Recent comments

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Thank God national parks often have a reputation for being wilderness-challenged tourist traps full of the screaming, littering masses. That's why Colorado's Front Range residents often seem to avoid Rocky Mountain National Park, poo-hooing it as inferior to the Front Range's other wilderness areas and instead flock to the nearby solitude-challenged Indian Peaks Wilderness or other areas of Denver's nearby high country. What this means is that our national forests in the Front Range and their mountains are teeming with people, and the true backcountry of "Rocky" is often empty and waiting to be explored in solitude by people like me.

    Park visitors often cling to the beaten path. Stray from there and you often find a plethora of wild places, to wit: From my window in downtown DNC-crazed Denver, I can see Rocky Mountain NP's Longs Peak, beneath which exists the great green mass of appropriately-named Wild Basin, where the park's great nature-challenged masses are generally absent. I can name you a dozen other places in Rocky that are remote, relatively untrodden and totally off the tourist's radar.

    Arches National Park has a giant blank spot on the map in the southeast quadrant of the park near the Colorado River -- no trails, no visitor centers and few people. Walk a mile off the main highway away from Devil's Garden and the same is true.

    When I think of remote, wild land in the lower 48, the area around Toroweap in busy Grand Canyon comes to mind. Or Canyonlands' Maze District. Or anywhere off the highway at Capitol Reef. The North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Anywhere a mile from the visitor center at Great Sand Dunes. Along Lake Fontana in Great Smoky Mountains. The surface of Carlsbad Caverns NP. Darn near all of Congaree and Great Basin. You get the picture.

    Name a national park and you can find remote, empty, wild wilderness worth protecting. Guaranteed.

  • Lodging Deals Can Be Found In Olympic, Yosemite, and Mesa Verde National Parks   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Great article! I thought I'd mention, another great Mesa Verde lodging special that is going on right now is called the "Family Value Package" it is good for 2 adults and 2 kids (11 & under) with standard or Kiva room accommodations for 2 nights and it includes: a breakfast buffet both mornings for the entire family, a half day ranger guided tour of Mesa Verde's ancient sites, and a complimentary dinner for 2 children for 2 nights for less than $340 -- what a steal!

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Speaking of Gettysburg, it is the prime example of why the firearm prohibitions in national parks rule needs to be revised, First of all it isn't easy to determine within the town of Gettysburg where the town ends and the national park begins, it is an insane burden upon someone who is otherwise legally carrying a firearm for self protection. Second, Criminals don't care about the NPS regulations, As a matter of fact the last time I was in Gettysburg, there was a store on Steinwehr Ave, that was robbed at gunpoint, thankfully no one was hurt but it could've ended much differently.

    In the end there is no reason why a person who has a license to carry should be forced to disarm while visiting a national park. These people have submitted to background checks and are certified good guys. They aren't going to instantly change into homicidal maniacs when crossing the border into a national park. It's ludicrous.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    A couple more comments, if you'll allow me:
    1. It’s interesting to me how some of the most ardent proponents of preservation declare that their main reason for their belief is their will to be left alone / far from the madding crowds of occasional visitors / tourists. I can certainly understand this at a personal level but I find it extremely insufficient, if not damaging, as a political argument.
    2. Nevertheless, the Economist article fails to make any mention (actually it does indirectly and in a negative way, without using the term) of the concept of carrying capacity, which, like it or not, must be at the heart of any management plan.
    3. One last point, to turn everything upside down: I have noticed that the NPS manages thousands of places/ sites, many of which are not “natural parks”. The “data” provided by the Economist do not make a clear distinction between these different types of sites. Could it be that people are not actually turning away from natural areas? (Data, please! Data!)
    Either way, I personally intend / hope to spend more of my euros in your national parks in the years to come. :)

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I think the article raises some interesting issues and makes some interesting points but fails to provide any hard facts on the main issue, that is the reasons for people’s reluctance to visit US national parks.

    Others have pointed out – and I agree – that we should distinguish between the National Park System (NPS) and the lands covered by the NPS. The lands might just as well be conserved while the NP System might at the same time fall into oblivion as some have pointed out.

    However, the Economist article has a very valid point (based on environmental psychology): People tend to attach more value to those things / places / habits they are associated with and afraid of losing. They do not attach as much value to something that they are not associated with, irrespective of its “objective” value. So, in the long run, the lack of visitors could have a very negative effect not simply budget-wise but mainly attitude-wise.

