Recent comments

  • 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. . . .

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 17 weeks ago

    After getting such wonderful encouragement from my post way back on Feb 24th I thought I should let you know how it went - it was AMAZING!!

    The 3 days/2 nights on the river along with dinner, overnight and breakfast at Phantom set the stage for my hike out on Bright Angel. Everyone in the rafting group had their own plan and time frame in regards to the hike. My game plan was to go slowly and "enjoy" with my only concern being the heat of mid-day. I packed extra food besides the "sack" lunch, filled my 3liter Camelbak bladder and set off at 5:45am (imagine my delight in finding my backpack was lighter than the weight I had trained with) . At every creek crossing I soaked down (amazing how good that feels!). I reached Indian Gardens at 9:30am, soaked down and topped off the water bladder plus a visit to the restroom! After resting briefly I continued on and shortly after that came upon 3 other women hiking out from Phantom. One of them was having a little trouble so they had all decided to take it really slow - that worked for me so I stayed with them for the rest of the hike. Interestingly enough the heat of mid-day never got extreme even though it had been 108 at Phantom - one of several "Hail Mary" events that happened across the entire trip - guess the Universe wanted this to work out for me :)

    It took us 8 hours and 40 minutes to get to the trailhead but it is definitely NOT about how long it took but the experience along the way which was absolutely amazing.

    I hope other people happen upon this and other sites like it taking the encouragement that is freely offered as this experience cannot be duplicated by watching a movie or reading a book!!

    2008 physical goal - complete.
    Thanks again,

  • Statue of Liberty May Once Again Open to Top   6 years 17 weeks ago

    John - I sympathize with your perspective. There is, however, a basic difference from the safety of walking along the rim of a canyon and that of the stairs in the Statue of Liberty: one is a natural condition, the other is human made. There is a far great liability when allowing the public to use an unsafe constructed structure than to simply allow them to venture into a natural area. I cannot say I agree with the NPS postion on the Statues, but it is a very different situation. I think the NPS could solve this problem by issuing timed tickets that allow only a few visitors per hour to the top. Yes, it would prevent most people frlom getting to the crown, but most people did not go to the crown before it was closed just because of the extensive wait time and sheer fatigue of climbing the stairs. Not to mention the heat on summer days. There are many places in the park system where only a few people get to experience a special place because the logistics prevent wide open use. Walking the stairs at the Washington Monument or touring Independence Hall, for example. The Statue crown could be managed in a similar manner.

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

    Oh good grief. Some people see the whole world as a political divide. What does "liberal" have to do with mountain bikes?

    Bicycles are prohibited in parks except on roads unless the park writes a special regulation allowing bikes on designated trails. The problem for many parks is that they allow bikes on trails but have not taken the time or effort to promulgate the special regulation. That means that the use of mountain bikes on park trails is technically illegal (Santa Monica Mountains and Grand Canyon for example). It also means that the necessary public notice and environmental compliance have not been done to assess the potential impacts of bikes on trails.

    There are many parks where there are appropriate trails for bikes. Many are actually paved trails designed for multiple use. The key issue is that parks should comply with the regulations and not allow off-road cycliing without first conducting the necessary impact assesment and solicitation of public input.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 17 weeks ago

    In answer to Lone Honker's reply on On June 18th, 2008 to S.I.R. June 17th,

    Lone Honker,
    Spoken like a true criminal ! Almost had me believing you were one, but believe me, you better use the element of surprise to your advantage or you won't win because I'll go down with you if need be. And yes, you may add my weapon to your already existing arsenal, it even happens to police officers at times, if you succeed. But don't you believe we are going to just give it up , because you, might just miscalculate and make a mistake and your head may just be handed to you on a silver platter you can no longer use. You have avery dangerous job, and its going to get tougher. That's why your trying so hard to spread propaganda to keep guns out of the hands of your potential victims.
    You say criminals only prey on those whom they stand to gain the greatest profit from, WOW guess they didn't let each other know about that one. Ya some of them even rob places for 5 or 10 bucks out of the till and a pack of smokes and then shooting every one in the store that could be a witness. OH let me stop there, foolish me, must have been from embarrassment because of the chump change. Ha Ha. And by the needs of those who need? They can get their lazy butts out there and work for what they need like you and I do!!! No one has to murder other people just because the want a pack of smokes and 5 or 10 bucks for bear. or drugs

    And yes, all tools were designed for a special purpose. Guns (in answer to your question) were designed for hunting and protection, but no tool of itself can function without one of use making it do so. There for it in in the mind of an individual operating the tool as to use it for or outside its purpose, not the tool itself.
    By the way, (sorry if your a vegetarian) but its a little hard to run down bamby for dinner with a knife. Guess I could use my car - na, that just ain't natural.

    And yes an unarmed person can also be a citizen. But w/o protection can quite possibly becomes a victim to those who have no continence. Your right, does not make him or her not a citizen or maybe a "Subject"? One of the big reasons Japan did not attack us inland was to many citizens owned guns. During W.W.II the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED! Admiral Yamamoto, who crafted the attack on Pearl Harbour had attended Harvard U 1919-1921 & was Naval Attaché to the U. S. 1925-28. Most of the US Navy was destroyed at Pearl Harbor & their Army had been deprived of funding & was ill prepared to defend the country. It was reported that when asked why Japan did not follow up the Pearl Harbor attack with an invasion of the U. S. Mainland, his reply was that he had lived in the U. S. & knew that almost all households had guns.
    Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
    Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million 'educated' people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
    In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated. China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. And on and on. Ref :

    One of the "nervonas " with (O) crime as you put it, (I said near nill) is GEUDA SPRINGS, Kansas ( that is if you care to live in Kansas )

    Any way that's this man's opinion:
    Have a nice day.

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

    It would probably have to be the color green to make the liberals happy.

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

    I smile every time I see that sign near Gaylord while heading north on I-75. Growing up in Bay City, I used to think that Gaylord was way "up north." I was really shocked when I finally realized that, as far as northern treks are concerned, Gaylord is just halfway to the North Pole.