Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    dapster belled the cat:

    "Also, we haven’t even broached the subject of the access for the disabled."

    Seriously, this is it - the basic reality.

    Much, likely a majority of the population is incapable of accessing our Natural Wonders, on foot.

    Yet that is the appeal-of-choice of the 'mystical solitude' contingent. "The presence of snowmobiles ruins my wilderness-experience. Let them walk."

    "Oh, let them eat cake." "Marie, they'll have your head." "Nonsense: It's wilderness - they can walk like the animals, be limited to the level of animals. Make it so, Jeeves."

    Somebody took a wrong turn on the road to the future, thinking it will exclude or ignore those who do not meet a certain standard of physical robustness & endurance. Yes ... cake was a nutritious & healthful commodity-byproduct of the bread-baking industry, and national enshrinement of Teutonic ideals energized late-1930s Germany ... but note that the lowly & homely won the day, hard & fast.

    The snobbery & elitism of "Let them walk" is self-defeating.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Anons I & II,

    Why do we keep allowing these motorized machines to pollute the environment in all our parks. The parks are not meant for racing etc they are meant to preserve the plants and animals and allow for guarded enjoyment by the public in such a way that the environment or animals are not interfered with. The use of our parks by the loud zing zingers only occurs because of intense lobbying by those selling and using these noisy, disturbing machines.

    And by the lobbying of the park users who use said machines to access the park areas that they prefer. Again, please note that NPS rangers also employ the same mode of transportation in the fulfillment of their duties. Look, I’m all for a viable replacement to the IC engine, but unless you’ve got one in your back pocket you’re not telling us about, then we’re stuck burning gas for a while yet to come.

    No vehicles should be allowed in any national park. Park all them RVs and cars at the entrance and walk in!

    Mr. Clayton so eloquently handled the latter part of this post, so I’ll take the former. Vehicles in the parks, also used by NPS personnel, are absolutely necessary to the safety and upkeep of the park. As far as I know, all vehicles are bound by some level of emissions controls mandated by either Fed or local laws, sometimes both. Some parks are so large that a foot-bound NPS simply could not manage it in this manner. I’m sorry, but I do not share the guilt that some do over burning fossil fuels in the best means of personal transportation that mankind has produced to date. I also refuse to step back in time and harness either equine or wind power to travel.

    Mules? Egad. Have you ever been around areas with high levels of livestock & riding animals? Care to guess what the fuel-economy and emissions levels of horse-culture looks like? The landscape effects of churning hooves?

    I used to run a horse stables facility with 20+ animals counting both horses and ponies. We gave either ½ hour or 1-hour trail rides through the Virginia woods every weekend during the warm months. We literally had to clean the trails of dung periodically during peak season as the trail would become clogged with it. Just imagine thousands of visitors on the backs of thousands of animals and the mess it would cause.

    This business went under due to the high cost of insuring the riders against injury. Do you think the NPS would enter into such a high risk venture? Doubtful.

    Also, we haven’t even broached the subject of the access for the disabled. Do we dare want yet another branch of government, (The DOJ this time), and the ADA folks involved in this? Hiking trails up the sides of mountains with wheelchair ramps their entire length, anyone? Sidewalks everywhere?

    Well regulated, reasonable, low-impact motorized access can certainly become a reality, if both sides are willing to give a little. Lawsuits just bring yet more lawsuits.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Beamis is right when he says

    All I'm saying is that Steamtown was a dog from the git go and the NPS more or less said so when it was proposed way back when. It was deliberately conceived and forcibly shoved through the legislative gauntlet as an economic development project by one of the legendary grand masters of pork barrel politics Congressman Bud Shuster.
    but the idea of turning it into a park and museum was not the bad Idea. The bad idea was making a national park run with taxpayers money. It should have been a partnership run with the help of NPS much like the National Monument in Oklahoma City is run.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    The car has done one good thing for Yellowstone. Because people travel further and faster over a day, there are far fewer structures and buildings in Yellowstone than there used to be. The theory for awhile has been to horde large crowds of people into fewer areas so that the larger area of the park is protected at the sacrifice for the few. So, Old Faithful in particular is the sacrificial lamb.