    Of course, this is not an iron-clad law and it could be that other forces -political / psychological, call them what you want – may be arising these days, that will make this physical connection with the environment less important. That is, people could be becoming so deeply interested about the natural environment and ecology that their personal lack of connection with nature is no longer important.
    If natural parks’ lands do not face development pressures or other “dangers” then their future may not be at peril.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Allow me to lighten the mood with a "dumb foreigner" story....

    My wife and I passed through Yellowstone while driving from Washington back to Michigan this month. It was a Saturday in August and I knew it would be hell on the loop roads, but my wife had never seen Yellowstone, so I wanted to show her a couple sites, perhaps to whet the appetite for a return when time for off-road exploration was available. (And by the way, Bob, my unscientific survey at Artists Point is that 60% to 70% of the visitors were German or French-speaking! Of the remaining 30-40, probably half were east Asian language speakers. I don't think I heard more than a person or two speaking Spanish.)

    Anyway, we go to Norris Basin. There were some obnoxious drunken rednecks in the parking lot, so we were musing about "stupid, ugly Americans" as we walked the boardwalk through the basin. Then a German-speaking lady in front of us bent down and scooped up some of the water in her hand and tasted it!!! In the tirade of German that followed, I picked up the word "sulfur." Given that the whole place reeks like rotten eggs, you would think......well, maybe you wouldn't think. Most people don't.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Anon said:

    in my experience, anything labeled a national park on a map is something that receives heavy visitation anyway, so you wilderness folks can get over yourselves when dismissing the crowds who really need to visit them.

    You might notice that large portions of many of the national parks are designated as wilderness. What I fear is that in a effort to placate bored people overcrowding the developed areas of the parks, the protection of true wilderness within the boundaries might be rethought. I will never "get over myself" when it comes to protecting what little wilderness is left. I don't care about the loop roads in Yellowstone or the Hoh nature trail in Olympic - the crowds can have those (and they do!). I fully expect to be miserable in the developed areas of parks, and I generally don't complain about it. It's just a necessary evil you pass through to get to the wilderness.

    the commenter above had it right, the screaming kids in the cafeteria is the next round of environmentalists (hopefully ones that are less smug) and they need to see these parks, crowds or no crowds.

    I'm going to disagree with the poster you cite here. I do not believe the children rampaging through the visitor centers and screaming about how bored they are on the short trails are future environmentalists. The parents are not instilling a respect and love of the environment in these kids, and just physically being in the park isn't going to ignite it. At Yellowstone Lake, I saw a group of quiet, attentive kids with a few parents listening to a biology lecture. I saw a young girl at Artists Point pulling her dad away from the bustle at the overlook to tell him how a squirrel was sorting through lodgepole pine cones. I saw some Korean parents buying their young children field guides at Olympic so they could identify the flowers outside. Those are the future environmentalists. Those parents and those children are not longing for more entertaining or more kid-safe parks. Call me cynical, but I just can't believe any future defenders of the wilderness will come from the screaming masses. Perhaps a cure for cancer, the next .400 hitter, or the first female president - but I just don't see an interest in nature having any hope of gaining a foothold among these kids.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Well said, Lone Hiker.

    I was born in 1977, and my Boy Scout upbringing has definitely rubbed off on my adult life (and those of my friends). I'd much rather go 'splore the wilderness than sit before a video game. Those "gamers" are totally foreign to me, much moreso than any non-English speaking visitor enjoying the view at the Grand Canyon.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Entertainment is obviously unique to the individual. I don't consider horse or dog tracks entertaining, but they rake in millions annually. The thought of parking my butt on a beach and reading a book is tantamount to a living hell, but again, it's the preferred method of thousands of weekenders and vacationers. Maybe the real problem, especially with the kids born post-1970 who were teenagers in the beginning of the home computer and video game rage, is that people tend to want to BE entertained, as opposed to finding entertainment in various pursuits. Maybe it's a character flaw, but I'd rather be DOING things than WATCHING things. Hell, I'd rather play backgammon than watch the Super Bowl, March Madness, or any of the other "must see" televised broadcasts that people plan their lives, indeed even their weddings and vacations around. The fact is, to the open mind, the NPS is a series of Disneylands, each unique in character and opportunities. To me the saddest thing is that most people just can't comprehend the overwhelming diversity of experiences awaiting each visit to any of our parks. Even repeated trips to the same unit yield a plethora of new views, thoughts, and more sensations in terms of visual, auditory and intellectual stimuli than can ever be anticipated by "seeing it all on TV". We have indeed become a desensitized people, in terms of violence and language, and at the same time, the pleasures of the world around us.

