Recent comments

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, in part your right, but the natives also stampeded hundreds of buffalo over huge gullies and high cliffs, with intentions for a mass kill, in order to have plenty of meat for the winter months and heavy warm hides to bear the bitter cold on the Dakota plains. There were excesses by the natives but not much waste! Your blogs and comments add much depth to many of the subjects presented by NPT. Good in put!

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Anonymous asks if I believe that Katmai National Preserve's bear hunt is being managed appropriately. I don't profess to know everything that I would like to about this situation, but what I know makes me as uncomfortable as most of you are.

    No reason to be uncomfortable, though, with NRA v. Potter. The NRA lost big here, and NPS resources won big. That's not negotiable. You don't have to like the NRA to like the results of the court case.

    Any weakening amendments to the Organic Act require Congress to act, and amending the Orgaqnic Act is almost as unlikely as a constitutional convention. But as Kurt has written many times, the critical issues right now are at Rocky Mountain, Theodore Roosevelt, and Wind Cave. Park managers, who have done the right thing, in my view, by using scientific monitoring data to determine that it is necessary and appropriate to reduce elk populations, are under tremendous pressure by state governments (and even Cong. Mark Udall, who is running for Senate in Colorado and clearly grandstanding on this issue) to open these parks to recreational hunting (under the guise of using "qualified hunters" as park volunteers). That's a very slippery slope and one that could create a lot of damage to the integrity of the National Park System.

    J Longstreet
    A National Park Superintendent

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I don't think Frank's point about the alteration of the ecosystem can be ignored. The lands that the parks encompass are simply not the same ecosystem that was so masterfully managed by the Natives centuries ago, or even the same that Powell, et.al. "discovered" in the late 19th century. It is an artificial preserve, with selected predation and prey as deemed fit by human "stewards". Granted, the portion of the equation dealing with human predators can no longer exist due to the dramatic increase in the human animal and his "freedom" to do as others of his species will, and this ridiculous notion of sport hunting. Sport hunting virtually exterminated the buffalo, among other North American species, in the past two centuries. That manner of hunting cannot be allowed on public lands due to the extreme detrimental impact on what we deem as acceptable "prey", which is basically anything that finds it way into the cross-hairs, edible or otherwise. That's why the earliest inhabitants of this land were successful in "maintaining" the herds and their populations; the entire philosophy was centered around taking only enough to sustain the village, not taking enough to satisfy the world market. That notion was solely the responsibility of the Europeans.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Bart, you advance a concise argument. It's also humorous. (You remind me of a supervisor I had at Zion.) Thanks for sharing your comments. I think the editors should grant you a weekly spot on the front page with your Simple Proposals. They're grrrrreat!

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Bart you're one eagle that I hope sticks around.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 25 weeks ago

    A museum dedicated to a federal bureaucracy? Will it be filled with life-sized photos of noted NPS bureaucrats? I wonder if space will allow for images of giant sequoias, grizzly bears, waterfalls, and exploding volcanos? Perhaps not, now that such concepts are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    During earlier dialog about the NPS, I believe it was Beamis who mentioned one of the agency's greatest evils: the tradition of employees rapidly moving from one park to the next for career advancement. The latest mantra is that career advancement allows an employee to embrace "new challenges." This has become the accepted group-think, much to the detriment of the parks and their visitors.

    I know, I know...I've heard it before. "If the parks aren't frequently infused with 'new blood,' there won't be any new ideas." But many, many other avenues exist to introduce new idieas to an organization. Inter-park trainings and conferences are obvious ones (so long as they're about ideas and don't simply serve as junkets for bored employees). Reading a book or checking a website are others. Sitting down and thinking for an hour or so is yet another (but you'll have to turn off your cell phone or blackberry first). And never forget that old ideas are often the best. Try the NPS Mission, for starters.

    At the risk of sounding insensitive, I think the career climbing tradition and the seeking of "new challenges" is incredibly selfish, especially when an employee leaves a park after only the typical three-odd years. The national parks deserve employees who will devote quality time to learning their place of employment...and growing to love it. Sorry, but employees need to care more about the parks and the public than their petty careers and soon-to-be-forgotten legacies. It's not about using one's career to bounce from park to park: that's what vacations are for.