    None of these questions is very simple. It's what happens when a natural place is artificially set aside to prevent people from following their natural instincts. It's never easy to play God.

    Snowmobiles certainly have no right to be in Yellowstone, but denying them access doesn't really do anything much to go at the larger problems. I'm not even convinced the air will be cleaner, if it means that visitation simply transfers to the restricted access and monopolized snow coach industry and if more and more cars (like mine) keep using the north of the park in the winter. If roads are still being groomed, what difference will it make to wildlife and the bison who continue to leave the park to face hazing and slaughter? I'll be glad if they are gone for a lot of personal reasons, but I've never understood the amount of passion over the issue without an equal amount of passion on the larger Yellowstone issues.

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

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Anonymous proclaimed:

    "Park all them RVs and cars at the entrance ... Hop on a mule.
    You're joking. On multiple levels. One certainly hopes.

    The process by which the obese, the old, the diabetic & otherwise health-challenged, the flat-footed, the deskbound, the harried, and yes, the lazy are disenfranchised from the Parks is a fantasy. Hallucination. Delusion?

    There are in all likelihood going to be more forms and higher levels of vehicular usage in the Parks' future, not less. "The Science" will prevail, leading to the minimization of "objective" problems with motorized transport. 'Personal issues' and 'religious views' won't compute.

    Mules? Egad. Have you ever been around areas with high levels of livestock & riding animals? Care to guess what the fuel-economy and emissions levels of horse-culture looks like? The landscape effects of churning hooves? Take 2 aspirin and call the doctor in the morning.

    ATVs and snowmobiles are the leading edge of an epochal transformation of human mobility, and they are destined especially for the Parks. Subject to reasonable management.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Jesse,

    Welcome to the debate! I thought this one had run it's course.

    Your comments are totally correct. NCFWS keeps tabs on the dredge islands in the inlet, and also the "Bird Islands" that are just WNW of North Frisco/South Buxton. These bars are literally covered with birds, and their sheer size make islands like Cora June, (Dredge), look small by comparison. As you stated, these islands are mammalian-predator free with the only predation occuring from other bird species such as gulls, and are protected from ocean overwash. I'd be all for creating a chain of them behind the barrier islands and let the birds and the AS have it all! But wait... Then they coudn't drive out in their own ORV's to do some bird watching...

    I have a fiscally sound plan that would take the burden off the American taxpayer and the fed's in these cases:

    If an ECO wins a lawsuit against the NPS, make THEM foot the bill for all the changes that must be implemented.

    You would see the lawsuits stop instantly.

    dap

  • A Historian's Take on the National Park Service   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Kurt, Thanks for posting this. It was an interesting read. I need to go through P.J.'s back issues of Thunderbear.

    Rob

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Anon,

    My, how you like to make assumptions and read falsehoods into my words!

    You’re looking at your first “band-wagon jumper” right here. The reason more folks haven’t piped up yet is that we’re all pretty busy fighting our own battles >2K mile away from Yellowstone. There are striking similarities to the issues, hence my post. The difference in reaction that you reference is probably due to the fact that nearly everyone in this country owns a vehicle, where snowmobiles are fairly specialized. Also, not too many folks can take their family of four somewhere on a snowmobile.

    My opinion of the use of single judges is simply that. My opinion. We don’t necessarily have to agree on that issue. However, your vehemence is certainly unwelcome. Telling another adult individual to “grow up” merely detracts from the debate, and makes the author of said words seem all the more childish themselves.

    My point is this: If they start banning access to areas for any reason, then look out. Pedestrian access can be proven to be detrimental to species just as easily as motorized access.