    As far as "those damn foreigners" coming to enjoy our unique topographies, why would that both anyone? The Europeans in general have a much greater appreciation of traditions and history plus an overall larger "world view" than do the people of this continent. Maybe due to our isolationist position in the world we tend to think that our country is all things important in the scope of the planet. Nothing worth traveling to, seeing, doing, or experiencing anywhere else in the whole of Planet Blue. This attitude is partially to blame for the moniker "ugly American". Our generally holier-than-thou mind-set is far from deserved, at least in terms of first-hand world experiences. We just seem to believe that ours is the best, without serious thought one for other options. Don't blame the rest of the world for appreciating our lands. Just because we tend to take our surroundings for granted doesn't mean the other 5.7 billion inhabitants of the planet share our sentiments. And while Frank's experience playing eco-engineer is quite sad, we should realize that it isn't unique to a nationality or geography. I've seen plenty of "white kids from the 'burbs" trash a state or national park campgrounds, picnic area, or trail as well. Funny how, at least in my experiences, the Euros don't treat our parks that badly. Maybe the lesson is this.......RESPECT YOUR PARKS WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THEM!!

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Anonymous wrote:

    i realize the nps has a different mission statement than promoting recreation, but why should people pay taxes to support something they don't use? people won't protect, defend or pay for something they don't love or understand, if people stop using the parks at current numbers, i'd hate to see what happens.

    Why should we pay taxes to educate kids that aren't our own? Why should I pay federal taxes for distant freeways I neither love nor drive on, for Alaskan wildlife refuges I may never be able to enter or to subsidize scientific endeavors I don't understand? The greater good of society whether direct or indirect, whether I "get it" or not - that's why. It's incumbent upon those who don't understand to educate themselves so they do, and then decide if such expenses are worthy.

    Sure, "park" is an entirely anthropocentric moniker for a tract of land protected for its natural values moreso than its direct recreational benefit to humans. But here's the rub: Call our parks what you want, but if they exist primarily for the facilitation of fun, our society will lose more than it could ever gain from the Disneyfication of national parks. We benefit in countless ways by preserving our most spectacular and special lands in national parks. Each has educational value; scientific value; the value of national parks, like wilderness areas, being sources of both clean water and, ideally, clean air; and, yes, even recreational value.

    The educational value of a child opening her eyes wide in wonderment at her first sight of a snake slithering across the trail or a moose across a canyon during a weekend recreational hike at Rocky Mountain National Park is absolutely incalculable.

    We pay taxes for parks we don't always use for their recreational value because of all the other things that they provide for us, not the least of which is inspiration and direct contact with nature.

    Perhaps if the word "park" too much implies that the purpose of these lands is solely for human recreational use, we should shuffle NPS designations a bit and call them national "preserves" instead. Because, above all, that's what they are.

    As I've said before, long live Yellowstone "National Preserve."

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Often, when it comes to national parks, there is a clash of values that doesn't fit very neatly. First of all, there is inherent in any discussion of park visitation the issue of economic class. Since parks were created in part for "the benefit and enjoyment of the people," anything that tends to meet the use of some people at the expense of others will always have critics. The limit on "benefit and enjoyment" has always been the protection of the natural features and wildlife within the parks; however, a lot of people cannot agree on how to balance the two calls. Any rule and regulation that is set up will divide the population and determine who can and who cannot use that park. You allow only snowcoaches and snowmobiles in Yellowstone in the winter, and you will get only those who can afford to travel to Yellowstone and use that means of transportation. And, it's inevitable that access in a park can't be all things for all people. You can't for instance make every trail up a mountain available to a person without legs. You can't open up roads to drive on for people who are blind. You can't make a remote park closer to everyone equally.

    Protection of the parks, however, historically has not simply been a matter of the reasonable limits placed on us by nature. In fact, parks were set up for the benefit of corporate interests like the railroads to reach a certain class of people. Over time, changes in the parks have been ad hoc adjustments to that reality. But, the class system that existed then essentially exists now.

