Recent comments

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Of course, once the place opens for business, the waste will just be getting started. Speaking of...

    During the past month I was required to attend four meetings. These consumed about 42 hours of my time (that converts to about 1,260 tax dollars). One of the meetings, which lasted a full three days, was attended by 16 people (that converts to about 11,520 tax dollars).

    I have no issue with meetings. I only have an issue with stupid meetings. It so happens that ALL of the meetings I attended last month were stupid. Coincidence? Yeah, right!

    These meetings resulted in the following accomplishments:

    A bunch of people sat around and talked about their accomplishments. If the first person talked for five minutes, the next person had to up the ante and talk for eight minutes, and the next person had to up that ante and talk for twelve. I thought Show & Tell ended in the third grade.

    We also spent a lot of time editing reports and plans. As many as 20 people would debate for up to an hour on the wording of a single paragraph. Really, shouldn't this be the work of one capable editor, if, indeed, the report or plan is necessary at all?

    The third accomplishment, if we should call it that, was whining...LOTS of whining.

    Very rarely did we accomplish what meetings are intended to do: allow for discussion and resolution of issues. Of course, such discussion requires independent thinking, speaking truthfully, and occasionally being contentious.

    But hey....that's not in MY position description!

    Simple Proposal #4: In lieu of the next meeting, get out in your park, identify a plant, clear a trail, or talk to a visitor.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I would have commented sooner, but I've just put in a 55 hour week at my 33 hour a week job.

    Six months? In some country club? Sentence her to a season of trail work at Yosemite and make her work off her crime rebuilding America's greatest national park. Maybe then she'll appreciate the error of her ways and see the effects of waste on our national treasures.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Beamis, my apology for not being more concise. Since you were a former government employee, would you know if you are allowed to keep your pension (retirement plan) if convicted on grand theft? Seems like, the higher you go up the government ladder (regarding your prestigious status) and if you get caught with your hands in the till, you still get to keep the fat retirement check. Right! In Ms. Buccello case, I said enough to reckon that she is not eligible for rehire. The crime speaks for its self but not the free pension...if she's a felon! I hope my point is clear ranger!

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I'm not sure what point is being made by Anonymous.

    Is it that poor Mrs. Buccello got the raw end of the stick? Or that some get away with crime and others don't? What is there to say about this fairly straight forward story? She admitted her crimes and will now pay the price. End of story.

    If I'm missing something would y'all please let me know?

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Kurt, I'm surprised that are former NP rangers on this blog have not commented on this article...not a peep so far. Although, a pittance of a crime in comparsion in what some of Bushs lackeys have gotten away with. Ms. Bucello will pay for the crime and dwindle in the wind with a ruin reputation. I'm not sure if she looses her 30 year pension. But, there some ex-congressman who have been convicted on a more serious crime and sitting quite pretty with a damn nice pension plan. I guess crime does pay for the smooth talking jaded (a worhtless horse) politician who screws the American taxpayer.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Building this museum will bring more Americans into the fold and actually be an important tool in the drive to get the message out about how important it is to support our national parks.

    There... didn't want you to have to wait for that to happen. :-)

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Of course it's going up in West Virginia. Senator Byrd is the King of Pork! Some enterprising reporter or blogger should follow the money. Somehow it leads into Byrd's campaign coffers.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    You're going nowhere on this one Frank. Government is rarely judged on results, only intentions. Since saving the wilderness and giving Bambi a wholesome place to live is noble in its intent, you should not be surprised to find yourself being labeled a blasphemous no-goodnik for ever daring to question the actual results, especially in any kind of cost/benefit analysis. Mary Bomar seems quite surprised that anyone is questioning her decision concerning snowmobiles in Yellowstone, especially after the expenditure of $10 million that determined less are better than more. Whatever you do, though, please don't judge the results of her administrative genius, only her intention to "make good decisions based on good information."

    I'm convinced that very soon I'm going to hear an NPS supporter or WASO bureaucrat suggest that building this museum will bring more Americans into the fold and actually be an important tool in the drive to get the message out about how important it is to support "your national parks". Mark my words this convoluted rationale will be coming down the pike sooner than any of us could imagine.

    Remember now, don't judge the result, only the intention.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    250 million dollars?!?! That's enough to fund Crater Lake for 50 years! (Even longer if they stopped plowing the roads!) Good god!

    Kurt, you asked where funds could come from for initial endowments to turn parks into public trusts. Well, here's a good source: government waste!

