Recent comments

  • Coal-Fired Plants Obscuring National Park Vistas   6 years 17 weeks ago

    What will economics matter when there is no clean air to breathe, no drinking water left, no arable land? Do the oceans need to rise over your head, tornadoes need to rip your house down before you'll realize that money won't matter if the planet's ecosystems are destroyed - unless your credible economists can devise a plan to launch us all into space to inhabit another habitable planet, then I'd say you and the rest of us have 2 choices - start the rapid demise of humanity (die) or start building solar and wind power energy systems. Not some token attempt - now is the time - it is humanity's last chance. When nature's tipping point is reached within the next 5 years, our typical American tombstone mentality will not be able to fix the effects. Enough sunlight falls on the surface of the earth to power every energy-grabbing device known - why won't we take advantage of it? Because the oil, coal, and nuke barons (BigEnergy) want to revel in their shortsighted and shortlived excess. Most of them won't be alive when Nature takes her wrath on us. Hope their kids have an accurate starchart - there's another habitable planet close by, right? In 10 years, the US could instead be the world leader in solar, wind, and tidal power production - the systems and technology exported all over the world, millions of jobs formed by private enterprise and government incentives, lots of money to be made. There's economics for you. There, and nowhere else, is hope.

  • Deal to Close Sugar Plant and Preserve 187,000 Acres Should Benefit Everglades National Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    This is absolute wonderful news, probably the most significant environment preservation action of the year, if not the last ten years.

    It's not without economic impact: between the loss of jobs at U.S. Sugar, the debt load on the State of Florida, and the possible increase in the price of sugar due to reduced production, this is not an easy, cheap fix.

    However, based on the health of the Everglades, and possibly the health of water tables throughout South Florida (witness the historic low levels of Lake Okeechobee), it's money well spent.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    I do not support giving any portion of our National Parks back to any group. From my view the protection and management of our National Parks have been in capable hands of the National Park Service. If we begin to break of portions of our parks to this and that group because it is felt that at one time it was owned by a specific group it could open up use of that portion of the park with no restrictions, managment or regulation. Let us preserve the natural beauty and history of our parks as it was originally intended.

  • Mount Rainier National Park Officials Mulling Future of Carbon River Road   6 years 17 weeks ago

    In my opinion, this road was never meant to be. Being located in a floodplan doomed it from the start. All places do not have to be accessible by wheeled vehicles ! Some places are too critical to their environment to have stabilized, modern roads built in them. I understand that all people can not get out and hike but all things cannot be for all people. Must all of our natural environment and its flora and fauna be destroyed to "tame" an area and make it vehicle friendly ? Let's give the adjacent designated wilderness a break and let the road become a foot trail !

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 17 weeks ago

    This is a brilliant post by Sabattis.

    Although I do not agree with some of the selected potential Park Advocates -- I am still too bruised by the dishonest behavior of the NRA over the establishment of the parklands in Alaska -- but he challenges us to think out of the box, and we must.

    We should try to triangulate the philosophy being imported with the Advocate, and consider how this will affect the NPS of the future. But Sabattis is right that we need to be daring in our consideration. The problem with the Picaithley-type park advocate is we have heard all of this kind of bland advocacy before, and the truth is it only thrills those who already believe it.

    Meantime, the NPS is trying to limit some of the real efforts to expand its constituencies -- for example the major effort going on right now to turn one national heritage area against another. Heritage areas were initially seen as cost effective ways to protect whole landscapes without excluding the existing populations and practices that made an area special. English Heritage and the british National Trust have had great success having the equivalent of permanent national parks that take in whole landscapes and populations, with minimal expense, and the idea was to import something similar to the USA, to provide provide permanent protection with Park interpretation and management ethics, and new park strategies such as Rivers and Trails, or state-side land acquisition and national landmarks programs. [From the start some areas of opposition to heritage areas, such as the NPS budget office, immediately insisted that heritage areas never could be as significant to the Nation as national parks, and never should be permanent, even though it could easily be demonstrated that heritage areas could leverage very small amounts of money very efficiently, and often collaborated with important constituencies that previously were almost never on the side of national parks. these people managed to do some damage, such as confusing which areas were nationally significant and the equal of national parks with those places that were not, and also the enemies tried to get the NPS as far as possible from the program so NPS would not benefit, but so far the program and its constituencies kept expanding.]

