Recent comments

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I had my family and myself threatened in a Wilderness campsite on the Jacks Fork River in Southern Missouri by a bunch of drunk fools at 2 am. They ran their pick-up just a few feet from the tent with thier brights on us, honking shouting obscenities and throwing beer cans at our tent. I have a CCW permit and I kept my gun locked in a case unloaded just as the park rules require. In my tent was two 15 year old girls, my ten year old and my wife. When I stepped out of the tent to confront these fools, I prayed that these were just drunk teen agers. They pulled out went I stepped out of the tent, but they came back hours latter to run through the camp again spinning their tires and shouting and honking at us. The nearest ranger was about 25 miles away and there is no cell phone service in that deep valley. I am 56 years old and I have never been faced with this sort of behavior in these parks. What if they had wanted to fight me? Would my kids have been raped? Might I have been beated unconscious? Put your self in that situation and ask yourself what you would have done. My wife and I are scout leaders and our kids are scouts. I have never seen the insides of a police station. I have 10 years in the military and have had more firearms training than most rangers in these parks. My concealed carry permit required a complete FBI background check. I am stunned by the attitudes of those who would deny me from defending myself in these remote places.

    You think this sort of thing will never happen to you. Put yourself in my shoes and think about this issue one more time.

  • National Park Quiz 8: Firsts   6 years 8 weeks ago

    There is a simple solution to the nomenclature issue. Everything is a National Park or a National Historic Park. Since the 1978 Redwood Act and amendments and NPS policies make it clear that parks are parks, we should get over the idea of some sort of hierarchy in names or protection of "national park" as some sort of sacred higher calling no deserved by Santa Monica Mountains or Amistad. (After all, Cuyahoga changed from NRA to national park and the world did not end.) No company would allow its brand to be as muddled and indistinct at the NPS has allowed its to be. 19 different designations at last count. And the Forest Service and BLM have national monuments and national recreation areas that are not part of the National Park System. It would be so much easier for the public to understand - and support - the national parks if they understood what they are. I believe that changing titles to the two simplest terms, both with "national" and "park" in them would be the single best thing that can be done to increase support, and thus preservation, visitation, and funding, for parks

  • Recalling Yellowstone National Park's Historic 1988 Fire Season   6 years 8 weeks ago

    So far, we've had a remarkably similar spring; a few locals are a little worried especially with all the news stories reminding people of 1988. As for me, I think fire's really beautiful.

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

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Phil, if you read this article carefully it specificaly says that OST owns the land. NOT the federal government. How would you like it if someone else was making all the decisions concerning your yard?

  • National Park Quiz 8: Firsts   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I know you want to college, Sabattis, so I have to ask you this; Are any of your professors still alive? I mean, are there any that you didn't drive to suicide?

  • National Park Quiz 8: Firsts   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Terminology is definitely one of the difficulties that Park Advocates have in all aspects, from both the light-hearted (like these quizzes) to even the most serious issues. I have yet to see anyone come up with a good solution for how to handle the fact that the word "National Park" refers to both any one of 58 "National Park National Parks" and refers to any one of 391 "Units of the National Park System." Unfortunately, "National Park National Parks" just sounds goofy, and "Units of the National Park System" sounds stilted.

    But yes, it looks like Acadia needs to update their claim-to-fame as being the "oldest" National Park East of the Mississippi - but not the "first."

  • Day Hike Turns Fatal at Mount Rainier National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Recreational insurance? That's the most rediculous thing I've heard. It's organized extortion. Complaining about how much SAR costs taxpayers is ludacris. Do you also complain about the cost of police and fire patroling your community? Bad things happen, sometimes to experienced individuals and sometimes not, whether it's high on a mountian or on your local freeway. It's life.

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Rif Raf? Im sorry my friend but nature is open to everyone, it does not discriminate such as you do. We all come from this earth and we all have a right to enjoy it. Man cannot and will not be able to limit who can enjoy the earths natural wonders with meaningless "prices".

