Recent comments

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Half Dome is dangerous. It's like walking on a very steep roof on top of a skyscraper with the aid of cables.

    I believe it is poor ethics to discourage the use of safety equipment in such a hazardous situation. The hazard should be respected as well as each individual's physical and mental challenges. Many of the young men ascending wont notice the hazard, but it is there.

    The cables are not merely a backup in case your feet slip. They are part of the primary method of ascent. My observation is that feet slipping was the norm, and people relied on their forearms to pull themselves up the slope rather than try to rely on their feet.

    Rather than requiring permits, I'd support hefty citations for those who create hazards for others. Proper equipment could be a form of permit, although some may heighten their disrespect for the situation simply because they have a harness and create a danger for others.

    I witnessed the 3 instances of dropped equipment: a bottle, a metal thermos, and a camera cap from climbers ahead of me. I saw one of the resting boards get suddenly torqued away from its resting position, most likely because someone was climbing outside the cables. I saw fear on the face of one young man who slipped while he was descending outside the cables. He seemed grateful for the advice I gave him which should have been common sense. I saw a man with a cramp while on the cables.

    The mountaineering shops in the valley seemed amazingly inexperienced with the cable system with a mixture of arrogance. Don't be surprised if they downplay your safety in (false) fear of inconveniencing other tourists. The cable posts are about eleven feet apart, not fifty, so a harness system would be useful in keeping you on the mountain. Also, I witnessed the use of a Via Ferrata style harness on this route which didn't seem to increase inconvenience to anybody. That person and I passed in opposite directions--she was going up on one cable, and I was going down on the other cable. Unfortunately, I also witnessed the use of a homemade false-security "harness" which used a plastic buckle! This was a good article: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/half-dome/cables-tips.htm

    It isn't Disneyland. I noticed that the maps along the trail seemed to not show Half Dome, which is probably a good filter of average tourists.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    "The NGO model raises concerns; look at what The Presidio Trust has become. Formed, in theory, to help the Presidio become self-sufficient, the trust has turned the Presidio into a business commons and threatens to dilute the history of the place."

    I confess to not knowing the details of the Presidio Trust, but for the Presidio itself, which has a long history of use and occupation and located in America's third largest urban area, it seems appropriate to redevelop this city park with commerce in mind.

    I believe the "NGO model", or conservation trust model, is essentially sound. There are numerous examples of successful conservation trusts in America and in the world, the largest of which is the Nature Conservancy. Some comparisons to the national park system:

    Area protected
    NC: More than 117 million acres
    NPS: 84.4 million acres

    Annual Funds
    NC: $1 billion
    NPS: $2.4 billion

    The Nature Conservancy has more than a million members and 84% overall program efficiency. The NPS doesn't really have "members", but instead has taxpayers, and I'm not sure anyone could tell you the efficiency rating (a percentage of funds that goes directly toward conservation rather than organizational maintenance--bureaucracy) for the NPS, but I'd be willing to wager it's much, much lower. I would love being able to "buy in" to the parks and being able to be a supporting member. I'd readily pay at least $100 a year for such a membership, especially if the managing organization could be as efficient as the Nature Conservancy.

    One of the most attractive features of conservation trusts is the insulation of park management from politics, distant bureaucrats, and corporatism.

    I'm glad to see this thread and suggestions to repair the system. I believe that at the very least, as some have suggested, cutting loose from NPS management all but the 58 "national park" units is warranted.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    National parks are considered playgrounds by those who recognize them as lands to be used solely for recreation (snowmobilers in Yellowstone, for example) without regard for the greater purpose of the parks' creation. Thus, (hopefully) as a marker of a paradigm shift in parkland management and a symbol of America's commitment to preserve the natural wonders of our parklands unimpaired for future generations, we must cease calling them and treating them as "parks" per se, instead redefining these lands as great ecological preserves, and treating them as such. Hence, we'll have Yellowstone National Preserve with private motorized vehicles of all kinds required to be left outside the front gate. Of course, the current definition of "preserve" will have to be changed. Maybe then taxpayers will recognize parklands as places not for thrillseeking, but for celebrating, studying, and exploring our most spectacular wildlands, which are allowed to exist without the threat of motorized vehicles and thrillseekers hell-bent on conquering nature rather than experiencing it on its own terms. Perhaps this is an overly idealistic view, but weren't the dreamers of the national park system and the Wilderness Act equally idealistic?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Some points that are illuding those that don't know about beach sand, trollys, and mother nature.

