Recent comments

  • Decommissioning National Parks: Some History, And Some Ominous Clouds   6 years 16 weeks ago

    This is a terrble, incredibly short-sighted idea. The "we can't even afford to take care of the parks we have" argument is totally bogus. It's perpetuated by the Grover Nordquist-types who want to shrink government until they can "drown it in a bathtub." I can't believe that national park advocates fall for this disinformation, but they have -- going along with rising fees while the Congress feels no pressure to appropriate more money. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    This argument has been with us since the beginning. And it is no more valid today than is was 100 years ago. Don't take my word for it:

    "The insidious opposition to National Parks will say, ‘There is a feeling in Congress that we should not have any more National Parks at this time’; or, ‘We should wait until present ones are improved.’”
    —Enos Mills, Your National Parks, 1917

    The bankruptcy of the idea of cutting parks is shown by the suggestion that Glen Canyon National Recreation Area should be on the reject list. Until it was drown under Lake Powell reservoir this area was once the biological heart of the Colorado River ecosystem. Now a prolonged drought, rising water demand, and the effects of climate change are draining the reservoir. Hydrologists predict that Lake Powell will remain nearly empty indefinitely and will never fill again http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=876 The Canyon is already showing amazing restorative capacity and many of the side canyons are revealed for the first time in 40 years. We should upgrade Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to a National Park to restore and fully protect this amazing place. Take a look at these photos of Glen Canyon before it was flooded (http://explorepdx.com/glen.html)and tell me this is not a place that rivals any of our existing National Parks.

    We should not cut one park. We should not even be considering it. Instead, we should be greatly expanding the National Park System. There are hundreds of areas on national forests, BLM lands, national wildlife refuges, and private lands that need the strong protection of the National Park System. Yes, we need to build the public support to adequately fund what we have -- the conservation movement has been pathetic in accomplishing this. But we need to add as many parks as possible while we still can.

    Instead of acting like victims, whining about how our parks don't have any money and talking about throwing some overboard, we need to rebuild the national parks movement. There is no movement today. Other than National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), no major national advocacy group does anything more than give lip service to national parks. And there is no new national parks movement at all. That needs to change.

  • Who Visits Alaska's National Parks?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I'm going to Denali to go backpacking this summer. It will be my third consecutive annual visit to Alaska, and I hope to keep that trend up. Last year I didn't visit a national park, but a state park. The year before was Wrangell/St Elias. I'd like to visit the more remote parks, and Gates of the Arctic is my goal for next year. But the costs are a challenge. The main reason I'm going to Denali this year is because there is no need to rent a car or hire a plane. I'd rather go somewhere else and avoid the permit system if I could afford it.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Ranger Tyler, how is the constitutional issue being avoided? Doesn't the Constitution provide for the establishment of laws, and isn't the current regulation a law? Just as it's reasonable to have laws that impact First Amendment rights (You can't incite a riot or yell "fire" in a theater without being arrested in most states or libel/slander someone without facing the consequences), why is it so outrageous to have reasonable laws that involve the 2nd Amendment?

    If you want to argue constitutional issues, what about states that currently deny concealed carry or have tighter restrictions than the NRA would approve? After all, under the NRA's current drive, they want national park gun laws to mirror those of the states in which the parks are located. So even if the current regulations are changed to adopt those guidelines, unless you live in California and have a California-issued CCW permit you won't be able to carry in Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley or other NPS units there as that state doesn't recognize other states' CCW permits.

    Of course, this all likely will be moot after the Supreme Court rules on the D.C. gun case.....

  • Acreage Donated to Expand Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    the headline is misleading - donating is giving - he did not give he sold.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    This site again avoids the Constitutional issue. As an anonymous commentor has already voiced, if you don't want people to carry loaded arms on federal land, work on amending the Constitution. Red herring arguments, like safety or necessity, ignore the 2nd Amendment. Why are citizens outraged when the NPS wants to limit the 1st Amendment's free speech protections on the National Mall to a "pit" to protect grass, but then embrace the NPS when it violates the 2nd Amendment to supposedly protect deer? Poachers will continue to ignore regulations and poach; meanwhile, law-abiding citizens are denied their Constitutional rights.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I still call it a fat man's toy. If you can't walk your dead!

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    i been walkin trails since i could walk!!! it crazy that you would want to roll instead of useing your good ole legs
    leave your stuff inside and hit the trail running feet first!!

