Recent comments

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Bob - Thanks for bringing us these old films. I wasn't expecting the goosebumps and tears that the second one brought.
    Seeing these old soldiers and imagining what horrors they had lived through, and seeing them make the extraordinary effort to attend and shake hands with men who had once been their mortal enemies, make one forget for a few moments the stresses of today.
    This is a great example of the best kind of use of the internet.

  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park's Mining History   6 years 9 weeks ago

    We went for a hike on the glacier with St. Elias Alpine Guides and it was the highlight of our trip! The tour of Kennecott is very interesting as well. This area is a gem - worth the drive down the long bumpy road!

  • Humane Society of America Critical of Culling Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Mr. Pacelle, if as you say, you have visited Rocky many times, you must be aware of the fact that the Elk population is completely out of control. Being a resident in Estes Park I have witnessed over the past decade entire stands of Aspen and Willow disappearing due to elk eating the bark. Additionally, many other indiginous plant species have decreased substantially, that along with the trees are critical to the other mammals in the park, especially the beaver, whose population is estimated to have diminished 90% over the past half century. On top of that, the managers are concentrating on removing the elk that have been previously identified as having CWD which is essential to the health of the herd without any natural predators to thin these weakened/sick animals. To quote park spokesman Kyle Patterson "after shooting 100 elk this year, they'll monitor the population closely. There's a chance they won't have to do any culling during some of the following years."

    100 elk accounts for a minimal 5% or less of the total population, thus this will be negligible on total herd impact. I am not a hunter but am an environmentalist, and strongly believe the park managers, being there every day 24-7/365 know better than we do. Thank you for your concern and comments.

  • More than Just Another Pretty Lake - Curecanti National Recreation Area   6 years 9 weeks ago

    In June 2007, my wife and I hiked the Curecanti Creek trail at Curecanti National Recreation Area. Although listed as a strenuous trail, we didn't have much difficulty doing the hike. We are both retired, do some short 3-5 mile hikes, but we are not in "extreme" health condition by any stretch. My wife was pleasantly surprised to find restroom facilities at the end of the trail on the Gunnison River. This was really a nice hike, but go with plenty of water and snacks as you are on your own. At least you can soak your tired feet in the cold Gunnison River when you get to it!

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    opps--I meant 3-5,000 MILE migration. Sorry to have omitted the "mile".


    Rick Smith

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Have any of NPT's readers visited parks in Central America? Asia? The South Pacific? I have a couple favorites in Honduras--Copan, in Mexico--Montes Azules, El Triunfo and the Biosphere Reserve Mariposa Monarca, the end of one of the most incredible migrations in all of nature. The Monarch butterflies fly from their summer habitat in North America and end up in one small area in the state of Michoacan in Mexico. I had the good fortune to be in that reserve on the day the butterflies ended their 3-5,000 migration. When I looked to the sky, it looked as if it were snowing orange snowdrops. As they landed, the turned the pine trees absolutely orange. There were millions and millions of them arriving at approximately the same time and to the same place. It was absolutely the most stunning wildlife display that I ever seen in my life..

    Costa Rica is justifiably proud of its many parks and protected areas. I have always liked Braulio Carrillo and Volcan Arenal. El Imposible NP in El Salvador, so named because it once was very difficult to get to, is another great area. So many places, so little time.

    Rick Smith

  • Rangers Catch Snowmobilers Riding Illegally in Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   6 years 9 weeks ago

    I do not question that you obey the rules when riding your snowmobile, or that you are sensitive regarding resource impacts. However, snowmobile use does result in environmental impacts. They vary based on the type and weight of the machine, speed, driving patterns, snow depth, affected wildlife, vegetation, etc. It should be noted that snow depth varies considerably and can range from several feet to just a few inches within a short distance depending on terrain, vegetation and wind patterns. The noise and visual disturbance of a machine can and does affect sensitive wildlife. I am not implying that other human uses also result in impacts, although they are usually significantly less. A snowmobile driver skimming over a stretch of virgin snow may not see the resulting impacts, but they do occur. I also have used snowmobiles and understand their attraction. However, it is legitimate for parks to closely manage or restrict their use in response to resource concerns and purposes of affected parks.

  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park's Mining History   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Even if you're "just passing through" this area and don't have time to get off the main highway and into this magnificent park, be sure to stop at the park headquarters and visitor center complex. It's one of the most attractive facilities of it's kind in the NPS, and offers an excellent orientation movie about the park. There's a short, easy trail at the visitor center with a nice view into the park itself.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    As for showing data that CCW permit holders are more likely to poach, I would actually agree with you and acknowledge that they are not likely to poach.

    Glad you agree. I'm still waiting for evidence from anyone, including these groups, that CCW permit holders are likely to shoot animals.