    1. Just making a point with this analogy. The Air force could bomb that sand with 10,000 pound bombs and next week you would not see where the craters were. Army trucks could ride for a month on the same sand and overnight you would never know the army trucks were there. What I am trying to say is that heavy trucks are not a problem heavy trucks on the beach are no problem. In fact, heavy trucks with heavy duty transmissions usually pull the subarus, small SUV's, and crossovers out of the sand when they venture out on the beach. Those small vehicles that do make it off the beach usually stop by the transmission shop on the way home for a rebuild.

    2. Trollys have been tried by the NPS on other seashore parks. It did not work. Already proven.

    3. Mother Nature will prevail no matter what any group does to change her. She will take and she will give on her terms not ours.

    More later,

    Stephen C

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Global warming is what created most of our NP's anyway...Love the warming,,,

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    While political groups and state and federal protection agencies have played games over the last 22 years - the population of piping plovers has declined by half.

    [That's not true.] Plovers weren't observed in Cape Hatteras until the 80s. Cape Hatteras isn't part of their natural range. Storms and predators make it extremely hostile to plovers as they account for the lions share of plover deaths. There are also only 21 documented cases of a piping plover being run over by a vehicle. 20 were by government officials (AKA Park Services).

    You guys are trying to play God and establish a migratory bird in a region outside it's natural range. Stop ruining our beaches.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    While the National Park Service & System is often treated as a political football (to its detriment) by actors & agents external to the system, officials within the Service are themselves highly politicized agents, acting from within. This part of the reality can seem glossed over, but is really a large element of the politicking.

    The politics-issue is not just an outsiders-meddling problem, but is also an insiders-agenda problem. The problem of politics and the NPS can be neither accurately described without acknowledging the role of Parks people themselves, nor effectively addressed without doing the same.


    I expect to see further diversification of the components of the NPS, in accordance with regional and State realities, and ongoing incremental movement away from a monolithic central-Federal model. This trend could be strong enough that the Fed will take steps to secure its role & turf, by 'creating' contexts to emphasize a need for its centralized functions.

    Alaska's distinctive arrangements have now proven themselves solidly successful across a meaningful span of time. The examples available for study in the newest components of the Park contain a foment of suggestions applicable to the older components. Pay special attention to the eventual resolution of the State's conflict with the Federal government, over the implementation of ANCSA and ANILCA requirements to support subsistence.

    The recent ruling to let Park firearms regulations follow those of the jurisdictions different Parks are located within, is itself an important step toward a local-driven model.

    There is the potential for substantial differentiation and local-adaptation of our Park-resources, and in some cases the preparations appear to have been deliberately cultivated over considerable time.

    I would not expect this to look like a planned overhaul, but to occur as part of the process of evolution & adaptation that has been a hallmark of the NPS throughout its history.

    The beloved paths of the very conservative Grand Canyon National Park, for example, were dynamited from the cliffs ... and they were quite proud of themselves, at the time. History reminds that in living memory Yellowstone had bleachers at the garbage dump, seating for tourists to watch as the Park systematically feed garbage to several hundred bears often brawling in the refuse...

    Although there has been an ebb & flow to periods of change in our Parks, my sense is that the system has been malleable all along ... right down to the present. There are needs & improvements aplenty to address, but whether this amounts to a crisis is less clear.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Jim-

    Allocation of funds for any individual park unit, if you're comments are directed to the manifesto outlined above, wouldn't go directly to a specific unit manager to be misappropriated or mismanaged. Park managers report to regional managers, who have the responsibility of coordinating project requests from their entire sector and presenting these requests to a higher level board, who in conjunction with the regionals, the Director and the CFO triage, based on immediacy of need, available budget, and many other factors, prior to cutting loose any monies to any specific unit. The managers of any particular unit, be they Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Badlands, Petrified Forest, Arches, or any "lesser" unit, are charged solely with making proposals which are placed in the hands of the regional managers. The relative import of each proposal would be determined by a series of "higher ups", from the unit manager level, those who hold responsibility for the health of the system as a whole, not the health of any individual park. This fail safe mechanism is one of the keys to maintaining the function of all the park units equally, rather than having the "popular" units manipulating the lion's share of the funding based, as currently done, largely visitation numbers (i.e. public pressure), political pandering, and private special interests. While virtually no system can place the immediate influx of capital required to eliminate the total maintenance backlog in one fell swoop, at least with this system of prioritizing, done solely from within and free of the external meddling that currently clogs the wheels of progress, those issues that are wrought from conditions that are "dangerous, require immediate attention due to safety concerns and updates that are long overdue" can receive the attention they have deserved for decades and which have been ignored by having people in charge of allocating funding who truly are oblivious or just plain don't give a damn.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Chance:
    Actually, the largest concentration of natural arches in the United States outside of Arches National Park are the Rattlesnake Arches in Colorado's McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, not far from Arches NP. Find more info here: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/mcnca/recreation/hiking/rattlesnakecyn0.html