  • GAO Finds Fault With Management Plan For Yellowstone National Park Bison   6 years 16 weeks ago

    We know where the bison go when they leave the park boundaries, this isn't a mystery. It would have been better to use that 16 million to buy up land on their usual path to protect the bison! 16 million would have made a nice start in purchasing more land for the park, at least. For those of us in D.C. however, we just roll our eyes at the mess the government created... Anytime we see one of these 'interagency management plans' it means nothing will be accomplished for an enormous price tag of money and time. The path the governmental 'interagency' was going to flounder on was as predictable as the path the bison take.

  • Death Valley May Be On Lookout For Steve Fosset   6 years 16 weeks ago

    This unique national park is open all year, but winter is the best time to visit the points of interest in the valley. The long, hot summer - from May through October - is only for the hardy and venturesome. Many of the side roads from the valley are closed during this season, but you will find the higher and cooler Panamint Mountains quite comfortable.

  • Park History: Isle Royale National Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Lakeside camping sounds wonderful. I love being able to camp in the woods in the remotest of locations. Too bad it's so far away.

  • Park History: Isle Royale National Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I have hiked this park for two weeks right after it opened for the season back in 1996. It was one of the best experience I've had yet in my 40 years. Somehow I lucked out and had perfect weather which I hear is unheard of for that time of year. I hiked the east side for one week and the west side the next. I took the boat from the MN side with 4 other people, and as it was our captain's first trip of the season he took his time and pointed out some very cool shipwrecks just under the surface near the island itself. VERY cool. Needless to say with only four of us on the MN boat, (the MI boat had not yet begun trips that early in the season) I never saw one person the entire two weeks. Lots of moose, fox, and yes wolves, and too early and cold for bugs. Had a wolf visitor on a beach on the east side of the park one night. He/she sat on the opposite side of the beach and just watched me as I watched him/her for nearly 15 minutes. Heard several packs howling during my time there. Nightly and daily moose encounters. Even the fishing was pretty good for that time of year (and yes I was licensed). I would HIGHLY recommend this park to anyone, however go early in the season as I was told it gets busy with recreational boaters and the good campgrounds on the beaches get filled quickly. There were no vehicles on the island when I was there, I have no idea if they have a few now, especially on the busier east end where most of the travelers end up landing from the MI side. The trails were incredible when I was there. Well marked and in very good condition. Who knows what 10+ years has done to this beautiful place though. I didn't take a camera with me but every single inch of the island that I traveled is embedded in my memory as if it were only yesterday. It was a trip of a lifetime and if hiking is your passion you owe it to yourself to visit this park. Don't sweat the price of the boat ride, or the logistics of how to get there....it's all part of the experience. Do your homework and you will be greatly rewarded with an incredible trip.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Two items: 1) John Brian is quite right about the feral horses in eastern parks. I should have pointed out that they are habituated and intensely managed. Even though they may be free-roaming, and may technically be considered wild, they are certainly not wild in the true sense that the western mustangs are. 2) I just edited my previous post to remove Cape Hatteras National Seashore from the list of eastern parks with feral horses. The "Ocracoke ponies" at Cape Hatteras have been penned for a long time, and are not feral in any sense of the word. There are free-roaming feral horses just up the coast in the Coralla vicinity, but they are well outside the park boundary. It was these horses I was referring to, and that was a mistake.

  • Park History: Isle Royale National Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Two of Nevada Barr’s mystery novels, “A Superior Death” and “Winter Study,” are set in Isle Royale National Park. A Superior Death (“who killed the diver?”) was the second of the 14 books in the park-based series featuring fictional ranger Anna Pigeon. Winter Study, which involves scientists studying Isle Royale’s wolves and the moose they prey on, was just released a few days ago. Barr is in Michigan doing the book tour thing (Ann Arbor on Saturday, Okemus on Sunday) even as we speak. Early reviews of Winter Study have been very complimentary. I’m really looking forward to reading this book, not least because I’m a Michigander born and raised. I hope to visit Isle Royale some day, though you may rest assured I will not be doing any ice walking to get there. I don't know about ice conditions on the U.S. side of the lake, but there's been no safe "ice bridge" from the Canadian shore to the island for at least 30 years.

  • Electric Map Going Away at Gettysburg National Military Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    It is never to late. Go to www.SaveTheElectricMap.com and take action. Email a friend.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Deanne Stillman is an important author of our times. Her passion, knowledge, and research skills ceate some of the best reading a person could ask for. I cannot wait to read Mustang. The ill-treatment of wild horses and burros sheds light on what kind of mean-spirited society we have turned into.

