Recent comments

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Several years ago Bonneville Power built a huge transmission line across Zion National Park which replaced and upgraded an older one. There was a great deal of fuss and bother by a variety of groups opposed to it who had argued that for a few dollars more the power line could've been placed underground along the highway right-of-way leading to Springdale and Zion HQ. Ultimately the NPS was most compliant with the power company and pooh-poohed all those who were concerned about the impacts this large and unsightly eyesore would generate upon a mostly unvisited corner of the park.

    You can see it today on your way into Zion along Hwy. 9, as you crest the hill west of Rockville beneath the ramparts of Mt. Kinesava. There for all to see is the much vaunted "protection of national park status" writ large upon the Utah landscape.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker,

    Thank you for your kind words, and also in taking the time to look at Google Earth in relation to this issue. It certainly is a wonderful tool! I hope that a flyover of the area gave you and other readers a better understanding of the logistical complexities that all possible access related options face on this part of the island.

    Yes, you did disclaim yourself as to not “Dissing” (sp?) anyone as to their intellect in your original post, but many others have not been so kind in the past. The pro access folks really have taken a verbal beating over this issue, and have been called everything from rednecks to fish-lip-rippers. I only took up that issue out of respect for their hard work in attempting to educate themselves and others to better understand what’s going on and why. I surely meant no offense. I get emotionally charged over this issue daily as well, and have to continually remind myself to remain objective. Otherwise, I get “all wound up” too. Not so easy to do, sometimes!

    I agree with your statement concerning peer review/professional committee review of data. There have been many independent studies of the area made. The SELC et al choose to rely on their own data, and simply will not compromise. The Reg-Neg board is apparently at a standstill due to the SELC’s unwavering demands for even MORE beach closures than the consent decree provides. Many of these closures would be year-round and permanent. Here’s a quote from the “Island Free Press” that details what’s happening in that arena:

    “Negotiated rulemaking has become increasingly contentious and polarized as the two major stakeholder groups have put their requirements on the table. Also playing into the process is the consent decree that became effective April 30 to settle a lawsuit against the National Park Service over ORV regulation. The groups that sued have a seat at the table, and beach access groups feel increasingly that the “victory” of the environmental groups with the consent decree gives them little motivation to compromise.

    Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray has asked the Department of the Interior to evaluate whether, considering the increased polarization, negotiated rulemaking process should be pursued for seashore ORV rulemaking.”

    There’s even been talk about bringing Federal Environmental mediators in to help sort things out. That might be the only way to keep it moving forward, or it could make matters worse. I also think that it is way too early in the study of this decree for the SELC to claim “Victory”. For them to state that a one-summer snapshot is adequate enough time to complete a study of this magnitude is insanity. Next year’s numbers on species AND economic/tourism impacts will tell the true tale. Tourists with reservations already made for this year could not change their plans, even if they were lucky enough to know anything about it before arriving on the island. Next year, they will be aware and may choose to vacation elsewhere.

    Your comment about entrenchment is absolutely accurate on both sides. The pro access folks, myself included, feel that they have had this whole issue shoved down their throats, especially since there was no public comment allowed or even requested. The Consent Decree, while agreed to by both sides, was basically a “Gun to the head” of the pro-access groups. NOT signing it would have resulted in TOTAL beach closures for the 3-year decree timeline, and quite possibly forever. However, the Eco groups have used this in their favor inferring that “Well, you guys went along with it, so what’s your beef now?”. I believe that to be a terrible injustice, and just plain immoral. There is a great and very realistic fear that if we do not fight as hard as possible, with every means available, that we will simply be steamrolled over and the entire area will become another NWR, and the villages will be turned into ghost towns. Independent mediation of some sort may be the only way to end the warfare, though I fear that option as well.

    There has been some debate as to just what NOT signing would have produced. Many believe that total closures would have brought about a counter-suit and/or more national attention, and that the decree would have been reversed. Others have stated that the judge at the center of this, (Federal Judge Terrance Boyle), has one of the lowest reversal rates around, and to be overturned would not be a possibility. Personally, I won’t take a stand on either side of that issue, as I was not present in the meetings that lead to this, and will not try to second guess their wisdom. While I have not been happy about the amount of areas closed and which areas were closed, I have been pleased to have at lease SOME access this summer. For this I thank them for signing. No access would be truly heartbreaking…

    I don’t have the solution for this issue either. I wish I did. I firmly believe that a compromise can be reached that would allow both ORV access as well as serious species conservation.