    And finally, I absolutely refuse to call the Hatteras Island NPS unit anything but CNHSRA! The simple existence of it, and the curious way the designation has come and gone is somewhat central to our battle, and completely symbolic to it. I know of thousands of folks who refer to it as such, regardless of NPS nomenclature. If it offends you, I suggest you skip reading my and others posts where that acronym is present.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    While I applaud the decision as such, I see a huge problem coming up from it. This decision is not about the use of snowmobiles in the first place, it is about sloppy decision making in the NPS and even sloppier documentation of those decisions. Administrations decisions must be documented in such way that (judicial) oversight is possible. This was obviously lacking here (and in many, many other cases), most probably because the decision was in conflict with the data and could not have been based on any sound reasoning.

    The danger is, that proper decision making and documentation could be confused with more bureaucracy. Nothing is gained if NPS staff is told to spend more time on their desks writing lengthy legal briefs to cover their asses in future decisions.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    We are for protecting the wildlife and Habitat, because we are apart of it and want to continue to be a part of it. That is why the ORV groups do beach sweeps,not environmental groups. It is ORV groups offering the reward for vandelized bird closures,not the enviromental groups, they're too busy looking for the next law suit . If the Environs used common sense they would not waste their time and our money sueing to close areas that are dangerous to wildlife itself and concentrate on habitat that produces much greater results. Example, Cape Point is well known for it's frequent overwashes and predation. Why do environs want birds to nest where they are more likely to be washed away or ate ? It's already happened in 2008, the forced concent decree did not protect the birds from mother nature. As it did not protect the turtle nest from T.S. Hanna, record number nests (all over the east coast not just on CHNS) and all that had not hatched drowned. One fact environs leave out is that it is storms and predation that cause 100% of the pipping plover fatalities on the CHNS,not people or ORVs.
    The environs also leave out of their bird count the thousands of birds that have voted with their wings to nest on dredge islands on the sound side of Hatteras and Ocracoke instead of CHNS, which is a few hundred yards away, I say again, these birds that they claim is in decline nest by the thousands just a few hundred yards from the Park. The very islands the environs sued to keep from having them built, these island are perfect habitat,little predation and protected by the main islands from storm surges, they have produced astonishing numbers recorded by the NCFW. The Environs claim that since the birds are not nesting on the park,they do not count. Doe's this answer sound like it is coming from someone negociating in good faith ??? No it does not ,they know it is not people or ORVS causing a so called decline on CHNS, but rather storms and predators,but they can't make any money sueing nature or God, or the state for making dredged islands.
    The pipping plover will soon be taken of the Endangered Species list as threatened, what will they use as a poster child then ? The fact is it is not about protecting birds , it's about making a wildlife reserve for them to enjoy just themselves to watch birds dancing and doing the dirty. Well there's 13 miles of Pea Island Wildlife Reserve just a few miles away, got there and enjoy nature how you see fit, we want to fish and swim, what CONGRESS PROMISED WE COULD DO !

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Jim,

    Ah - I knew that all snowmobiles are guided (which surely goes a long way to tamp down the yee-haw! factor), but not the 4-stroke requirement. I understand that models tuned for smooth riding, durability & economy (rental machines) are similar to automobiles in emissions.

    Agreed, as Park management is bound by a science-evaluation protocol, if they ignored their own science reports (which were otherwise adequate & appropriate), then they can get rapped.

    And yes, it does look like more than one question in play; distinct issues of science, philosophy and politics all morphing back & forth and being passed off as one.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    No vehicles should be allowed in any national park. Park all them RVs and cars at the entrance and walk in! You wanna see Old Faithful? Hop on a mule.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Ted,

    The current plan calls for snowmobiles to be accompanied by a guide and that they be 4-stroke. So, if that isn't good enough, it's not clear what would satisfy the judge in this case.

    On the science of noise and snowmobiles, I defer to others. Whether snowmobiles or any other vehicle should be allowed is one question, but that the government here put in plans that went against their own scientific advice (even from the EPA) is really the stink bomb that is behind the success of this lawsuit. (And, throw in Cody, where the Park Service basically got pushed around - by Cheney, apparently - into keeping Sylvan Pass open against their own better judgment - now all moot apparently by this order).

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

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne each wholly deserve this finely worded 63-page bitch slap, IMHO.
    Reads to me like Judge Sullivan did his homework.

