Recent comments

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Some good points, SaltSage236.

    Of course, if you're going to tinker with the designations, would you go so far as to tinker with the management guidelines? After all, all 391 units are supposed to be managed, unless otherwise legislatively directed, according to the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 and the Redwoods Amendment of 1978. There are cases -- Golden Gate is a good one currently on the radar screen -- where "upgrading" to a "national park" could possibly restrict some activities that currently are permitted there. Do you continue to allow those activities and water-down the preservation/conservation mandate , or risk raising the ire of a segment of visitors?

    Or, would you take advantage of reordering the designations to develop more consistent (nationwide) guidelines for management of the various categories of "national parks"? Why let one national seashore allow personal watercraft while another cannot? Ditto with biking, snowmobiling, etc., etc.

    And, then, of course, there are those parks that some believe deserve national park status while others more than likely will disagree. How should those conflicts be resolved?

    With the transition to a new administration, I think it could be argued that this is the perfect time to be discussing and addressing these issues.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    The "national park" designation for a piece of the public estate should (and often does) carry with it the distinction of truly being one of the nation's natural or historic crown jewels -- an often broad range of protected natural resources and unspeakable beauty, or a place, such as Mesa Verde, that protects an area that speaks deeply about a region's and culture's history. A "national park" should be a truly glorious example of America's natural heritage and a place that protects unique and uniquely spectacular natural features and is immediately recognizable as being an identifying mark of America's natural landscape.

    Perhaps its time for Congress to more narrowly define what should and should not be a national park. Certainly, Golden Gate NRA should NOT be a national park, and neither should Cedar Breaks. Congress should drop the "national park" moniker on a few parks and declare them national monuments (yes Congress has the power to do that, too, as they did with Congaree in 1976). Hot Springs National Park, hardly worthy of national parkhood, would be a great national historic site. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park would only be worthy of park status if it included the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area on its western border. Wind Cave should lose park status, too, and become a monument like its equally significant neighbor, Jewel Cave. Park designations for Cuyahoga Valley and Dry Tortugas should also be reconsidered. And, Congaree National Park, the only "national park" in my home state of South Carolina, would probably be best managed as a national monument, the way it began.

    A few other units of federal land (not necessarily NPS-managed) truly do deserve national park status: Dinosaur National Monument (especially if the wildlands on its northeastern borders were included; the northern reaches of Utah's Glen Canyon NRA that are managed by and border Canyonlands National Park; Colorado National Monument and the adjacent McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, which together I think should be called "Uncompahgre National Park" ; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah; Grand Canyon-Parachant National Monument, which should be included in Grand Canyon National Park; the Guadalupe Ranger District of New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest, which connects Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains national parks, should be included in one of those two parks; all the wilderness areas surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park, all of which should be included in that park; and finally, New Mexico's Bandelier National Monument, which should be expanded to include Valles Caldera National Preserve and Kasha Katuwe-Tent Rocks National Monument and be called "Bandelier National Park."

    Going to a national park should capture the imagination and adventurous spirit of all who go there, and inspire visitors to revere and respect the wild, beautiful and unique landscape within a national park's borders.

  • NPCA, TWS Presidents Meet With Canadian Ambassador To Seek Solution to Development in Flathead Valley   6 years 13 weeks ago

    This is a very wonderous part of North America where wildlife actually have large areas of mostly undeveloped habitat for migration and genetic diversity ! It must be saved as it truly is the crown jewel area of the lower 48.
    Canada and the United States created these parks and now they must create a safe haven surrounding them. These parks are not "islands". To support the very large diversity of life found here, the surrounding areas must also be protected from harmful development of all kinds.
    The total environmental assessment must be made looking at BOTH sides of the border ! This ecosystem simply has to be protected. Thank goodness the NPCA and the Wilderness Society are putting their efforts toward saving this priceless place as they have their work cut out for them on both sides of the border.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Here, here. There should be only two kinds of units: National Parks, National Historical Parks. No right-minded organization would allow its brand to be as diluted as the NPS has with 19 different kinds of units. These "holier than thou" esoteric discussions of what is, and is not. a "national park" are ridiculous. THE PUBLIC DOES NOT CARE! With the current designation confusion the public cannot find the units of the National Park System and that is not good for the system as a whole. We all know the names are arbitrary - hence Congresswoman Pelosi's effort and Congaree and Cuyahoga Valley national parks. Time to think like Coca-Cola: one brand name for all the units.

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Quite the dilemma. As a nature-lover and ecologist, my NPS traveling is largely limited to the nature-centric parks. Those parks preserve the nature of a place, unsullied by human hands. On the other hand, it seems to me a battlefield park is in place to preserve a landscape that was quite heavily sullied by human actors acting out one of our nation's darkest plays. And then you have Rushmore and the capital monuments that are human artifacts commemorating heroes and great deeds. All of these are preserved for unique reasons. I don't want to see trees cut down in Olympic National Park any more than I want a sculptor adding his own favorite president to Borglum's quartet in the Black Hills, or - getting to the matter at hand - forest overrunning the battlefield at Manassas.