    I think that environmentalists have often failed to appreciate this in their protection of the parks. Often, environmental protection goes hand in hand with protecting the class status quo or even exacerbating it. In the Tetons, protecting the view has meant spiraling property values that have outpriced the labor market in Jackson. Workers cannot live in Jackson, professionals cannot often live in Jackson. The area has become inaccessible not based on reasonable natural limits but on the limits on growth that may favor the view but also favor the wealthy.

    Kurt has in the past also had Wayne Hare here to discuss the race gap that exists in the national parks, a gap that is harder to identify because it's not rooted in class--according the available research. Whatever the reason(s) for the lower and lower racial diversity in the parks and public lands, it is not uncommon in the cities to hear complaints among otherwise liberal people about environmental racism. Often, this applies less to parks and more broadly to the "green economy" and the effects that it has on people of color, but there is a parks element to it when one looks at the reasons that make the park visitor more and more homogeneous when it comes to class and race.

    What I'm getting at here is that it's not as simple here as talking about environmentalism as the cause of lower visitation to parks. On the one hand, like a lot of you, I feel a strong, "Good riddance." Let's be rid of all the people, especially the ignoramuses who come to parks to be entertained by something they might easily see in their home towns. On the other hand, it's not a good thing if environmentalism is used to perpetrate the other evils of our society. If access is based on class, is based on race, is based on something else that shouldn't be happening, then environmentalism is a problem. Unfortunately, I don't think the piece mentioned here has any interest in that aspect of things.

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

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    We live in a pluralistic society. There will always be people who would rather go to Disney World than to Denali, Gates of the Arctic, or Gettysburg. That’s fine. That’s what makes our society so fascinating. What we as a society must be careful about while preserving these parks is that we do not sacrifice their special values in an attempt to be all things to all people. I am reminded of a story that Aldo Leopold tells in “A Sand County Almanac.” Do you remember it?
    Let me tell you of a wild river bluff which until
    1935 harbored a falcon's eyrie. Many visitors walked
    a mile to the river bank to picnic and watch the
    falcons. Comes now some planner of parks and dynamites
    a road to the river, all in the name of recreational planning.
    The excuse is that the public formerly had no right of access;
    now it has such a right. Access to what? Not access to the
    falcons for they are gone.

    Rick Smith

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Sorry, Anon, but your unscientific sample doesn't cut it. I stand by my statement that "desolate" is ridiculously inappropriate for this context. Do you really believe that our national parks would be deserted if the Europeans were not there?! (BTW, I do understand the concept of overstating your case to make your point --which is exactly what The Economist did in this instance.)

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Having just returned from the parks in southern Utah, the statement "Were it not for British and German tourists enjoying the weak dollar, the parks would be desolate." is a stretch, but not an asinine statement.

    I have to disagree with the editorial comment "Folks, that has got to be one of the most asinine statements about our national parks that I have seen in recent years, and I have seen some beauts. What were they thinking?!"

    The vast majority of the visitors my family encountered were German and French. So much so that I was giving my 10-year old a brief language lesson on saying excuse me and pardon me in various languages as we passed on the trails, travelled on the shuttles and passed each other in visitor centers and heavily populated locations in the park.

    British attendance wasn't noticable, as they may have a different "holiday" period. But, by far, the numbers were stacked against American visitors during my visit to Bryce, Zion, North Rim in the first week of August.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I totally agree with Barkys' August 25th post !

    Let free enterprise "entertain" folks outside our National Parks. The National Parks were saved as "National Treasures" to preserve and protect their natural beauty !

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    "Environmentalists pose the greatest obstacle to restoring national park attendance to historically higher norms; by blocking needed convenience- and entertainment- related developments in the parks, environmentalists have taken away the main tool for increasing park attractiveness."

    THAT, folks, is the Inconvenient Truth!!!

    Perhaps outsourcing is just around the corner! Sell 'em to a large corporation to be better managed.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    As an 84 year old that has visited most of these parks over the past 50 or so years
    I would hope that more and more people would have the same thoughts as Frank C about our parks. If pure natural wilderness & wildlife doesn't "entertain" people let them
    go to a movie , disneyland, or whatever does entertain them. This will leave room for me ( and other interested people) to relax and enjoy as I expect to on my
    08/09 winter trip from Maine.
    HOORAY FOR FRANK C AND PEOPLE LIKE HIM !!!!!!!

