Recent comments

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I see your point, Anon, but I think you’re a bit off the mark in implying that we are part of the problem instead of part of the solution. All of us here at Traveler agree that reducing vehicle-related air pollution in our national parks is a high priority goal. Towards that end, Traveler endorses a variety of policies, practices, and alternatives, including – to name just a few – using cleaner burning fuels, providing concessionaire-operated shuttles or trams in the parks, and encouraging park visitors to walk or bicycle whenever and wherever practical. The Park Service is slowly but surely implementing these and other measures, constrained by woefully inadequate resources. (And in the opinion of many, a generally neglectful attitude on the part of the Bush administration.) Eventually we may routinely be able to tell people that they can enjoy their national parks without driving their privately owned vehicles on the park roads. Meanwhile, those POVs remain the only practical medium through which the vast majority of the public interacts with the parks. I rather doubt that many of those POV-using visitors would agree that driving in a national park is just “driving around for the sake of driving around.” It is for leisure-recreational-educational purposes, and telling people they shouldn’t use their POVs in this way is tantamount to telling them not to visit the national parks. Traveler will continue to publish information that will help readers make informed decisions about POV use in the parks. Wherever possible, we will draw attention to alternatives to POV use that are currently available in the parks. This Windshield Touring article offers several examples of these policies in practice. It tells readers planning Acadia National Park visits that they should consider leaving their POVs in Bar Harbor and riding the Island Explorer shuttle instead. It tells how Denali’s managers have gotten people out of their cars and into concessionaire-operated buses on the shuttle road to protect wilderness values. It suggests that a circuit of the loop road at Cades Cove in Great Smoky might best be done via shuttle or bicycle instead of in a POV. We welcome additional suggestions about how Traveler can promote clean-air alternatives to POV use in the parks. And yes, you can be sure that Traveler will be spotlighting public transit issues and options whenever and wherever possible.

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I can't help but find it the teeniest bit ironic that NPT sometimes publishes articles about climate change and the parks, yet is also publishing an article about driving around (read:burning gasoline, contributing to climate change) for the sake of driving around...hopefully, there'll be something on public transit in the parks :)

  • 2008 National Park Service Centennial Projects Run the Gamut, From Traveling Trunks to Biodiversity Inventories   6 years 15 weeks ago

    From a basic accounting standpoint, expenditures on items that are greater than $5,000 and have a useful life of greater than one year, are typically considered to be capital expenditures, and would not typically be funded out of an "operations budget." At some point, I think it would be good to not be so grumpy. First the concern was that the Centennial Challenge wouldn't be funded, or wouldn't receive enough private mach. Now its that the money is there, but it is going to different priorities. My goodness - these projects represent $50 million in additional funding for the Parks! Isn't it in order to just be a little positive about this development? Sure, maybe power hook-ups for campsites aren't your priority - but they are surely a priority for anyone who has been turned away from an NPS campground because it was full! And yes, while the processes of democracy and of private matches has resulted in a hodge-podge of projects, this system is probably better than all of the other ones.

  • Congressman Introduces Legislation To Double The Size of Big Thicket National Preserve   6 years 15 weeks ago

    An interesting idea - but how should Congress prioritize scarce dollars for National Park System expansion? Should these dollars go towards Petrified Forest in-fill, for example? Or go for relatively new resources like Big Thicket?

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Yes, "nothing seems speedy when the Federal government is concerned", but at the end of the day, that is probably one of the advantages of democracy - not one of detriments. Extended periods of consultation have been used by defenders of the Parks on many occasions to prevent ill-considered decisions that would adversely affect the Parks or the government at large. In this case, I do look forward to improved natural quiet at Grand Canyon. At the same time, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that the Federal Government is being rather slow and deliberate about making a decision that would ultimately cost some well-meaning individuals their jobs.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Beamis and Frank:

    What fatigues me -- and a number of other NPT readers I've spoken with -- is that you repeatedly (and I suspect deliberately) fail to make the necessary distinction between the politically-appointed masters of the NPS and the public servants who work in the trenches despite those masters to achieve the mission of the agency. I for one, admire most of those colleagues and what they are attempting to accomplish as part of, yes, a United States Government bureaucracy. When you have reserved your suggestions for political reform and restructuring to the posts that are indeed on that subject, you'll see no argument from me. May I suggest (as Frank has indeed done in the past on occasion) that you stay germane to the topic Kurt leads with: in this case, there are severe safety issues in the national parks and other DOI facilities. While we await the governmental reorganization and wholesale replacement of most of the incumbent managers of the national park system that you so fervently wish for, I'll ask again, more specifically: what's your realistic solution?