    As a card-carrying tree-hugger, it pains me to see mature hickories felled. Yet I am also the great-grandson of a young boy who lied about his age to fight for the Army Of Northern Virginia during its death throes in the spring of 1865. My father 's study had a full bookcase devoted to the civil war, Bruce Catton proudly occupying a shelf and a half. When my dad took me to Sharpsburg, I'm glad he could show me the bridge over Antietam Creek and explain why so much blood was shed there. Standing on the battlefield at Sayler's Creek (a VA State Park), my eyes want to become my great-grandfather's eyes and see what he saw, the enduring devotion to his family's farmland where the battle developed, the love for the State of Virginia, and his pride in the nearly-defeated but ever noble General Lee. Moments like that can be enhanced immeasurably by historical authenticity of the landscape. For that I would sacrifice a hickory.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    The President can declare an area as a National Monument without approval from Congress.

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    And? I'm afraid I don't see your point.

  • National Park Service Struggles to Restore and Protect Historic Sightlines at Manassas National Battlefield Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Developers cut down more trees in a month in Prince William County than there are in all of the Park.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Does the Department of the Interior, or Congress, or any government agency, have any sort of guidelines to differentiate what should be "labeled" a National Park vs. National Monument?

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Changing a name means absolutely nothing if you do not fund the change!! I agree that changes should be made in some areas (not all areas!) but let's be honest, with the economy zooming downwards, the war sucking up every resource we have... there isn't going to be any positive change in funding for our parks even though they deserve it. Leave it alone until we are able and ready to fully fund a proper change tha is done for the right reasons.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Speaker Pelosi should be ashamed for promoting this idea. [edited]

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Beamis--

    The idea that the states or municipalities are going to take over the adminstration of national park areas runs counter to the prevailing trend: the assumption of areas like Gateway and Golden Gate by the NPS when local and state management entities can no longer afford them. Which level of government has the deepest pockets?

    As to the idea that trusts or NGOs can assume the management of some of the NPS areas ignores the fact that almost no park area can be self-sufficient without pricing itself out of the market.

    I have argued in the past that this is a matter of generational equity. Each generation of Americans gets to add to the National Park System tha areas it believes merit protection and preservation in perpetuity. I can't imagine a future generation deciding that what my generation added to the System--MLK Jr., the Alaska parks. Kings Canyon, etc.--no longer merited protection in the National Park System but ought to be managed by a state or some kind of NGO. Nor am I willing to second-guess previous generations of Americans.

    As you point out, it is a matter of priorities. There is enough money to finance the System. We just need to make such funding a higher priority.

    Rick Smith

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Let's just hope the irate ranchers that despise Judge Molloy's ruling (and would be poachers) keep their long guns at bay. Empty the bullet chambers and let the wolves help balance nature once again...as it's intended to do!

  • Wolves Join Grizzlies in Fishing at Katmai National Park and Preserve   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Let's see, a little fish hors d'oeuvre for snack and now for the main entree...mutton! I love this little piece Kurt!

  • Glacier National Park Officials Again Voice Opposition to Railroad's Avalanche Blasting Proposal   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Build the sheds!, don't bomb the park!!! After all, Mother Nature was already here, the railroad came along and built the tracks through this section, they should build the sheds to protect them, not destroy the animal life or the enviroment!!!!

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Now that is one step in the right direction! If the government would keep their "grubby" little hands out of everything, then maybe, just maybe, we could take more steps in the right direction. God put the animals on the earth, who are we to remove them???

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Thanks for following this Kurt. This is an emotional issue. I do not want to see any species overrun, nor do I want to see one wiped out.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    We got a jump on our summer travel early this year, and so far our family has been to Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, and Rocky Mtn. National Park, and my daughter visited Pearl Harbor. Our favorite, though, was spending an old fashioned 4th of July at Ft. Laramie National Historic Site. They had games for kids and adults going on all day, plus all the historic reenactors, plus the ice cold bottled sasparilla...it was a day to remember! I'm glad to see that one made it on your list--it really is a fascinating look into our pioneering past, but often gets overlooked. :)

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 14 weeks ago

    You must be new to this website because I have long advocated (and subsequently been pilloried for) a long list of possible alternatives for administering many NPS units under a different umbrella. Some of them include non-profit trusts and foundations, turning many of the smaller and less visited historical units over to willing state and local municipalities or non-profit historical societies as well as tightening up the ease with which Congress can create less than nationally significant units for purely political purposes, even when the NPS deems them inappropriate for inclusion in the system (see the recent thread in NPT about the newly created park in Patterson, NJ).

