Recent comments

  • After the Inauguration ... Next Up, the Lincoln Bicentennial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Thanks for a great article!
    I was fortunate enough to work at Ford's Theatre for a short time (not as an NPS employee), and not a day goes by that I don't miss that incredible place. What a great opportunity that was to learn about Lincoln.

    My car proudly sports the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial License Plate, celebrating Indiana as Lincoln's boyhood home, and my bookshelf is filled with Lincoln related titles.
    What a great year this shall be!

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Here is the caption, (from the USGS web site) which Kurt could have included with the photographs above:

    On the left is a photograph of Muir Glacier taken on August 13, 1941, by glaciologist William O. Field; on the right, a photograph taken from the same vantage on August 31, 2004, by geologist Bruce F. Molnia of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

    According to Molnia, between 1941 and 2004 the glacier retreated more than twelve kilometers (seven miles) and thinned by more than 800 meters (875 yards).

    Does this satisfy your photographic skepticism?

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Richard Smith......sorry, they're not. It's not even close frankly. Try again?

  • and the National Park System Under the Obama Administration   6 years 6 weeks ago

    You raise a good point, and it's one that the Park Service is aware of. Indeed, for a few years now technicians have been measuring ambient sound levels at various parks to try to get a fix on what is natural and unnatural as well as to measure decibel levels.

    They've actually done some work at Glacier, and in their discussion the park managers saw fit to open the narrative with the sentence, "We live in a world of over-stimulation."

    Further done in the discussion they add:

    The value of this resource has become increasingly more important as it becomes threatened. Glacier National Park still retains much of its natural soundscape, but "noise" (defined as the unwanted intrusion of sound) is becoming ever more prevalent and, increasingly, recognized as a management concern. The type and amount of development around the periphery of Park will largely dictate the future condition of the soundscape. Increases in traffic and construction within the Park add to manmade noise and aircraft operations over and near the park are becoming a growing issue. Scenic helicopter rides that originate outside the park boundary intrude on the natural soundscape over a wide area, particularly affecting hikers and backpackers.

    Soundscape management has become an important management issue at Glacier Park. Any significant degradation of the natural sound environment deprives park visitors of the chance to connect with and appreciate the natural scene. Opportunities for escape from the noise and from the hectic pace of modern life are becoming increasingly aware.

    Things definitely can be too noisy still in Glacier and elsewhere in the park system, but managers are aware of the problem and are working to develop solutions.

  • and the National Park System Under the Obama Administration   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I understand this problem is small in the grand scheme of park system finances and management. This may not be a widespread problem but I imagine thousands of visitors have similar sentiments, which relate to conduct in polite society. I found my visit to Glacier National Park significantly and negatively impacted by noisy vehicles. In my case it was motorcycles/choppers with loud exhaust pipes. Their negative impact was made when arriving and leaving illegal parking outside hotel front doors, as well as throughout the park. Their noisy presence interrupted many quiet settings as they passed my area, even when I was down trails. Their permitted presence seems incongruous with some of the tenets the park system stands for. Many states have statutes against exhaust modification to loud pipes but are difficult to enforce because of their complexity and required equipment. If there are national park statutes against noisy vehicles I saw no indication of their successful enforecement. I suggest a simple audible/distance for idling and pass-by driving be established so that park exclusion and fines may be imposed by park staff on violators. A similar audible/distance practice is in use in some states to enforce against noisy car stereos.
    Thank you.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Sorry Sandi, but I've taught more Bios classes than you'll ever take. Plants love CO2? There's some accuracy in that statement. Plants tolerate CO2 is a better way of making that statement. There's also a bit more accuracy in the statement that with the slash-and-burn deforestation that's been eating away those carbon-sucking flora to which you refer, the earth's ability to filter excess production of CO2 has been reduced. By what percentage this reduction can be measured can be bandied about by various E&E friends of mine, but the overall statistic will be that we (i.e., the Earth) are less able to handle the excesses that we were in years (centuries) past. And for what it's worth, simply placing carbon dioxide in the presence of water doesn't make it magically disappear, not by a long shot. Not quite sure if that's really what you meant, but I hope not. Or I'll have to have a long what-for with your chemistry instructor.
    Maybe for once and for all time, we can call this what it really's NOT the consumer that's the real issue in this equation. Consumers only utilize the tools that they are given. If all the people in the US immediately began to live their lives without automobiles, electricity, natural gas, etc. this issue wouldn't simply vanish. Those behind this mess are those who refuse to change the fuel sources that mankind uses, or who claim it's too expensive to change, or that no market exists for "green" fuel technology. I wonder how fast our suppliers mindset would be altered if by chance their incomes were challenged by a sudden unexpected depletion of natural resources?