    J Longstreet

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Thank the Lord for the vet & volunteers who saved the wolf's life. I shed tears for this beautiful animal, when I read about the valiant effort. The moron who snared these wolves ought to be made to wear a tight snare around his/her neck. Yes...that's my opinion about those people. They're all just a waste of good oxygen!!

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 15 weeks ago

    My deepest gratitude to the volunteers and to Dr. Denise Albert for their conscientious pursuit in finding this half strangulated wolf. Your efforts are most admired for it's conduct in the love of all "beautiful things large and small". A job well done!

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Hey - How about some GOOD news for a change ?? This is GREAT !!

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 15 weeks ago

    It is amazing that these people are allowed to waste such resources on something they have never seen. I personally challenge any of these yahoos to show me video of what they claim. If in fact these accusations were true don't you think they would have a picture of donut marks with hundreds of oil puddles on their website? I have been staying if Frisco for over ten years and I have abided by every sign designating a habitat or nesting area. These idiots lose sight that when they eliminate all the traffic (ORV and Pedestrian) from the beach there will be no reason to rebuild it from the next hurricane.

  • Public Comment: Grand Canyon Overflights Noise Reduction   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Thanks for linking us up Kurt!

    If there's a volunteer out there who wants to take on this task....

    Don't know about that, last time I volunteered it took me four years to get out of it!

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Yes, a permanent web page of issues and comment periods with how to / where to voice our opinions would be very advantages for us “National Parks Traveler" users.

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Comment periods are open to everyone and all parties interested in the National Parks need to take advantage of them. In reading your article on the GCNP overflight comment period I did not see a link or information to where to send our comments. Would you please provide that informaion in future columns and add it to this one? Thanks!

  • In the News: Loss of Cougars in Yosemite National Park, "Uranium Rush" at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: in wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.

    Aldo Leopold “Thinking Like a Mountain”

  • Interior Secretary Opens Door for New Gun Regulations in National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Rick, what I find most amazing is all across this country when this issue of government (that would be the Interior Department also) violating the people's Second Amendment Rights, it appears that the public is overwhelmingly in support of them to NOT do it. More and more often I randomly find these BLOGS/COMMENTS and articles, and in this case, and in this article, by an author who opposes the changes in the NPS gun regulations. Don't you find that interesting?

    Maybe that's why the NRA is so vigilante? Maybe it's because they really do represent the people, and want to make sure any government, that we the people create, try not to dictate to us as to what we need?

    Congress has set aside all public land for the people to enjoy. Each jurisdiction has different mandates. None of them (mandates) ever suggested that they become all too powerful to regulate the Constitution. The mere idea of an elite few, to suggest that we "good sheep" need to be protected by them is unacceptable dictatorship tendencies.

    Scott Woodruff

  • In the News: Loss of Cougars in Yosemite National Park, "Uranium Rush" at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for bringing this critical issue to light. As a strong supporter of Aldo Leopold's conservation concepts on land ethics, I severely chastise the Bush & Cheney administration for their rape and pillage polices towards more exploitation of energy resources at the borders of our national parks. Whether it be the Arctic Wilderness or the Grand Canyon, we should not allow this corrupt administration to move one more inch towards this foolish and selfish goal to rip away at our natural resources out of reckless wanton. It's more then foolishness based on pure stupidity but blatant disregard for the concept of conservation of our resources. If this country had established decent energy policy years ago maybe we wouldn't be talking about this absurd issue of poking and pocket marking holes around our national parks for more energy resources. It has already begin to show that fur, fin and feather starting to collapse within it's natural habitats and boundaries to survival. What's more important, saving and conserving our natural resources for "Chance F's generation," or suck it for all it's worth for a short term energy package when energy conservation (and green energy policies) is truly the answer. Aldo Leopold had it right!!

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Since there is at present an existing backlog of "between $9.6 billion and $17.3 billion" I wonder whose position is the more laughable Mr. Devil?

    Every poll that is taken these days shows that "we the people" are overwhelmingly against "massive military programs and overseas adventures". Yet does this make any kind of a tangible difference? It is clear to the entire world that it does not. Evidence of massive war profiteering is there for all to see and yet no one in Washington has been moved to change a single thing. Again whose position is the more laughable?

    It is high time to transition our national treasures out the hands of their current masters in DC before they go completely bankrupt, a time that is drawing ever nearer, and into the hands of locally based institutions that will nurture them and sustain them beyond their role as political footballs on the gridiron of Washington politics.

    The time for "collective attention and agitation" concerning the imperial mandarins in DC is now long past. The whole world is increasingly bypassing and ignoring their hollow edicts and proclamations, making them more and more irrelevant to a forward thinking planet. Continuing to put our trust in them to do what is right for the national parks would be nothing short of foolish. It is clearly time for a new direction in administering these precious preserves, one that does not involve politicians housed along the banks of the Potomac.

