Recent comments

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I have to second Iquazu, it's just a stunning place on both sides of the border (

    I would also say Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Really far south in Patagonia, you can see the huge pieces of ice falling off the Perito Moreno glacier, which is one of the few glaciers left in the world that is not receding. The backdrop of the Andes makes the enormous "river of ice" even more impressive. It's completely mind blowing. (

    Am dying to see these others. Want to go to Machu Picchu next year and the others are on the list!

  • How Can Yosemite National Park's Magnificent Vistas Be Preserved?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Regarding the comment on trees and blocking views. I have been to Yosemite 2 times and plan on another visit this coming June. I lived only about a hour from the park for over 20 years and never visited. It wasn't until I moved to Montana/Idaho and now Oregon that I have wanted to visit all the parks here in the West. Sorry, got distracted. There is a post card that shows the Chapel with Half Dome behind it and no trees. On my first visit, I could not figure out how they got that shot. My second visit, I realized that all the trees had grown up along the Chapel, but the park still felt compelled to sell an old photo of the Chapel without them. I was totally disappointed that I could not get the same shot. Most of the time, I work around the trees that have grown up and blocked the views that we see in some of the older images.

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

    I plan on spending a couple weeks at the end of the Feb. in Yellowstone doing some photo work. Maybe mother nature will provide a Pulitzer Prize opportunity. Hope you all know I'm kidding. Yellowstone is a grand piece of natures work and no matter how often I visit it never ceases to amaze me of the potential power nature has. Somewhat humbling when compared to what we think we can do.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I disagree that the EIS argument is a slippery slope. Furthermore, I disagree with the response to issue 8. The demographic differences between NPS visitors and other site's visitors makes extrapolation of those study results unreliable.

    The conveniences found in many national parks help to draw a very diverse crowd, one that is often much less prepared to deal with nature than visitors to more primitive FS or BLM sites.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 11 weeks ago

    You can look at them, but you can't WALK OVER any of them!!

  • This Coke's For You, Grand Teton National Park!   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Good point, anonymous. Can't say where the park got that number from. I do recall an Associated Press story from about a year ago that said tractor trailers often run above the legal weight limit, but more than double the usual weight does seem just a bit excessive.

  • This Coke's For You, Grand Teton National Park!   6 years 11 weeks ago

    There is no way that truck could weigh 93 tons or 186,000 lbs. The legal limit for non-permitted loads in the US is 40 tons, or 80,000 lbs. This weight would require approximately 37,000 two litre bottles.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Good for you Paula. No kidding! El Paso, TX is one of the safest big cities in the U.S. Why is that? We are armed. Criminals know one thing: Go to some leftist city where feel-good politicians ban law-abiding citizens from concealed carry or having a shotgun in their home -- that's the place to commit crime. Concealed carry permit holders are an extension of the government and help keep the peace, as here in El Paso. We are not more drunk, depressed, etc. than any peace officer -- what an insult. According to the hysterical anti-gun crowd, El Paso should be among the most violent cities in the nation. Why don't these people advocate enforcing the laws against casual drug use? (That is what is at the root of the mayhem south of the border and in our cities.) The world is governed by deadly force not by words from Chuck Schumer & Co. Law abiding citizens can FIGHT back and the 100 lb. woman who is trained, permitted, and carries a Glock in her purse will NOT become a victim. My women all carry and do it proudly with skill and confidence. Do the hysterical anti-gun people care about violence to the innocent? About self-protection? Their leaders in Congress and elsewhere may not conceal-carry but they have body guards who do. What hypocrites. These people and their cheerleaders in the media ignore how armed citizens repeatedly defuse, prevent, and halt crime -- which we are fortunate to do without firing a shot. And then these people talk about guns as if they knew anything about them -- not only are they hypocrites but ignoramuses. What an irrational group -- much like the teetotalers of the Prohibition period. Our nation has a history of kooks who jump on bandwagons and I hope we survive this one....

