Recent comments

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Actually, Jim has two good points: 1.) buy land and 2.) return land appraisers to the NPS. The consolidation of land appraisal in the Department was a politically motivated move on the part of the Bush Administration to control the land acquisition process so that it could be stalled or stopped. That and the lack of interest on the part of the Congress to approriate money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund has brought land acquisition to almost a complete halt. This is not only bad for park resources, but it is highly unfair to landowners who have property within the authorized boundaries of national park areas and are left holding the bag while acquisition delays continue on and on. It's not a pretty picture.

    Rick Smith

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I couldn't agree more with Jim. Indeed, buying land is the most logical plan of action for this year at least. It goes without saying that without any land to work on, none of these proposals could be made feasible. The current economic situation will allow buying land a more viable option for most people. NPS should capitalize on that as soon as possible.

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Thanks for the eye-opening article...

    Maybe the next project could be widening Skyline Drive to a six lane freeway, leveling some of those damned hills that slow us down, and finally get some MacDonald's and WalMarts up there.

    And how 'bout getting Mount Vernon turned into a one-story ranch style home with no steps and a drive through for viewing GW's crypt; "these upgrades will make the site more audience-friendly and will enhance accessibility" also.

    ...and oh!...Grand Canyon.........

  • Yellowstone Geologist Worries About What Goes "Bump" At Night   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Oh no! Not Jellystone! My husband and I along with our 12-pound cocker spaniel went there a couple of years ago--I'll never forget that we happened to be stopped on the road where a massive buffalo was standing not five inches from my car door. And my loopy male dog, who had been sitting placidly on my lap, went crazy--barked and barked and thumped on the glass trying to get at that beast, and I'm sitting there thinking, "We're all gonna die. That buffalo is gonna turn my car into a tin can and we're all gonna die." Fortunately, that buffalo never even twitched. Dumb dog.

  • Great Basin National Park: It's More Than Simply A Cave   6 years 5 weeks ago

    You can research this for yourself but I believe it's true — Great Basin is the national park in the lower 48 furthest from a Wal-Mart.

  • National Park Quiz 38: African Americans   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Native Americans and Mission 66 are both great suggestions, MRC. Keep 'em coming -- I need all the help I can get with quiz topics. BTW, no stigma attaches to missing number 11. It's a story that few seem to be aware of.

  • Great Basin National Park: It's More Than Simply A Cave   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I have enjoyed the cave about 22 times and yet saw something new each time. I have spent a week camping in the beautiful mountains and taking awesome nature hikes with knowledgable forest rangers. After travleing to many state and national parks, I can tell you this is one not to miss. Even the road to the cave is an experence. Locals have decorated the fence post and you laugh all the way.
    Check out their web site.

  • Great Basin National Park: It's More Than Simply A Cave   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Well done article, Chance! Back in the 70's, I was privileged to be the only signup for the daily cave tour. The excellent guide/naturalist took the extra time to show some seldom visited parts of amazing Lehman Cave, one of the most interesting I have visited. The back roads of northern Nevada are (were?) also beautiful. One could then drive for hours without seeing so much as a fence or powerline. Often the only sign of man was the cracked asphalt being slowly reclaimed by hardy desert plants. I suspect this has changed during the gold and energy rushes of the intervening decades.

    Jim Hansen needs some perspective. If he wants to drop park units from the system, he should visit Oregon Caves National Monument. The lovely forest setting would make a fine state park, but the cave is a moldy, blasted tunnel with almost nothing of interest. If it were a commercial cave in the east or midwest, it would have long ago gone out of business.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Yes indeed, Anonymous (1st post).
    The Brits also want their guns back as Britain has a soaring crime rate. A couple good articles for ya:

    Oh, and if you read this blog, THANK YOU, Secretary Salazar!!

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I guess I'm lost. Just WHY do people want to carry guns in a National Park?