    How can anyone who screams, whines, moans, complains about budget shortfalls in national parks possibly support a quarter of a BILLION dollars going to such a rediculous and completely unneccessary scheme? 15% of the NPS annual budget going to build ONE BUILDING when there are thousands of buildings needing to be repaired or removed? How many seasonal rangers could that hire?

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Sorry about the bad link -- try this one:

    http://www.herald-mail.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=178213&format=print

    Harper's Ferry already uses shuttle buses to get people into the town proper. There's a nearby flea market (a real eyesore) that wouldn't look any worse as a parking lot. Not that I'm in favor of parking lots...

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Now where, pray tell, are all of those projected 1 million visitors going to park their cars? Is there available land nearby that they can bulldoze for this purpose? Maybe they'll eventually need a shuttle system to bring the huddled masses into their hilltop hideaway.

    If this all sounds like an unnecessary federal boondoggle well let me tell you brothers and sisters----IT IS!

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Kurt:

    No one seems to know WHO Stonewall Heights, LLC is. Names are not being revealed. What's the big secret and how is their hotel and conference center different from what was just fought off with the last group of developers? They were building on their own land, too. The same property.

    Thanks.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Plans revealed for museum near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
    By DAVE McMILLION

    CHARLES TOWN, W.VA

    OK, so you have a four-part, $250 million museum you want to build on a high hill near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Park officials, however, are aghast over how it will impact the historic area.

    What’s an architect to do?

    Rip off the top of the hill.

    “Our proposal is to take the four components, scrape the top of the hill off, build the components and then put the hill back over the building,” Douglas Carter of Davis Carter Scott Architecture told the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday.

    If that doesn’t impress you, maybe how the building’s designers plan to heat and cool it will.

    Given its hilltop location and breezy conditions, wind turbines will be used to generate power and a “wind chimney” at the top of the building will draw naturally cool air from “cooling wells” within the ground, Carter said.

    Rest of the article at: http://www.herald-mail.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=178203&format=html

  • Watching Wolves in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 23 weeks ago

    We saw our first wolves at Yellowstone this summer -- and if it wasn't for the gaggle of people with spotting scopes we never would have known to stop and look in the first place. That group was very happy to share with us "muggles" and all the rest that stopped to look over the next 20 minutes.

    I thought it would be funny to just pull over at some random (legal) spot in Yellowstone, get out the spotting scope or binoculars, and just stare off into the distance and see how many people would pull over and ask questions... Whattaya see? Whatcha lookin' at? And then make up some Latin genus/species name (Invisus Ungulatus) and see how many people hop out to look for themselves. Would make for a great Candid Camera episode...

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Yes, the old ranger, the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service during his tenure. I knew him like an old pipe...I can still smell that half/half pipe tobacco coming from his rustic cabin at Tuolumne Meadows. God, this guy was a real trip to hear his fabulous stories what the real Yosemite was like, back in the days when nature was crisp and raw with adventure. No super lite equipment or special fitting clothes to combat the elements of nature. Old Carl was a champion of resourcefulness, never wasted much of anything, but gave us profound wisdom of the wilderness in his many wonderous nature hikes through the mighty Sierra's...and never forgetting Tuolumne walks. He was a master botanist with a keen eye for nature and a sharp wit to match. Naming a peak after old Carl wouldn't matter much, one way or another. For gods sake, this old ranger didn't want to be canonized into the mountain, just name it and be done with it...or just name it: Carls Peak and keep it simple...that's the way Carl would like it and with a bit of resourcefulness. Yes Carl, I know and can remember that flower, it's the Twin Flower, or the Linnaea borealis! Yap, great teacher at state!

  • Lyle Laverty Confirmed as Assistant Interior Secretary Over National Parks   6 years 23 weeks ago

    During my formative years of working for the NPS, I got the impression that the agency was a bastion of purity, not to be tampered with any way. You were expected to eat, drink, breathe, and bleed the Green & Gray, even during your private life. I once worked with a law enforcement ranger who took this concept to such extremes he had a little NPS uniform made for his four year old kid to wear while playing in the sandbox. Pity the cat that dug up that disturbing apparition!

    I was told that if you criticized the NPS, you were a big trouble-maker...and you could be in big trouble. If you sat in a bar on a day off, and a co-worker overheard you say anything negative about the agency, you could be reported. What collapsed totalitarian regimes does that culture of fear resemble?

