Recent comments

  • It's Not Too Early To Start Planning This Summer's National Park Vacation   6 years 11 weeks ago

    It seems like a real shame that so many National Park lodging options are either very expensive, or else so hard to come by that you must book them 7-8 or more months in advance. To me, this suggests that there really aren't enough National Park Lodges available. Does anyone know when the last National Park Lodge was built? Are there any plans in the works for additional lodges?

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Uses the "S" Word On Second Day at the Office   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Science is not about goals, its about cause & effect. I'm a scientist: with adequate data, on a good day I can estimate the probabilities of different outcomes for a given management alternative. I can make inferences about times or places I haven't observed, or about causal mechanisms. But, I don't set values for those possible outcomes, and I don't dictate goals or management actions.

    The goals or values for NPS are in law: the 1916 organic act has the famous statement about preserving resources "unimpared for the enjoyment of future generations". {} Beyond that, each NPS unit has a foundation statement that explicitly states the values and purposes of that unit from its authorizing legislation, and the 1988 Redwood National Park Act requires NPS units to be managed to preserve those values, notwithstanding statements in the authorizing legislation allowing hunting, etc.. [So, snowmobiles and jetskis and mountain bikes and low-level overflights are pretty clearly ok in most national recreation areas; not so much in units with wildlife, wilderness, serenity, etc. emphasized in their foundation statements, with a pretty continuous gradation in between.]

    The 1998 NP Omnibus management act states "The Secretary shall … assure the full and proper utilization of the results of scientific studies for park management decisions" and calls for "condition-based management". It even requires that the trend in the condition of resources be a significant factor in the annual performance evaluation of each superintendent.

    Those parts of the 1998 act haven't been particularly followed the past years: in part due to insufficient data or insufficient science to extract information from the available data; in some cases due to political decisions trumping solid data and science.

    From the inside, it appears that Salazar means what he says about science, but the key part of the quote above is public interest instead of special interest.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: It Shames the Andes and Alps   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Another concern to the 4 legged residences of Rocky Mountain is the Mag-Chloride which is used to melt ice and snow from the paved roads in and around the park. I have written about this to you and others before. Their is a study going on at Colorado State in Fort Collins about the harmful effects of this chemical.
    Great story about Rocky Mountain National Park,Andes and Alps

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I repeat what I wrote here before on the issue: The arch, the river and the open space belong together. Only the ensemble makes the memorial.

    And as someone who never was at St. Louis - and probably won't come there anytime soon - I still can read maps and areal imagery. The problem of St. Louis' waterfront is not the open space below the arch, the problem of the city are US 40 and particularly I 70. Get rid of them, force all through traffic on I 270 and I 255 and rebuild the interstates to normal inner city roads. This way you could reanimate the waterfront north of Martin Luther King Bridge and go north from there over the next two decades.

    How much of the railroad knot between Martin Luther Kind Bridge and Salisbury St. and beyond is necessary and how much of it could be removed to somewhere else? Could the waterfront be developed up to Salisbury St within 20 years?

    Again, not the open space of the memorial is the problem. The real problem are the highways in the inner city. They act as barriers and create huge no-mans-lands, no one likes to visit or even stroll around, go shopping and have a coffee at. The old town is gone, the new waterfront does not have to be exactly at the old site. It could very well be created north of the old part.

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Reminds me of an interesting anecdote. One evening after work, I was riding in a local park with some mountain biking buddies. On our way down, we met a solo rider, and proceeded to chit chat as one of us had seen a mountain lion earlier. The solo guy proceeded to reply that he was okay since he was packing a gun on his ride! The interesting part was that he was not wearing a helmet. Interesting how one could be worrying about the 1 in a million odd of having to deal with a mountain lion yet was not protecting his noggin for the much more likely event of falling off the bike. Go figure...

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I thought I knew better from my days living in Utah, but when I read the comment regarding how there's never been more forested land in the continental US that currently stands (no pun intended) I thought it would be worth the update to all parties concerned about just how much "greening" has been taking place of late. First off, with the rate of urban sprawl during the second half of the 20th C I found it difficult to believe anyone could make a statement purporting increased vegitation in our forests, but be that as it may, the following link would like to propose a slightly different view of our "great National forests".......