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I guess the operative inference was in pointing to "our" definitions. For simplicity sake we often refer to things in "our" terms, but clarity and understanding could be obtained by utilizing more exacting terms, which neither include double entendre nor doublespeak. Therein lies a major issue with "our" version of the English language.......too many definitions for the same terms, many of which can be used to bolster opposing viewpoints to the general confusion of the issue at hand.

    While General George and many of his peers so frequently quoted within the posts to this site are no specific heroes of mine, it could also, and just as accurately be stated that many other of that group (the Founders) and of philosophers (dating to Plato) would disagree about the intent and responsibilities of government, dating back to the earliest influences of political structures founded by most "Western" societies. All of those positions on BOTH ends of the spectrum were derived from various periods in time quite unlike the current circumstance in which we exist. Previous civilizations dealt with a multitude of issues no longer relevant to our "modern" society, and around such issues opinions were formulated and expressed. Franklin, for one, expressed his fears that the governmental structure being established in the mid-to-late 18th century would only be able to be sustained by a virtuous society; that very societal composition which he also stated could not sustain itself given the nature of mankind, whom he observed to be corrupt by nature, as has been demonstrated across time and geography and has found a "universal truth"; Jefferson (and others) views on the slavery issue are evidence of outmoded thought processes. So I don't think Ben would qualify as one of your stronger supporters of our current "democracy", progressive or otherwise. And for clarity sake, Ben favored a Republic modeled after the Roman pre-Caesar era council. At least, that's what he wrote in his papers. Finally, as we stand and debate the merits of our current political cesspool, in the larger picture isn't a society, ANY society, sans governmental or some other method of directional structure akin to anarchy?

    In closing, a much belated Happy Holidays to you all. At least I sincerely hope they were for you. Now, back to the bloodbath!

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    It is NOT government that is inherently bad.

    Washington, who wrote that "government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master", would disagree. So would other Founders and philosophers.

    Take from one and give to another isn't your precious democracy

    Democracy has evolved into what some Founders, such as Franklin and Jefferson, warned: war of all against all. With the fall of the Republic and its replacement by a progressive democracy, we have seen the advent interest group politics, and people vote for those who will take from those who have to give to those who have not.

    And let's not be too exacting with our definitions

    Should we instead engage in doublespeak? "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength"? Consumption is investment?

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I'm glad to see this. As an Environmental Educator for the NPS, I often see my colleagues in state agencies pressured to present hunting as "necessary for healthy wildlife populations." I've often thought that was BS, simply a way to justify hunting - "oh the predators are gone so we must take their place." The fallacy of that argument is shown up by wildlife management practices in Alaska which include destroying wolves and other predators to establish just that "unhealthy" condition artificially. In the end, the limits of habitat, such as food, shelter, weather and disease will limit wildlife populations far better, and probably in a far healthier way, than hunting. Hunt if you must, but don't portray it as for the wildlife's benefit.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Wow, take a biology course? I am a biologist. The carbon is being taken up by the seas, and becoming acidic to the detriment of sea life. Burn some tires? Wow you are one sick individual to celebrate like that.

    The pictures seem to be taken at the same exact location from what i can tell, it is just that the glacier is hight up than the water. I do not believe the time of year would make much difference.

