Recent comments

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Censorship directed from the top Mr. Longstreet? Ah, American lobbyists showing their truly gutless colors. Pity that those who this affects most are at the same time the least informed that changes are being considered. And Fred, "We the People" haven't been in existence since the American political system degenerated into the ridiculous bi-partisan system of stalemate, bickering and finger-pointing that is now the "Blue and Red" bastardization of the original Republic of American Colonies.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Above, Bill R insists that even if it continues to be illegal to carry loaded, concealed weapons in our national parks, he'll be "packing" (a gun, I assume, and not a picnic basket) to protect himself from nudists and, apparently, Charles Manson. Of course, breaking this law would make Bill a criminal, not one of those "law abiding citizens" we hear so much about from the NRA. And if I'm not mistaken, criminals are not supposed to have guns at all. I'd suggest that someone who publicly expresses an eagerness to break the law might want to think things over a bit before calling non-gun advocates "idiots" for expressing a reasoned argument, based on facts and reality. In light of the miniscule number of non-accident related deaths in our national parks, there is no justification for visitors to be carrying loaded, concealed weapons in the parks, regardless of any danger posed by random naked people along the trail.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Frank N --

    You're absolutely right. And park managers have been all but told not to bring it up locally.

    J Longstreet
    A National Park Superintendent

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Sounds to me Kath your afraid to give up your SUV or make alternative lifestyle changes just yet...just kidding! They just did news brief a couple weeks ago on the decline of the fishing industry in the Port of Valdez and how poorly it has recovered. Did you talk to the local fisherman in Valdez or physically inspect the beaches of Valdez to make your claim there's "no evidence" of the past spill? Looking from a boat while cruising through Prince William Sound isn't quite like making a thorough investigation to see if there's been a FULL RECOVERY of the past Valdez oil spill. I think your looking at the cosmetic factors that makes the boat cruise so enticing to visit Prince William Sound. Get out and talk to the local fisherman and visually check and see under the rocky beaches along the Port of Valdez and you will still see remenants of the past oil spill. Yeah sure, emerald green slick under the rocks if you look hard enough in the right places.

    Kath, give the oil companies an inch they will take a foot...and you say compromise with ANWR. No way! Look what they have mapped out in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah in our National Parks for gas and oil exploration...and you worry about influx of visitors in our National Parks. Shame on you!

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    There used to be a trail up to the summit of lady mountain in zion. In fact it was one of the first in Zion, it was similar to the angels landing trail with installed chains/railings to help people through the scary/difficult sections. However the numerous deaths that occurred from falling, prompted them to remove all the chains and official signage from the trail. You however can still "hike" lady mountain, you just need to be competent at exposed scrambling, and know how to use a rope for the few short technical climbing sections. The NPS will never "close" any trail, however they might remove all the hardware they installed on it. Angels landing can be ascended without the chains/railings by people who have adequate hiking experience. You wouldn't see out of shape parents with children trying to hike the route without the chains. If the hike is worth it, then one can gain the experience necessary to safely obtain the summit.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 11 weeks ago

    The Heller case just decided by the supreme court gives us the right of being able to keep and bear arms. In other words, it gives us the constitutional right to own a firearm as long as it is not unusual. It also was ruled that we have a right to use these firearms. As long as the use is for a law abiding act. It was also ruled that rules that totally ban us from having firearms, or laws that make our firearms useless are unconstitutional.

    Being able to carry a pistol on national parks is are given right. A pistol is not unusual and is one of the most popular firearms used for the law abiding act of self defense. A national park is not a sensitive place such as a school or court room or police office.

    We have a constitutional right. And I believe that the gun rules for national parks violate our right. They must be updated to give our rights back.

    There must be other ways to solve both sides to this problem then taking our constitutional right away!

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Also just returned from a cruise of Prince William Sound where the Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled the oil. I saw no evidence of the oil spill, thankfully. It has been 19 years. Since then the Port of Valdez requires a harbor escort further out into the sound, which is dotted with islands and underwater rocks. Prince William Sound is as beautiful as any national park. Truly a blue and green gem with whales, salmon, puffins and seeing it I can really understand why the oil spill evoked such an emotional response. Oil is messy, but the 800 mile pipeline across Alaska hasn't had any major spills. Solar farms like the one in the Mojave desert is a really unsightly glaring blot on the land. Wind farms are not only unsightly but chew up migratory birds.