    Now for what it's worth, there are a multitude of possibilities not discussed within the context of this article that both explain the loss of hardwood and have no tie, directly or indirectly to the climate and are mostly centered around a those exotic species of both parasitic organisms and diseases for which there are no current treatments. But to say the climate isn't at least partially involved would border on the naive. This from someone who isn't convinced that the sky is falling to begin with, but who understands that saving myself some money through a few lifestyle changes that also allow for the betterment of the planet can't be a bad thing for anyone, except the utility companies who I sincerely hope go the way of the dinosaur by the end of this year.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I grew up in St. Louis as well. I always enjoy walking the grounds of the Arch, sitting on the steps and watching the river traffic. I have visited the museum below the Arch several times. The city, however, does need economic rebirth. The riverfront area is not what it could be and there needs to be a way to connect the heart of downtown with the riverfront over the highway corridor. The city and the park service should be able to find a solution that is a win- win for both. You shouldn't have to take away from the park to rebuild the downtown area .. integrate it in the plan. Build up both.

  • Planning to Visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore? Leave Your Gun At Home   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I have never needed a firearm in any of our parks ever. Why are we packing guns? I have plenty of them, but have no need to travel with one in possession.

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I was still growing up when the Arch was growing up! The arch & park should remain the same,with only repairs & upkeep.I live two hours from St. Louis & go there frequently. As soon as I see the arch I still get excited. We go around the curve & there she is! She serves her purpose. She is the Gateway of the West. You look down from her or anywhere in the park & see the mighty Mississippi. That view should NEVER be obstructed by someone wanting to make more MONEY! When the river is high, you get a sense of what our ancestors faced as they were making there way west. Improvements could be made in the area below the arch. That seems to never change. That museum thing? Leave the green grass, what is the matter with you people, can you only see one color of green!? This city has museums, art galleries, ancient neighborhoods, Forest Park, some of the best medical facilities in the world. If they MUST build something new, let them go to the burbs & take their businesses there. Every suburb needs more money, right? How would you people like that!? Across the street FROM your house, there is a new museum going up, oh, they have to take part of your yard & driveway to make the new parking lot. But.....everything needs an improvement! Have you been to the other Nat'l Parks? How about knocking down the Grand Canyon into the Colorado River to build a new town! Think about what makes this country beautiful. Lord knows the Government can't figure it out!

  • Planning to Visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore? Leave Your Gun At Home   6 years 11 weeks ago

    It won't bother me my firearm is unloaded and enclosed in a carrying case but it will be with me

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I love the open space -- one of the few greavistas of the Mississippi River available. And allfor free -- I don't that taken away.

  • What's All the Shakin' and Rattlin' Going On At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Dave, thanks for the note. We'll definitely take a look at your other podcasts. They provide some great perspective.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: It Shames the Andes and Alps   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Exceptional Article, Thank YOU

  • The Future of the "Gateway Arch" is On the Table—Will You be Part of the Discussion?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    This is a park that screams for de-authorization. The park should have been removed from the park system when the historic building were torn down to build the arch. Let the city have it or give it to Disney to run as an amusement park - that's all it is. The courthouse would still be a National Historic Landmark run by someone else.

  • Post-Inauguration Facts and Figures from the NPS – but Don't Expect a Crowd Estimate   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I am a veteran of many crowds on the Mall, and I have to disagree strongly with the ASU professor on this one. First off, let me say that I did not vote for Obama -- I left a blank ballot for President. The 1.8 million number for the Mall is an extremely reasonable number, and the entire crowd was no doubt closer to the 2 million range, if not a little larger. I attended the March for Women's lives back in 2004. That crowd has a verified size of 1.1M people. How do we know it was 1.1M? Because, the organizations who put the march together actually had large teams of people signing people in and passing out stickers to anyone who attended to minimize double counting. When the names were analyzed, there were 1.1M people counted, and that number may be smaller or larger depending on the numbers not counted and those double counted.

    How far did that 1.1M stretch? It stretched from 3rd Street to 14th Street NW, where the Washington Monument is. It was shoulder to shoulder for those 11 blocks, and there's a photo taken from the top of the Monument showing crowd size. What a shot like that doesn't tell you is that the area of the mall is actually wider than you can see in a camera shot. There are a lot of trees, and the area stretches more widely than the narrow shot we are accustomed to seeing. Besides that, a lot of the crowd had spilled as far as Constitution Avenue. You cannot simply fly a helicopter and get a super good estimate because there is a lot that's hidden.

    In any event, that's 1.1 M over 11 blocks of the Mall. What about the Obama Inauguration? Well, it was bigger. The crowd stretched from the base of the Capitol and around the Reflecting Pool to 3rd Street with people filling up that entire space. From visuals, you could see it filled up that same expanse from the Mall all the way to the Washington Monument but moreso than in the March for Women's Live. From reports of people on the Mall, it continued shoulder to shoulder all the way to 20th Street! That's not too many blocks from the Lincoln Memorial. Then, there was another crowd reported on and around the Memorial.

