Recent comments

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Anon,
    Beamis has addressed this question. You can read his response here.

    As a former national park ranger, I also considered Beamis disgruntled. Then I started seriously considering his arguments, thought about my own experience with the NPS, and realized he made many valid points.

    As for criticism of the NPS which "does not shed a positive light for the younger generation to seek such a career with the NPS", maybe that's for the best. I put in ten seasons with the NPS hoping beyond hope for that illusive permanent job. I saw people get status who worked six seasons with the NPS and didn't know what the Organic Act was and couldn't explain its significance. One supervisor told me point blank that I hadn't gotten a permanent job because I was "too competent". Mediocre and substandard managers hire mediocre and substandard employees because they don't want to hire someone who will make them look bad.And as previously discussed, it's nearly impossible to fire permanent employees in the NPS. The incompetent or mediocre people who perpetuate the status quo advance up the GS scale while critical and innovative thinkers are marginalized. So that's the system with which the "younger generation" must contend.

    The system is broken beyond repair. "Positive ideas" can't fix it. Money can't fix it. It's time for something new.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Beamis, nothing personal but you constantly slay and slam the NPS. However, is there anything good or positive that can be said from your experiences (with NPS) which can or might embolden the NPS, instead of all the negative effects of the department. As I understand from your past blogs, you were once a career officer in the NPS, there must of been some golden moments in your career. I certainly don't salute at every govermental agency with high kudo's...especially under this president. I know where your coming from in regards to incompetent personnel and gold plated managers with fancy name titles. I had my share of experiences with governmental dinosaurs and parasites. The NPS, is a complex organization with huge wheels to move it's forces...but it moves. It's not perfect and has many imperfections that you have strongly described (and often) with much distain...and bitterness. I don't think you wasted your time and career with the parks, but your harsh reactions and strong anti NPS views, certainly does not shed a positive light for the younger generation to seek such a career with NPS. Kick in some positive ideas to make it better.

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   6 years 28 weeks ago

    i am so sorry that this has happend again. i really hope this was a accident and not foul play. may both women rest in peace.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Jim there are many of us out here that are ready and willing to roll up our sleeves and do what is necessary. I agree that the collapse is well deserved and at this point nigh impossible to reverse.

    New paradigms await. It's actually exciting to ponder.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Beamis, I hear the same things from friends in government. I have a close friend who hates his job working in one division of government. He's too chicken to quit and has wanted for years to be fired, and so he does almost anything he can to get shown the door. However, no one ever fires him. Some co-workers here where I work talked about people who would not simply be asleep on the job, but would be knitting, watching television, baking cookies, or anything at all, knowing they would never be fired.

    I think this is fantastic, personally. More power to any worker who can manage to do so little to get so much. And, if the bloat is having an adverse affect on the bureaucracy, terrific. Of course, I'm half joking, because I know the other side of this is that people actually need to organize so that everything doesn't decay. If government is decaying under it's own weight, it will only be absolute disaster if at the same time people aren't thinking of some of the consequences of the vacuum. I'm not big on "alternative visions", but I am big on doing our best to take care of what moves us the most. Government bloat is an opportunity for action; it may be subversive, but sometimes subversive is making sure that people have good information when they are on their travels, or taking care of others' wounds.

    I'm not interested in reinvigorating the National Park Service; its malaise is exactly what it deserves. However, it would be tragic indeed if we ourselves didn't take the initiative to wonder what these places we love might need or desire from us.

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

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    One extremely important step, that never gets mentioned, would be to take the NPS out of the civil service, job-for-life career track and make things more like the private sector or even the military when it comes to hiring and firing employees.

    In my ten-year career in the agency it was clear that employees were in the driver's seat when it came to personnel decision making. For example a bad employee cannot just be simply fired or even moved into another position with any ease. They have to apply for another position somewhere else and then their supervisor has to lie during reference checks to get the bad apple removed and on their way to another park where they can bollix up the works there. When I was a supervisor I was warned by my boss to always be wary of a good reference check because it could often mean that the person on the other end of the line was lying through their teeth to unload a loser. This was true more often than not.