    Whether or not that compromise WILL be reached is another matter.

    As Dave Vachet posted, the Consent Decree is certainly illegal. The biggest hope of Congressional Bill # HR6233/S3113 is that the illegality of the decree will be seen through the smoke-screen of half truths and fuzzy data the Mr. Derb Carter of the SELC has already put into public record during a recent Senate Subcomitte meeting on this bill. Thanks for your nice comments as well, Dave. It is indeed funny how some run for the bushes once science, logic, and truth appear on the scene.

    Thanks again to Kurt, and all of you that have taken the time read about and/or comment on this very important issue!

    dap

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 14 weeks ago

    "Because it's a state park, not a national park, there's no guarantee that the line won't go through."

    There's no guarantee that NPS designation would help Anza-Borrego, either. The power line issue you reference has also been a threat to national parks, including Joshua Tree National Park. In January, it came to light that the federal government wanted to build a corridor through this and other federally protected areas. NPS and federal designation alone is not a "guarantee" of preservation; in fact, some argue just the opposite. Had the NPS acquired the state park, perhaps they would have built a massive visitor center over one of the burial grounds just like the NPS recently tried to build a massive structure in the MIDDLE of the Little Bighorn Battlefield site.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing, Beamis! I particularly enjoyed the Ben Franklin quote, "He that lives upon hope will die fasting." I think anyone who has read Government's End would see that the American people working together IS actually THE problem when it comes to government's dysfunction. No amount of hope will alter our parasitic economy and pry loose the strings of government from narrow interest groups.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Ted et al,

    Park rangers initially estimated the bear weighed 55 pounds. It later came in at 86 pounds, still probably too small to take on an adult.

  • National Park Quiz 16: Waterfalls   6 years 14 weeks ago

    According to wiki....

    Dark Hollow Falls, near Skyline Drive, Virginia, is an example of cascade waterfall.

    It even shows the same picture as the quiz.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Good stuff dapster and beamis. Very well put. It's funny how the folks that want you off your beaches stop talking when the truth about the critters starts coming up. But, I guess they don't really care about the critters in the first place.

    Kurt, thank you for this forum and your article on this issue

    I'd also like to remind everyone that the consent decree is illegal.

    As JohnAB put it, "the law is the law". The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is also a law. One thing it requires is public comment periods when new or updated environmental policy is proposed. The consent decree is new environmental policy for CHNSRA. It replaced the Interim Species Management Plan for CHNSRA. The Interim Species Management Plan followed the NEPA process. The consent decree did not. A few entities coming up with an agreement called a consent decree is hardly public comment. Therefore it is illegal. I think everyone should be able to agree on that.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    This bear weighed 55 pounds. A young male like this would not be aggressive toward another bear weighing 100 or 150 pounds. It would defer and retreat. It would know perfectly well that a larger bear could be dangerous.

    A small bear would be delighted to find a fawn curled up in the grass, would attack it, kill it and eat it, but it would know that a full-grown deer is beyond its ability - the adult deer can stomp & kick dangerously, and bucks have head-mounted weapons.

    Yet the bear in this case showed no 'respect' for adult humans who towered far above it (bears are impressed by height), and who outweighed it 3 or 4 times. That's not natural, and it's not good.

    In the world of carnivores & omnivores, all other animals are either 'opportunities' or 'hazards'. There is no middle ground in nature. Any other creature that is not a danger, is an opportunity, including humans.

    The only natural roles available to animals are those of prey, or predator. 'Being nice' is something that humans work at, but for wild animals it is entirely alien. That we are able to view & photograph a bear on the landscape being a bear - and ignoring us - does not mean the bear is being nice.

    The assumption that if we do not bother a carnivore, it will not bother us, is a serious fallacy. The further we go with the idea that viewing & photographing carnivorous wildlife as though they are trees or rock formations or fallen-down pioneer cabins, the more difficult & costly it will be to correct the error.

    It is important that bears be concerned & worried about humans, that they are aware of the capabilities of humans, because if they are not then they will gradually come to view us as opportunities. It would be much better if we begin earlier to form a more natural relationship with bears, than waiting until the necessity is forced upon us.