    To read up on this years long SNAFU click here. (I find the reader comments most entertaining :-))

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    bearguy,

    Alaska!

    Do you have a sense how the general Alaska snowmobile community stands on this question? Is it typical or atypical for an Alaskan snowmobiler to oppose their use in Parks?

    I note that you characterize snowmobiles as involving "damaging activities". If we identify specifically what these damages are, and then take measures to prevent the damage - then what?

    In fact, bearguy, I suspect the perspective of Alaskans, and the situation in Alaska, has more to do with how the question of ORVs in Parks will be settled nation-wide, than many folks realize (or are willing to admit).

    I have watched the hearings and rulings on snowmobiles in Denali fairly closely, but I can't discern an outcome or intent.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Why do we keep allowing these motorized machines to pollute the environment in all our parks. The parks are not meant for racing etc they are meant to preserve the plants and animals and allow for guarded enjoyment by the public in such a way that the environment or animals are not interfered with. The use of our parks by the loud zing zingers only occurs because of intense lobbying by those selling and using these noisy, disturbing machines. Thank God someone defends the silent majority obviously our politicians don't!

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    There might be some pertinent insight to be gained, by looking into the background & history of Judge Sullivan. There's always been hangin' Judges, and warnin' Judges.

    From the points Kurt quotes the Judge as listing, the bench is basically 'fixing' the Park's winter use Plan. "You need to do better here, you need to be more specific there."

    For the Judge to say ...

    "(T)his is not blanket permission to have fun in the parks in any way the NPS sees fit."
    ... sounds a tad unprofessional & weak. He's basically coming off as a 'smart-mouth'. He faulted the Park for 'winging-it', then he turns around and does the same thing.

    Going by the emphasis placed on how loud & polluting snowmobiles are ("the science"), it strikes me as likely they will eventually be allowed. All ya gotta do is make them quite & clean. Problem solved!

    New (and increasingly popular) four-stroke snowmobile engines make the machine a whole new ball game. (It's the inherently/easily more-powerful, lighter-weight and more-compact 2-cycle engines that make snowmobiles 'loud & smelly'. It costs more to make a similarly small, light & powerful 4-stroke, but once you do, it's dramatically quieter & cleaner.)

    Set standards for noise & emissions, and the manufactures will meet it. End of problem, right? Or maybe not ...

    Many who object to snowmobiles rattle off several objective reasons ("the science") why the machines are bad and should therefore be banned. Yet many also reveal clearly enough that their true objection is emotional & subjective in nature. They are attentive to benzene levels, not so much as a problem to correct, but as a pry-bar to get rid of snowmobiles ... whether they are really - objectively & "scientifically" - hurting anything or not.

    The main 'real' issue with snowmobiles that I'm seeing is, the potential 'running' or disturbance of wildlife. Preventing this could involve some regulation, and active/adaptive management, but it should certainly be possible to have both contented buffalo, and contented snowmobilers.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Geezer, I think everyone has had enough "good models" falsehoods, lies and fake science from you people from the darkside. Quote "The consent decree was a valuable first step toward reasonable long-term limitations on ORVs." We have more than eleven thousand people on a petition that would beg to differ with such lies. Futhermore if it was really about reasonable limitations for ORVs why won't the NPS allow the reg/neg meatings to be recorded. Whats to hide? let me tell you, "good models" ,falsehoods, lies and fake science.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I am not saying that anything should be banned. All I did was point out the difference in the reaction to similar cases in YELL and CAHA. And wonder why the CAHA crew hasn't jumped on the bandwagon to allow snowmobiles in YELL....

    Moreover, the judges are doing what they are supposed to do - interpreting and enforcing the laws to the best of their understanding and ability. Of course it's going to be one judge - it's not like there's a whole panel of them sitting up there at this point in the system (yes, I know if it is appealed, then there will be more than one...) That's why judges are there - to make tough decisions like this. They aren't around to make people happy, and the whole "activist judges are out to ruin the country and are ignoring the majority of Americans" argument, no matter who it comes from (liberals use it just as often as conservatives) is getting old as dirt. Grow up already. People who say things like that make it sound like one day we'll wake up to find breathing and eating banned.