  • Possible Wolf Spotted in Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Regarding the possible wolf sighting in RMNP in 2007--
    On September 9, 2003 my husband and I were alone up at Sprague Lake right as it was just becoming light. We like to hike before the crowds. I went to the restroom and when I came back my husband said he saw a coyote over near the dumpster. He handed me the binocs and left for the restroom. I located the "coyote" with the binocs so I could get a really close look. It was running away from me towards the wooded hill near the far end of the parking lot. As I moved the binocs along towards the hill I came eye to eye with a large dark gray wolf face with the dishing of the muzzle. The smaller canid ran up to this big gray one (roughly 2 x as big) and did the submissive yelping that immature or subordinate canid species perform to adults/superiors. The bigger canid performed the return acceptance greeting and they turned and ran off up a gravel trail on the side of the hill. As they ran away I noticed that the hinds legs of the larger one had the outward sloping angle that wolves display.
    My husband returned from the restroom and I told him and we ran over to the site to look for tracks but unfortunately there was pea sized gravel all along the trail so no luck and no pictures as it happened too fast.
    To support my claims that it was a wolf and not a coyote or dog, as a child I played everyday with a young blind wolf that my neighbor had chained up in his backyard (it was the 60s). In addition, I have lived on farms in central Missouri where coyotes and coydogs are common. I also have a BS in wildlife biology, a MS in Entomology and 30 years of research experience at the University of Missouri-Columbia, admittedly in stream ecology and not wildlife biology.
    I know that strangers don't want to believe me as I have no proof, but I have been saying ever since that it was just a matter of time before other reports of wolves in the park occurred. I'm thrilled to hear about it!

  • Mount Rainier National Park Officials Mulling Future of Carbon River Road   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I must concur with the majority of the comments that are posted with a slight modification. With the establishment of an official Sno-Park parking lot just prior to the closed gate would open up a tremendous opportunity for winter recreation and the revenue generated for Sno-Park Passes could pay for kepping that portion plowed to the parking area.

  • On Stimulus Packages, Lobbyists, and Congressfolk   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Hey Frank, why not? We're already into the Republic of China for over $850BB that they recently loaned us to keep our failing economy afloat (aka, so we could subsidize their economy via the continued purchase of low grade generic crap that our citizenry seems to love) and as there is no immediate hint of recovery, why not add a few more billions and then do what a multitude of nations have so successfully accomplished in the recent past.....just default baby! We've subsudized enough failed world economies over the past half century. It time we play the same game in reverse, since that's the only way we'll EVER see any of our investments returned. I see no shame in playing by everyone else's rules since they refuse to play by ours.

  • "Inland Tsunami" at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area Wasn't the First of Its Kind   6 years 11 weeks ago

    The seiche phenomenon is also a relatively common occurrence on the Great Lakes, and is tied to a unique combination of wind direction and tightly packed isobars (specific to the geography of the lake), rapidly changing atmospheric pressure, storm speed and, just as also effects the height of the ocean tsunami, the topography of the local shoreline in the region where the wave makes landfall. What makes these waves so interesting is that immediately preceding their "landing" the water in the area seems to be sucked out into the lake, down to the lakebed, exposing the floor of the lake for just a few seconds and then rushes back in with a vengeance and fury not to be believed, even when seen. I witnessed a 20-25' wave striking the shores of Lake Michigan some 30 years ago, from a height of 23 stories above. The first audible statement when the lake "dried up" was, "Wow, COOL!!!" followed shortly by "Holy $#&*" when the gathering wave rolled in and impacted the base of the building. These rogue waves have been blamed for numerous tales of lost ships and other deaths over the years, going back to stories related through Native American lore originating hundreds of years ago.

  • Maine-based Groups Join Fight to Overturn Gun Rule for National Parks   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Perhaps the groups listed above ought to read the Final Rule:

    Issue 8: Visitors who carry a concealed firearm permitted under state law are likely to use their handguns to shoot or injure wildlife.