    In a healthy, natural world, you must be able to stalk a bear and conceal your presence from it, in order to view it & photograph it. You must be able to move stealthily and undetected through the landscape to see carnivores.

    That's how nature really operates, and anything else is not natural ... not healthy, and in the long run, not stable and won't last.

  • National Park Service Admits Mistakes With Proposed Little Bighorn Visitor Center Expansion   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Welcome to the slick and slippery halls of bureaucratic careerism. You ain't seen nuthin' yet my friend, this was just a mere peek through a slightly cracked door.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    It's interesting you bring up the word hope. A compelling essay on that very word came out today, which dovetails quite nicely with our current discussion:

    http://snipurl.com/3i2rg

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Beyond the Parks that were pruned in the 1930s, there is also at least one that should have been made a national park but wasn't. The area known now as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park became a 600,000 acre California state park instead and is said to be the second largest state park in the country. The story I've heard from the Park's foundation and research institute is that the area needed to be protected in the early 1930s and was being considered for a national park. But Congress was too busy with the Depression for the necessary designation process to happen. So it missed protection not because it wasn't national park quality, but because the timing of when it needed to be protected was off.

    The sad part about it missing out on national park designation is that had it become a national park, it would have been spared what it's going through right now. Despite there being abundant viable alternatives, a local utility company wants to build a high-voltage transmission line through the heart of the park. It would go right through state-designated wilderness, federally designated critical habitat for endangered species, Indian burial grounds, you name it. Because it's a state park, not a national park, there's no guarantee that the line won't go through. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a National Natural Landmark and a UNESCO world desert biosphere reserve site, but none of those designations offer the protection of national park status.

  • National Park Service Admits Mistakes With Proposed Little Bighorn Visitor Center Expansion   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Intermountain Regional Director Mike Snyder said:

    "Sometimes you just have to admit that you didn't do your homework as well as you might have thought."

    When I read an upper-level management figure make a 'cute' statement like this (and only after having been forced to by court-action) I start to worry. Trying to appear merely juvenile and vulnerably-human makes him appear to be pleading to a lesser charge, of trying to "skate" as we used to say in school.

    The management-professional & executive then says:

    "The proposal to expand the visitor center was one way to solve the problem of crowding during interpretive talks and the lack of a great room or theater to view the park’s film. But, after regional office staff reviewed the issues, we’ve concluded there are other ways that we can achieve those goals without encroaching further onto the battlefield”

    This is slick-talk. It's all about 'defining talking points' that are peripheral to and aim to redefine the problem & issue that has arisen - it's deflection. The second part of the statement coyly declines to take responsibility or accept accountability, but simply rolls over and smiles pretty at its accuser: it's an attempt to disarm. "Wow - I see that you're so much smarter than me. You win."

    Frankly, the response of Director Snyder raises my suspicions.

    What really was the process that lead to the plan to erect a large structure in the center of an historic battlefield that has been deliberately kept open & unobstructed for over a century? Why are we listening to this white-collar prattle - "Oh, we must have boo-booed" - instead of a more grown-up rundown of the events?

    Maybe there ought to be an investigation: perhaps the mere proposal could prompt Director Snyder to set aside his cow-lick & school-knickers routine.

    True, this is just one post on the National Parks Traveler with a few quotes. There could be more information that puts Mr. Snyder in a better light. What I'm coming away with here, though, is distinctly shady.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Trish,

    I'm not sure we can rush to judgment on what the parents did or didn't do. Obviously, they were close enough nearby that the father could rush to his son's rescue. Too, rangers who responded noted that the bear charged them, as well, so merely standing and watching from a distance might not have worked in this case.