  • After the Inauguration ... Next Up, the Lincoln Bicentennial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Thanks for the additional information!

    Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and the nearby attractions in Spencer County are delightful places to visit and to learn about Lincoln.

    I'm planning a story about Lincoln Boyhood here on the Traveler on February 19th, which is the anniversary of the official authorization of the national memorial.

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    And how many of us spell our country's name "Amerika"?
    I believe it was originally inscripted as Amerikkka in accordance with the ultra-conservative movement in the Deep South......

    Take from one and give to another isn't your precious democracy, whatever the hell that is, it's RobinHoodism at its basest level, aka. Social communism.

    Maybe one should aspire to dwell at the economic levels at which Pell recipients dwell prior to ANY criticism of the system. Or maybe you care to "broad brush" that notion along with the equity of the GI Bill that placed so many returning servicemen and women through your glorious and elitist collegiate ranks, and the first time home-buyers assistance programs that placed some of your "unequals" into private housing. And our own Gen./Pres. Eisenhower, who last I heard wasn't ever mentioned as our version of Lil' Adolf, designed and initiated construction on quite the American Autobahn, to which we'll be FOREVER paying to reconstruct and expand as some USDOT idiot sees fit. It is NOT government that is inherently's the corrupt American bi-partisan and special interest laden system that needs to be gutted flushed and redesigned. Since we, as human beings, whatever THAT connotes, continue daily to exhibit our inability to act responsibly and respectfully in the basest efforts of day-to-day living, we leave little option but to be forcibly led under some manner of regulatory body. Let's at the very least construct a system by which the equity places ALL on the same level playing field and eliminate the elitist rule of the current system.

    And let's not be too exacting with our definitions. While investing can indeed, in part, meet the criterion of "save" or "defer", it just as well can be defined as “improvement” or caching for use at a later time, not simply deferring / preserving for time immortal, and should not in the least be inferred as solely within the limited scope of the term as it pertains to conservationist overtones. Restoration is investment, as is the process of modernization to current standards / codes to enable long-term stabilization.

    But by all means, as I've stated in no uncertain terms in previous discussions, do NOTHING on the "wish list" of wants until the current maintenance backlog needs and all their related issues have been successfully eradicated from the docket.

  • After the Inauguration ... Next Up, the Lincoln Bicentennial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    As Lincoln's Boyhood Home, Spencer County, Ind., will honor our greatest president's 200th birthday all year long with a variety of special activities. A complete list can be found at We also have many sites were visitors an trace Lincoln's past, including Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln State Park, Lincoln Amphitheatre, Lincoln Pioneer Village and more!

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


    Thanks for some great tips from an "insider."

    It's been quite a while since my last visit to Acadia, but I'm planning a return visit, and your information will be a great help!

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    That's a very thorough clarification, d-2. Were you part of that process?

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

    Acadia was the first national park I ever visited. I was struck by the beauty of the place, and enjoyed myself so thoroughly, it started my hobby to collect them all. I'll always hold Acadia in high regard.


    My travels through the National Park System:

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

    Those are some excellent suggestions, Anonymous.

    To them I'd add: A visit to Somesville to snap a few photos of the picturesque footbridge, a stop at the Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving in Southwest Harbor, and a stroll through the Asticou Azalea Gardens just north of Northeast Harbor.

    True, these are all outside the national park, but they're so close and wonderful that to miss them would be a great misfortune.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Warren Z --

    Although your instinct to suspect the bias and incompetence of the Bush Administration is a good place to start, and it seems to me Gerald must not have been living on this planet the last several years, let me say nonetheless that you really do have it wrong, even in your clarification of the Bush ADMINISTRATION and the Fl 93 action.

    The people IN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE who pushed this park, PUSHED IT PAST, and in effect, subverted the Bush Administration. Primarily, the people working for and inspired by Secretary Norton, who was, as you imply, much more negative on parks and buying land than the President Himself. (not that he deserves any praise)

    Norton and OMB had issued an edict to prevent ANY new national park units, and the people in the NPS who pushed and wove this park, and several other parks, through the Congress did so in a conscious strategy to tie up the objections of the Bush people, and use the public concerns and belief in Fl. 93 AGAINST the Bush Administration's anti-new-park-bias.