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   6 years 5 weeks ago

    In general, parks are not multiple use areas; they are effectively outdoor museums created to preserve a particular value: scenery, history, etc. The issue with bicycles is not that they are non- motorized, it is that they are "mechanical" modes of transportation. Parks that have any "wilderness" should also prohibit mechanized transportation. The spirit and intent of the Wilderness Act should be applied whether or not the land is an officially designated Wilderness. Parks need to be managed more by science and law rather than some manager simply sitting in an office counting political marbles.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    OK, if you are too afraid of going on a hike in a National Park without a gun, please do not go. I enjoy my guns as much as the next guy and never once have I felt the need to have one with me while hiking. Now if there were people out there with them, then I might have something to be afraid of. I can't even understand why this is an issue. Keep the guns where they belong, in a hunting blind etc...

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I acknowledge that most people carrying licensed firearms are probably responsible people most of the time. And while I do worry about the potential dangers to LE Rangers, I do have some wildlife related concerns.

    Unless a gun-carrying park visitor is an active hunter of big game or avid wildlife watcher, they will likely incorrectly read many human/wildlife interactions. This can happen to detriment of wildlife and people. Most guns people would carry on a hike, or store in their glove box, for protection are not effective at protecting people from wildlife.... but most people don't realize that. And even if a bear is going to attack you (i.e., is charging with intent to kill you) you will only have seconds to react and even less time to properly aim. Even if you get a shot off unless you are lucky even a solid hit won't end a charging griz.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I have been hiking all my life and literally all of the people I have encountered have been friendly. It appears that those who spend time in the outdoor spaces where hiking and such occur are for the vast majority civil people.

    I work with a woman who's husband is both an alcoholic as well as physically abusive. This same man owns several rifles and guns. During hunting season I don't even consider heading out into the woods which is regretful because fall is so beautiful. Frankly I don't want to be subject to the likes of him in our national parks with the possibility of guns in his posession. I go there to enjoy the beauty of the places and for peace.

    As far as protection form wild animals is concerned there are so many effective methods to deal with that firearms aren't necessary. At the same time if animal control is necessary I could support a hunting season in the parks as the park administration deems appropiate.

    You know it would be nice to see the civility I have encountered remain as well as furthered through a code of conduct that actually states firearms in certain places in this country are actually redundant.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Obviously, supporters of the 2nd amendment (as it's interpreted) fail to look at statistics. Countries where firearms are illegal get a fraction of our gun related deaths. Firearms, except for shotguns, should be banned, especially in the parks where they have no use.

  • Aztec Ruins and the River of Lost Souls   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Barky -

    Thanks for the comment, and the perspective about the positive relationship between the park and the local community. It's been a few years since I visited Aztec, so it's nice to have a recent update.

  • This Park Can Lay Claim to "Tallest" and "First" – and It Was a Real Bargain to Boot   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Acadia was the highlight of a fall trip to Acadia National Park and New England States Fall 2006
    We plan to return soon.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I am a Retired Viet Nam Marine Staff Sergeant. I was also a State Trooper for several years. I am now completely retired, live in Florida and Have a Concealed Weapons Permit. I am pro second amendment and believe that a person should have the right to own and carry a weapon if they are trained in it's use. I further believe that crime is detoured in areas where there are armed citizens. I have lived in areas where citizens are not allowed concealed carry and personal serious crime is double digit compared to areas where concealed carry is permitted.
    As a former police officer, I discovered that the people who carry weapons legally and were trained in their use, were more responsible and more safety consicous, as a rule, that the overall public. I am futher convenced that our nations law enforcement community need more hands on training than just once a year qualification. "Officer survival" is a key concern of mine and I read about too many acidential shootings amoung our under paid, under staffed and over worked law enforcement officers. I also agree that Park Law enforcement, Game Wardens, and recreational law enforcement officers are, as a rule, not appreciated nor respected as they should be.

  • National Park Quiz 38: African Americans   6 years 5 weeks ago

    CCC is a good topic. How about Mission 66? A quiz about special forms of interpretation in the parks? After the African Americans, has there been a quiz about Native Americans? BTW: This quiz on African Americans was my best so far too, 10 points out of the twelve. I got only numbers 3 and 11 wrong

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 5 weeks ago

    It's nice to see that someone in the new administration isn't bashing guns at their mere mention. Responsible gun owners are the backbone of America, no matter what slant the press is taking these days. Just ask the people in Australia what happens when the guns are taken away from them - the crime rate against citizens jumps.

  • National Park Quiz 38: African Americans   6 years 5 weeks ago

    That one is already in the queue, Barky. It's nice to know that at least one other person likes the theme.