    I hiked the same trail in early August and the thickness of the vegetation, the way the landscape rises and falls, and the boulders could very well have hidden the bear from the family until it was too late.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Beamis,

    I appreciate your honest thoughts. However, my point is that in an imperfect world, the National Park Service has provided the strongest protection for the largest amount of land for the benefit of the largest number of people for so long. No state or private entity comes close (the closest is New York State with Adirondack Park, but that is an anomaly). Yes, the federal government has problems. So do the states and private nonprofits. I have hope and confidence that the American people will work together to solve the current problems with our federal government. I guess you've lost hope.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Park Rangers are quick to tell you to keep your children and any pets close when bears are around. Where were the parents? It's unfortunate that a bear had to lose it's life because of careless humans. These people should be ashamed of themselves for not following the most basic rules while visiting the Park. We hiked Rainbow Falls in June and also encounterd a black bear on the trail. We stood back, waited for him to finish eating insects in a downed tree - we took beautiful pictures of him - he went his way - we went ours. We respected his space and never felt even remotely threatened.
    I'm sorry a child was injured. But I'm also sorry a bear had to be destroyed in the very environment which is supposed to protect him.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Ah, GoogleEarth, one of my favorite new toys of the past 5 years!!!

    First a most needed clarification. As noted in my initial post, I most certainly was not inferring any regional illiteracy exists, whether selectively unique to this issue or in any other manner. But I don't agree with the "if A, then B" theory pertaining to an ability to sort out legal briefs beings the equivalent to proper dissection of scientific publications. The major difference between the two is the rendering of credibility through the use of multiple citations in scientific publications, generally referencing specific previous findings; some hypothetical, some theoretical, some accepted laws or postulates. Without prior knowledge of the entirety of those works, dissemination of the final data sets supported / contradicted within any given paper is difficult at best, impossible at worst. True, legal decrees often site "State vs. So-and-So" as a precedent for a finding or opinion. These are most always far more limited in number than in the typical sci-publication, as legal briefs tend more toward a legal outcome, while publications in science are intended to present findings as a piece of evidence, similar in scope to supporting / denying a small piece of a 1000+ puzzle. More often than not these findings are first subjected to internal professional review by a committee comprised of disciplines both pertinent to and different from the group who conducted the study (alleged to be more objective than simple "peer review") and then by external forces who in many cases have a "pro or con" ax to grind regarding the inferences of those data. Comprehension of these papers in nothing as simple or enjoyable as sitting down with Beowulf of The Iliad. It's more akin to finding the true author's intent in biblical verses. Often, the interpretation of these data are variable from reader to reader, or from reading to reading, and it takes quite literally dozens and dozens of attempts at various papers to begin to be able to grasp the overall scientific process; understand the scope of the experimental design, determine validity of such, determine if methods, controls, instrumentation and general "lab" conditions were properly controlled and maintained throughout the study, check to see if graphs, charts and calculations are accurate representations of data or otherwise manipulated to, intentionally or not, falsify data.......the list is quite complex. It's not as easy as turning to the "conclusions" section of the paper and seeing what the author(s) have to say about their study. If only..........

    In addition, back to my post, I wasn't claiming that the simple proposals were the only acceptable options. Obviously, without a detailed survey and a few competent CE's, the structures that could be acceptable and their locations are completely arbitrary suggestions on my part. The suggestion, as put forth by someone, of placing them directly over existing nesting grounds was foolish and emotionally charged, and not the least bit objective. Neither am I supporting any "enviro" group's stance and itinerary by intent. These groups have political agendas with which I do not stand in allegiance, period. If my "lame" notions have been previously discussed and dismissed, through political pandering, objective studies, or whatever the case, so be it. Sorry to bother you, it won't happen again. But at least try and maintain some objectivity in your long-term plans, as did I, and realize that two sides working to achieve a suitable solution stands a better chance at success than two sides dug in and fortifying the trenches.

    Back to some intelligent and insightful references by dapster, I fear the "democratic process" as it pertains to this issue is being clouded by too much disinformation from both sides. While I personally don't own an ORV, I can't say that I've never utilized them from time to time either. I find the pollution issues raised by some as dubious fabrications, but at the same time, vehicle owners being what we are, I'll willing to bet that some oil-leakers have made it out to the beaches. Probably a vast minority, however, but allowing for the use of the "broad brush" stereotyping by the opposition. I submit I am not in possession of the ideal compromise, but at this moment in time I doubt one exists. If as you say, back in the days of my last visit, the "proper" paperwork had been on file, this discussion would be mute.