    If somebody is bad then they should get fired! Often I would hear, "Well cheer up, this guy's slated to retire in another four years. Then we'll be able to hire someone good." That always cheered me up.

    In the two parks that I still keep in close contact with they have several positions that they will not renew once the current occupants retire form them. This includes a Chief Ranger, Chief Naturalist and Safety Officer (a position created for an incompetent boob that they couldn't fire but was wrecking his division's morale. He was also given the glorious title of GPRA Compliance Liaison Officer. Pretty good stuff, huh?).

    Why not pull the plug NOW instead of waiting years and years and spend millions of dollars for what is known to be non-productive and wasteful employee compensation? Why does the agency have to wait for someone to decide for themselves to move on, and only when it is convenient and propitious for their personal career ambitions, and always at the expense of the park in which they are employed.

    The horror stories are legion. In fact whenever I get together with my old compatriots in the green and gray the discussion usually gets around to "you'll never guess who still has job" or "yeah I felt bad about telling the gal who called me on that reference check that so and so was a good worker but it was the only way I could finally get this person out of my division." This is surely no way to run a professional organization.

    If personnel practices are not dramatically changed all the bloviating in the world about re-energizing and reinvigorating a career focused bureaucracy will truly be for naught.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    I don't want to get into a long argument about the effectiveness of government bureaus. I will leave that to people like Beamis and Frank whose opinions about the subject are well known to NPT readers.

    I am a former NPS employee. Most of the people with whom I worked always felt that they owed their loyalty to the National Park System, not to the National Park Service. At the end of my career, I wanted to be measured by what I had done for parks and not for my skill in budget execution or personnel management.

    As I read Dwight's paper, I see him calling for the agency to be as good as the parks it manages. Instead of a budget exercise, let's make the next 9 years in the run up to the Centennial a time when we try to make the NPS into what Horace Albright had in mind when he said, "Don't let the Park Service become just another government bureau." Let's look at the question of governance. Should the NPS remain in Interior? Let's think about whether the Director should have a term in office other than the 4 to 6 year cycle that is so common today. Let's think about how to assure that information generated by scientific research forms the basis for planning and decision-making. Let's review how to offer the public a meaningful role in the decision-making process. Let's see if another budget cycle is appopriate for an agency that needs to do long term planning to assure resources protection and preservation. Let's rethink how parks do their three basic jobs: provide quality visitor services, preserve and protect resources, and maintain productive relationships with park interest groups. Let's examine the fee structure. Let's determine how to measure success in parks. It certainly isn't the number of visitors who come although this is getting a lot of attention now.

    Each generation of Americans, speaking through its representatives in the Congress, has added areas to the National Park System that they believed merited protection in perpetuity. We owe these areas the highest standard of care possible, not only as a matter of generational respect, but also because our children and their children deserve the opportunity to visit these areas. The Centennial offers the NPS the chance to re-energize and reinvigorate itself. It will be still further on its way to becoming "just another government bureau" if it fails to respond to the kinds of issues that Dwight lays out in his paper.

    Rick Smith

  • Largest US Home Front Disaster During World War II May Be Next Park Unit   6 years 28 weeks ago

    This is surely long overdue and worthy of support from our city, states, and federal governing bodies. It is the more relevant to young Africans who have for decades been forced to view themselves as worthy only of occasional spasms of national concern, and largely for the wrong reasons. Marking the place where the modern Civil Rights movement began allows today's young people to see themselves in a heroic context; the legacy earned by the valor of those who fought but only now may be gaining recognition for having pressed the sitting president, Harry S. Truman, and eventually the nation toward the more just society it was meant to be. At a time when our country's image is in danger of being forever sacrificed to the excesses of empiric behaviors worldwide, Port Chicago's designation as a fully recognized National Park would benefit us all.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Frank, could you explain to me what you mean? The way I'm reading you, you are guilty of the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

    1. NPS managers have the best intentions.
    2. Political pressures will continue to jeopardize their mission until the parks are depoliticized.