    Now, that crowd couldn't be as large as the crowd on 3rd to 14th because of the World War II Memorial and the reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The crowd from 3rd to 14th was at least but probably larger than the 1.1M. However, 700,000 additional people is an extremely reasonable number given the amount of space filled, especially the wide expanse in front of the Capitol.

    A lot of other people were along the parade route, afraid they wouldn't be able to get there if they saw the Inauguration. That route was supposed to hold 300,000 people max - numbers were cut off by the police; that's why you didn't see it filled during the parade. The police chief claimed it would probably be closed by 10:30 AM, hours before the Inauguration. Let's assume that it wasn't, that everyone managed to get to the Inauguration on time and that they weren't as motivated by the parade as predicted. I'd have trouble believing that number wasn't at 200,000, and by crowd shots of the motorcades going through the streets, I'd have trouble believing it wasn't.

    So, 2M seems reasonable; I've never seen anything close to that before in Washington from years and years of attending marches of all sizes.

    Metro had record numbers of riders that day despite a lot of issues (for instance, someone was hit by a train). That's despite Metro telling people that they wouldn't be able to handle the crowds and urging people to walk.

    It would be hard to believe hotel bookings lagged behind projections given that they were filled up months in advance; however, if they did, it's reasonable to believe people stopped trying. The best way to get space was to find friends in DC or find places to stay via Craig's List. That's how people always do it in Washington; this is just a bigger example of it. And, the DC / Baltimore metro area has well over 5 Million people, some estimates put it closer to 7 M if you could Annapolis (and for these purposes, why wouldn't you?) You don't think this population didn't turn out? Of course they did. Work was generally cancelled in the region, anyhow, and that followed a holiday.

    So, people who don't know Washington can rationalize and claim that there were fewer people, but there most certainly was at least as many as the MSM claims here.

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

  • What's All the Shakin' and Rattlin' Going On At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    This is Dave Hebert from the USGS podcast team—thanks for posting this episode of the USGS CoreCast! If you or your readers are interested, we have hundreds of podcasts at Thanks again!

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Fact check: Mr. Stayner's murders of "three women" were committed outside Yosemite in the town of El Portal. He did, though, confess to killing a park naturalist inside the park in July 1999.

    As for "the tyranny of the Executive Order," some would argue that 43 perfected that.

  • Post-Inauguration Facts and Figures from the NPS – but Don't Expect a Crowd Estimate   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I posted this on another site on Jan. 21, 2009:

    The inaugural crowd estimates, from 2 to 5 million, were hyped beginning November 4, 2008. The MSM had settled down to around 2 million by the day of the event. But with late reports that hotel bookings lagged behind projections and reports of less than expected traffic on area highways that filtered in, estimates from satellite photos are beginning to appear. A reasonable early estimate comes from an Arizona State University Professor who specializes in crowd counting. He estimates the number to be 800,000 people, less than the estimated 1.2 million person record set in 1965 for the Lyndon B. Johnson inauguration. The web page explaining this current estimate is at:

  • Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Respectfully, there is a word for that degree of concern. Following that line of reasoning, wouldn't it be just as appropriate to carry a gas mask, flame retardant coveralls, emergency medical kit, full body armor, etc.? If you must to spend time in places that are obviously dangerous (war zone, known centers of violent crime, etc.) there may be some justification for carrying a concealed firearm. However, it seems an extreme stretch to justify being armed with a concealed hand gun on the walkway of Old Faithful.

  • Yellowstone Geologist Worries About What Goes "Bump" At Night   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Watching Yellowstone breathe has to be a humbling experience. It is a reminder of just how insignificant we are in terms of geologic history.

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   6 years 11 weeks ago

    DJ and Warren Z -

    A nice exchange of viewpoints and information! It was nice to see the article generated a little discussion, and I appreciate the input from both of you.

    Warren's comments as a former employee at Ford's Theater provided some useful, first-hand perspective.

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I agree completely. It is foolish to think that the criminals will not have concealed weapons in the National Parks. It is also foolish to think that the law enforcement in the NPS will be able to protect law abiding citizens while they are in the Parks. Does anyone remember what Mr Stainer did to those three women? I applaude Mr Bush's decision. The law abiding citizens of this country have a right given to them by God, and not Congress or the politicians, to protect themselves. If those opposed to this rule don't like it they can continue to travel in the NPS unarmed. As for me, I am happy to have my right for self protection restored. Thank you Mr Bush!! And if the Obamanistas think that they can govern this country through the tyrany of the Executive Order they are only fooling themselves.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Kurt, you asked:

    If one feels slighted because they have to step to the side of the trail, or off the trail, when mountain bikes come through, how does it feel when you have to do the same with horses coming at you?