    Funny you should mention the snow / sand metaphor. I've trekked through both; gimme the sand, anytime. True story about the difficulty for the kids though. They prefer to fall in drifting snow banks, for sure. I always found the heated soil motivation to keep myself moving at a brisk pace! But I no more favor the preservation of your local migrants over humans in the OBX than I favor elimination of bald eagle nesting grounds from an island in the Mississippi River to build a condo complex 100 miles SW of Chicago, so that those who purchase the condos can boat upriver to commuter train stations to help alleviate interstate highway congestion. Am I an over-the-edge environmentalist? I believe not, but I tend not towards the first idea placed in my lap, either.

    Beamis, I think the doggie colony is partial to the dumpsters behind the Wendy's on the SE corner.

  • National Park Quiz 16: Waterfalls   6 years 14 weeks ago

    You are wrong. Dark Hollow Falls is a classic tier horse tail...as the water rides on the rocks...a classic plunge is where the water falls away from the rocks from top to bottom....

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I hope that this situation doesn't keep people from going and enjoying Cades Cove. This attack really saddened me, a young child playing in the water being attacked. I should first say I wish a speedy recovery to the child and his father. This being said, my family was at Cades Cove at the begining of July and August, and we encountered bears both time. While there in July, we stopped to see what everyone was looking at. It was, what I considered to be a little bear (Living in the West Virginia Mountains, bears in this area seem to be alot larger 200-600 pounds). The bear was grazing in a field and eating berries. We stood what I considered to be a safe distance, since we were at one of the homesteads. And to my surprise, a bunch of these nut cases went out into the field taking pictures, at maybe 10-15 feet from the bear. It sure didn't take long for them to scatter when the bear stood up on his hind legs. When we were the in July, the ranger said they have been in a drought (the worse in 100 years). So it wouldn't be advised to let kids play in the water, if there is no water in the mountains the bears are going to be coming out of the hills to get some. Both times we were there this year, we saw bears in areas where streams were.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I just got back from a cross country road trip where we stopped at Arches. We were there about a week before the Wall Arch collapsed. I was blown away when I heard it collapsed because I, like many of you are probably thinking, "I was just there and it looked fine!" What's really scary to me is the fact that I took some pictures sitting under the arch and for those of you into geology, 2 weeks is like a fraction of a second in geology time. Just to think that I could have collapsed when I was there...

    What else is very interesting is the size of the Wall Arch compared to others like Landscape. Wall Arch looked so much thicker at the top compared to Landscape. Landscape is so long and thin, I would have though that would have collapsed years, if not decades before Wall.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Mr. Kellett-----with all due respect, the federal government of this country is flat busted broke. Years and years of running a welfare/warfare state on Asian credit cards is about to come to a crashing end. The reckless spending binge has finally caught up with the Beltway Bandits and they are about to become members of the poorhouse, dragging along many of us with them.

    Your enduring faith in Leviathan to do the right thing is frankly astounding. It ain't just Bush my friend. The whole system is rotten and everybody in the world besides the average American knows it. (You can thank our government run schools and compliant mainstream media for that.)

    We all need to plan now for the inevitable bankruptcy and be prepared to take care of these parks under a variety of different umbrellas. Advance planning will save the day for many places now under federal control.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Just because something is important doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be subjected to federal control. In fact the places I've mentioned are much better off without the politics, budget shortfalls and institutional neglect that is inherent in a massive federal bureaucracy. It would be a sad day indeed if any of the places I've mentioned above were to come under the administration of the Department of the Interior.

    Beamis,

    And just because something is not federal doesn't mean it's good. No one can seriously claim that state governments are free from "politics, budget shortfalls and institutional neglect." In fact, that's exactly what many state park systems have suffered from. And nonprofit organizations are certainly not free of those problems. I think I cited the example before of the huge problems facing the California State Park system. The Massachusetts state park system has been starved for years. Other states that are having major problems with underfunding and inadequate protection of parks include Texas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Michigan. It would be absurd to say that special places would be better protected and managed by these states than by the National Park Service.

    I'm glad that Florida parks seem to be doing pretty well. But that's the exception, not the rule. I'm also happy when states do a good job of protecting special places. My point is that they often cannot be depended on to do so. And to advocate off-loading national park areas to states assuming that they will do the job is simply not based on the real situation.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Chris,

    Your quote:

    "As my time as a Senior volunteer at a National Park has taught me "Mitigation funding" is something you come to both love and hate, and thanks to the current adminstration the NPS's increasing reliance on it has become a serious problem."