    If (1. or ~1.), then 2.
    (1. or ~1.)
    Therefore, 2. (by modus ponens) - though, what this means is unclear (that is, what do the terms mean, how do they relate to each other; how is it that 2. came to be stated?)

    3. Government's golden age has passed.
    4. Government is incapable of anything great.
    5. Market externalities include monopolies.
    6. Government monopolies are coercive monopolies.
    7. Coercion is the practice of compelling a person to behave in an involuntary way...
    8. A coercive monopolist will tend to perform his service badly and inefficiently.
    9. If the NPS (government) is a coercive monopoly, it will not be efficient.
    10. The NPS (government) is a coercive monopoly.
    10a. Therefore, the government is not efficient. (modus ponens 9., 10.)

    But, in the context of this you seem also to be saying this unstated premise (11.),

    11. If the government is efficient, it would be managing public lands well.
    12. The government is not efficient (10a.)
    13. Therefore, it does not manage public lands well. (fallacy of denying the antecedent).

    Furthermore, you also seem to be saying something like:

    14. Competition is more efficient than government, which is coercively monopolistic. (Competition is a better way to manage public lands - hence, "so why are you so adverse to competition in managing public lands")
    15. That which is more efficient manages better. (But, that begs the question and also casts doubt on the premises connected by 11.).

    Or, you are saying, government monopoly and market competition are the only ways to manage public lands (which seems unfair except I haven't ever seen you consider other possible options)?

    As I think you know, Frank, I don't entirely disagree with you, especially your critique of government and government monopolies. What I think you have yet to show is how that leads us to your conclusion that parks should be managed by competing market forces. The connection between "efficiency" and "better" is unproven at best, derived by fallacy at worst. The reduction to these choices has not been established.

    So, I for one would like greater clarity from you. I think some would deny that efficiency is the only value at stake in management. Others would question the notion that "management" should be the way we describe the human relationship with parks. And, still others would simply deny the argument that market forces are actually efficient enough to deal with competing economic wants. I think people like me can accept many of your premises without accepting the conclusions you seem to be drawing. Help us fill in the blanks. Perhaps, you've edited yourself too much!

    Cheers,

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

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Go on head which your bad self Frank, quoting Rothbard! I wonder if Mary Bomar has ever heard of him or the Austrian school of free market economics.

    Why is the government constantly being judged by its intentions rather than its actions? Why does it seem that so many people who frequent this website are so dead set against the free market? I know that they all enjoy the fruits of this system but steadfastly claim that national parks are an antidote to the toxic ills that it creates and the parks could NEVER be run along these lines.

    Whether these people want to admit it or not this thing we call wilderness is a commodity. It is something that is currently owned, managed and marketed by government (there are some privately held wild lands) and not very efficiently or wisely. Why do people so steadfastly believe that the demand for wilderness preservation could not be met by self-interested action through the free market to protect land for those wishing to experience nature in the raw?

    I for one believe that it could be done and I daresay much better than the current crop of corrupt agencies that get their funds through theft (the IRS) and through legislated monopoly control of vast tracts of lands, especially in the West, that are plunder acquired through violated treaties, wars of aggression (Mexican War) and corporatist shenanigans (of which Grand Teton & Shenandoah are two good examples).

    By the way where are the most polluted places in the country? How about government facilities like Hanford, WA; the Savannah River Plant SC (both filled with square miles of nuclear waste above and below ground), Rocky Flats, CO; Dugway Proving Grounds, UT (nerve gas depot); Area 51 (a major PCB and hazardous waste incinerator placed way out in the Mojave some distance from the prying eyes of the public); Los Alamos, NM; Livermore Labs, CA the list could go on and on. These places are also exempt from the environmental laws that everyone else has to abide by.

    Again let's at least judge on actions and leave good intentions for get well cards.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Here's what I said back on August 5th in the "Setting Precedents in the Parks" thread.

