress.com/).

  • Remnants of Golf Course Being Removed from Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Hip Hip Hooray. Now take out Yosemite's pathetic 9-hole course too!

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Glad some of you are finally agreeing with me.

    From a post I made back on August 5th, 2007 (Setting Precedents in the Parks):

    <><><> Having the NPS pendulum sway back and forth from left to right, from administration to administration, is more of a problem than ANY of the superlatives I've seen mentioned here. No, that doesn't mean privatize it. It means create some buffers to protect the parks from the direct influence of a potential idiot in the oval office, whether left or right. In all their haste to make the president du jour happy, in the long run, NPS can easily wind up going nowhere and having spent a lot of money in the process. Perhaps consider installing NPS directors in the same way that Federal Reserve or CIA directors are... subject to approval by congress, and largely independent of the whims of politicians. <><><>

    PS -- Canaveral National Seashore, like many other NPS units, is a buffer between civilization and a highly controlled federal area (NASA) and will always remain in federal hands. Just like Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a buffer between CIA headquarters and the surrounding communities. There are many such examples out there that will always stay in federal hands and don't seem to amount to much when compared to the crown jewels of the system.

    -- Jon

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Jim,

    Yes, it's true that NPCA really only made my radar in recent months, with the start of the new firearms regulations comment period. I'd seen them in a blip here 'n there over the years, but never focused in. I don't have a detailed appreciation of the outfit, and could have painted them a little crudely.

    However, I was certainly impressed with how they 'went political', going for some major arm-twisting ... and I thought they did a lot of credit-burning (even bridge-burning) in an effort to 'set the talking points' to their liking ... all to no avail. But exactly which flavor of reality they prefer, I'm not as sure as I would be of the NRA!

    Commissions could be a great thing alright, but since they're generally not self-assembling, a lot depends on the even-handedness of the backers.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Working to Rescue Stranded Colorado River Rafters   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Steve Schmidt was rafting on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Is there a list of those rescued and those missing?

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

    I agree that the lodges are reserved well in advance almost year round. I submit that this phenomenon is more a function of exclusionary building, thereby limiting availability, in keeping with the sound business practice of manipulating the consumer by utilization of the theory: "limited supply maintains higher demand, resulting in a perpetually high (read: inflated) fiscal response by the supplier to the general marketplace". This is one of the oldest and most detestable tricks in the business bible folks. What should be raising your ire is that this methodology is successful if and ONLY if supported internally by, in this case, federal land management practices prohibiting or at the very least restricting commercial development inside the boundaries of NPS units while simultaneously maintaining a "dead zone" near to the parks that makes parkland lodging appear affordable due to the lack of reasonable alternatives. This "bonus" isn't something that the property managers ignore when calculating how big a bite to remove from your vacation budget. How else can you justify the meager accommodations for the outlandish investment? Sorry, but I place a slightly different definition on the term VALUE when I'm making an outlay of personal finances, and I do my level best not to give away the store solely for "convenience". You, on the other hand, can and will do as you please, laughing all the way, ho ho ho.

    Am I suggesting a boom in cheap hotel rooms (e.g. Motel 6, HoJo's) to be constructed on NPS lands? The simple thought of which starts my stomach acids over-producing...HELL NO! But I am an advocate of leaving the comforts of home at home. Who needs frilly bed skirts and Pay-per View movies in the middle of nowhere, as many denizens of urban life like to refer to the national parklands? Give 'em hiker rooms, a shower stall (3/4 bath), a decontaminated mattress and a ceiling fan; fresh air and a view of why they came out to the "wilderness" to begin with; memories to take home instead of shampoo bottles, ash trays and mints of their turned down bedding. Lower the overhead by reducing amenities. Maintain or increase overall profitability and place that funding DIRECTLY into the coffers of whatever unit we're debating. Too much to ask?

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Working to Rescue Stranded Colorado River Rafters   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Thanks to the dedicated park service professionals, helicopter pilots, Coconino County officials and the others who put their lives on the line to protect and save those who find themselves in life-threatening situations. Your dedication and skill are appreciated and admired. Thank you!

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Ted, I agree with you overall point, but I don't agree with your characterization of NPCA as a green/left organization, certainly not on one pole of society. As a left person myself, I only wish it were the case that NPCA were outside the mainstream. For the most part, it's been an advocacy unit for the National Park Service, not really a left organization.

    I think this process actually smacks of the mainstream and that the actual public represents a far more diverse range of opinions. But, your overall point is taken. Unless they recognize the need for greater transparency and public input (with teeth) in management, then I wouldn't be disappointed in seeing the ideas shelved. If such commissions prove to be ineffective tools, then we won't be so quick to acquiesce to them the next time someone proposes them. We could be talking about commissions working on almost anything - from steroids in baseball to figuring out 9/11 to this.

    It's a good gig as part of an overall advocacy strategy.

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