    Can you please explain what you know about this situation? That's new terminology to me, and I would like to know how it might come into play in the CHNSRA issue. Thanks in advance!

    ****************************************

    Beamis, You hit that nail on the head, Sir.

    The Piping Plover's Southernmost summer range is, you guessed it, Southern N.C.! They are more a northern bird, and are apparently prolific in the Cape Cod area, as well as parts of the Great Lakes shorelines, and the Canadian Maritimes. They are sadly being used as a "Poster Child", or political football, as you put it, in this game we now play. They have a very hard time making it on the Cape against nature alone. Overwash, storms, and predation all have a larger impact on their ability to survive than humans and ORV's will ever have. Predation is actually UP this year due to the lack of humans to scare them away! Therefore, the NPS is now either trapping and "relocating" or outright killing predator species including Foxes, Muskrats, Nutria, Opposum, Feral Cats and Dogs, and Raccoons, just to name a few. Some are "relocated" into a dumpster at Ramp 44. Does this border on playing God? I certainly believe it does.

    I've heard of similar situations to the Prairie Dog issue you brought up. Apparenty the same thing is happening with Osprey nesting in trees along privately owned waterfront property, where landowners are clearcutting trees along the shoreline to prevent nesting. If an Osprey does indeed nest, the property owner cannot build any structures that nesting year or the next, as the birds must be allowed the ability to renest the following season per EPA rules. This, and your example as well, are but a few instances where these wacky rules are actually hurting the species that they set out to protect.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Jim,

    I agree that process is important. I don't know exactly what that process will be, but I hope they do reach out to include different voices. But this is something that has to be carefully done. If the commission casts its net too widely, it risks getting a mishmash of issues and concerns that lead to gridlock. I don't think the public has any sense of where the National Park Service has been or where it should go. On the other hand, special interests know very well what they want and are relentless in fighting for it. They already have a disproportionately strong voice in national park affairs.

    I think what is needed the most right now is a bold, positive vision and equally bold leadership on behalf of existing and new national parks. This is certainly not coming from the browbeaten National Park Service, the anti-park Bush administration, the clueless Congress, or uninvolved NGOs. I think the commission has an opportunity to set the tone and agenda for discussion. Then it can put their ideas out there to get a reality check for their final findings and report. But that report needs to be on the cutting edge, not "consensus"-based pabulum that plays it safe.

    Chris,

    You're right that the NPS needs money. But if that means locking in bad things that could become permanent, we could gain in the short-term but lose in the long term. Look at the Fee "Demonstration" Program, which was obviously intended to be permanent. Then it became permanent -- what a shock. It will be very difficult to reverse this retrograde program. The approach of begging for funds each budget cycle has not worked very well for us.

    I know there are things like buildings and artifacts that need desperate help. But regarding the natural parks, there was a lot of truth in Newton Drury's statement, "We have no money; we can do no harm." That doesn't mean more money is not needed, but we should not let privatizers and anti-government ideologues blackmail us into agreeing to more of their agenda. We need to start undoing it.

    Now is a chance to start fresh and do it right for a change. We need to be ready to demand that the new president and Congress address this issue. I think it is worth muddling through another year of inadequate budgets if it leads to permanent reform and progress on funding and management.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, environmental rules are used more and more frequently to achieve goals that have less to do with protecting animals and are simply another tool in the activists arsenal to stop an undesirable outcome (in their opinion) that they were unable to prevent using other means.

    A good case in point is the use of the Endangered Species Act to thwart development of privately owned land in southern Utah on behalf of prairie dogs which some government wildlife biologists have deemed a "threatened species". In most cases the prairie dog is nothing more than a political football used as a last gasp measure to prevent unwanted "sprawl" or commercial development when all other means of prevention have been exhausted. The end result of this so-called "protection" is that local people have begun to kill any and all critters that even look remotely similar to a prairie dog on their property out of a very real fear that the government will deprive them of their private property rights on behalf of a rodent. The end result is wanton slaughter of a creature the law was designed to protect.

    Far from endangered the Utah prairie dog is thriving amidst the new development and if you want to see some firsthand they have a huge colony on the cloverleaf of I-15 in Cedar City (Exit #59).