    In pointing out the footprint of visitor's services at Denali my point was this. We park fans are willing to degrade the parks somewhat for our comfort. The park service is willing to degrade the pristine nature of the parks to attract visitors. We are willing to have the wildlife subject to the noise of the Denali buses, the tramping of hikers across the tundra. The animals don't seem to mind.

    I think it is a bit hypocritical to say that the oil exploration in the ANWR, 2,000 acres only in a vast wilderness, just five miles across the refuge's borders, would destroy the ecosystem when we are willing to venture a hundred miles into Denali, bringing sewage systems, water systems, the diesel exhaust of the buses etc. With ANWR, compromises need to be made, and we all have to think about our own impacts on the national parks.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Kath, what would recover faster from environmental degradation, heavy tourism in Denali or a major oil spill in ANWR...remember the Alaskan oil spill at the Port of Valdez? How long did it take to recover after the major spill (plus the local fishing industry has not fully recovered yet)? According to local fisherman, the place still stinks with oil. What is more tragic and shocking, is that the oil companies had to pay a pittance in penalties and compensation to the citizens of Alaska. Cry foul...yes!
    I would rather see the landscape dotted with solar and wind power energy then a exploding oil rig (or pipeline) thats going take decades to clean up. I think the hypocrisy lies, is when you drive a hybrid car and park it in your driveway, next to your four bedroom home that burns enough electrical juice to light up a neighborhood in New Delhi. The classic example of a pig out without a conscientious in how much energy we burn to keep are toes warm. Again, Ed Begley's (Life Boat Foundation) books has an answer to all this sloppy living and careless waste.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Interesting reading all the comments that seem to be on both sides of the issue. Delay of exploration and further development of nuclear plants caused by environmental outcry 10-20 years ago is why we are in the situation that we are in. To delay another 10-20 years while we debate will not make it any better. We should use what we have, control the environmental issues the best we can while exploration takes place near these areas and continue to work on alternatives for the future. Kath's observations are very much right on point. We already have lots of impact from what we do today that is likely as bad or worse than what will be done during exploration activities. I guess one way to get rid of the clutter in our national parks is to do nothing, watch energy prices soar and then nobody but the locals or the rich will be able to get there. Then there will be less impact all around.

  • Will The Superintendent's Summit Chart The Path For The National Park Service's Next Chapter?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    This conference is a waste of time and money. Just look at the topics and speakers. Mostly led by superintendents who are selected friends and favorites of the Director. The Chair of the conference is a low level superintendent, not a senior superintendent of SES. And two days? As you rightly identify, big, hard issues about how to manage the workforce of the future and how to engage and win in a political climate are not on the agenda. The conference is mostly taking a few examples of park programs the Director happens to know about and having those superintendents lead a discussion of what good things are going on. No dissenting voices. No active search for shining examples that might not be well knows. No reward of risk.

  • Protest Against American Revolution Center at Valley Forge National Historical Park Planned for May 15   6 years 11 weeks ago

    There is already a welcome center for Valley Forge Park located near King of Prussia. Expand on that (underground preferably) to include the history of the Revolutionary War (which it already does), but don't ruin the beautiful landscape that is the lesser known part of Valley Forge. There is very little nature left in America untouched. Why should we ruin that (destroying the very habitats an alleged 'environmentalist' should care about preserving) to develop more infrastructure, edifices, and walking paths?

    As an environmentalist, you should know that even a so-called 'green' design will still destroy the environment in which it is constructed. Even the most 'environmentally friendly' building designs will have a major impact on the area. On the most basic level, increased human traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, will damage surrounding vegetation as parking lots/roads are paved and people trample in areas where they ought not to go. Gas emissions from cars/buses, other pollutants, and what will undoubtedly be carefully landscaped grounds of the ARC (and intended hotel) will only further eliminate the currently pristine [natural] greenery. The inevitable slovenliness of human beings will be of increased detriment to the areas with which they come in contact; littering and irresponsible outdoor practices of the common person will further the negative impact of such a project to Valley Forge.