    But just as the US programs has begun to take off, NPS and some pals in the appropriations committee staffs are trying to pit new or potential heritage areas against already-established-heritage-areas, by limiting the overall funding and having the NPS distribute the funding. Previously, congress determined ultimately funding for each area, just as congress now determines how much money will go into each NPS construction project. By restricting the overall amount, and getting the NPS to distribute the money it means either there will be no new areas, or the older areas will have to fall off the back of the truck. As a result, we can expect that the Alliance for Heritage Areas will start opposing new heritage initiatives.

    This is the sort of dividing of constituencies that is killing the NPS. NPS needs, as Sabattis points out, to find energetic ways to expand its constituencies, and people who love parks need to support these efforts.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Don't forget Mo, they probably owned your land at one time also.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Yeah, support returning it, until they start building casinos and other commercial enterprises there!

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Thank you for the detailed and thorough article about this subject. I will be very interested to see what happens with the Badlands. I support returning this land to the rightful owners. The Lakota, the Navajo, the Paiute, and other tribes deserve their land returned to them, and can manage it in accordance with their values and culture. I hope others will support the legislation needed to effect this return of tribal lands.

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    I stand corrected. Sabattis is correct. Great Falls Park was a separate park when it was part of the Northern Virginia Parks, but became a part of GW Parkway when it was transferred to the NPS in the 1960s.

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 17 weeks ago

    This is a good post. There certainly has been a lack of political will on behalf of the Parks.

    I would just caution that it is not simply enough to argue that $5 billion is only .002% of the Federal budget, and so $5 billion could be diverted to the Parks "without anyone noticing." $5 billion is still *five billion* dollars, or put another way, $5,000,000,000. $5 billion works out to about $43 of each of the 117 million taxpayers in the US. And certainly, Washington is just swarming with other interest groups that would love to get $5 billion for *their* priorities - whether its $5 billion for flood relief, bailing out the Highway Trust Fund, more childhood vaccinations, more research into alternative fuels - you name it.

    It might also be helpful to consider who the advocates are for some of the things that do get funded in Washington. Yes, defense spending has its share of "hawks" in support of it, but they seem to also benefit from the distribution of military bases and defense contractors. For example, if I remember correctly, the famous (or infamous) Rep."B-1 Bob" Dornan of California was not just a "hawk" - but also represented the District where those aircraft were to be built. Its the old adage that "all politics is local" yet again. I don't actually know for sure, but I wonder how many representatives of Districts containing major National Parks are also strong advocates for those Parks? And if not, I wonder what role the sometimes tense relationshp between the National Parks and the gateway communities plays a role in that.

    Dr. Picaithley also correctly cites that the NPCA is clearly not enough - but then he curiously cites the "Guns in Parks" issue as Exhibit A. I've been somewhat mildly suprised that the NPCA has decided to make "Guns in Parks" such a centerpiece issue over the past several month. 2nd Amendment Issues are one of the most-divisive in the country, right up there with abortion and the Iraq War - and a good half of this country generally comes down on either side. (Some would even argue that its slightly more than half on the side of "gun rights" (whatever that means) - after all, when was the last Presidential Candidate to capaign on greater gun control?) So at best, this "Guns in Parks" issue is a matter of persuading a good 50%-or-so of the people that are generally in favor gun rights to make a exception to their general inclinations in the case of National Parks. At worst, this large-scale campaign turned off many of these people from the larger idea of becoming advocates for the National Parks - perhaps reinforcing the perception that advocates for the Parks are on the "other side" of the partisan divide in this country.