    You can check on my past postings for more about what I think is the essential paring down that must occur in order to maintain and preserve the true crown jewels of the system.

    With two expensive wars backed by an overheated printing press it ain't hard to see that Uncle Sam is in the poor house and can't afford his expensive park system any more than he can his $53 trillion in unfunded Medicare and Social Security obligations. The time to look for alternative ways to preserve the national parks is now. Our broke uncle is headed for foreclosure and the parks are going to be the last thing on his mind while he's standing in the welfare line.

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Beamis, I am all ears. What do you suggest ?

  • Zion National Park is a Magnet for Canyoneers   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I love exploring the canyons in Zion, but having witnessed a flash flood in Zion I could never be a true canyoneer. To say the flash flood left a vivid impression on me would be an understatement. I could not believe the force of the flash flood, how fast it came out of no where, how long it lasted, the roar of noise it created, and the debries that it left behind. I was in a awe of the power of mother nature, and because of that there is no risk of me taking someone's canyoneering permit spot next summer!!

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Well, Bob, it would be nice if you could see your last wish to fruition through the same tenacity that got the park established. Unfortunately, I think only prayers and sacrifices to the Avian gods are going to help at this point. The realist in me knows it can't happen, but the romantic still wants to believe they're out there - a couple dozen pairs waiting for a comeback. I think there's room in ecology for the occasional romantic notion.

    As for Congaree, one of my favorite things was the attitude of the rangers at the VC. They reminded me of the folks at Sleeping Bear, but even more proud of their park and genuinely excited to interact with visitors. One of them started talking about the park's establishment like he was discussing his newborn baby. Then, when he heard we were headed to Carolina Sandhills NWR next, he told me about his history there and we talked about longleaf pines and red-cockaded woodpeckers for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, my wife mentioned to another ranger we would be canoeing Cedar Creek the next morning, and instantly there were maps spread all over the counter while the ranger talked about the route and where she'd heard there were new portages. Now, I'm sure the lack of visitors had something to do with it, but I've never been taken care of to that degree in Acadia, Everglades, or any of the western parks. It seems like I often run into rangers that view me as a necessary evil. I think that's completely forgivable, having seen what the rangers at Yosemite and Acadia and Grand Canyon have to deal with from many of the visitors. But it certainly makes experiences like Sleeping Bear and Congaree more than memorable.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Kirby, I'm not surprised that you enjoyed Congaree National Park. It's one of the best kept secrets east of the Mississippi. I'm a bit biased, I must admit. It's my home park, and I was part of the small (but tenacious) grassroots campaign that saved that magnificent river bottom hardwood forest from being turned into coffee tables and pallets. My one remaining big wish for that place is that a viable population of ivory-billed woodpeckers will be reestablished there some day.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Ticking a few off my lifelist during a colossal car-camping trip this August. We're hitting Theodore Roosevelt, North Cascades, Olympic, Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, and Badlands. (I notice everyone here uses codes, so I suppose I should say "THRO, NOCA, OLYM, MORA, YELL, and BADL") Being the odd chap I am, I think I'm looking forward to Roosevelt the most. And I'll have to find time at some point for my home park, and one of my favorites, Sleeping Bear Dunes.

    Next year it's either Big Bend or Acadia. I'm an ecology geek and I've never been to a desert, so BIBE is looking good. Last year it was Congaree, a pleasant surprise and one of the best NPS experiences I've ever had. Sigh...so many parks, so few years - and dollars!

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Yes, Bob, you've been fooled! The dunetop vantages you speak of are generally between SSW and SSE of a typical camp on the east shore of North Manitou. (Everyone else camps on the west side, so this is only relevant to me, I suppose.) So in the first shot linked below from Pyramid Point, you're seeing North Manitou's south shore about 7 or 8 miles almost due north of you. Looking due east from a typical camp on NMI, you'll be seeing 15 miles of water until you hit the Lelanau Peninsula which is both trending away from you to the east and losing the hundreds of feet of relief it has in the dune area. So the land is barely visible. I don't know where the sun rises on the 45th parallel in mid-July, but just a little bit north of due east from this camp and you've actually got about 80 miles of open water! See the sunrise pictures.

    South Manitou is more for the fanny-pack-wearing crowd with kids in tow, but with some redeeming ecological features - an old-growth cedar grove, for example. North Manitou is wilderness and far more enjoyable. The rangers have generally informed me that I'm one of about 30 or 40 people on an island 20 miles in circumference on the trips I've made there. I suppose some times and seasons are busier, but it's definitely the choice for nature. I think it's the garter snake capital of the world. And two years ago, I managed to see a piping plover about 15 feet away from me, just before I turned around to see a huge adult bald eagle swoop over my head on it's way out to pick something out of the surf. Good stuff.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10962249@N06/2676080862/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10962249@N06/2675263051/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10962249@N06/2675262921/