    Here's what one backpacker wrote in 2006:

    "My trip to Stanley Hot Springs was full of surprises. This was my first trip into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which was the 1st Wilderness Area designated in Idaho and one of the first of the entire United States. It lies directly north of the massive Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and is separated from the Frank by only one road, the Magruder Road.

    "We broke camp at Wilderness Gateway Campground at 4am in an effort to beat the heat. We were unfortunate to arrive during a week-long heat wave of mid-90s to 100+ temperatures. The last part of the hike down to Rock Creek was rough. There was little water, the trail was thrashed and loaded with horse poop due to extreme outfitter activity—in many places it was like hiking up jagged stairs. And, horse traffic on the trail proved cumbersome as the heat ratcheted up.

    "Horses have the right-of-way here, so every time they are encountered backpackers and hikers have to get off the trail, approx. 5-6 feet below the horses and crush beautiful foliage as a result while the horses pass and kick rocks and dirt all over the party below. This makes for slow going, and if you have heavy backpacks on can really suck. We had to do it 4 times. Some of the outfitters were actually upset at having to deal with us backpackers, I think it was because our dogs spooked their horses and one of them spilled their beer. All in this particular party were drinking beer and smoking cigars while on the trail."


    Now, take a look at how the professional horse outfitters advertise their Wilderness trips, keeping in mind that their activities are allowed in Wilderness whereas a solitary cyclist on a 25-pound bicycle is not:

    “Travel from yesteryear, luxury from today. A trusty horse will be your companion for the duration of your roving pack trip. . . . [¶] You’ll sleep under the stars at the confluence of luxury and wilderness. All guests stay in spacious high-grade waterproof tents with feather beds and pillows. And as for dining, our experienced cooks turn a rain fly and propane into a buzzing professional kitchen that rivals most big-city restaurants. The results? Exquisite cuisine you’ll remember almost better than the scenery.” (Paws Up Outfitters, “Luxury Montana Pack Trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness,” available at

    “By virtue of the Wilderness Act of 1964 this area has been set aside as a place where the only possible means of transportation within are by foot or upon a horse. . . . [¶] . . . This is the land of many famous Mountain Men and many Indian tribes—an America[n] past. But, unlike its predecessors, you’ll enjoy the Wilderness in near luxury; clean, dry, spacious tents, warm soft sleeping bags, hearty and varied campfire cooking . . . .” (Absaroka Ranch, “The Pack Trip,” available at

    “[T]he camp is very comfortable. Hearty mountain cooking is prepared at the camp’s cook tent and enjoyed in the adjoining lining tent or around the campfire. Sleep in roomy guest tents supplied with a wood burning stove for heat, and cots and pads. Or grab your sleeping bag and sleep under the stars. [¶] This is the perfect way to enjoy the backcountry wilderness without the hardships of backpacking.” (Bear Basin Wilderness Outfitters, “Overview,” available at

    “About Liquor[:] BYOB.” “Physical Condition Required[:] Fair.” (Bear Basin Wilderness Outfitters, “Bear Basin Wilderness Camp Horseback Trip,” Washakie Wilderness, Wyo., available at

    (I found these items about two or three years ago, so I can't guarantee that the links still are good.)

    Feather beds and pillows; wood-burning stoves in tents; gourmet meals; bring liquor. This is primitive and rugged wilderness travel? And I would think that wood-burning stoves would be too heavy to lug around and they and their surrounding structures must also be set up semipermanently, which is a dubious practice under the Wilderness Act of 1964.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   6 years 11 weeks ago

    With regard to the prior post, succeeding in defining national parks solely as outdoor museums is precisely what will doom political support for them in the not-so-long run. The decline in public support is already happening, which is why the National Park Service has wisely proposed making it easier for people to engage in the popular, healthy, environmentally sound, but also fun activity of mountain biking in them.

  • A Major Overhaul at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Raises a Few Eyebrows   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Warren Z -

    Thanks again for your response. I guess the conflict is mostly in my emotion and not in my common sense or intellect. I did admit that my position isn't defensible, and the more I think about it the more I don't make sense to myself.

    I appreciate your thoughtful replies and the opportunity you and this site give me to think past my knee-jerk response.

    I look forward to visiting DC again.