    Response 8: The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and a number of state parks and refuges currently authorize the possession of concealed firearms consistent with the laws of the state in which they are located. The available data does not suggest that visitors to these lands misuse their legally permitted firearms for poaching or illegal shooting, or that there is additional danger posed to the public from lawfully carried concealed firearms. See, e.g., National Research Council, Committee on Law and Justice, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (Washington D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2004), p.6; Dodenhoff, David, Concealed Carry Legislation: An Examination of the Facts, Wisconsin Public Policy Research Institute (2006), p. 5; see also, Jeffrey Snyder, Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun, (October 1997); Kopel, David, et al., Policy Review No. 78 (July & August 1996).

    These groups desperately use a slippery slope argument without data to support the premise.

    If the "available data does not suggest that visitors to these lands misuse their legally permitted firearms for poaching", why waste money on an EIS? If anyone has data to the contrary, I'd love to see it.

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    We have been thinking about this for years, casting and recasting the movie. The cast that was announced just isn't right for such an important movie. Hayduke and Seldom Seen aren't living in a retirement home and unless Nicholson and Dreyfus are playing their fathers, the movie's going to be another
    "Grumpy Old Men". Sorry, but of those guys are TOO OLD; can anyone honestly see either one of them as the rugged, outdoorsmen Hayduke and Seldom are? They're good actors but they're not THAT good.

    We see the cast like this:
    First, we would hire the Coen Brothers to direct. They bring a quirkiness that would fit nicely with the story and and their cinematograghy is nothing short of brilliant. Imagine what they'd do with Canyonlands and Glenn Canyon as their backdrop.
    Matthew McConnaughey as Seldom Seen. He has the attitude, the build, he's the right age and is a better actor than he gets credit for.
    George Eads (Nick Stokes in CSI) as Hayduke. Have him grow his hair, spend some time in the sun...He has the looks, the physical attributes of GW and he's who I see when I think of Hayduke.
    Jenneane Garofolo as Bonnie Abzug...she fits Abbey's description to a tee. 'nuf said.
    Brian Dennehey as Doc Sarvis. Barrel chested, big voice, big man and great screen presence.
    Robert Duvall as Bishop Love. He's the one big name in the cast and someone who would/could portray the Bishop as Abbey created him. And he's an Oscar winner who doesn't make enough movies these days.
    And just for fun, Johnny Depp as the mysterious Horseman.

    Whatever the outcome, Hollywood is going to be hardpressed to live up to what Edward Abbey put to paper. Right now, it sounds like it just won't be what it deserves to be.

  • 2008 Visitation to the National Parks Up and Down, But Essentially Flat   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Interesting report. More definitive trends in visitation should become clearer this coming summer as the recession becomes firmly entrenched. Discretionary spending on nonessentials is usually one of the first victims of a major economic downturn. The more remote parks seem most likely to experience drops in visitor numbers. In addition to actual declines in disposable income, there is a natural tendency to "hunker down" and stay close to home in tough times.

  • Climate Change Doomed the Historic Settlements at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Your observations about climate change in the time of the Abo, Quarai and Gran Quivria are important in today's atmosphere of "Climate Change". The climate of North America has been warming since the last Ice Age. Ancestral Puebloan peoples used to farm in wetter areas of the 4 Corners area in places like Chaco Canyon and Abo. Climate change that has been happening for a long time, is not a recent phenomenon and is credited as one of the major factors that drove the "Anasazi" to the more consistent wetter areas along the Rio Grande

  • 2008 Visitation to the National Parks Up and Down, But Essentially Flat   6 years 11 weeks ago

    "Sixty-three percent of all 391 park units reported declines in RV overnight stays."

    I have my doubts about the validity of that statistic. Of the 391 units, how many have camping facilities at all? I'd be surprised if 50% of the 391 park units even record overnight RV stays. Think of all the urban and small rural parks: Independence, Klondike Gold Rush, Washita Battlefield, Montezuma Castle, Lewis & Clark, Vicksburg...