    Fortunately, times have changed. Nowadays aligning yourself too closely with the agency will probably do you more harm than good. It's now common knowledge that the outfit is far from perfect; you'd be a fool if you didn't at least poke fun of the NPS once in a while. No point in being labelled guilty by association.

    But times haven't changed THAT much. Most NPS employees are still scared to death to openly criticize the agency, even though they're more disillusioned than ever. By the way, do you really think my name is "Bart"?

    Most NPS manager types live in a world of illusion. The good ol' boy (and girl) denial machine is alive and well, rather akin to Nero fiddling away, buzzed out of his gourd, while Rome went up in blazes.

    National Park managers need to take a very painful step...open your doors to the kind of internal criticism that will lead to legitimate change in how business is conducted.

    Simple Proposal #10: Invite Constructive Criticism...especially the kind that really hurts.

  • Watching Wolves in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    If you don't have the cash to watch the wolves frolick in the Lamar with the privileged people, you can try it on your own if you have some mad skillz.

    Yellowstone has the crustiest hard core cadre of nature watchers and if you sweet talk them, say the right things, etc., they'll not only tell you what they are watching but also show you in their scopes. But it does take some conversational skill, rather than asking "any bears!?!" It took me about 15 minutes of banter with someone to get spotting scope privileges, but more importantly the knowledge of what they were looking at. Please note that I'm not advocating you spongeing their scopes, only gaining access to info.

    These crustiest of the crusty love wildlife more than people and follow their seasonal movements like NPT commenters follow reruns of that fantabulous show, the OC. Heh.

    Additionally, the wolf team of biologist types are super cool about answering questions when you ask. They are great story tellers who will answer almost any question you have as long as you aren't too intrusive. It is sweet PR for their programs, after all. Your tactic would be to drive the road, look for the government plates (not all the researchers have them) and then walk up the hill the the spot.

    Also, there are some super wolf nerds that maintain wolf sites online where you can find sitings, the status of the packs, etc. as well before you head out. Load that all into your ipod, your pda or laptop and who needs an interpreter! Throw some wireless networks out there and you could even check your email! Ha, I'm kidding all you crusty NPT commenters, relax.

  • Lyle Laverty Confirmed as Assistant Interior Secretary Over National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Looks likes to me another dog catcher confirmed to invoke more of the same (do nothing policies) and just ride the clock out with the nice perks! Sounds good Lone Hiker, a pure volunteer system with no strings attached, but that doesn't fit well for the average Joe Blow (like me) were we have to slave to make a living everyday...no real quality time off to do the real things that can make a big difference, except this piece meal stuff: like pulling up obnoxious weeds along park trails, cleaning up after the Lord's debri that trash out the parks on the long weekends ...etc.. Yeah, volunteerism works well for the rich guy who can spare the time and energy to be a free Dog Catcher for the parks, and a advocate to say the rich can only apply. I see this everyday where I live. Rich yuppies making tons of money for very, very selfish reasons and with this screw you "I got mine" attitude, and suddenly one bright day (he or she) wakes up and says, I really want to be a nice person for a change, and do good for the world today. But, you can look at his life style that stinks to ----. I mean this pathetic attitude of greed at best! Believe me, the garbage dump smells far better. I'm sure there's plenty of nice rich people (and I know a few very well) around who have given their hearts and wallets to bless the the parks with huge graceful endowments. Bless their souls! My point is, can it be possible to have a tri-mangement system to run this job. A cohensive team that encompasses of one candidate being a private citizen, one from government, and one from a non partisan environmental organization (if such)...and set up a sort of checks and balance system. The criteria for the job is to remember the "boyscout motto"...just kidding...a lost virtue! No! just a extensive criminal background check, and a deep keen interest to eradicate the internal cancer that's ruining the morale and structural apparatus of the National Park system. Beamis, Frank and Lone Hiker is there any hope that we can get rid of this political garbage that's rotting the core of this once great agency.

  • Lyle Laverty Confirmed as Assistant Interior Secretary Over National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Uncle Frank has a multitude of poignant sound bites to many of the issues on this board. Most often I wind up thinking along the lines of, "Look here brother, who you jivin' with that cosmic debris?".

    But your's is better for this article Beamis.

    Good man or not, and personally I'm not crazy about a number of things in his past, both ideas and actions, the path to the office is truly a basis for discussion. Politics are the reason the NPS is where it is today, and I'm not insinuating that's a good thing by any stretch. On the other hand, a publically elected official is just as worthless in this instance. So, do we try merit based? Based on what criterion and determined by who? By that method if you're not an NPS insider, what are your chances? Other-than-political type appointment? Then we're at the mercy of special interest groups, and ain't no way I backin' that horse. A rotation based series of managers? Stagnation by committee? Who determines the committee members?