    If Dr. Picaithley is right that the current coalition of Park Advocates is inadequate to the task of enacting real change on behalf of the Parks, then that coalition is going to need to be expanded. Defining that coalition on the basis of maintaining gun control policies, however, seems unlikely to accomplish that task. What other issues might expand that coalition? I've suggested above that gateway communities and "Park neighbors" would ordinarily be one place to look - but obviously there are decades of fraught relationships there. If I wanted to play devil's advocate, I might suggest that the "bicycling community" could be another addition - perhaps even looing beyond the mountain-biking community, but also perhaps investigating bicycling as an option in the "National Historic Trails" program (which currently focuses mainly on driving tours, with some exceptions). I definitely don't have all the answers (I may not even have some of them), but if the description of the symptoms here is accurate, then it may well be that the proper solution is finding out how to expand the coalition of Park Advocates.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 17 weeks ago

    I must comply with the law. However, sometimes you must choose the safety of your family or friends at any cost. There are many "laws" that need to be changed. For example, there are many very liberal, gun hating Cities, that have strict firearm restrictions. In some cases, like the Pizza delivery man who was robbed several times, at gun point, chose to carry a gun (which was illegal in his City/State), and was robbed again at gun point and he shot the criminal (that would be the robber, but I realize some liberals might wonder which criminal now I was talking about). The liberal Prosecutor decided to prosecute the Pizza Man, and actually faced a larger sentence than the real criminal (that would be the thug).

    So, I guess a criminal is not a criminal, is it? Would you blow through a red light on your way to get your child to the hospital? AND, after your description of how AT RISK Rangers are (I'll take your word on this...just because) God that might want to make all people blow through that Red Light..? Rangers should be tickled pink that there just might be some good people (with guns)...just in case one of those "bad guys" vacationing (presumptively with a gun too) decided to be bad.

  • National Park Quiz 7: Islands   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Bob --

    I haven't seen the original article myself, and it doesn't appear to be on line. But here are two links which have the story:

    Not a lot of detail here but these stories usually don't have much anyway!

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    P.S. What is the story behind this "photo"? Its definitely an odd one...

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Actually, Kurt, you had it right the first time. Olmsted Island *is* part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, it is located on the Maryland side of the main portion of the Potomac River. The following map from the National Park Service makes that clear:

    And, at the risk of being a nit-picker, Great Falls Park is actually *not* a Unit of the National Park System by itself. Rather it is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway - and in fact rescues the GWMP from being the only National Park Unit devoted to the morning and evening commute! ;-) That's a fairly obscure fact, however - I've even found some NPS Rangers at Great Falls Park itself unaware of this fact. The following link delineates that official 391 "Units of the National Park System."

    Perhaps the difficulty in mobilizing support for the National Park System is no surprise, given the difficulty of understanding just what is in the National Park System!

  • Yellowstone National Park Relocates the 45th Parallel   6 years 17 weeks ago

    I passed this sign on June 5, 2008 and noticed it had moved from where I had seen it in previous years. I then stopped at the Visitor Center at Mammoth and asked why. The first ranger did not know and I don't even think he knew the sign existed at all. The second ranger sort of knew why the sign had moved.

    "Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the Montana/Wyoming state line does not follow the 45th parallel through the park."
    I think this is a poor statement.

    The Wyoming State Constitution defines the northern boundary of the state as the 45th parallel. So the above statement is some what misleading, as it is easy to think that the Montana/Wyoming state line is the 45th parallel (it is after all defined that way). That said however monuments rule so we live with past mistakes of placement and thus the state line is not truly on the state line.

    It is a fun bit of trivia.

  • Olmsted Island, Great Falls Park   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Thanks for the pointer, Rangertoo. That means my search for shots of some of the more obscure units has gone even farther than I imagined when I loaded this shot!

  • Director Bomar Suggests Special "Parks Edition" Mountain Bike   6 years 17 weeks ago

    I am perplexed by Roger's comment. Are you suggesting that the National Environmental Policy Act be repealed or that just the parts requiring public comment on government action be repealed? My thinking is that NEPA's requirements that the public get a chance to comment on government actions is the very opposite of socialism. It is democracy in action. The government cannot take action under NEPA without assessing what the environmental and social aspects will be, telling the public what these will be, and letting the public comment on them.

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 17 weeks ago

    To answer your question Anon, it's mostly due to our DOD being by FAR the largest single source of wasted monies in the federal budget. Also, due to the impunity in which they operate, they have annual budgets that are larger than many countries around the globe. Eliminating $5 billion annually from their budget would scarcely be noticed, let alone cause any "lack" of security, from a military perspective at least.