    Ever hear of a Seagull Manager? It's someone who flies in, makes a lot of noise, poops all over everything, and then leaves.

    Simple Proposal #7: Be an Eagle, Not a Seagull

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Alan, I think we have more in common that you realize. I'm not advocating open hunting in national parks. You believe that "Populations should be controlled with NATURAL predation." But the point I'm making, and you seem to be missing, is that for 15000 to 30000 years in North America, humans WERE part of the natural predation that controlled animal populations. Human predation, along with other predation (fire, cougars, wolves, brown bears), has been removed from the equation, and a completely different system (which I'm arguing is not better than the former system) was born in the last century. In some instances, overpopulation and dangerous encounters resulted.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, I don't believe it to be true that the majority of Americans really give a damn one way or the other regarding hunting inside or outside the parks. I wish it were so, and that the public took a truly active stand on issues pertaining to the National Parks. If you took a poll, you would get answers, some vehement, supporting both views, but those expressing opinions who would back them up by even a simple letter-writing campaign would be few. Most Americans like to talk loudly and do nothing, as is witnessed by the high level of contempt for our existing political structure and those who man it, and the unwillingness of the general public to do even the most basic, simple task of getting away from the TV long enough to cast a ballot, which if done properly could affect IMMEDIATE change in our system. And as pointed out above, many of the lunkheads who actually DO visit the parks are too lazy to even perform the most fundamental task, like cleaning up after themselves.

    It shouldn't take a cardiac surgeon to figure out that people made the first overture by presenting foodstuffs in an available, knowingly or not fostering the behavioral modification in nature. Of course this is a people issue. We again have created a situation due to our tremendous lack of foresight that is next to impossible to reverse, at least in the short term. But to say that these animals are still "wild" is nonsense. Wild animals have instincts to avoid confrontation that results in predation. Even worse than their habituated nature, they're now much MORE dangerous to humans now due to losing the instinctive fear of man. But, open hunting?

    And I would still like to know why everyone is so upset that hunting on national lands is being discussed while hunting on state lands is a yearly ritual. The concentration of humans per square mile in generally higher in state facilities, the parks overall are smaller (which is why certain areas are cordoned off during the hunt), the pack sizes are more prone to decimation due to overhunting, and the general proximity of humans (facilities, settlements, roadways, etc) is far greater. Shouldn't BOTH locations be considered the basis of the issue?

  • Flag Soars Above USS Arizona Memorial   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Yup, sad place.
    I couldn't hang there long.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 25 weeks ago

    A million visitors does seem a bit optimistic, but I don't fault anyone for optimism. Harpers Ferry currently gets about 250,000 annual visitors a year, and Gettysburg, only about 60 miles away, gets over 1.5 million.

  • Flag Soars Above USS Arizona Memorial   6 years 25 weeks ago

    U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?

    Bad, very bad National Park System.
    Just because a deer or two kicks ass on a human or a bear harvests a few and a wolf howls the angst of survival in a National Park on the full moon scaring the crap out of some folks is by no means a reason to kill them. Sounds more like "a place of education" to me.
    IMHO

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Remember - hunting is only permitted in parks where the park's legislation allows it. Hunting is not permitted in the vast majority of parks and is prohibited by law. Only Congress can change the legislation of parks where hunting is not permitted. See the famous court case NRA v. Potter.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Wildlife biologists have learned more about the lives of wolves by observing them in the wild in Yellowstone in the last 12 years than in all of history prior to that. Much of what we know of bear behavior was gleaned from the Craighead research of the fifties and sixties in Yellowstone. Predator, prey knowledge has been greatly advanced by observations in Isle Royale. I would hardly call them "naive observers".
    Looking up "deer attacks" is a favorite hobby of mine, and exactly what I tell uneducated folks who talk to me about how "dangerous" wolves are, to do. Here are a few results:

    "A deer goes buck wild on a hunter"
    "Deer Attacks Hunter. NOW you can call it a sport."
    "Sheriff's deputies said the man was trying to feed the deer when he was attacked"
    "SoCal man dies of injuries suffered in deer attack."
    "A huge whitetail deer attacks a hunter."
    "Deer Attacks Hunter ... The deer should have killed the stupid hunter"
    "deer attacks a hunter and it's all caught on video"
    "This deer goes nutty and attacks a hunter. ... "
    "bow hunter is attacked by huge whitetail deer"
    Sounds like a lot of these attacks are occurring in areas where hunting is allowed!