    Rattlesnake Canyon is truly a sight to behold, and quite a hike from nearby Fruita, Colorado -- 16 miles roundtrip if you choose the low trailhead. The high trailhead is only accessible via 4wd vehicle.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Check out the Natural Arch and Bridge Society, which names Landscape Arch as the longest natural rock span on earth. Now that's "iconic." http://www.naturalarches.org/big9.htm

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    except for the fact that cinder cone has only been in existance since the mid 1800's! I witnessed the vast changes since I last visited in the 1980's. It had eroded more in the last 20 years than in the previous 130. What has happened to reading comprehension inis younger generation?

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This was not a funtion of global warming. Nor were the formation of the Arch itself due to global warming. Time and mother nature took it's normal course of action.

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Katmai & its bears! An example to tempt any advocate!

    Poaching probably gains a bit higher profile in Katmai National Park than elsewhere (such as Yellowstone National Park) thanks to the dramatizations of Timothy Treadwell. He claimed that his own law-breaking and stark risks were justified by the specter of poaching, and he worked this assertion into his videography and public performances ... as the villain in his narrative.

    The bears of Katmai have remained 'Park-bears' despite occasional abuse by trespassers and killings by Park authorities, just as the bears in Yellowstone remain 'Park-bears' despite a few poachers and killings by Rangers. The behavior of bears in Katmai isn't exceptional in this sense.

    The case for hunt-conditioning of even dangerous bears remains as I depicted it previously: Hunting in Alaska produces healthy populations of grizzly bears across broad swaths of the general terrain that are wary of humans, permitting the two species to coexist in an integrated ecoscape.

    Some say the only way to ensure the well-being of bears, is to drive humans from their habitat. Others say that to ensure the safety of humans, we must drive bears from our habitat. Both these assertions are mistaken, and to adopt either as our policy will impoverish the prospects & outlook for both species.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    There is one park in the system where you are allowed, and are encouraged to, walk atop some sandstone arches - Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, on the Tennessee/Kentucky line. It is 7/10ths of a mile to Twin Arches in the western side of the park via the aptly named Twin Arches Loop Trail. These magnificent structures stand approx. 100 feet long and 70 feet tall. The trail passes beneath as well as on the arches, and continues on past Charit Creek Lodge, historic homesteads, massive blufflines, and other features for one of the South's best easy dayhikes. Big South Fork NRRA is home to one of the largest collections (if not the largest) of rock arches outside of Arches NP. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov/biso/naturescience/sandstonearches.htm and http://www.nps.gov/biso/naturescience/twinarches.htm

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Jim,

    My comment wasn't intended to be about any specific park - just that having every American pay a flat, relatively small tax instead of nailing park visitors sounds like a good idea to me, especially when you consider that there are ~300 million of us, so 10 times that would be nearly $3billion. Add to that the money NPS gets already from Congress, remove the entrance fees and BANG!, you have a pretty sweet funding structure.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This is not at all a sure sign of anything other than the normal erosion that is well known at Arches National Park. If you paid attention during your 2001 trip you would have learned that lots of features of the park have bit the dust literally over the years. There are plenty of before and after photos to show that. In fact, everyone should do their friends a favor and tell them to visit Arches soon, considering the condition of the landscape and delicate arches! I would not be surprised to hear of either of those collapsing in my lifetime.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    It was interesting how the collapse of Wall Arch was first reported by the Associated Press. The headline on the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel's Web site read that an "iconic" arch fell at Arches NP. Then, as a Google search of "Landscape Arch" will reveal, the story reported that Wall Arch was the first arch in the park to fall since Landscape Arch fell in 1991. If Landscape Arch had fallen, then the headline would have been justified in proclaiming that something "iconic" had indeed succumbed to the elements. However, Landscape Arch remains intact, albeit precariously, despite that a chunk of sandstone fell from the arch at about that time. Wall arch was quite a spectacle of nature, but it was hardly "iconic." That honor can go to both Delicate and Landscape arches, certainly the most exemplary specimens of their kind found anywhere in Arches National Park or the Colorado Plateau, for that matter.

    For the record, the tops of some arches in the park are accessible, but I think it goes without saying that standing on natural arches is not only dangerous and inadvisable, but also potentially damaging to the arches themselves and offensive to visitors who prefer to see sandstone arches in their natural state. Fortunately, after more than 50 visits to Arches National Park in the last decade, I've never once seen anybody stand atop an arch.