    The area should be sold to the National Park Service/US government so that the Valley Forge George Washington knew in the winter of 1777-1778 may be preserved. I would consider a vision of the park as close to that which the soldiers experienced in the 18th century an essential part of the visitor's experience! A tourist's visit can be enhanced by improving the welcome center, including introductory video, that ALREADY exists. I've been there; I've experienced it. What you're looking for according to your post is already there, and if you have suggestions for its improvement, I suggest you go there--not ruin 78 acres of beautiful park land so we can progressively destroy every square inch of our planet. At this rate, there will be nothing left.

    For once, be a true environmentalist and don't let money guide your decisions.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I Just returned from two weeks in Alaska. There I learned that the proposed site for oil exploration in ANWR is five miles, just five miles over the boundary line for the refuge. If environmental controls were tight, the 2,000 acres that would be used out of the 3.5 million acres seems as though it would have a very small impact on the entirety of the refuge.

    I started to think about the comparative impact of the oil exploration in ANWR versus the impact of the tourist footprint in Denali. Which has the greatest impact on the land and the wildlife? Denali has a large visitor's center, restaurant, several satellite visitor's centers down the park road, the constant drone of buses on the park road, campgrounds for tents and RVs, the park headquarters, the sled dog kennels, a research center (being enlarged), the Alaska Railroad that goes along the park border, and the hundreds of people who fly in to climb the mountain. Then there's the wilderness lodge at Wonder Lake. Not to mention the string of hotels, an airstrip, and tacky souvenir stands just on the park boundary. All in all probably more than 2,000 acres devoted to tourism in Denali.

    Would any of us park nuts remove those facilities to keep Denali more pristine? It seems to me that there is an element of hypocrisy in the arguments of those who love the parks but who want the services when they get there. Yes, conservation. Yes, alternative energy (although solar farms and wind farms are more unsightly than an oil well in my opinion). The world price of oil right now is being driven by pure speculation There is no way that demand is rising so fast that the price is justified on demand or that supply is falling so much that price is market set by supply. This is a false bubble in oil prices. The mere serious threat to drill and explore more on the North Slope would drive down the speculative bubble.

  • Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I have hiked this trail several times. I consider it to be among the very best short hikes in the entire National Park System.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Where I would like to see comments collected would be at the gates of our National Parks. My guess is that your AVERAGE, actual bona fide visitor has no idea that this is even being considered; while you can bet your bottom dollar that every single NRA member has received an e-mail or mailing instructing them to comment, whether they ever actually visit National Parks or not. What do you bet?

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    In response to Fred Miller, who asks "why bother" to solicit comments if "they just do what they want anyway" ...

    First off, I think some decisions are pre-ordained politically, including this one on guns in the parks as well as snowmobiles in Yellowstone. It IS a sham when the NPS is forced to put the public through the guise of considering comments when we are unable to actually consider those comments. It's a waste of the public's time and it's a waste of huge amounts of agency (i.e. taxpayer) time and money that could be doing something more useful in the national parks.

    That said, most decisions (thankfully) don't reach this level of political interference. Having been the decision maker on a number of plans where we solicited comments, I will tell you that I have personally read every comment that came in. I've looked in each for some kernel of reasoning that we had not considered, or that made me reconsider something we had analyzed. It unquestionably is not a vote, and organizations that think that telling me 100 times what they want me to do will somehow be more effective than telling me once, but articulately and thoughtfully, simply do not understand the process. In fact, organized letter writing campaigns rarely work and probably shouldn't as they don't reflect a cross section of opinion, merely those that are best organized.

    I know that in one comment period we went through a single specific letter made a remarkable difference because it raised issues that were pertinent and nuanced in a way we (and the rest of the comments) had not considered, but should have. That one letter, from an ordinary citizen, was more influential than thousands of rote letters from interest groups.

    I also remember getting an "action alert" at home from one particular interest group that I belonged to and believed in. It advised that I write a letter -- to me, the park superintendent -- and gave me talking points in favor of the groups's views. I was appalled at how simplistic and inaccurate they were. This from a group I supported, and in favor of a position I agreed with! It's made me highly skeptical of "groupthink" responses.