    What stands out is the stark LACK of reported attacks in parks.

    ""Wild" creatures approaching humans for hand-outs? OUTRAGEOUS!!" What is outrageous is that PEOPLE GIVE handouts to wildlife, thus TRAINING THEM TO ACT THIS WAY (PEOPLE PROBLEM). Wildlife experts warn about feeding wildlife. Every person who enters a National Park is given a list of safety rules regarding wildlife: minimum safe distances for viewing, photographing etc. Do not feed. Keep a clean camp....etc. Unfortunately many, if not most, visitors choose to ignore at least some of these rules. I am in Yellowstone 3 to 5 days a week year around. I can't tell you how many times I see ice chests and food left on picnic tables, people throwing food to coyotes and other animals and folks sticking point and shoot cameras right into the face of bison and grizzly bears! I even saw one idiot try to pet a bear cub once! (The momma bear, contrary to what you would think, ran into the woods.) Yet given this atmosphere, injuries are amazingly rare; and when they do happen (even just a bluff charge...no harm, no foul) it is the animal who ultimately pays the price. If you ask most rangers, they will tell you that if everybody simply followed the rules injuries from wildlife in the Park would be virtually non existent. One even told me that when they have to put down a bear, they would much rather put down the stupid tourist who caused the problem! JUST BECAUSE ANIMALS TOLERATE YOU DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE NO LONGER WILD. This, the rangers will tell you, is their hardest job...convincing people of that. Wolves can walk right through a herd of elk without causing a stir. Yet if the wolves are hunting, the elk will run long before they get there. Their instinct tells them the difference. They same is true when people approach.
    Populations should be controlled with NATURAL predation. If that is not possible hunting can be increased on surrounding forest lands....most wildlife move seasonally. I repeat: Parks are a place for families...not weapons, of any type.
    It is clear that we will never agree on this issue, so I suggest that we simply agree to disagree. Fortunately the law and the vast majority of the American people do agree with me. Americans, I don't believe, will ever stand for a general hunting season in our National Parks.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I spent half a dozen or so weekends at Zion last summer and was quite surprise (and dismayed) be the behavior of the local mulies. But with a couple million people annually sardined into that relatively small tract of land, I guess I had no right to be surprised. But Frank is absolutely correct in his observation of drastic modification in the natural reaction and behavioral patterns of the deer, among other creatures. "Wild" creatures approaching humans for hand-outs? OUTRAGEOUS!! Isn't that one of the qualifications for deeming something domesticated, or at the very least, tame? We've provided a vehicle whereby the natural instinctive lifestyles of these critters has been forever altered, which in and of itself removed the biological classification of "wild" from the beast. "Wild-type" is a term used to delineate the natural or original state, as found in nature, from any modified subset, whether that modification is induced in a laboratory or through natural methods of mutation, and appiles equally across both genotypical and phenotyical modification (genetically and/or psychologically /physically) modified traits. Normal evolutionary behavior would not include a "getting to know you" attitude between man and truly wild animals. These changes can only be attributed to direct intervention on the part of our species. All because we think they're "cute".

  • Trekking to Dick Proenneke's Cabin in Lake Clark National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt, what a example of a man that can teach us so much about the simple basic things in life and yet be quite content. What a refreshing story that touches the human heart and soul in what a true pure wilderness experience is. This man is a real stud!

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Search for "deer attack" and you'll get over 100,000 results. In 1977, a young boy was killed by a deer in Yosemite. The deer problems at Zion are common knowledge to those who have worked there. Just because it doesn't make it into the papers doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    As for magic, if you mean "an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers", I'd agree with you. The current system is an illusion, a recent feat conjured in the past 50 to 100 years. For 15,000 to 30,000 years, deer and other animals would run from humans because humans were their predators; humans also kept their numbers in check. Now, we've got quite the illusory, Disneyesque, situation that ignores thousands of years of natural and human history so modern humans can take snapshots.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 25 weeks ago