  • National Parks Conservation Association: Interior Buckled to NRA Over Park Gun Laws   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I have been a regular visitor at Organ Pipe National Monument for 45 years. I hike a lot, and regularly see illegal activities, mostly groups of illegal immigrants. Although the area roads are heavily patrolled, it is extremely rare to see a park service enforcement officer in the backcountry.

    I would strongly support having the legal right to carry a gun while hiking in this park. Any assertion that the status quo is a safe situation is ridiculous. I would suggest that allowing concealed permit holders, who have undergone a training process to carry a handgun discreetly in a backpack or other concealed location might even improve safety in places such as Organ Pipe.

  • GAO Finds Fault With Management Plan For Yellowstone National Park Bison   6 years 16 weeks ago

    The Park Service has continued to slaughter bison; the totals are by far the highest ever. A lot more are being held in the Stephens Creek. Montana hasn't really amped up its slaughter yet. By the math I've done, another 500 or more buffalo have died from the winter. This is not just any other year; this is the worst year ever. What's been different this year is that the Park Service has done most of the killing.

    There were two women with Buffalo Field Campaign arrested for chaining themselves to the visitor center at Mammoth Hot Springs last week. The same night, our new group in Bozeman hosted Mike Mease of Buffalo Field Campaign for an educational event; there was a lot of talk there about how easy some of the solutions would be to implement. BFC, in contrast to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, opposes further money going to buy out the Royal Teton Ranch; it really is a kind of extortion. While I personally think this is an ideological struggle that should play itself out, others have made convincing arguments that there are natural geographic boundaries to bison expansion, that it wouldn't be hard to vaccinate cows, that the rest could be handled by fencing. Mease points out that in the Tetons where bison graze on the same land as cattle - where the cattle have been vaccinated (not the bison) - that there's never been any brucellosis transmission. On the west side, advocates there in the audience pointed out that there really aren't that many ranches in the Madison Valley. In a private conversation, Mease told me the Paradise Valley would be much more difficult, but it still would be nothing that fenches and vaccination couldn't deal with. A lot of landowners actually want bison on their land, but right now they aren't allowed to do this. That's a big story in the Madison Valley.

    And, yet, when it comes down to it, this is not at all about brucellosis; this is about turf wars and control of land, and value judgments about the proper use of land. The GAO report in some ways helps to identify that.

    It's the dumbest thing and most maddening thing here, though. You don't have to be a radical like me to see that none of this has to be. And, yet, there is not a partisan or a political solution to this (though some in our audience were urging legislative lobbying in Helena as the best strategy here).

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

  • Acreage Donated to Expand Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Why shouldn't the Hensley family be fairly compensated for their land? It's ludicrous to assume that they should just donate the land to the government. The problem is the title of the article not the content. The land was not donated by the Hensley family, it was bought by the preservation groups and donated by them. Kudo's to the Hensleys who took care of the hallowed grounds permitting it to be preserved for future Americans to stand on and remember the sacrifices of our forefathers both north and south.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Actually, I mention the wild horses of the east coast in my book (and of course read "Misty of Chincoteague" in my childhood), some of which are descended from the horses that came with conquistadors, just like many mustangs of the West. Speaking of the east coast, did you know that Paul Revere's horse - a steed commandeered from a Massachusetts deacon - had Spanish bloodlines? And she had a name; it, and her story, are in my book.

  • Park History: Isle Royale National Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I am from Michigan and I know people who have been there, but I have not. From what they tell me it is absolutely pristine, wild, rugged, FAR, but there are great opportunities to see lots of wildlife, like moose, and you will hear the wolves, but probably won't see them. There really isn't another place like it. The Great Lakes themselves that far north are amazing -- clean and immense bodies of fresh water that are very cold to take a dip in but you will feel clean and reborn if you take the plunge. It's a beautiful place.

  • Park History: Isle Royale National Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I would love to go to this park, and one day hope to go. Living in TX means it is quite a distance even to reach the park. Has anyone been there, hiking? how was it?

  • Should Uranium Mining Be Allowed Outside Grand Canyon National Park?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    First I have to comment on Amy's post. Amy makes it sound like nuclear is somewhere in the middle of CO2 producing compared to renewables and fossile fuels. Which renewables, which fossile fuels? I agree that nuclear is not zero CO2, but it is at the very low end of the scale. Any Bio-fuel is a CO2 emmiter and largely so. Solar Power is a CO2 emmiter for the same reason AMY says about nuclear. You have to mine the metals, glass, materials to make it. The plant life of solar is on the order of 20 to 30 years and then you have to replace it...more CO2. Then there is that sticky point for solar of covering a lot of the available land area for power generation. It is all relative and you have to find the best mix of enrgy sources and balance the down side.