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Hooray and well said ---- from an 84 year old that has visited most of these parks over the past 50 or so years and seen the areas turned into "some damn country club" and agree whole heartedly that some important factors have been lost. I could go on and on but I think previous commentors have pretty well said it all ----- even so I will be visiting Death Valley and some others again this 08/09 winter trip from Maine.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    if the national parks weren't for people to use, they would need to be called something different than a park:

    park |pärk|
    noun
    1 a large public green area in a town, used for recreation : a walk around the park.
    • a large area of land kept in its natural state for public recreational use.
    • (also wildlife park) a large enclosed area of land used to accommodate wild animals in captivity.
    • a stadium or enclosed area used for sports.
    • a large enclosed piece of ground, typically with woodland and pasture, attached to a large country house : the house is set in its own park.
    • (in the western U.S.) a broad, flat, mostly open area in a mountainous region.

    i realize the nps has a different mission statement than promoting recreation, but why should people pay taxes to support something they don't use? people won't protect, defend or pay for something they don't love or understand, if people stop using the parks at current numbers, i'd hate to see what happens.

    in my experience, anything labeled a national park on a map is something that receives heavy visitation anyway, so you wilderness folks can get over yourselves when dismissing the crowds who really need to visit them. the commenter above had it right, the screaming kids in the cafeteria is the next round of environmentalists (hopefully ones that are less smug) and they need to see these parks, crowds or no crowds.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Just to respond to the somewhat vitriolic attitude of some that I, or other like-minded folks on this board, are "environmental whackos", I will only say this:

    Is it that horrible that we advocate preservation of a small percentage of this country in as pristine a condition as is possible in this modern world? Does having that view automatically mark us as whackos? Am I really asking for something that terrible?

    Look, it's a big country. There are plenty of national forests, state forests, and private land where people can truly romp around on ATVs and shoot game. My father lives in rural West Virginia and hunts and fishes and joy rides and everything else, and I'm completely fine with it. All I'm asking is that we try very hard to keep our National Park System units as clean, and pleasant, and unscathed, as is possible. They really are few and far between, they are the crown jewels of this country, and I want to see them preserved for centuries to come.

    If the root cause of reduced attendance at the parks is because the public facilities are run down, then fine, let's fix the facilities (including the long-established roadways). If it's because people forgot they were there, then fine, let's have a public service announcement campaign or something.

    If, however, the root cause is simply because fewer people are [interested] in non-intrusive outdoor activities, or [interested] in any outdoor activities at all, then that's just life. I don't feel we should allow invasive off-road activities simply to draw more visitors. I don't think we should pave more wilderness simply to make it more accessible. I don't think we should build more IMAX theaters on park land to interest the video-game generation.

    We should not risk the health of the parks for the sole purpose of making people interested in them again. The primary purpose of the NPS is to preserve the unique natural wonders of our country, and that's the only purpose I want for them.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I have to say that I agree very much with "Frank C." I am among the 1 million plus Americans who live fulltime in an RV. Seeing and working at our National Parks and Forests is a major part of a lot of our lives. I have worked the past couple years for the Corp of Engineers as a Park Attendant Contractor. After talking to many part and full time RV`ers, I believe that the reason a lot of people don`t go to the National Parks is mostly because of the crowds.We`ve gone to Yellowstone just to find that there are no open campsites or the parks are so full of visitors that it`s very hard to get around. A lot of us had plans to travel to the northwest this summer but with the fuel prices the way they are,staying here on the east coast will be easier on the funds. It wouldn`t hurt a lot of our feelings if they shut down a couple parks every so often for a couple years just so it can recover from the human foot print left behing by those who don`t care.

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   6 years 13 weeks ago

    As a former ranger in Yosemite and the Tuolumne Meadows Sub-district ranger during some of Dr. Sharsmith's legendary service as one of the finest interpreters I have ever met, I originally wrote a letter in support of naming this peak for him. I have subsequently changed my mind, and although I will not withdraw my letter of support, I no longer support this proposal. First of all, I now believe that Carl would not have wanted this kind of memorialization; he was too humble to want to call attention to himself. Secondly, I think naming peaks after people--whether in wilderness or not--draws attention from the feature and focuses it on the person commemorated.

    If we want to commemorate Carl, establish a scholarship or endow a chair in environmental studies. This would be a lot more appropriate in my mind.

    Rick Smith

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 13 weeks ago

    "Thanks for the straight-up description of good, typical, play & work by the rules Americans. The compromising labors & unglamorous job-commitments of the many, is what enables our modern civilization to ... imagine & create National Parks, among other improvements.