    <><><>
    Having the NPS pendulum sway back and forth from left to right, from administration to administration, is more of a problem than ANY of the superlatives I've seen mentioned here. No, that doesn't mean privatize it. It means create some buffers to protect the parks from the direct influence of a potential idiot in the oval office, whether left or right. In all their haste to make the president du jour happy, in the long run, NPS can easily wind up going nowhere and having spent a lot of money in the process. Perhaps consider installing NPS directors in the same way that Federal Reserve or CIA directors are... subject to approval by congress, and largely independent of the whims of politicians.
    <><><>

    Glad the George Wright Society agrees with me! If I remember correctly from viewing the society's website about a month ago, there will be a series of reports/essays on the subject at hand, so I encourage everyone to bookmark the site and keep an eye on any updates.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    "Best intentions". Ha!

    Consider a recent New York Times editorial. After noting Americans' overwhelming support for national parks, the Times opines: "Yet in the past two months we have seen two proposed revisions (of management policy). The first, written by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary in the Interior Department, was a genuinely scandalous rewriting that would have destroyed the national park system."

    The second draft was only somewhat better. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, "the proposed policies re-define the over-arching duty of the park service, eliminating references to longstanding legal mandates that clearly emphasize preservation of resources.... The replacement statement sets a dangerous precedent that could put enjoyment of resources, including motorized abuse, ahead of conservation." They warn it would foster increased air and noise pollution due to more jet skis and snowmobiles, as well as expanded livestock grazing: both "high-impact" uses. Source: http://www.free-eco.org/articleDisplay_print.php?id=479

    Even if I believed that NPS managers really had the "best intentions" (for which there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary), political pressures will continue to jeopardize their mission until the parks are depoliticized.

    Beamis is right; government's golden age has passed. We're left with a calcified system where parasites fight it out for their slice of the pie. Today's government truly is incapable of anything great.

    By the way, market externalities include monopolies, so why are you so adverse to competition in managing public lands?

    And for your homework, try Googling "government monopoly". Let me help you. A government monopoly is a coercive monopoly. "Coercion is the practice of compelling a person to behave in an involuntary way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation or some other form of pressure or force." According to economist Murray Rothbard, "a coercive monopolist will tend to perform his service badly and inefficiently."

    Let me spell it out: NPS = a coercive monopoly (i.e. poor service, high prices--entrance fees, and extremely inefficient).

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    lol... if you two market experts (frank, beams) are suggesting that smith's "invisible hand" is going to take better care of the parks than a government agency, i'd ask that you google "market externalities." the nps may not be the best, but they're better than the rest. misused funds are inevitable, whether an agency or a corporation or a small business. only the nps, successful or not, has the best intentions in managing our parks.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Greatness and government don't go together in the same sentence. Any "greatness" that people feel about the national parks is derived from the places themselves. There are few things truly great about a bureaucracy, except maybe its ability to persist in the face of its many obvious failures. The power to tax is a boon to perpetuated failure all over the globe.

    Greatness is generally derived from the self-interested goals and ambitions that people produce voluntarily. Involuntary taxation is no way to go about producing greatness of any kind. When one thinks of the Department of the Interior does the word greatness immediately pop into your head? How about the Pentagon? Congress? The White House? The Postal Service? Public schools? The DMV?

    When one thinks of greatness we tend to think of timeless works of art, inspiring architecture, literature, inventions, high mountains peaks and selfless sacrifice in the face of adversity. These are NOT the qualities of a self-perpetuating bureaucracy, even one that has offices in very pretty places.

  • Centennial Projects: Mountain Biking in Big Bend National Park   6 years 28 weeks ago

    A great deal of the surface along the proposed route is simply not a good surface to ride on. It is composed of gravel primarily, mixed with some organic material. I would wager my next paycheck that after 15 or 20 riders use the trail, the organic material will erode away and what riders will be left with is a loose, energy-sucking surface that certainly will not lend itself to pleasant riding.
    And it's a lot more hilly than you may imagine. I'd vote no on this one in spite of being an avid rider.