    This is great -- another place I can volunteer when I retire to my cabin on the Potomac. I'll make sure everyone hears the stories of the NPS mistakes so they're not repeated by future generations -- feeding trash to bears, damming rivers then destroying the dam later, stocking National Seashores with non-native species, allowing commercial rave parties at Alcatraz, the list goes on. And with all those mistakes out there, the mission continues so that my great great grandkids can see some of the same things I did.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    "They are places where mountain lions stalk and eviscerate deer, raptors snatch up cottontail rabbits in their talons and rip out their entrails with sharp beaks"...............Excuse me? These aren't part of the natural processes? These things don't happen in the forests where hunting is allowed? The difference is that in a National Park we might actually WITNESS them. As I said, "A place of education". One can only wonder how many young wildlife biologists, naturalists, foresters, film makers and poets have been born while watching animals in National Parks.
    The Yellowstone Association (and so many others) offer hundreds of educational classes and programs every year that would be impossible in a hunted environment. If hunting were allowed you could virtually kiss goodbye to wildlife photography (ask Mr. Mangelsen, for example, where he gets most of his photos), as well as National Geographic, Nature and other educational programs (mostly filmed in parks).
    As for the deer in Zion (I'll have to take your word for this happening. I have been to Zion many times and have never witnessed it, nor have I read about it....didn't know deer eat peanut butter sandwiches!).....like most "wildlife" problems, this is a PEOPLE problem. These deer have been trained by people to act this way. If this is indeed happening, the Park Service needs to do some averse training. People DO need to treat wild animals as WILD, and respect them as such. There is a big difference between habituated animals and animals that are used to people, which is most Park animals. The bears in Yellowstone thirty or forty years ago were habituated (fed from cars etc.) and there were dozens of bear related human injuries each year. Today the bears in Yellowstone are merely used to people, and there is an average of only one. Interestingly, there are far more than that in the surrounding National Forests where hunting is allowed.
    As for these encounters being "magical" only for humans, I absolutely agree. They are especially so for the very young and the very old, but most of us (even some of my hunter friends...so they tell me) can get a little bit of magic.........if you can't, I truly feel sorry for you.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Frank, you seem to say it like it is regarding to the issue which has much merit in my book. Mr. Longstreet's comments bothers me to the point, when you start dragging in the NRA with the hunting issue in the National Parks (and under this present administration) things tend to get real messy. The NRA has a track record of mispresentation, misquoting and giving out bad misinformation about many gun laws and hunting issues. However, Mr. Longstreet since you made the comment about Katmai National Reserve, in your opinion, and in your assessment is it "being managed appropriately"? If not and why not!? I ask this, since you opened the door in dialogue, in reference to the NPS managing wildlife resources properly...or appropriately. I truly fear, when it comes to push-and-shove regards to hunting in the National Parks, and the interpretation of the Organic Act involving the NRA (and the courts), I feel in my gut, that are wildlife resources will continue to dewindle under the barrel of a shotgun, and weaken amendments will be established to allow hunters to have there unethical insane hunts like in Katmai...in which some call a slaughter...including myself.
    I didn't realize until I read Thomas Mangelsen's (world fame wildlife photographer) excerpts from his beautiful book, THE NATURAL WORLD, that there are approximately "2,000 Alaskan bears are killed a year in the name of sport". In the name of sport! I don't think Katmai bear slaughter indicated this...did you Mr. Longstreet? So, again Mr. Longstreet, is the Katmai National Reserve managed properly?

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Whatever we may think of the pros and cons of hunting in the national park system, the discussion needs to be cognizant of federal law and court cases.

    The pertinent laws are:
    * The Organic Act (1916);
    * The 1970 amendments to the Organic Act (in the General Authorities Act) which required that the NPS manage its units as part of a single system; and
    * The 1978 Redwood Amendment to the Organic Act, which directed the NPS to assure that its management considered the integrity of the system and assure that no activities were permitted in derogation of the values and purposes for which NPS units were established unless those activities were specifically authorized by Congress.

    The pertinent court ruling on this topic is National Rifle Association v. Potter (1986), usually regarded as the first major federal court case interpretation of the Organic Act and its amendments. Without getting into too much of the particulars of the case, the court ruled that
    trapping and other similar “consumptive uses” (including hunting) were not within the congressional intent for the national park system. Consumptive uses are permissible – as the Redwood amendment indicated – only where Congress specifically authorizes them.