    However, they are more likely to shoot and kill an animal in a park than someone not holding a gun. Now that is a fact that cannot be argued.

    And someone who can speak is more likely to yell "Fire!" in a theater than someone who is mute. This is also a fact that cannot be argued, but it doesn't prove anything. It doesn't follow that just because someone can speak they are likely to yell "Fire!" in a theater. Because there is a risk of someone yelling "Fire!", should speaking be completely banned? Should everyone entering crowded public spaces have their mouths taped shut because there is a risk they might yell "Fire!"?

  • Are We Properly Caring for Our Ocean-Based National Parks?   6 years 9 weeks ago

    I think it’s quite telling, and affirmative of Mr. Davis’ thoughts, that after a couple days there are no comments here. The natural world below the surface of the water is truly out-of-sight, out-of-mind, even to many otherwise enlightened defenders of the environment. I can’t say I wouldn’t be in the same trap, saving the fact that my day job is farming corals for the commercial aquarium trade and research purposes. I recently spoke to a group of zoology students at Michigan State about my work in modeling reef trophic structure in closed systems. Of about 60 students, three had any interest in aquatic systems. My slide comparing feeding of corals to feeding of better-known animals like elephants was the only thing that perked anyone up. We need to find a way to make Acropora charismatic…

    Comparing fishing in a marine park to fishing in a terrestrial park is apples and oranges. Fish account for most of the biomass in several key tropic niches in aquatic ecosystems (reefs in particular). Allowing fishing in marine parks is more akin to allowing virtually unregulated hunting of megafauna in Yellowstone or logging in Olympic. You’re taking a sledgehammer the foundation of the whole system.

    That said, there’s more to coral reef decline in the tropical West Atlantic than overfishing. As Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll once said of one of his players, “His problems are great – and they are many.” The cascading effect of the lack of fish carnivory and herbivory alluded to in the essay is certainly solid science, though it is one of those things that sometimes stretches the belief of the lay person unfamiliar with the interconnectedness of ecosystems. A similar and more direct blow to TWA reefs in the last two decades has been the loss of Diadema sea urchins. Nearly all of the urchins succumbed to a mysterious ailment, completely emptying a critical grazing niche. This has been devastating. On a macro-environmental scale we have the oft-cited effects of ocean warming, but a much more sinister threat is posed by ocean acidification. A guy that worked for me as an undergrad is among those researching this now. To make an really long and complicated story short, simple, and depressing, it’s unlikely ocean acidification can be artificially reversed at this point. That means that within 50 years, reefs as we know them aren’t going to exist. As the primary method of calcium carbonate deposition trends toward a calcitic system rather than aragonitic, reef-building corals will cease to build reefs. This has happened time after time since the Ordovician period. You can argue about whether it’s anthropogenic, but it’s clear that it’s happening. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do everything we can to preserve reef ecosystems. The NPS allowing continued heavy fish harvests is like having the paramedics break your knees while treating you for a heart attack. But, I can’t say that the NPS are the medics I’d choose to call in when I had an ecosystem in critical condition. It just so happens they’ve been entrusted with some of our best marine habitats.

    This all boils down to education. I’m trying to do my part here, but it’s a tough sell. What gets folks excited at aquariums? Sharks. Is there a Reef Week on TV? No, it’s Shark Week. Sadly, the best infiltration into the minds of the impressionable lately has been Finding Nemo. That’s a start, but we desperately need to get kids thinking about what lies beneath surface – other than the toothed megafauna.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Rangers Catch Snowmobilers Riding Illegally in Yellowstone National Park's Backcountry   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Are you kidding me. The amount of snow in that park is so massive and the depth. A snowmobile's only damage to the area is to the people that protect it from the industrial age.

    I have rode a snowmobile for 10 years now. Always obeying the laws and I am just in awe to natures beauty as everyone else. I just prefer to ride and look as to hike, dog sled or any of the other means of transportation others use.

  • Return of the Beach – A Once Popular Site Set for a Comeback at Lake Mead National Recreation Area   6 years 9 weeks ago

    The Las Vegas area has a serious deficiency in public campgrounds within a short distance. While it's blessed with Zion, Death Valley and Joshua Tree all a 2-3 hour drive away, it's also stuck with a few Lake Mead campgrounds and often-frigid Mt. Charleston in close range.

    This is great news. Opponents need to remember that Lake Mead is a recreation area, built around two manmade lakes — not a preserve of natural wonderment. Las Vegans should demand more public campgrounds in close range — Desert NWR, Mojave National Preserve (accessible from I-15, not I-40), and the Gold Butte / east shore of Lake Mead area.