    I'm done on this subject------over and out.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Regarding Beamis' idea to move parks from the US government to non-profit control is laughable. There would be less money available for maintenance if that happened. Interior is moving forward in all agencies to improve safety and facility maintenance. Since we the people are the government we need to keep talking this up to our representatives and voting for people who will spend money to rebuild America first instead of wasting money on massive military programs and overseas adventures. Read the news for the evidence of massive war profiteering and waste in the Defense Dept. It takes our collective attention and agitation before we'll see an improvement.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 15 weeks ago

    As an Interior employee for some decades (I am not speaking as an official however) I have seen firsthand this issue and the root cause as always is lack of money and direction from administrators, Congress and the White House! It appears politicians love spending money on the new (Steamtown) but fail to maintain the old (Wawona tunnel). No glory in maintenance compared to the nice shiny visitor centers we're building at some parks and refuges. Until America realizes that it takes money to maintain our infrastructure you can expect to see more deterioration and closing of facilities.

  • Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Very nice picture

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 15 weeks ago

    My personal opinion is to De-Centralize... more would be done and our national treasures would be in better hands. I believe that you are on the right track and hang in there... There is more support than is realized. Thank you for bringing the report to life!

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This method of conveyance adds nothing to the NPS. As is currently stands, the vast majority of visitors come only to "see" the parks, and if that is to be ones specific intent, the Segways might have a limited market. However, the real pleasure and benefit of visitiing any NPS unit is the "experience" one gains from explorations beyond the parking lots and campgrounds, to which these vehicles are impractical, ill-equipped and dangerous. I don't think you can adequately outfit the current version of this contraption, as engineered, and have any hope for successful navigation on the vast majority of current hiking trails Kurt. If that is indeed the intent of the promoters, to have their units traversing the South Kaibab, etc. then the Apocalypse is indeed at hand. I sincerely hope whoever might be the test pilot for such a lame-brained stunt has their life insurance paid in full by these same promoters in advance. And if we get to the point where "Segway Trails" are to be built, and my tax dollars are involved, somebody's in for the legal battle of their life.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 15 weeks ago

    The settlement to protect bird habitat is an excellent measure and long overdue. I went to Cape Hatteras once and never went back because the beach buggies had the run of the beaches. It wasn't safe to lie down and enjoy the wind, the waves and the sun, unless you went to the few miles that were then closed to ORVs. Thanks to the Audubon Society and their allies.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I remember times over three decades ago when the fans in the Wawona tunnel would go pffffttt, CO would build up, and the sensors would fail. Maintenance backlogs in the billions Interior wide, and a "Centennial Initiative" to privatize National Parks through "partnerships", to build more stuff we can't get budgets to maintain in the long term, do NOT seem to be lights in the tunnel, Wawona or otherwise.

    I watched "safety" programs change in government, and one aspect in Interior is that people work outdoors and where things go bump in the night. The other is that ncreasing REPORTING procedures for ANY incident also accumulate "statistics" to make things appear more dangerous than the real world impacts show with regard to personal injuries.

    Yes, there is a HUGE job to be done, no question about it. But to put incompetents in charge of "safety" and gesticulate before the public waving flags and screaming, instead of actually DOING anything constructive, is just one more step on the "path to terror" ANY public relations effort this administration follows.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Kurt----I understood and respected your position. My hiatus had more to do with a lack of interest in continuing to comment since, as you noted, I had made my point about the bureaucratic mismanagement of the parks quite clear.

    Once the discussion of what I feel is the most compelling problem facing the parks, the structure and management of the NPS, was off the table I knew that this forum was not the place to advance my agenda of reform. I have commented most recently due to the fact that other readers of your site have forwarded links to some of your articles which they thought I might wish to comment on. So I have.

    I do not plan to become a regular or vociferous contributor once again but am grateful to have added my two cents to a couple of recent articles on subjects near and dear to my heart.

    On another note I found it interesting that Bob Janiskee, a loyal and dedicated defender of the agency, had this to say about NPS managers in his piece on Nevada Barr's character Anna Pigeon: "Anna will cope with a maddeningly unresponsive bureaucracy. Any supervisors and up-the-line functionaries that Anna encounters in #15 will be part of the problem, not part of the solution. Anna knows that the Park Service is fundamentally a bureaucracy like any other, and her experiences with higher-ups have convinced her that these men and women are consummate CYA specialists. What’s a ranger to do when the people she answers to are spineless and clueless? Why, fend for herself, of course!"

    I suppose that's as strong a condemnation of the status quo in the NPS as any that either Frank or I ever uttered in any of our previous posts, but coming from Bob it's merely an astute observation. I applaud him for his insight as it is right on the money.