    Hence the law prohibits recreational hunting in parks where it has not been explicitly authorized by Congress. Cape Cod is one of those places where it has been permitted, so in my view the issue there is the appropriateness of the NPS stocking non-native species for the purpose of enhancing hunting opportunities. Was that Congress’ intent? I suspect not. Whether or not hunting should be permitted at all there is a different issue, and would require an act of Congress to prohibit.

    Similarly, hunting is permitted in the authorizing language for Katmai National Preserve. So the issue of the Katmai bear hunt isn’t “is it legal” but is it being managed appropriately.

    Hunting is not mentioned in the authorizing legislation for Rocky Mountain, Theodore Roosevelt, or Wind Cave – or most NPS areas. So recreational hunting would require new acts of Congress there.

    But in contrast to hunting, the NPS has, since the 1960s, been reluctant to actively manage its wildlife populations. That’s changing, fortunately, and the best example of success is Gettysburg, where the NPS has culled deer for several years and withstood a major court challenge. Culling deer, or elk, or other animals when necessary to preserve or restore ecological integrity, and when NPS goes through the proper public involvement and environmental reviews, is certainly authorized. NPS has the authority to use members of the public to assist – but the key is that these volunteers would be participating in a management action (not a recreational hunt), would be working under strict NPS oversight, and would not be permitted to gain materially from their efforts (i.e. keep any part of the animals).

    J Longstreet
    A national park superintendent

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    While still wild and free, these animals and so many others have learned that they can trust people just enough in the parks to allow them a magical glimpse into their lives.

    The deer in Zion are so tame that they follow children around the campground and jump on their backs in an attempt to steal food from their hands. These deer are anything but wild; they don't "trust" people; they attack them.

    ...we could spend a lifetime and not see a fraction of the wonder that we can currently see in our parks in a day.

    National parks aren't zoos or wildlife safari parks or Disneyland. They are places where mountain lions stalk and eviscerate deer, raptors snatch up cottontail rabbits in their talons and rip out their entrails with sharp beaks, and humans once bludgeoned big horn sheep with rocks. In a natural setting, animals' instinct prompts them to flee when they encounter predators (like humans). We're not doing them any favors by habituating them to our presence, and the only species for whom such encounters are "magical" are humans. We've replaced the natural order with something quite unnatural. What a tragic loss.

  • Park Service Now Interested in Adding Christmas Mountains to Big Bend National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I own property in the Christmas Mountains adjacent to this tract, and in the past had numerous problems with poaching across it when it was previously used for hunting. Since hunting has stopped, return of wildlife has been spectacular, and now includes at least one wild black bear.

    I would be very disappointed if this property were to again be hunted, and so strongly support ownership by the National Park.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Parks are a place for families. They are a place for picnics, hikes and campfires roasting marshmallows. They are a place of education and wonder. They are a place where a father (or mother) can share with their children a bear and her cubs, a deer and its fawn. While still wild and free, these animals and so many others have learned that they can trust people just enough in the parks to allow them a magical glimpse into their lives. If we allow hunting our parks will become just like most of our National Forests, where we could spend a lifetime and not see a fraction of the wonder that we can currently see in our parks in a day. What a tragic loss that would be.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Or just maybe, since the NPS is so eager to spend money for the Jazz Museum in New Orleans, we can get the NPS Heritage Museum funded by the National Endowment for the Arts?

    I've never been to the National Air and Space Museum, but how much floor space is devoted to the likes of the Apollo and Shuttle debacles? Although not a fair comparison because memorials for deceased astronauts are most proper versus exhibits to mismanagement and general incompetence, but hey, Trump has a tower, the Outfit has Vegas, Clinton has a library and Carter has Habitat for Humanity, so anything is possible. I hope they have the decency to show before and after pictures of what the lands were and what the NPS made them. Then the public could determine for themselves how effectively the NPS management public lands has been handled, and whether or not to maintain the status quo. Prior to inception of this undertaking, the sources for funding should be put forth for public consideration on a general election referendum, since we have one of those coming up in about a year. But that, like Beamis suggested simulation, ain't gonna happen, is it?