  • What's Driving Rep. Issa's Opposition to Tackling the National Park System's Backlog?   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Frank C,
    There are rumblings in congress as we speak to sell off some of our parks to bring down the debt, especially the rising cost of illegal immigration.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    Facts and reality don't actually demonstrate otherwise. The application of the results, of the cited studies, argue that parks would not likely see in increase in poaching. That is an extrapolation of data between some very different types of sites.

    But this should not even be an discussion about poaching.

    As for showing data that CCW permit holders are more likely to poach, I would actually agree with you and acknowledge that they are not likely to poach. However, they are more likely to shoot and kill an animal in a park than someone not holding a gun. Now that is a fact that cannot be argued. Because of that, I think an EIS should be completed to evaluate the potential impacts on wildlife.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago


    I feel like you weren't quite clear in your third paragraph. I think
    ...a rule to allow loaded, concealed firearms in all national parks except those located in two states... gives the impression that anyone would be allowed to carry "loaded, concealed firearms" in national parks, when, as I understand it, it merely allows existing state law to apply, i.e. concealed-carry permit holders can carry in the park as they would outside the park in the same state.


  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago


    I hope to visit Los Glaciares sometime in the future. While you were there, did you meet a ranger who speaks good English by the name of Alejandro Caparros? Alex is a good friend. He was a volunteer ranger at Carlsbad Caverns when I was the superintendent there. He led most of our guided tours for Spanish-speaking groups that would come up from Mexico. He also broke a couplle of female seasonal rangers' hearts.

    The glacier you mention is named after one of the earliest conservationists in Argtentina, Francisco Moreno. If I am not mistaken, his gift to the Argentine people in terms of land is now included in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Moreno donated the land to the Argentine people in 1903; the park was established in, I believe, 1934, making it Argentina's oldest national park.

    Rick Smith

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    You can disagree that it is a slipperly slope argument, but facts and reality show otherwise: "In broader, especially recent, pragmatic usage, the term 'slippery slope argument alternately' refers to a non-fallacious argument that such undesirable events are rendered more probable." That's the argument these groups are making.

    If you have any data showing CCW permit holders are more likely to poach, I'd sure love to see it.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 9 weeks ago

    If a person has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in X state and visits a park in X state what is the problem? No laws have been broken and there is no more of a danger inside the park nor less danger outside the park. I can't figure out the amount of ignorance or narrowmindedness in these "concealed" arguments.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I have to second Iquazu, it's just a stunning place on both sides of the border (

    I would also say Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Really far south in Patagonia, you can see the huge pieces of ice falling off the Perito Moreno glacier, which is one of the few glaciers left in the world that is not receding. The backdrop of the Andes makes the enormous "river of ice" even more impressive. It's completely mind blowing. (

    Am dying to see these others. Want to go to Machu Picchu next year and the others are on the list!

  • How Can Yosemite National Park's Magnificent Vistas Be Preserved?   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Regarding the comment on trees and blocking views. I have been to Yosemite 2 times and plan on another visit this coming June. I lived only about a hour from the park for over 20 years and never visited. It wasn't until I moved to Montana/Idaho and now Oregon that I have wanted to visit all the parks here in the West. Sorry, got distracted. There is a post card that shows the Chapel with Half Dome behind it and no trees. On my first visit, I could not figure out how they got that shot. My second visit, I realized that all the trees had grown up along the Chapel, but the park still felt compelled to sell an old photo of the Chapel without them. I was totally disappointed that I could not get the same shot. Most of the time, I work around the trees that have grown up and blocked the views that we see in some of the older images.

  • Yellowstone Geologist Worries About What Goes "Bump" At Night   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I plan on spending a couple weeks at the end of the Feb. in Yellowstone doing some photo work. Maybe mother nature will provide a Pulitzer Prize opportunity. Hope you all know I'm kidding. Yellowstone is a grand piece of natures work and no matter how often I visit it never ceases to amaze me of the potential power nature has. Somewhat humbling when compared to what we think we can do.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I disagree that the EIS argument is a slippery slope. Furthermore, I disagree with the response to issue 8. The demographic differences between NPS visitors and other site's visitors makes extrapolation of those study results unreliable.

    The conveniences found in many national parks help to draw a very diverse crowd, one that is often much less prepared to deal with nature than visitors to more primitive FS or BLM sites.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    You can look at them, but you can't WALK OVER any of them!!

  • This Coke's For You, Grand Teton National Park!   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Good point, anonymous. Can't say where the park got that number from. I do recall an Associated Press story from about a year ago that said tractor trailers often run above the legal weight limit, but more than double the usual weight does seem just a bit excessive.

  • This Coke's For You, Grand Teton National Park!   6 years 10 weeks ago

    There is no way that truck could weigh 93 tons or 186,000 lbs. The legal limit for non-permitted loads in the US is 40 tons, or 80,000 lbs. This weight would require approximately 37,000 two litre bottles.