  • National Park Quiz 38: African Americans   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Seeing as how we're in a depression and all ;-), how about a quiz dedicated to CCC construction projects in the parks??


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Uses the "S" Word On Second Day at the Office   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Wow, what a fascinating discussion!

    It seems that what is needed is legislation fixing the "values" of the NPS into law. Perhaps it's there, perhaps it's not, I'm not well versed in NPS laws at all. Is the primary purpose preservation or recreation or raising revenue? Those seem to be the core of most NPS debates, whether snowmobiles or guns or construction or concessions.

    I am the first one to say you can't legislate values or morality in the people, but it seems to me you can legislate the values of a unit of the government itself and write rules to support them.

    This way, elected officials could (theoretically) debate the values of a department, then vote on the appropriate legislation, and that vote must be continued by all subsequent administrations unless and until elected officials re-visit the issue.

    Right now, it seems too easy for the Executive Branch to fiddle around with the NPS (and most other government functions) to suit their own constituencies, values be damned. Of course that speaks to Presidential power grabs over the decades, and all the Congresses that have allowed it to happen ...


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I understand the fears regarding restoration of historic sites. I've seen a lot of bad restorations and gift-shop add-ons that destroy the character of a historic building so badly it hurts. But I've also seen good ones.

    As long as they hire a qualified designer well-versed in period architecture, an architect who understands how to merge structures from different eras, and a builders who are contractually obligated to preserve the historic facades of the original buildings, it can work. You can add in modern conveniences (like well-padded chairs adequate for the expanded 21st-century American buttock) without degrading the character of the original, and trained, qualified professionals know how to do that.

    If they simply go with the lowest bidder regardless of qualifications or experience, then it's doomed.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I would venture to say that I have visited and hiked more of the National Parks and National Park Units than anyone else who has made comment here. I have been to 51 or the 58 actual designated "National Parks" plus I have been to over 200 other National Park Units. I have been to parks from the USS Arizona in Hawaii to the St. Croix Island National Historic area in Maine. I have been from Denali to the Dry Tortugas.

    If the question is do Segways have a place for use in the National Parks of America, the answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!. I have hiked as many or more miles of National Park trails as anyone, yet I still see the value in the alternative the Segway can provide. I am in my late 50s now and I foresee the fact that it is going to become more difficult for me...and many others of similar or older make those 8-10-12 mile hikes. Are you going to buzzing up to the peak of Half Dome or down the Bright Angel Trail on a Segway? Probably not. (though I am not sure that a Segway is any worse than a burro).
    But would a controlled, guided, trained tour or people over 60 along the Rim Trail be all that obnoxious?
    What about a Segway making its way down the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park? They take up less space and go slower than a bicycle. If I were sharing that path I would rather be hit by someone going 12 mph on a Segway...which is designed to stop when it meets an obstruction...than I would by a teenager on a bike.
    There are many trails, paved or otherwise in our Battlefield parks that would be very amenable to Segway tours.
    For those of you who want to play the role of Battle of the Bulge policeman, I suggest that there is much more fodder for your concern in every corner of America other than our National Parks. As mentioned by many others, many of those cars that jam the roads of our National Parks are full of junk food junkies that don't get out and walk the trails of the park. I would rather get them out of their cars and onto a Segway.
    Certainly a Segway would be preferable, ecologically and serenity wise than a motorcycle or a snowmobile.
    Should they be banned? No. Should they be utilized on regulated tours...even Ranger conducted ones? Absolutely. Should anyone be allowed to use them anywhere on any trail in our parks? No. But just like bikes or skis or snowboards or any other kind of device, the use of a Segway could open up our parks to any number of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to enjoy them.
    Plus, think about an area like The Mall in Washington D.C. That area is itself a National Park unit, surrounded by many other National Park units. Have you ever had to pound the pavement seeing all those attractions? I have, and I have had the resulting blisters and infections from them to show for it. I believe they already have Segway tours around those parks. Expanding their use elsewhere would make sense. Plus, I have taken a number of tours in our parks in busses or vans operated by private companies....such as Xanterra or Aramark or whoever. Opening up this venue to other concessionaires shouldn't be objectionable to anyone.