  • National Park Quiz 8: Firsts   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Jeez, Sabattis, now I gotta take ten minutes out of a busy day just to deal with your questions and make sure my weaselspeak is as bulletproof as I can make it. :-) Don't be downtrodden that you missed #1. Until now only four people in the world, all of us insiders, have been privy to that information. Item #4 has obviously sent you into a tizzy. Note that I capitalized National Park (of which there are currently 58) and stop muddying the water with all those historic sites and battlefields and such. That said, you are correct about Mackinac Island National Park, which was part of the system (originally as Mackinac National Park) for a while before being de-authorized and subsequently converted into a Michigan state park. The Hauptquizmeister will revise the quiz to take this into account. Hot Springs National Park is a red herring, pure and simple. I have no doubt that you already know that and are just yanking my chain (sigh.....). Hot Springs Reservation was established by Congress in 1832 to protect the thermal springs, not to create a pleasuring ground open to the public (one thing you have to do if you want to call a place a park). It wasn't until 1880 -- eight years after Yellowstone became a national park -- that Congress finally got around to adding that public recreational proviso. And it wasn't until 1921 that Congress designated Hot Springs National Park. As for #10, well, who says that none of the the quiz items can be devilishly difficult?

    PS: Sabattis, we need to contact Acadia National Park, remind them about Mackinac Island National Park, and tell them they've got it all wrong on their official NPS-approved home page, which includes this statement (boldface is mine):

    The First National Park East of the Mississippi River

    People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery.

  • National Park Quiz 8: Firsts   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Tough quiz this week - only seven right! The first question was a really good one (and one I was unaware of - that Yellowstone was originally desigated as simply "Yellowstone Park"), but question #10 was tough simply for the sake of being tough.

    I'd also like to quibble with question #4. The honor of the first National Park east of the Mississippi probably belongs to Mackinac National Park, which was later delisted. A number of other areas of the National Park System east of the Mississippi were also set aside earlier including Rock Creek Park (like Yellowstone only missing the "National" in its name - albeit "not like Yellowstone" in so many other ways), Ford's Theatre, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, the original five Civil War Battlefields (Chickamauga & Chattanooga, Anitetam, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Vicksburg), and to be real nit-picky about it, the Chalmette Battlefield, which is now part of Jean Lafitte NHP&Preserve, is located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi.

    And finally - what no question about Hot Springs National Park? Hot Springs, of course, was set aside as a Reservation in 1832.... 32 years before Yosemite and 40 years before Yellowstone!

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    All of this talk of "Half Dome is too dangerous" is absurd. Look at the list of deaths! Sheesh. It's a like 2-3 a decade. Sure, it's becoming more popular, but driving in your darn car is more dangerous statistically. Most people know that this is a difficult hike and anyone with a DROP of common sense will be perfectly ok. Don't climb when it's wet... duh? Don't climb it if the [cables] aren't up (unless you know what you're doing)... duh? Bring lots of water for your 12 hour hike... duh? Don't climb the dome if you're scared of heights... duh? Don't climb when there's a storm brewing... um, hello? Don't climb if you're not a healthy person... DUH. Duh to the infinite power. My God.

  • Coal-Fired Plants Obscuring National Park Vistas   6 years 8 weeks ago

    What will economics matter when there is no clean air to breathe, no drinking water left, no arable land? Do the oceans need to rise over your head, tornadoes need to rip your house down before you'll realize that money won't matter if the planet's ecosystems are destroyed - unless your credible economists can devise a plan to launch us all into space to inhabit another habitable planet, then I'd say you and the rest of us have 2 choices - start the rapid demise of humanity (die) or start building solar and wind power energy systems. Not some token attempt - now is the time - it is humanity's last chance. When nature's tipping point is reached within the next 5 years, our typical American tombstone mentality will not be able to fix the effects. Enough sunlight falls on the surface of the earth to power every energy-grabbing device known - why won't we take advantage of it? Because the oil, coal, and nuke barons (BigEnergy) want to revel in their shortsighted and shortlived excess. Most of them won't be alive when Nature takes her wrath on us. Hope their kids have an accurate starchart - there's another habitable planet close by, right? In 10 years, the US could instead be the world leader in solar, wind, and tidal power production - the systems and technology exported all over the world, millions of jobs formed by private enterprise and government incentives, lots of money to be made. There's economics for you. There, and nowhere else, is hope.

  • Deal to Close Sugar Plant and Preserve 187,000 Acres Should Benefit Everglades National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    This is absolute wonderful news, probably the most significant environment preservation action of the year, if not the last ten years.

    It's not without economic impact: between the loss of jobs at U.S. Sugar, the debt load on the State of Florida, and the possible increase in the price of sugar due to reduced production, this is not an easy, cheap fix.