    One way, and my personal favorite since it tends to eliminate so many of the pitfalls of higher office, is to comprise a short list based on volunteers. With no pay, no connections, and hopefully limited or no influential ties, the old paper resume and letter of intent, specific to general interest in the system and long-term game plan for the entire park network is a nice place to start. Then place the lucky winner (or loser, whatever) slightly above and beyond the scope of those whom he/she is to govern, so as not to be beholden to them either. And have defined term limits. And performance evlautations. And a regular office to park their asses in on a 40+ hour a week schedule. And take away the corporate (or Congressional) jets and helicopters and buy them a bus or an RV that runs on biodiesel. Or better yet hydrogen. Then see who REALLY want the job.

  • Will Bear Costume Get Presidential Candidates Talking About National Parks?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    disband the inefficient bureaucrasy

    I honestly don't believe that Ron can back this statement. Prove to me that there exist efficient bureaucrats. Certainly not in this political system. Not unless your idea of efficiency included efficiently bleeding the public financially dry for personal gain. Or efficiently avoiding issues of national concern and interest, akin to those issues that are bandied about as planks in a political platform that never again see the light of day in the post-election period. Strong talk, wussie attitude makes not an effective leadership. But gold star for attempting to eliminate the DOI. And still presently the least offensive option in the battle of "lesser of two (or three) evils".

    Now if he would be so bold as to add a few more acronyms to that list he'd really be on to something. Provided they were actually feasible to accomplish without Congressional interference.

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Commissioners rescind support for national park around volcano
    By Barbara LaBoe
    Oct 31, 2007

    Link here: http://www.tdn.com/articles/2007/11/01/area_news/news10.txt

  • Lyle Laverty Confirmed as Assistant Interior Secretary Over National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Sounds like a good man to me...great innovative mind to a system that sorely needs it.

  • Ghost at Blevins Farmstead; Excerpt From 'Haunted Hikes'   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Update: My latest source says that Oscar Blevins never wore overalls. So, depending on your beliefs, the rangers are seeing an image that represents the image concocted by their own guilty conscience or it implies that someone other than Oscar is haunting the Blevins homested. Perhaps, it is Uncle Jake Blevins as seen is the photograph at www.hauntedhiker.com/favorite.htm?

    Things that make you go hmmmmm?

  • 4-Year-old Dies in Fall off South Rim of Grand Canyon   6 years 24 weeks ago

    My husband and I visited the Grand Canyon in September of this year - 2007. We rode the train up to the Village and walked along the sidewalks near the hotels and shops. Even though there was a rock wall, it didn't cover the entire area and it was only about two-to-three feet tall, maybe not even that tall. It had a rim/edge on top that you could sit on. Anyone could fall over if they were not careful. I would never let a child sit there for fear they might fall. There were even openings along the walkway that had no barriers at all. I made sure I stayed away from those areas and was always on the alert.

    Any child that is active and likes to run just for the fun of it, could easily run off the sidewalks and fall. Parents would have to be ever vigilent on this type of trip. But even a grownup could slip if they got too close.

    We noticed all along the east scenic drive that there were areas that you could stop to look and there were some railings but you could still see paths that others had worn to get to areas without a railing. Anyone could fall easily if they got too close to the edge, either by loose rocks or not paying attention. We even saw an older couple who had their picture taken and they were standing about two feet from the edge. I thought they were crazy and I was the one taking their picture. It was scary! No way would I get that close. I don't have a death wish.

  • Will Bear Costume Get Presidential Candidates Talking About National Parks?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    We won't hear presidential candidates talking about national parks because they simply aren't on the radar of the general voting public. A program on NPR today reported that just a little over half the country considers the environment as a major concern (with no specific mention of national parks). The most significant concerns are currently the war and the economy.

    Even if candidates talk about national parks, it'll be just that. Empty talk. Candidates treat national parks as little more than a poker chip in a bid for the White House. Don't you want to see the national parks removed from a political system that treats our national tresures so cavalierly? I do.

    There is one candidate who would actually work to accomplish that goal. Ron Paul. He was one of the few to vote against the pork spending bill that created New Jersey's newest national park (the that didn't meet the NPS's criteria for inclusion in the system). He would work to eliminate the DOI, disband the inefficient bureaucrasy, and return management of national parks to local communities. He would restore the Constitution.