    Want a good ride in Big Bend? Try the Ore Road, it's already there waiting on you, there's no need to waste more national park acreage.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    These situations are never easily dealt with, but the one factor usually associated with them is "hiker error", underestimating the terrain while simultaneoulsy overestimating your ability. What do people want, elevators, escalators, covered walkways, helicopters? I too have ascended the pinnacle 3-4 times and while certain sections do require an increased attention span, the climb itself is not particularly hazardous given that you pay attention to what you're doing and where you are.......DON"T change the trail, change the hiker's approach to the ascent. Signs aren't the answer. Maybe a permit akin to the registration for the Narrows or the Subway, where rangers check for equipment, planning, and get a general sense of competency prior to anyone attempting the ascent. Obviously, this won't eliminate the possibility of disaster, but it just might keep some of the "recreational" hikers from attempting the climb without at least a cursory looking-over from a staff member. By signing the waiver, at least they've been warned, which is really all you can do to prevent a catastrophic outcome. People will go where they are least adapted or prepared. It's their right, which is exactly why they need to be informed about what they're undertaking. It amazed me to hear the comments on the ascent through Refrigerator Canyon and up Walter's Wiggles, on Scout's Landing, and particularly on the final ascent to the Landing, about "geez, this is a lot harder and more exposed than I thought!". I guess they didn't READ the printed literature. SURPRISE!!

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks for bring this article to our attention.

    After reading it, I find that Pitcaithley makes no mention of cutting the bureaucratic waste in the NPS. There is only the familiar plea to throw more money at the problem.


    The turnover rate in recent years has increased Biologists and geologists, archeologists and historians and others, whose collective experience and knowledge of park resources built over decades is critical to the "unimpaired" nature of parks, were slated to be replaced by private-sector contractors.

    I'm glad Pitcaithley put unimpaired in quotes here. The federal government has done a lousy job keeping parks unimpaired, and the argument that we need government workers to continue the century-long job of overdeveloping our parks is laughable.

    A budget of $5–6 billion does not seem unreasonable given the requirements and rising costs of maintaining 20,000 buildings, almost 1,000 campgrounds, 1,600 wastewater systems, 1,300 water systems...

    So in one breath, Pitcaithley states we need government workers to continue keeping parks unimpaired, then in the next breath he lists all the "improvements" (impairments) to our national parks. Instead of considering that maybe the park service has attempted to do too much, Patcaithley asks for yet more handouts to placate the beast's ravenous appetite for tax dollars.

    "No house or hotel or road of any sort should ever be built near this sea of silence."

    Had only the NPS listened to Miller, Muir, and other conservationists of the time, we wouldn't need billions of dollars to maintain the impairment of our national treasures.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, your point is well taken and much appreciated. I smell smoke, I guess Rome is starting to burn.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 28 weeks ago

    I can't speak for Dylan's viewpoint, but I'd be willing to bet the Maggie's Farm that he's intelligent enough to "see which way the wind blows" and find his own way. Now, having thoroughly exhausted my references to his music, the short answer to your question, in my world, is roughly as follows:

    I hate general labels, as they rarely, if ever, pertain to world views, and the momentary and ever-changing viewpoints of the human animal. It's not as simple as always aligning yourself with the "liberal left" or "conservative right" position, as issues are most often clouded by the complexities of everyday life, and every agenda belies a hidden agenda. Those veiled hypocracies are what really irk me, as do the people who take the time to create such "inner visions". Middle grounds are so often inattainable due to lack of concern about the overall picture while concentrating on furthering one's position, feathering one's nest, or however you want to put it. The common good is the playground of suckers like me, who would like to still believe that justice for all is attainable in all aspects of life; legally, morally, ethically, you name it. But to actually achieve that goal you have to be willing to sacrifice, and that seems to be the sticking point in modern society. It's fine for you, and I'll help you to, but I personally can't for various reasons, is a pervasive attitude. It is unfortunately the case that the overriding concern within our borders is almost always a monetary one, and in my view our unilaterally capitalistic world view will eventually be the cause of the collapse of our society. In spite of what we would like to believe, money does not solve all the world's ills, and has been the root cause of more than it has solved. Please don't read this as one of those "money is the root of all evils" lectures......much good can be accomplished with proper funding for many issues, it just seems as though examples related to the good are harder and harder to find evidence of in actual practice and the opposite is all too evident existing solely in theory.