  • 2008 Visitation to the National Parks Up and Down, But Essentially Flat   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Hey, what do you know, there can be good outcomes of a bad economy. Glad to see a decrease in the number of RVs, and an increase in back country use. I do believe Edward Abbey said it best:

    "Turn that motor off. Get out of that piece of iron and stretch your varicose veins, take off your brassiere and get some hot sun on your wrinkled old dugs! You sir, squinting at the map with your radiator boiling over and your fuel pump vapor-locked, crawl out of that shiny hunk of GMC junk and take a walk-yes, leave the old lady and those squawling brats behind for awhile and take a long quiet walk straight into the canyons, get lost for awhile, come back when you damn well feel like it." -E.A.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I have one more international park that is among my favorites.

    IGUAZU N. P., Argentina

    This World Heritage site protects one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls and the surrounding subtropical forest. The falls are 70 meters high, but even more impressive is their width: the river at the falls is 1500 meters wide. The short boat ride and walk along the catwalks to the most striking of the hundreds of falls, Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat, is a thrilling experience. The roar itself is an unforgettable experience. I visited this park when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay. I saw it from the Argentine side, which at that time, was the less-developed side. I have not been back since that time so I am not sure what the situation is now. I do remember, however, that the Argentine rangers were very helpful and informative.

    Rick Smith

  • What's Driving Rep. Issa's Opposition to Tackling the National Park System's Backlog?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    While I agree with Frank C. that the national park system is "Broke", it seems to me it's only broke in a financial way due to the lack of funding from the politicians. The public doesn't really seem to have a problem with funding it. It's only politicans who hold up putting the money where it's supposed to go. The only reason the park system is broke is because a long line of obstructionist- politicians want to make themselves look tough on alleged "BIG GOVERNMENT" while they secure funding for their own legeslative boondoggles!

  • 2008 Visitation to the National Parks Up and Down, But Essentially Flat   6 years 11 weeks ago

    While I believe the increase of visitors to Cuyahoga Valley N.P., I have to wonder how they know. There is no entrance station to the park and there are no user fees. I hike there 3 or 4 times a week and yes, it was much more crowded than it has been in the past, although I think it's part of a longer term trend for the area. So many people!
    It does seem to me that most of these drops are fuel cost related as evidenced by the lack of RV users.

  • Volcanics in the National Parks: They Ain't All Tied to "Redoubt"   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Don't forget Katmai. When it comes to volcanism it is hard to beat the Valley of 10k Smokes and the several other volcanic features found in the park. A far less visited park is Aniakchak Nat. Monument. A never-to-be forgotten experience was landing on Surprise Lake with a NPS float plane in the caldera.

  • Discounted Lodging Available in Glacier National Park this June   6 years 11 weeks ago

    These are some nice discounts if you want to stay in the park. Early June lets you miss some of the crowds, but as late in June as possible gives you more options in the high country.

    Depending upon how much snow falls during the rest of the winter, the park's justly famous Going-to-the-Sun Road may not be open all the way across the Continental Divide earlier in June--which is one more reason for the lodging discounts. Check the park website for updates on road construction as well.

  • That's Cold, Doubly So When You Realize the Temperature Was In Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Global warming (or cooling for that matter) deals with the overall climate of the planet, not with the weather at one particular place on one particular night.

  • What's Driving Rep. Issa's Opposition to Tackling the National Park System's Backlog?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I have known Craig Obey for years. He does outstanding work for NPCA. Both he and his father are professionals and I doubt their relatiionship affects the work they do either as a US Representative or as an employee of NPCA. It seems strange that Issa never thought this relationship was suspect previously. Repressentative Obey has been on the appropriations comnittee for years and Craig has worked at NPCA for a long time. Maybe now that House Republicans have decided to oppose the stimulus package, they are looking for places to hang their objections. This seems like a pretty flimsy place to me.

    Rick Smith