  • Is the National Park Service Obligated to Better Promote Proposed Change in Gun Regulations?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I am a pilot/bear guide in Alaska and am not required to have a permit to carry a gun. A gun doesnt replace knowledge planning and common sense. Which is a good reason to not allow just anyone capable of obtaining a permit the privelage to do so. I know a few and have met too many gun carrying people in the lower 48 with permits and Alaska who wish for an excuse to shoot any wild animal that moves. I witnessed just recently while watching several brown bears feeding on a beached whale carcass, 2 planes fly directly over my head at 200 feet scaring numerous bears away. Then after landing they approached on foot quickly scaring more bears then were nearly charged by a disturbed bear who got quite close to them. They [the irresponsible pilots] felt safe, their guns providing a very false sense of security. After the bear walked away one of the pilots pointed his gun in the air and pretended he was shooting it, looking like he was a child.... I also know alot of responsible gun carriers but, it only takes a few to completely ruin everything. I witness so many tourists here in Alaska who when seeing a moose stop their cars run across the road nearly being run over by other cars and place themselves a few feet from the moose, sometimes near its calf and shoot pictures. Others I guide dont listen to me and show no common sense. These kinds of people DONT FREAKING NEED A WEAPON!!!!!
    There are just way too many irresponsible & ignorant people out there that just cant be educated. There is a reason we've had gun control all these years. It is the irrational, unreasonable, narrow minded fool who believes we dont need control. Open your minds please. Alaska is a different kind of example and another debate. & I am a gun fanatic but, an open minded reasoning one....

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    On top of this, climbing guide George Gardner died on the Grand last month. Also, yesterday, there was a traffic fatality in the Grand Teton NP - a 16-year-old boy was a passenger in a single vehicle rollover; an 8-year-old boy has life threatening injuries.

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

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This is the second geologic incident since my recent visit to the SW of Colorado, Utah and Arizona, first was the massive rock slide in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison a short 8 weeks or so ago and now this...! It proves the world is a dynamic place and changes, even ones that normally occur on geologic time scales of millions of years, can and do occur, in an instant. I am privledged to have experienced these wonders prior to their falls and hope many will appreciate the fragility of most of our natural wonders, get out there and experience nature's grandeur knowing nothing is forever.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    After visiting the red rocks of Arizona and Utah for five summers, I hate to see this happen! Red rocks are unbelieveable. Just a note, I just retuned from Alaska.....the same thing is happening to the glaciers...makes you wonder about Global Warming!

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Anonymous, but, why should we be giving more operational funds for a park like Yellowstone, for instance, that makes such horrible management decisions? Whatever we think about budgets for parks, it doesn't do any good if the parks are mismanaged. And, while I don't really agree with many of the proposals outlined here, at least I understand what is driving them - a sense that the Park Service is making a lot of bad management decisions and that something needs to change.

    As for user fees, I totally agree - that all user fees are obnoxious if they are for things really held to be public goods - whether it's for a bus ride or for entering a national park. But, I think that's another discussion. When it comes to user fees and national parks, it's a small issue - the poor are already priced out of most of the crown jewel parks before user fees are ever involved. The issue of user fees, like the issue of park management, can't be treated in isolation from considering other systemic social ills.

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

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Saw the Wall Arch and hiked the trail last year which was a little tricky; but worthwhile. It is very fortunate that no one was injured when the Wall Arch collapsed. Glad we got great photos of it.

    Last year was my first time seeing quite a few National Parks (Wow!) now that I'm a retired senior. As far as walking across an arch, in our travels we did see a European tourist walk across one of the arches in Canyonlands merrily taking pictures like it was Disneyland. I couldn't look. I thought he was a gonner. This is the arch that goes across the steep wall at the top of Canyonlands. He was nuts! I got dizzy just looking over the pile of rocks at the base of the arch to see the canyon. He obviously never heard that you can easily have vertigo set in when you are at heights. Plus you should respect our National Parks and climb only in designated areas.

    Thanks.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I like the idea of having everyone pay a simple $10 tax each year. I would rather pay this than $25 each time I visit a park, and it wouldn't be a huge financial burden on anyone to pay it (ie - eat out one less time or skip your Starbucks once a month).

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I just was at Arches last week with my wife. It's a great place. We hiked to Landscape arch, but were out of time, so we didn't make it to Wall Arch.
    Make sure you take the ranger guided Fiery Furnace tour if you go. You get to see perhaps the coolest part of the park with narrow fins in a maze-like formation. It was our favorite part of our stop there