    I can't find it in me to honestly believe that either Blue or Red is more pro-park than the other. There is abundant evident to contradict either party's position trying to justify their claim that they indeed are the most sympathetic. I find both more pathetic than demonstrating hardline concern and backing words with actions, which is the only true measuring stick of one's committment to anything in life. People will be quick to point out that the Conservatives are the one's responsible for the attack on the Arctic Refuge while the Liberals recently locked away large tracts of land in southern Utah under the umbrella public domain / preserve. I can be just as quick to point out that Teddy Roosevelt, a republican, is noted for being "a conservationist well ahead of his time" and a major driving influence of the inception of the park service almost a century ago. I can also point to our current liberal majority in Congress, who can't seem to find money for our parks at present, and currently count more big business contributors in their coffers than the Reps. Certainly the current war budget is an issue with national funding but don't put all your eggs in that basket either. We give away BILLIONS annually to purchase friendship and elicit favors from the world community, and that practice has to be suspended as well as this "you threatened my daddy so I'll gonna blow your head off" war.

    I believe that the initial Blue vs. Red, historically speaking, is a derivation of our media moguls......the parties themselves rallied around those stupid animal symbols for interminable years and were quite content. Defining either party is difficult, and by my estimate, relatively useless. It used to be a connotation that Dems were "little man, socialist, poor and minorities" while the Reps were '"big business, rich man, WASP, fiscally responsible", but those images no longer pertain, in spite of what Hill and Billery would have us believe. Both currently stand for expansionism, fiscally irresponsiblility, short-sightedness, buy-your-friends, moral deficiency, and are ethcially bankrupt. Neither even makes a fleeting attempt at demonstrating their environmental sensitivity or responsiblility, the concerns and campaign promises relevant their constituents or the operational state of our country outside of situational economic tweaking. No Al Gore supporters need comment about that last line......where was he as VP besides trying to distance himself from someone who didn't know the defintion of sex? Is it a wonder I proudly align myself with neither, and distance myself from both at every opportunity? I proudly represent the true independents, those not beholden to ANY industry or special interest (e.g., NRA), foreign policy, and who view our own America as our SOLE primary interest and would refuse to be concerned about anyone and anywhere unless our own house was COMPLETELY in order.

    Did I miss something, as usual?

  • Haleakala National Park Officials Call For Safety Summit For Bicyclists   6 years 28 weeks ago

    I did this ride down Haleakala over 10 years ago. It was a blast and the highlight of my trip to Maui. As long as the bicycle companies test the brakes of the bikes every day, and as long as the rides know their abilities, there is no reason why the ride should not be safe. The company I took gave a riding 'test' before we left the parking lot. They also talked all the way up the mountain about the potential dangers and that people had been killed. One woman did freak out and rode down the mountain in the van rather than continue on the bikes. Would I do it again? Yes. Do I think the park should ban the rides? No.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, your blog is most articulate! After all that's been said, just one simple question: In your own words, what's "your personal definition" of a right wing individual vs. left wing individual? Why is it so difficult to find a common middle ground in goverment today? Who started this name calling and shellacking of the blue states vs. the red states? Wouldn't the blue states be more pro parks then the red states? It appears that way from my own personal observation. Again, your blog is most interesting. I think Bob Dylan is most likely to be a blue state refugee then a red state...his music certainly sounds like it.

  • Public Lands Day. Wahoo.   6 years 28 weeks ago

    I'd like a 1/365th refund on my annual pass, please... ;-)

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Jim-

    After close inspection of your dissertation, I am reminded of a line from a song, as follows:
    "We always did feel the same we just saw it from a different point of view......Tangled up in Blue"
    My apology to Bobby Dylan.