    The amount of B2, 117A's and the like does squat for my internal feeling of security. They were never intended as a means of internal security, straffing the streets of your local major metropolis, dropping nukes like hard candy at a parade. With 2 exceptions, the need for such actions would never arise. And if the Chinese attack with any real intent, all your B2's aren't going to provide you with "security" anyway. As long as we insist on permitting any and every idiot onto our shores, legally or not, and then "losing" them in our society, in conjunction with refusing to deport illiegal entrants because "we need to low-end work force", then our national "security" exists in name only. By the way, we've yet to invent a chemical device substantial enough to "wipe out" 3-4 national parks. Or even one for that matter. Inconvenience visitors for a period, indeed, but hardly eliminate it from the face of the earth.

  • Director Bomar Suggests Special "Parks Edition" Mountain Bike   6 years 17 weeks ago

    "Rangertoo" said "compliance" and "regulation"...code for socialism...equals also reams of paper, which certainly is not very enviro-friendly!!

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 17 weeks ago

    God forbid that ones' sense of security would/is tied up to less B-2 aircrafts!! Lets deal with the reality of the need NOW for funding the parks. The basic services that parks/ had as a given could return ( like staff to clean rest rooms or the GS4 summer worker(s) to work at a visitor center or give a out door program.) Perhaps the space program could use less $$ (too) . it seems we havent taken care of this planet so well...why worry about going elsewhere! Volunteer staff in the parks have been necessary and appreciated yet there still is the need for historical building repairs, clean visitor services, and those high visable summer rangers( whose pay scale ought not to be breaking any ones budget). Encouraging park litter clean up days is a helpful idea. Having park staff to clean the public areas may show that the park cares.

  • A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Why does it always come down to military spending? While it's true that the amount of money the National Park Service is asking for, amounts roughly to the cost of 3 B-2 aircraft, do we really want to sacrifice National security for National Parks? One nuclear or chemical bomb pointed at Southern California could wipe out 3 or 4 National Parks (and all the people that use them) for years. Fight for the money to protect our National Parks, but find a way to provide it, without taking money from National Security.

    Here's a unique idea. Charge hikers for a garbage disposal fee. It seems Americans have forgotton about the effects of litter on a natural habitat, and what it costs the parks to clean it up. If everyone took the responsiblity to leave "only footprints", it would save the parks millions of dollars a year.

  • National Park Quiz 7: Islands   6 years 17 weeks ago

    That's great to hear. Looks like Apostle Islands National Lakeshore may be due for an onslaught of visitors. (That should make Bayfield C/C happy.) Got room for 'em all? BTW, do I have to buy Outdoor Life to read the article that rates APIS the number one park?

  • Judge Orders Cross Removed from Mojave National Preserve   6 years 17 weeks ago

    How many of the soldiers of WWI (I'm thinking primarily of Jews, though atheists and Muslims would also have been among the dead) had a faith that was not commemorated by this cross? I tire of having the phrase "politically correct" thrown up in our faces when we disagree with government-funded, -sponsored or -approved displays of religious observance. How often do those who wonder at people's "oversensitivity" put themselves in someone else's shoes? If the display involved a Star of David, a menorah or a large statue of a seated or standing Buddha would the reactions be the same?

    Would the same people agree that these would be right and fitting displays of religious observance and tradition--albeit not their own tradition?

    For those of you who say that there is a "bleeding-heart" mentality that attempts to balance the rights of a majority against a minority TOO fiercely, I invite you to revisit the US Constitution or the Federalist Papers. How many decisions were made and how many structural modifications were put in place to avoid a "tyranny of the majority"? The Founding Fathers struggled over these points, they did not dismiss them as being the purview of whiners or those lacking common sense. What would you think if you were part of a minority?

    I welcome any of your comments on my blog,, as well.

  • National Park Quiz 7: Islands   6 years 17 weeks ago

    Bob -- Did you see that Outdoor Life just named Apostle Islands the #1 national park? They didn't say what their criteria were but it's always nice to get the recognition. I'll be glad to see you when you visit.

  • Director Bomar Suggests Special "Parks Edition" Mountain Bike   6 years 17 weeks ago

    What a hoot ! Even better would be to watch Director Bomar be the first one to try riding the "Special" bike on a backcountry trail! I can see it. Can you?

    Would no doubt be the deepest she'd been in the backcountry, and under self-propulsion, too. How could anyone object to such a vision? It would unite all Americans of whatever political stripe. NPS could sell the video, and get some real leadership on closing the budget gap. . . .