    And for goodness' sake, quit calling it CHNSRA. No one in the rest of the country calls it that (not even the people who write their brochures!), and even though it's the right name, you don't need to throw it in our face as if it's proof that it's justified for people to run all over the park.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    As an Alaskan who has spent time on a snow machine I support this decision. Snowmachines, ORVs, and other such vehicles have no place in parks whose mission is to protect and preserve the scenery and the ecosystems. These recreational activities are not compatible with this directive. There are other public and private lands where these damaging activities can occur. I hope the same ruling can apply to Denali Park where snow machining still occurs in some areas. Let us learn to appreciate the wild at the wilds pace.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    It's ironic that most of these comments are in favor of keeping snowmobiles out of YELL, yet most of the commentators on CAHA issues want motorized access. Perhaps many of the CAHA people aren't interested in YELL? Or is YELL somehow different than CAHA? If so, is it really our - or anyone's - prerogative to say that one park is more deserving of protection than another?

    I would take exception to that comment, anon. Protection of all NPS units should be our mission. However, in all fairness, to compare YELL to CHNSRA is akin to comparing Mars to Jupiter. Please do not infer that we care only for our area of this country.

    -"White noise" caused by the surf interaction on the beach reach levels sufficient to be heard for miles. There are no such noise issues in this arena.

    -PWC's, (Personal Water Craft), usage has been banned for over a decade.

    -ORV's allowed in the area are state licensed vehicles only, not ATV's.

    The CHNSRA Rangers employ both ATV's and either Ford or Dodge 4WD vehicles to perform their duties. I would assume that YELL rangers employ similar vehicles from 4WD autos to snowmobiles to snowcats to patrol their boundaries.

    Should these be banned as well?

    The similarities in this situation and those unfolding in the CHNSRA are curious. Single Federal Judges are blocking public access to public lands on the basis of type of access.

    Beware that hiking may one day be denied...

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I agree with Paul. There has to be other places for people to snowmobile in the winter besides Yellowstone NP. Or any other National Park for that matter. Animals and habitat are already under stress in the winter. Why add more? My hats off to all the people involved in reaching this decision.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 13 weeks ago

    RE: NPS Organizational Codes (i.e., Yosemite=YOSE)

    Please excuse this tangent.

    Lepanto, you're right, we should stop using the abbrev. to refer to NPS units. It's an old NPS habit. One reason why it's used in the NPS is to make it easier to identify property. I had to engrave "LABE" on all Lava Beds National Monument flashlights. (Imagine if I had to engrave the whole thing!)

    One case where the NPS definitely got it wrong was Carlsbad Caverns (CACA). Imagine the Hispanic population's surprise to see the English equivalent of "sh*t" written on everything from flashlights to helmets. Guess that's why Carlsbad Caverns now uses CAVE as its abbreviation.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Barky----glad to have your clarification. All I'm saying is that Steamtown was a dog from the git go and the NPS more or less said so when it was proposed way back when. It was deliberately conceived and forcibly shoved through the legislative gauntlet as an economic development project by one of the legendary grand masters of pork barrel politics Congressman Bud Shuster.

    The fact is that most people, when given a choice of destinations, do not want to visit Scranton or a third-rate museum. That $176 million has already been shoveled into this monumental waste of taxpayer money should make all who support federal control of the parks take a moment to stop and consider what that kind of cash could've done to support and preserve other more deserving parks and historic sites.

    As it stands now Capitol Hill crooks like Shuster can use their power to designate national parks for the sole purpose of income redistribution by bringing home the bacon on an NPS platter. Is this really how the park service is supposed to be run?

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    It's ironic that most of these comments are in favor of keeping snowmobiles out of YELL, yet most of the commentators on CAHA issues want motorized access. Perhaps many of the CAHA people aren't interested in YELL? Or is YELL somehow different than CAHA? If so, is it really our - or anyone's - prerogative to say that one park is more deserving of protection than another?