    So the fact that the comments are highly in favor of relaxing the gun regulation in the national parks is pretty irrelevant, for two reasons. One, I don't think this administration cares what the public thinks since they have clearly indicated their preference and intend to ram it through before they leave office. And two, it is testimony to the (impressive) organizational skills of the NRA and other pro-gun organizations, little more.

    J Longstreet
    A National Park Superintendent

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Kurt - you're right on about the snowmobile issue and the comments. Almost makes you wonder why they bother to solicit comments. They just do what they want anyway. Whatever happened to "We the people"?

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Solar panel as currently engineered as lacking in efficiency to be sure. But the required modifications to the "layering" that would increase the viable wavelengths from the current single to a multiple nanometer collection panel are available now. True again that conversion to a single-source power generation that would immediately and effeciently substitute for coal / nuclear / hydro generation for any large metropolitan area is not feasible with even next-gen technology, but that's really not the issue. Let's not allow the general public to succomb to that special interest smoke-screen. The issue is obtaining and manipulating viable sources of SUPPLEMENTAL energy, which would have an immediate impact on our requirements for fossil and other fuel sources. And let's not ignore the easiest to find and most economically efficient source available RIGHT NOW, which is geothermal energy. It's availability is much further reaching, nationally speaking, whereas solar is dependent on a panels proximity to enough sunlight to make the system feasible, which effectively eliminates a vast percentage of the country. If we were smart, which is a big assumption, we would be attempting manipulate ALL available sources of energy, ignoring the lobbyist propaganda and not allowing the local power company's blockade in regards to developmental technologies.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    The question is whether this is necessity or convenience. In 1942-1945 the National Park Service had Newton Drury as its Director. Then as now, there were calls from big business and the politicians on their side to enter national parks and extract natural resources. They claimed these needs for fighting the World War II effort, and really how much more dire situation could our country ever be in than that? Thankfully, Director Drury resisted and President Roosevelt did not overrule him. Their reasoning - because their investigation coupled with their intuition was that what big business was truthfully saying was "we want to extract these resources from national parks because its cheaper for us to do it there, and then when we sell the finished products back to the government for the war effort, we can make a bigger profit." That episode was convenience not necessity. Salute to Drury and Roosevelt for understanding that!

    I doubt many responsible citizens would deny resource extraction from the National Park System if they truly believed that the USA was approaching that point of no return where we either had to do it or the country would be lost. But many of us national park lovers are skeptical of big business and the spin that they put on their ad campaigns and press releases (i.e. tobacco companies, Exxon & the Valdez oil spill, mining companies and their lobbying efforts to prevent revision of the 1872 Mining Act, etc.). We remain to be convinced that this current situation is necessity and not just convenience again. It will take more than opinions. It will take irrefutable scientific facts.

    And one such fact that seems irrefutable to me is that 4% of the world's population with 3% of the world's known energy reserves within it borders that utilizes 25% of the world's energy output does not sound sustainable over the mellinnia to me.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I guess the question is, why do we need to allow loaded, concealed weapons in the parks? How many of the millions and millions and visitors to our national parks have been killed in the parks over, say, the last ten years? Hardly any is the answer. So what is the need for this change in the law? What do we need of protection from, except for other people with guns? I realize that some "law abiding citizens" already are breaking the current law by carrying loaded, concealed weapons into our parks. I am concerned about these unlawful people—either in a national park or outside of one—who obviously love their guns more than the laws of their country, and I consider them far more dangerous than bears or other wildlife. But that still doesn't make me feel like I need to stuff a loaded .45 into my pants before hiking in Big Bend. Like I said, given the extraordinarily low levels of violence in our parks, why do we need to change the law? And if we do change the law, can I bring loaded, concealed gun into the Statue of Liberty and national other parks that don't have typical wilderness areas? One might say that common sense would preclude me carrying a gun there. But in light of the obvious LACK of need for loaded, concealed weapons in any of our national parks, it's clear that common sense has nothing to do with this argument. This is a political matter, not a safety issue, so let's not confuse it with anything to do with the common sense or public good. It is neither. For those counting, here is a vote against changing the current law, which seems to be working just fine.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I get the feeling from this blog, there's few individuals would rather see us drown in Big Oil (at the whims of oil executives) then give up frivolous style changes. I see a bit of propaganda for oil exploration off are coastal waters...even when ninety percent of are coastal fringes are dying from heavy pollution. Folks, the oceans are showing strong signs sulfuric acid poisoning. It's easy to find this written material in most science and nature magazines at your local news stand. Now, if you read these articles, it's most distressing and alarming. To drill into are coastal waters is pure nonsense and foolhardy. Most oil executives know this, but it's the corporate dollar that matters more then a healthy fish habitat. Look folks, the OCEANS are dying and next it will be the National Parks if the oil companies get there way. I'm not a doomsayer, but the handwriting is on the walls, were in dire need of a responsible energy czar that has a healthy approach to productive alternative energy sources...and not ride on the coat tails of Big Oil. The key is lifestyle changes and less consumptive appetite for more things that usually junks are garages and trash bins.