    Anyway, that is how it was. It was known that any park bill that could actually get to the President in this Republican Congress would actually get signed, especially if the President's own constituency had been captured to support this pro-park effort.

    That is how it really was. Bush was easier than Norton; Norton was a Cheney clone. She and the NPS Director appointed by by Bush-Norton were dumped right about the time Pres. Bush had realized he could not completely trust the Vice President to keep him out of trouble.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago


    There's a difference between tolerance and criticism.

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

    Ok from a Mainer's perspective here are a few things you MUST do when visiting Acadia. First, Go hike around Jordan pond, and then stop at the Jordan Pond House for popovers and tea, this is a must do. Unfortunately you won't be able to see the old pond house, it burned several years ago, but the new one is just as nice. Secondly- you must visit Bar Harbor. This is a classic New England fishing village that has developed a slightly more modern feel to it. No doubt because of the big name shopping opportunities lining the narrow streets. There are nightly summer concerts and the seafood is obviously awesome. There are internet cafes, gourmet restaraunts, local artist stores, and fish markets all thrown together, and it works. Third- and conveniently you must drive to the top of Cadillac Mnt. It is located mere minutes from Bar Harbor. The reason you must go is to watch the sunrise; you will be the first to see it in the country. Hope for clear weather, no fog, and bring warm clothes. Cadillac is also a great hike if you've done moderate hiking before. Fourth- visit Northwest Harbor and take the mailboat cruise. This boat stops at most of the major islands in the near vicinity of the harbor and really does drop off the mail. Great Ride. Fifth-There is a great place to stay near Northeast Harbor, called the Assateague (?) Inn. There is a beautiful large ornamental garden on the hill above the Inn (as well as scattered throughout the park), and is well worth the visit. There's also a cute Chinese sand garden just down the hill from the Inn. All of the parks gardens are worth a visit, and they are all located close to the major attractions in the park and make a great first activity of the day or even end of the day unwind. Sixth- Rent a bike, pack a picnic, and ride the Eagle lake loop on the old carriage trails. Amazingly beautiful ride. Seventh- visit Sand beach and Thunder Hole. Sand beach can get pretty busy and the water isn't exactly warm, but the sand is very fine for an Atlantic beach and the rocks that surround the beach make it feel like you're in an amphitheater. If you go early enough when no one is there yet, you just might see red foxes down on the beach or patroling the stream that dumps into the ocean from the beach. Thunder Hole is a water carved hole in the rocks that traps the incoming tidal surge and creates a huge boom and spray. Fun to hear, and right down the loop road from Sand beach. Otter cliffs is also down the loop road from Thunder Hole, and worth a visit.
    If you time your visit right and you're incredibly lucky, you might see tall ships and large schooners in places like Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor. You can go on these and explore them, and there are occaisionaly sailing trips you can take on them... do it!! Tall ships are usually three and four and sometimes five masted giant schooners built back in the 30's, 40's, and 50's. The finest and most famous is called "Victory Chimes" so look for her. She is a four masted beauty. There are a few of them out there. They have been restored to their original glory and are litereally a part of sailing history. An unbelievable site with all sheets at full sail on the water. You would be a lucky person to sail on one of them. There are other smaller schooners in the harbors that you can take rides on and they are also worth the trip if the tall ships aren't there. There are several campgrounds on the island and it is fun to camp in Acadia. If you get there early enough in the morning you can snag a waterfront site. On your way to the park you'll pass several places that look like tourist traps where they are steaming lobster in giant barrels. Stop at one, it's the best lobster you'll have and it will be cheaper than when you get in the park. Don't worry about how to pronounce the name....locals call it "the island" and that's all you have to remember. Best times to go are early spring and late fall when everyone else is home. But if you want to see the gardens in all their glory, early summer is the best. Fly into Bangor, its a cute town with lots to do.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Geez, there still seems to be some residual BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) out there.
    I have to ask y'all...who are you going to hate tomorrow? Will you hate Obama if he carries on some of Bush's policies?
    Not a whole lotta tolerance out there....