    I get the distinct impression that deep down, both of us "rebels" are going about a different means to the same end, but it's less different than I think you might believe. The American public as a whole never affirmed the state of government, it was in essence, thrust upon us for better or worse. Unfortunately, we've been stuck with the "worse" end of the stick for quite some time, unless you're a blind sheep who swears allegiance to the Red or Blue without questioning their true agenda. Small group "home rule" was supposed to be encouraged by individual state government, but most counties, townships, villages, etc. don't realize they have been empowered to do so. Again, the Elephants and the Donkeys have the most to loose, and aren't to happy, or ready to be relieved of their current "responsiblity to effectively govern society", as I heard one of them refer to it as. The next time I get effective federal or state government will be the first in my lifetime. I do have some decent, honest folk here at the village and township level, but they're barely empowered to hold meetings, let alone decide policy. Kudos to them, they do try.

    I don't have the statistics on who visits the parks either. For that matter, if they're kept at all, that's an issue in my world. Are there figures, and are they gleaned from polls/surveys, headcounts, observation, or what? The entire basis for such a study raises questions in my eyes. What were/are those in charge of such a study intending to prove? My point is, as you addressed, we can't be drawing conclusions on why without taking those questions directly to the people who DON'T go and determining root casues. I'm sorry, I just can't buy the feelings of being made "uneasy" or feeling "bored" or "not being able to plan far enough in advance" as legitimate concerns. For instance, how can someone be made to feel uneasy in a place they've never experienced first-hand? How can you tell if you're bored without being there to know for certain? If there exists evidence of profiling, bring it on, expose the worthless pieces of garbage that are proliferating that stereotype, beat them senseless and replace them with people who can manage to provide a service, equally, across the board to all, foreign and domestic, green, blue, violet and orange. I have no use, as should none of us in the 21st C, for this type of behavior or mindset. That said, I'm not fool enough to pretend that is doesn't exist. But it can't be permitted, especially by those in public serivce. Not that they really differ from those in private service, but I think you know what I'm getting at. I applaud the NPS for their concern, but I still take pride in the cultural diversity that our parks elicit from the world forum that I find in every park I visit, and the sense of appreciation of the good fortune of our geography that is expressed by the foreign visitors with whom I regularly engage in conversation in lodges, on trails, over dinner, in campgrounds, in giftshops, parking lots, etc.

    One last clarification, on the issue of compromise. Compromise required dialog. The only dialog that seems to exist these days is ,"We'll support this issue for your support on the next issue so that we both save face". That's not compromise, that's blackmail, or extortion, or whatever you might call it. My political system reverts back to the Amercan ideal of the late 18th / early 19 century, akin to the composition of current British Parliment, where 4-5 parties have representatives, nobody has a majority, and people are FORCED to open a dialog and compromise to effectively govern. When no one group "controls the House or Senate", I'll be a happy camper. Prior to the inception of the Republican Party in 1860, such was the government of the United States. Their names were many, but the form that politics took during this period of time was quite unique. True the country has grown in populace, territory, and world stature. Those reasons only bolster the case for a return to that system, not a reason to retreat further into the quagmire.

    Sorry to hear about the lead, but that can be corrected. Best check your water main coming in from the street, too. Way dangerous stuff for the very young and very old due to effects on both developing and declining immune systems and during periods of celluar growth and the related childhood development issues. And no, not too much gas for me! Like I said earlier, nothing personal. Just the residual effects of being associated with the territory and the initials DC. I do feel for you.....decent people don't deserve that moniker. And it's not as though greasy palms only exist at the federal level. Every state capital has more than their fair share as well. As does every major city. And many private industries. And public interests. And on, and on, and on. But I think Frank appreciates more concise articles. Bet we both drive him crazy at times!