    We created a social system that promised benefits to those who signed up for long tours in the economic trenches, and we owe them ... including a slice of the Parks."

    Thanks Ted. Whatever I may think about people as a group, anyone who has appropriate respect for the Parks has as much right to be there as anyone else, and those ordinary people are very much among those who were intended to benefit from the Parks.

    "If an individual can't find entertainment or enjoyment in tracking animals, watching ants work, sitting next to a towering waterfall, canoeing, hiking, exploring Anasazi ruins, discovering dinosaur tracks, or strolling through wildflower fields, then national parks are not for this individual. No one should compromise what national parks are for the amusement of, as Beamis puts it, the "bloated, mind-numbed masses of postmodern America""

    Frank C. - The characterization from Beamis makes me wince, but I can't disagree with the overall sentiment. The Parks are one of our greatest national treasures, and they need to be appreciated for what they are. People who visit should know and understand that they are not simply for doing the same things you can do anywhere, but in a slightly more outdoor environment. They exist to preserve and protect wilderness areas, wildlife, natural wonders or historical sites, and to give people the chance to see and appreciate them. A visitor center with an appropriate exhibit is fine; a comfortable room in a rustic lodge - ok. An amusement park and highrise hotels would be unforgiveable.

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Like all new technology it will take a while for the general public to learn to use these devices and where they can be used effectively. I doubt the Utah couple would have had much success with one in the Grand Canyon as PLB's don't seem to work there. The recent rescues in Sequoia are what these items where made for. Those that "go it alone" usually would prefer to stay out of touch, but family members sleep better knowing they\we have some means of communication to the outside world. A man died in the Wind River area of Wyoming because a boulder rolled on to his leg and was way to big for him to move it. According to the article it did not sould like he did anything dumb, just bad luck. If he had one of these he might still be treking today, but unfortunately, he was not found for a year. Regardless of the person(s) training, occassionaly they will get activated unneccessarily, but when they do and it is needed, the SAR folks will have a good set of coordinates to where to begin looking, money and lives will be saved. Events on Ranier and Hood these pat few years come to mind as places that experienced groups needed to be saved and the SAR teams involved needed all the advantages they could get.

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I certainly think this "always connected" technology brings advantages to the individual, and can be helpful to emergency responders. I typically carry ham radio equipment into the California, Oregon, and Nevada wilderness areas I visit for some of the same reasons. As a reliable device specifically designed to signal for emergency help, there's evidence that the SPOT system is not as reliable and effective as a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). (We discussed ways to call for help from the wilderness in The WildeBeat edition 122, titled Calling for Help Revisited.)

    But collectively, as a society, I'm wondering if making easier for people to call for help from the backcountry causes us to lose as much or more than we gain.

    Reading your article reminds me of an exchange I had in an interview with Ranger Laurel Boyers, who was the manager of Yosemite's wilderness for 11 years, and worked in the Yosemite wilderness for over 30 years. Here's a bit of the transcript of that interview:

    STEVE: And that brings us to some of the latest of devices, like the personal locator beacons that sort of give you an instant nine one one back there.

    LAUREL BOYERS: Which I think is really sad. I think that takes much of the wildness out of it. And I'm very sorry for that... When you talk to peple about -- you ask somebody to tell you their best wilderness experience, what was the coolest trip you ever took, invariably, they'll tell you a story of surviving something. Of something that really stretched them out, that really tested their mettle, you know, tested who they were, and made them really proud and got the endorphins going, and got them all pumped up. It's not the time that you look down at your thing and said, you know, "come get me, I just twisted my ankle", or whatever. It's, "I toughed it out and I made it off the hill and I had to drag myself on my injured ankle," ...or, "it poured and I had this horrendous creek crossing." Or, you know, whatever is was, it was something that really tested them, and that is so key to why wilderness is important to our heart and soul and spirit, because it provides a place where we're really more at one with nature... Now we're living in boxes, we drive around in boxes, we stay in boxes, we're very insulated from the natural world. And the more we use technology to insulate ourselves while we're out there, the more we loose in my opinion.

    Ranger Boyers appeared in a number of editions of The WildeBeat, including Keeping Bears Hungry, Ranger Changes, Thanks Ranger Boyers!, Ticket to Half Dome, and Calling for Help Revisited.

    Here's the core question: Are you having a wilderness experience if you can rescued from it at your first inconvenience?
    __________
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
    A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.