  • Echoes of the Cold War in the Tropical Warmth of Everglades National Park   6 years 6 weeks ago

    George -

    Thanks very much for the first-hand report about the tour.

    Sounds like the park may have hit upon something of interest to the public, and it's good to know the interpreter did a fine job.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    My initial comment starting with the sentence "I suspect this opinion..." was originally first in the comment thread, but I altered it's position when I made a clarification. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I suspect this opinion will receive some feedback, but here goes.

    If the horrors of 9/11 were not to be later exploited by the Bush Administration in service to a larger political agenda already in place prior to September 11, 2001, I doubt we would have seen such a rush to get the Flight 93 Memorial established and designed, let alone built.
    As for Mr. Svonavec, the Families of Flight 93 are relatively lucky; they don't have to contend with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, or Silverstein Properties, all players with their own agendas, in getting the World Trade Center site rebuilt with a proper memorial included.

    Tragedies like Flight 93 are horrific. No one questions that. But what happened to the process of personal grief and reflection? Is the grief of the survivor families only of value if a $58 million memorial is constructed post haste?

    In today's culture, victim survivor groups express a very distasteful sense of entitlement when demanding memorials be erected as quickly as possible, as lavishly as possible, and with the full attention and support of the Federal government. Mr. Svonavec's reasons for holding onto his land are debatable certainly, but requesting that President Bush seize the land by executive order? A ridiculous request to say the least, although I personally find it surprising that President Bush did not comply with the demand. Perhaps if he were able to run for re-election he would have.

    Have some patience for the process, folks. Flight 93 is not the only tragedy that has befallen our nation, or our world for that matter. In light of today's holiday, I would suggest putting our energies behind the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial; he was assassinated 40 years ago and we still haven't gotten that memorial built.

  • Update: Deal Seems to Clear The Way For Construction of the Flight 93 Memorial   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Thanks for the schooling, d-2.
    Believe it or not, I was aware of just about all of the justifications you elaborate on.

    Let me just say that I too am all for protecting the site. That doesn't mean the NPS needs to do it, nor does the NPS necessarily need to be involved in the storytelling. Why not have some of our military forces, such as the National Guard, on duty to protect the land during ongoing investigation and collection of items? Oh that's right, they're already stretched way too thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, looking for weapons of mass destruction.


    I will argue two of your points, d-2.

    No Federal Agency, not even the many levels of management within the NPS, operates independent of influence from the sitting President's administration, by share fact of the matter that those agencies are run by political appointees of the President. Trust me on that one.
    I don't think my comment implies direct involvement from President Bush himself, but that is how you choose to interpret my comments.
    I doubt that Congressman Murtha would have had as much support to make this an NPS site if the incident in his district hadn't been part of a larger coordinated attack that could be manipulated by the Bush Administration, especially in light of the process and players surrounding the memorial in OKC, but we'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.

    "...and with the full attention and funding of the Federal government."
    I misspoke. I meant to say "...and with the full attention and support of the Federal Government." I will correct this in my original comment.
    That said, it being a NPS site, who else but the Federal government will be paying for staffing, developing the interpretive program, etc. unless the Families of Flight 93 organization gets involved in a role other than funding the construction.

    I agree that the "ownership" of the OKC story by the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum presents some object lessons for all concerned with development of the Flight 93 site, especially concerning questions of taste. (Example: one can purchase bottled water with the OCNMM's logo serving as a label. BOTTLED WATER! How in any way does an empty plastic bottle, with the organization's LOGO on it, honor the victims??)
    But that type of interpretive outsourcing has become very popular during the last 8 years.
    We agree that protection of the site's integrity is very important. But you can't expect that the participation of the NPS will exclude third party agendas, not in the current managerial environment.