    However, based on the health of the Everglades, and possibly the health of water tables throughout South Florida (witness the historic low levels of Lake Okeechobee), it's money well spent.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I do not support giving any portion of our National Parks back to any group. From my view the protection and management of our National Parks have been in capable hands of the National Park Service. If we begin to break of portions of our parks to this and that group because it is felt that at one time it was owned by a specific group it could open up use of that portion of the park with no restrictions, managment or regulation. Let us preserve the natural beauty and history of our parks as it was originally intended.

  • Mount Rainier National Park Officials Mulling Future of Carbon River Road   6 years 8 weeks ago

    In my opinion, this road was never meant to be. Being located in a floodplan doomed it from the start. All places do not have to be accessible by wheeled vehicles ! Some places are too critical to their environment to have stabilized, modern roads built in them. I understand that all people can not get out and hike but all things cannot be for all people. Must all of our natural environment and its flora and fauna be destroyed to "tame" an area and make it vehicle friendly ? Let's give the adjacent designated wilderness a break and let the road become a foot trail !

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 8 weeks ago

    This is a brilliant post by Sabattis.

    Although I do not agree with some of the selected potential Park Advocates -- I am still too bruised by the dishonest behavior of the NRA over the establishment of the parklands in Alaska -- but he challenges us to think out of the box, and we must.

    We should try to triangulate the philosophy being imported with the Advocate, and consider how this will affect the NPS of the future. But Sabattis is right that we need to be daring in our consideration. The problem with the Picaithley-type park advocate is we have heard all of this kind of bland advocacy before, and the truth is it only thrills those who already believe it.

    Meantime, the NPS is trying to limit some of the real efforts to expand its constituencies -- for example the major effort going on right now to turn one national heritage area against another. Heritage areas were initially seen as cost effective ways to protect whole landscapes without excluding the existing populations and practices that made an area special. English Heritage and the british National Trust have had great success having the equivalent of permanent national parks that take in whole landscapes and populations, with minimal expense, and the idea was to import something similar to the USA, to provide provide permanent protection with Park interpretation and management ethics, and new park strategies such as Rivers and Trails, or state-side land acquisition and national landmarks programs. [From the start some areas of opposition to heritage areas, such as the NPS budget office, immediately insisted that heritage areas never could be as significant to the Nation as national parks, and never should be permanent, even though it could easily be demonstrated that heritage areas could leverage very small amounts of money very efficiently, and often collaborated with important constituencies that previously were almost never on the side of national parks. these people managed to do some damage, such as confusing which areas were nationally significant and the equal of national parks with those places that were not, and also the enemies tried to get the NPS as far as possible from the program so NPS would not benefit, but so far the program and its constituencies kept expanding.]

    But just as the US programs has begun to take off, NPS and some pals in the appropriations committee staffs are trying to pit new or potential heritage areas against already-established-heritage-areas, by limiting the overall funding and having the NPS distribute the funding. Previously, congress determined ultimately funding for each area, just as congress now determines how much money will go into each NPS construction project. By restricting the overall amount, and getting the NPS to distribute the money it means either there will be no new areas, or the older areas will have to fall off the back of the truck. As a result, we can expect that the Alliance for Heritage Areas will start opposing new heritage initiatives.

    This is the sort of dividing of constituencies that is killing the NPS. NPS needs, as Sabattis points out, to find energetic ways to expand its constituencies, and people who love parks need to support these efforts.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Don't forget Mo, they probably owned your land at one time also.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Yeah, support returning it, until they start building casinos and other commercial enterprises there!

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Thank you for the detailed and thorough article about this subject. I will be very interested to see what happens with the Badlands. I support returning this land to the rightful owners. The Lakota, the Navajo, the Paiute, and other tribes deserve their land returned to them, and can manage it in accordance with their values and culture. I hope others will support the legislation needed to effect this return of tribal lands.

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I stand corrected. Sabattis is correct. Great Falls Park was a separate park when it was part of the Northern Virginia Parks, but became a part of GW Parkway when it was transferred to the NPS in the 1960s.

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 8 weeks ago

    This is a good post. There certainly has been a lack of political will on behalf of the Parks.

    I would just caution that it is not simply enough to argue that $5 billion is only .002% of the Federal budget, and so $5 billion could be diverted to the Parks "without anyone noticing." $5 billion is still *five billion* dollars, or put another way, $5,000,000,000. $5 billion works out to about $43 of each of the 117 million taxpayers in the US. And certainly, Washington is just swarming with other interest groups that would love to get $5 billion for *their* priorities - whether its $5 billion for flood relief, bailing out the Highway Trust Fund, more childhood vaccinations, more research into alternative fuels - you name it.