    I think the use of plover nesting grounds on Cape Hatteras is a similar ploy to achieve what can't be done through honest negotiations. I've never been bothered by the vehicles on the Cape and don't think the turtles or plovers have been either.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Lonehiker,

    Thanks for the agreement on the fishing issue. The state of NC indeed has both salt and fresh water fishing license requirements, as well as min.-max. size limits per species. The money collected from these fees goes to good uses throughout the state.

    The area of the highest contention in this issue is the ‘”Cape Point” to “South Beach” areas that run from Buxton to Frisco, NC. These areas lie between 2 access ramps over the dunes that are numbered 44 to the North and 49 to the south of the “Point”.

    This part of the barrier island is the largest landmass in the whole chain. The only highway in the area departs from the Atlantic seaboard at Buxton, and closely follows the opposite coast along the Pamlico Sound. There simply are no hard surface roads in the area at all, with the exception of the two roads that lead to aforementioned ramps.

    As you stated, you have not been to the OBX in some time, although I can find no reference to the “Jam” period. That being the case, please go to this website, provided by the CHNSRA NPS and ‘Google Earth”:
    http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm

    The ramps are numbered as I have indicated for easy reference. Please look at the large wilderness area known as “Buxton Woods” that borders the entire Cape Point/South Beach seaboard. Note the total lack of buildings and/or roads. Note the relative distances from road ends to beachfront. Now take into account that the sand is more like deep snow than hardpack. Also consider that the sand reaches temperatures well over 100 degrees F on a typical sunny summer day. A hike from the closest parking area to the point would be a tough job for a marine, much less a family with young children. There are no public showers, no public areas in which to house lockers as you suggest. Any and all structures near the coastline are subject to destruction from storms that range from Nor’ Easters all winter and spring to Hurricanes most of the summer and fall. Any infrastructure required by your suggestions would be swept into the sea again and again.

    Once the barrier island leaves the point area, it becomes quite narrow again, many times just a few hundred feet wide. In these areas, public parking is provided at occasional “turnouts”, and wooden walkovers are employed for beach access. These areas are far and few between, however, and would not work for the Cape area proper.

    As to the amount of education we Beach Access proponents possess about these matters, especially in relation to the species in question would surprise you. If there has been one good thing, in my opinion, to come out of the mess that is the Consent Decree, is that we are ALL much, much more learned about birds and turtles and their conservation.

    However, I will state that the ORV/Fishing/Beach Access public has been talked down to by just about every one on the other side of this issue since day one, and you sir, continue in that same vein. Do not dare to question the intelligence and comprehension abilities of these folks. If they can read and discern what is relevant in all the legal documentation concerning the Consent Decree, as well as the original NPS charters and such, then they can do as well with scientific biological reports. Most of these same people are not fishermen by vocation, it’s just what they love to do away from their jobs. They are employed in every faction of the working world imaginable. Please do not add the insult of being called uneducated to the injury of these folks already losing their access rights to their favorite places in this country.

    No one wants to cause harm to any of the species in question. We just ask that a democratic approach be taken in these matters, and that public opinion AND peer-reviewed science come into play. To say that the Audobon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife are the one and ONLY authorities on species conservation is absurd. Yet their mandates are exactly what is running the CHNSRA today. They simply refuse cross examination and sue if they find their way to their means blocked. That, Sir, should bother you as well.

    The Interim Plan that was killed by the Consent Decree was making great strides in species protection, and numbers were on the increase due to it. On that basis alone, the SELC could not have sued. However, they found the “chink in the armor” in the guise of the NPS/DOI’s failure to submit their “Final” ORV/Species management plan for 30+ years. There, our government officials failed us big time, and allowed for all that we are currently discussing to ensue. Had the final plan been in place for years, I sincerely believe we would not be having this discussion. I also firmly believe that ALL species, including humans, would be flourishing on these beaches, ORV’s and all.

    As I sat on South Beach last weekend, watching my nearly 2 year old son frolic in the sand and surf, a thought came to me. I realized exactly what it is that makes this area so special to me and thousands of others: It’s place where the common man, through no more means than owning a 4WD vehicle, can provide for his family beachfront living that is usually only available to the very wealthy, if just for the day.

    Lastly, let’s just suppose it were indeed possible to make the hike to the point while laden with fishing gear and all sustenance needed for a family of three just for the day, using good packing techniques as you suggest.

    You might just find a sign in your way, once there, excluding pedestrians as well.