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 28 weeks ago

    Just a tad bit more information-----

    Re: the state of politics
    Health care is far more controlled by politics and Big Pharma than the other way around. National funding for Medicare, Medicade, and many private funding sources supplementing HMO's, PPO's, state sponsored health care programs, abortion funding, and lest we all forget, insurance care for illegals comes directly from DC and your private health care premiums. Our runaway private care costs are the direct result of cuts in government subsidies and ridiculous judgements in malpractice suits, along with increases in equipment costs and profiteering layers of lawyers hired to protect providers against malpractice suits. Of course, I would be remiss in not stating that my own industry's safeguards against generic equivilents being produced prior to "research and discovery" costs being recouped plays quite a role in maintaining the high cost of care as well. And the mention of lawyers controlling the system is a bit redundant since lawyers ARE the system. Millionaire lawyer to be precise. Ain't no po' folk elected to federal office. Agriculture isn't on the map in Washington, as the current state of farming will attest. Less than 2% of all farmers nationally are private, small business Mom & Pop Shops. The economic sag in the late 70's / early 80's brought an end to that, and now corporate farming, akin to the sharecropper days in the early 19th Century, is by far the rule, not the exception. So to say that aggies have much of a say isn't quite the case. But I agree that Big Pharma is as responsible as Big Oil for the current political dilemma. I will stand by the evidence that oil's roots run far deeper than pharma's, however. It's been that way since the 1870's, and it's not going to change without one helleva fight from the oil barons.

    Re: H2 fuels

    Iceland does have a natural advantage in geographic location, but that same geography is also the reason they're producing fuels internally. Refinery and transportation issues internally, and the cost of importing "finished goods" have been major contributing factors in driving their populace to spearhead this program. And why others have turned to electricity to drive the synthesis is simple; it's available, relatively cost effective in most areas, and basically it was the path of least resistance for instituting the research and production facilities required to begin the project. While not a physical or synthetic chemist (though I play one on the radio) my training in organic and biochemistries, and in biotechnology allow for me to state with most certainty that there are alternative methods to extracting hydrogen from water (and the air for that matter) that require little or no fossil fuel usage, the methods are clean and inexpensive to operate and maintain (that's a contributing factor as to why Iceland jumped on board so eagerly), and produce a high energy, clean burning fuel source, readily renewable (let's see oil companies response to this one!) and produces environmentally friendly byproducts (this one too!). I can't help it that industry, as usual, decided on the path of least resistance and is utilizing non-renewable fuels to produce a renewable one. From the business perspective it makes perfect sense, unfortunately. But it does seem to defeat the overall intent.

    Re: CO2 emissions

    I again agree that automobiles are only one step in the progression. You'll find precious few imports in my residence, excluding items that just aren't economically feasible to obtain here. I own as fuel efficient an America-made vehicle as I can put my family into, enjoy my walks where possible, and apologize that extended biking is no longer an option due to destroying my knees during my sports career. Walking is cool, even backpacking in the canyons, but oh man, that circular motion just KILLS me. Solar panels and windmills are either not practical or not allowed in my area however, otherwise I'd be all over it. I did when I lived in Utah, and I just LOVE watching my meter spin backwards!

    Keep up the good lobbying Frank.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 28 weeks ago

    I agree with Russ, absolutely! First off, my hub and I, in our late 40's are in good physical shape and had no exertion issues with any of the climbing associated with A.L. or Hidden Canyon, which we had easlily hiked the day before to "warm up" for A.L. My husband (a "retired" mountaineer, who has also climbed Rainier and McKinley, climbed in Nepal and also most of the 14teeners here in CO), was shocked that the chains were the offered assist holds to "climbing" this hike...and that the audio recording on the shuttle up the canyon actually advocated this trail as the "most popular trail" in the system that gets "very interesting" the last half mile, making almost a mockery of this very serious trail hike. This and the absolutely ridiculous chain-as-handrail actually presents an increased risk to the (inexperienced) hiker by allowing a false sense of security and quite reasonably even throwing one's balance off from the natural and inviting fatality. As we descended back down Walter's Wiggles, we met no less than 50 hikers everywhere from 15 to 65 and all levels of fitness and inappropriate attire making their way up to what expectation? People DIE on this trail ("Google" it yourself to confirm)...though not a great marketing strategy, maybe the NP system could consider at least adding this to their pleasantly spoken caution, "your safety if your responsibility" line when making the meandering and otherwise wonderfully educational shuttle trip up the canyon. I could never have watched a child hike this climb after Scout's Landing without mountaineering gear.