  • Yellowstone National Park Sees Record Visitation in June   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Good questions. I know when I give them my annual pass, they scan it each time - which seems to count as a visit. So, when I camped in the Tetons, they seemed to count my entries into Yellowstone twice (once at the West and once again at the South Entrance). In past years, I don't know how it was counted - when you'd show them the 7 day pass, did they register that more than once like they do my pass when they scan it?

    I did notice fewer RVs but no shortage of cars - this, of course, at the very end of June when the weather was phenomenal. It was very crowded the two visits I made. However, like I said, in the Tetons, the campground at Colter Bay was never full even at night. If numbers are up, I can only think that lodging capacity outside the park has to have something to do with it, especially in West Yellowstone. If that's the case, then your questions are more pertinent.

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

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Oil is sold on a global market. The oil found in our country is NOT sold to us at a discount because it was found here. Any oil found through more exploration will never be enough to offset the increased usage in China, India and Brazil. Think back to China 5-10 years ago, the cities were jammed with bicyclists, but today there streets are crowded with more cars than our own.

    If gas prices did miraculously decrease people would just start to drive more. Come on people, no matter how much oil we find it is a FINITE resource and no matter how much of the environment we destroy looking for more, someday we will have to do without it. Why not start to pay the piper now instead of selfishly delaying the inevitable for our kids and grand kids to deal with?

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I want to point out that solar energy farms are not viable for electricity generation and pose real hazards of their own to the environment. The electrical output per acre of solar panels is surprisingly small, so to meet the energy needs of a city like New York you'd need a tremendous amount of land surface, greater than the size of the city itself. That would mean filling up all the parks and open spaces, and clear-cutting forested areas to make room for the panels. That would be a significant amount of environmental damage, far greater than drilling using modern techniques. Solar is really only useful for hot water generation, which would be a significant contribution, but it's not a panacea.

    Every non-petroleum based energy alternative presents its own risk for the environment and the health of the National Parks. That's just the truth of the matter.

    ==================================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Fred, totaling the votes doesn't matter when the government considers public comments. If that were the case, there wouldn't be any recreational snowmobiling in Yellowstone, where there were tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of more votes against snowmobiling than for snowmobiling.

    The bottom line is the substance of the comment. Just saying "I believe in the 2nd amendment" makes no difference if said 1 million times or just once.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I really do not care what the final event is, I packing. I will not shoot an animal that is not on top of me! I will not shoot a person who is not trying to abuse my civil rights to enjoy myself in the great outdoors! Simple. Know there are idiots who would fire into the dark and that is what scares me though. They are going to be out there anyway and there still won't be a ranger where I go. Some people don't understand real back country and off road camping like Death Valley or Big Bend. You damned well better carry some protection especially in the Saline Valley from the nudists! Just joking of course. It was Chalie Manson's ol' stomping grounds though. He did settle in further south in the Panamint Valley (well, almost) which I believe is now part of Death Valley Nat'l Park.

    Read a lot of good information on this forum and a lot of mis-information. Non-gun owners need to get educated before they comment because they look like idiots otherwise.

    Later, Bill R.