    As to the Grand Canyon and these uranium mines, how many people know that there was a uranium mine IN the Grand Canyon that was operated from just back of the rim. It was on the South rim IN THE PARK! The Orphan mine was operated by tram for several years and then the mining company sunk a deep shaft away from the rim edge and worked the uranium deposit thru a crosscut. This was in the park right near one of the senic overlooks.

    The reason there is such interest in uranium North and South of the Grand Canyon is the mineralized breccia pipe formations that the uranium is found in. There are thousands of breccia pipes, but only a relative few will have minable grades of uranium in them. However, if there is minable uranium in the pipe, then the mine would be worth 100 to
    400 million dollars. The uranium breccia pipe deposits have the highest percentages of uranium of all the uranium deposits in the US. They are also the most compact deposits and the most economical to mine. Wikipedia has an article about mineralized breccia pipes here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_breccia_pipe_uranium_mineralization

    I drive the road to the Grand Canyon frequently. Vistors to the Canyon go up Hwy 64 thru Valle and Tusyan or on Hwy 180 to Hwy 64 and to the Canyon. None of the areas being explored are next to the road or visible from the Park. Visitors will never see any mine that might go into operation. The footprint of a breccia pipe mine is very small and the land is restored to its original state after the mine is closed. This has been done for two of the breccia pipe mines that were fully mined out. You cannot even tell there was a mine there now.

    Obviously I am Pro-Nuclear......but I am also pro Solar, Semi-pro wind(Wind farms are UGLY UGLY UGLY), and so I beleive that there would be little impact from breccia pipe mining near the Grand Canyon. There were breccia pipe mines working in this area for years before the crash of uranium prices and they were found to have minimum impact on the enviornment.

    If you are ANTI-Nuclear, then any kind of uranium mining is BAD and the Grand Canyon is a convenient rallying point.

    Go to google Earth and look at the land South of the Grand Canyon in the Kaibab National Forest. Not too much there. Few people go there. There is a breccia pipe mine not too far to the East of Hwy 64. See if you can find it. Was it easy to find??

  • Who Visits Alaska's National Parks?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I certainly hope to head back to AK this summer. I hope to visit the remoter parks (Krusenstern, Kobuk Valley, Noatak), even though getting there is a tad more difficult (and expensive).

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Acreage Donated to Expand Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Perhaps if Anonymous had elderly parents in need of expensive medical care or other personal needs, understanding why the Hensley family needed to recoup the true value of their investment might be easier.

    If a parcel of land is a family's only real investment in retirement, as is true for many of our elderly, then they either sell to developers or make it available at reasonable cost through such groups.

    My estimate of the value of land in that area is far greater per acre than the purchase price made in this transaction. I think the Hensleys probably did our nation a service and should be commended for their reserve considering what they might have gotten for 35 acres of prime land.

  • NPS Director Bomar Not Inclined to Overturn Yellowstone's Snowmobile Backing   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I had an interesting experience this winter in Yellowstone. I took a walk from Mammoth Hot Springs to Swan Lake Flats along the road. The snow was packed down from all the snowmobile and snowcoach traffic, so I didn't even need skies or snowshoes. I was passed by skiers, snowmobiles, and coaches. The first thing that I noticed about the snowmobiles was that they were quieter than I had remembered when I used to ride them years ago, yet for some reason I could hear them...that annoying hum...a good five minutes before they appeared. For some reason they seem to sound the same, whether you are right next to them or a mile away! The older coaches were nearly as bad, I could hear them coming for what seemed forever. But the newer, yellow coaches I hardly knew were coming until I saw them, and could no longer hear them before they were out of sight....even though they SEEMED loader than the snowmobiles when they were right next to me!
    The real telling thing, though, was when a group of four or five snowmobiles went by, I literally could not breathe for ten minutes after they passed. I have been stuck in traffic jams in July in LA, with hundreds of cars bumper to bumper, and can guarantee you that it wasn't THAT bad. The older snowcoaches made breathing difficult for only a couple of minutes, and the NEWER snowcoaches stunk for only the few seconds that they were right next to me!! In other words, when the newer coaches were gone, THEY WERE GONE! No smell, no noise! Almost like magic.
    I have been fighting against snowmobiles in the Park for some time, but now I have a real life experience to back up my argument.