    It might also be helpful to consider who the advocates are for some of the things that do get funded in Washington. Yes, defense spending has its share of "hawks" in support of it, but they seem to also benefit from the distribution of military bases and defense contractors. For example, if I remember correctly, the famous (or infamous) Rep."B-1 Bob" Dornan of California was not just a "hawk" - but also represented the District where those aircraft were to be built. Its the old adage that "all politics is local" yet again. I don't actually know for sure, but I wonder how many representatives of Districts containing major National Parks are also strong advocates for those Parks? And if not, I wonder what role the sometimes tense relationshp between the National Parks and the gateway communities plays a role in that.

    Dr. Picaithley also correctly cites that the NPCA is clearly not enough - but then he curiously cites the "Guns in Parks" issue as Exhibit A. I've been somewhat mildly suprised that the NPCA has decided to make "Guns in Parks" such a centerpiece issue over the past several month. 2nd Amendment Issues are one of the most-divisive in the country, right up there with abortion and the Iraq War - and a good half of this country generally comes down on either side. (Some would even argue that its slightly more than half on the side of "gun rights" (whatever that means) - after all, when was the last Presidential Candidate to capaign on greater gun control?) So at best, this "Guns in Parks" issue is a matter of persuading a good 50%-or-so of the people that are generally in favor gun rights to make a exception to their general inclinations in the case of National Parks. At worst, this large-scale campaign turned off many of these people from the larger idea of becoming advocates for the National Parks - perhaps reinforcing the perception that advocates for the Parks are on the "other side" of the partisan divide in this country.

    If Dr. Picaithley is right that the current coalition of Park Advocates is inadequate to the task of enacting real change on behalf of the Parks, then that coalition is going to need to be expanded. Defining that coalition on the basis of maintaining gun control policies, however, seems unlikely to accomplish that task. What other issues might expand that coalition? I've suggested above that gateway communities and "Park neighbors" would ordinarily be one place to look - but obviously there are decades of fraught relationships there. If I wanted to play devil's advocate, I might suggest that the "bicycling community" could be another addition - perhaps even looing beyond the mountain-biking community, but also perhaps investigating bicycling as an option in the "National Historic Trails" program (which currently focuses mainly on driving tours, with some exceptions). I definitely don't have all the answers (I may not even have some of them), but if the description of the symptoms here is accurate, then it may well be that the proper solution is finding out how to expand the coalition of Park Advocates.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I must comply with the law. However, sometimes you must choose the safety of your family or friends at any cost. There are many "laws" that need to be changed. For example, there are many very liberal, gun hating Cities, that have strict firearm restrictions. In some cases, like the Pizza delivery man who was robbed several times, at gun point, chose to carry a gun (which was illegal in his City/State), and was robbed again at gun point and he shot the criminal (that would be the robber, but I realize some liberals might wonder which criminal now I was talking about). The liberal Prosecutor decided to prosecute the Pizza Man, and actually faced a larger sentence than the real criminal (that would be the thug).

    So, I guess a criminal is not a criminal, is it? Would you blow through a red light on your way to get your child to the hospital? AND, after your description of how AT RISK Rangers are (I'll take your word on this...just because) God that might want to make all people blow through that Red Light..? Rangers should be tickled pink that there just might be some good people (with guns)...just in case one of those "bad guys" vacationing (presumptively with a gun too) decided to be bad.

  • National Park Quiz 7: Islands   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Bob --

    I haven't seen the original article myself, and it doesn't appear to be on line. But here are two links which have the story:

    Not a lot of detail here but these stories usually don't have much anyway!

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    P.S. What is the story behind this "photo"? Its definitely an odd one...

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Actually, Kurt, you had it right the first time. Olmsted Island *is* part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, it is located on the Maryland side of the main portion of the Potomac River. The following map from the National Park Service makes that clear:

    And, at the risk of being a nit-picker, Great Falls Park is actually *not* a Unit of the National Park System by itself. Rather it is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway - and in fact rescues the GWMP from being the only National Park Unit devoted to the morning and evening commute! ;-) That's a fairly obscure fact, however - I've even found some NPS Rangers at Great Falls Park itself unaware of this fact. The following link delineates that official 391 "Units of the National Park System."

    Perhaps the difficulty in mobilizing support for the National Park System is no surprise, given the difficulty of understanding just what is in the National Park System!