Recent comments

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Anon said:

    in my experience, anything labeled a national park on a map is something that receives heavy visitation anyway, so you wilderness folks can get over yourselves when dismissing the crowds who really need to visit them.

    You might notice that large portions of many of the national parks are designated as wilderness. What I fear is that in a effort to placate bored people overcrowding the developed areas of the parks, the protection of true wilderness within the boundaries might be rethought. I will never "get over myself" when it comes to protecting what little wilderness is left. I don't care about the loop roads in Yellowstone or the Hoh nature trail in Olympic - the crowds can have those (and they do!). I fully expect to be miserable in the developed areas of parks, and I generally don't complain about it. It's just a necessary evil you pass through to get to the wilderness.

    the commenter above had it right, the screaming kids in the cafeteria is the next round of environmentalists (hopefully ones that are less smug) and they need to see these parks, crowds or no crowds.

    I'm going to disagree with the poster you cite here. I do not believe the children rampaging through the visitor centers and screaming about how bored they are on the short trails are future environmentalists. The parents are not instilling a respect and love of the environment in these kids, and just physically being in the park isn't going to ignite it. At Yellowstone Lake, I saw a group of quiet, attentive kids with a few parents listening to a biology lecture. I saw a young girl at Artists Point pulling her dad away from the bustle at the overlook to tell him how a squirrel was sorting through lodgepole pine cones. I saw some Korean parents buying their young children field guides at Olympic so they could identify the flowers outside. Those are the future environmentalists. Those parents and those children are not longing for more entertaining or more kid-safe parks. Call me cynical, but I just can't believe any future defenders of the wilderness will come from the screaming masses. Perhaps a cure for cancer, the next .400 hitter, or the first female president - but I just don't see an interest in nature having any hope of gaining a foothold among these kids.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Well said, Lone Hiker.

    I was born in 1977, and my Boy Scout upbringing has definitely rubbed off on my adult life (and those of my friends). I'd much rather go 'splore the wilderness than sit before a video game. Those "gamers" are totally foreign to me, much moreso than any non-English speaking visitor enjoying the view at the Grand Canyon.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Entertainment is obviously unique to the individual. I don't consider horse or dog tracks entertaining, but they rake in millions annually. The thought of parking my butt on a beach and reading a book is tantamount to a living hell, but again, it's the preferred method of thousands of weekenders and vacationers. Maybe the real problem, especially with the kids born post-1970 who were teenagers in the beginning of the home computer and video game rage, is that people tend to want to BE entertained, as opposed to finding entertainment in various pursuits. Maybe it's a character flaw, but I'd rather be DOING things than WATCHING things. Hell, I'd rather play backgammon than watch the Super Bowl, March Madness, or any of the other "must see" televised broadcasts that people plan their lives, indeed even their weddings and vacations around. The fact is, to the open mind, the NPS is a series of Disneylands, each unique in character and opportunities. To me the saddest thing is that most people just can't comprehend the overwhelming diversity of experiences awaiting each visit to any of our parks. Even repeated trips to the same unit yield a plethora of new views, thoughts, and more sensations in terms of visual, auditory and intellectual stimuli than can ever be anticipated by "seeing it all on TV". We have indeed become a desensitized people, in terms of violence and language, and at the same time, the pleasures of the world around us.

    As far as "those damn foreigners" coming to enjoy our unique topographies, why would that both anyone? The Europeans in general have a much greater appreciation of traditions and history plus an overall larger "world view" than do the people of this continent. Maybe due to our isolationist position in the world we tend to think that our country is all things important in the scope of the planet. Nothing worth traveling to, seeing, doing, or experiencing anywhere else in the whole of Planet Blue. This attitude is partially to blame for the moniker "ugly American". Our generally holier-than-thou mind-set is far from deserved, at least in terms of first-hand world experiences. We just seem to believe that ours is the best, without serious thought one for other options. Don't blame the rest of the world for appreciating our lands. Just because we tend to take our surroundings for granted doesn't mean the other 5.7 billion inhabitants of the planet share our sentiments. And while Frank's experience playing eco-engineer is quite sad, we should realize that it isn't unique to a nationality or geography. I've seen plenty of "white kids from the 'burbs" trash a state or national park campgrounds, picnic area, or trail as well. Funny how, at least in my experiences, the Euros don't treat our parks that badly. Maybe the lesson is this.......RESPECT YOUR PARKS WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THEM!!

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Anonymous wrote:

    i realize the nps has a different mission statement than promoting recreation, but why should people pay taxes to support something they don't use? people won't protect, defend or pay for something they don't love or understand, if people stop using the parks at current numbers, i'd hate to see what happens.

    Why should we pay taxes to educate kids that aren't our own? Why should I pay federal taxes for distant freeways I neither love nor drive on, for Alaskan wildlife refuges I may never be able to enter or to subsidize scientific endeavors I don't understand? The greater good of society whether direct or indirect, whether I "get it" or not - that's why. It's incumbent upon those who don't understand to educate themselves so they do, and then decide if such expenses are worthy.

    Sure, "park" is an entirely anthropocentric moniker for a tract of land protected for its natural values moreso than its direct recreational benefit to humans. But here's the rub: Call our parks what you want, but if they exist primarily for the facilitation of fun, our society will lose more than it could ever gain from the Disneyfication of national parks. We benefit in countless ways by preserving our most spectacular and special lands in national parks. Each has educational value; scientific value; the value of national parks, like wilderness areas, being sources of both clean water and, ideally, clean air; and, yes, even recreational value.

    The educational value of a child opening her eyes wide in wonderment at her first sight of a snake slithering across the trail or a moose across a canyon during a weekend recreational hike at Rocky Mountain National Park is absolutely incalculable.

    We pay taxes for parks we don't always use for their recreational value because of all the other things that they provide for us, not the least of which is inspiration and direct contact with nature.

    Perhaps if the word "park" too much implies that the purpose of these lands is solely for human recreational use, we should shuffle NPS designations a bit and call them national "preserves" instead. Because, above all, that's what they are.

    As I've said before, long live Yellowstone "National Preserve."

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Often, when it comes to national parks, there is a clash of values that doesn't fit very neatly. First of all, there is inherent in any discussion of park visitation the issue of economic class. Since parks were created in part for "the benefit and enjoyment of the people," anything that tends to meet the use of some people at the expense of others will always have critics. The limit on "benefit and enjoyment" has always been the protection of the natural features and wildlife within the parks; however, a lot of people cannot agree on how to balance the two calls. Any rule and regulation that is set up will divide the population and determine who can and who cannot use that park. You allow only snowcoaches and snowmobiles in Yellowstone in the winter, and you will get only those who can afford to travel to Yellowstone and use that means of transportation. And, it's inevitable that access in a park can't be all things for all people. You can't for instance make every trail up a mountain available to a person without legs. You can't open up roads to drive on for people who are blind. You can't make a remote park closer to everyone equally.

    Protection of the parks, however, historically has not simply been a matter of the reasonable limits placed on us by nature. In fact, parks were set up for the benefit of corporate interests like the railroads to reach a certain class of people. Over time, changes in the parks have been ad hoc adjustments to that reality. But, the class system that existed then essentially exists now.

    I think that environmentalists have often failed to appreciate this in their protection of the parks. Often, environmental protection goes hand in hand with protecting the class status quo or even exacerbating it. In the Tetons, protecting the view has meant spiraling property values that have outpriced the labor market in Jackson. Workers cannot live in Jackson, professionals cannot often live in Jackson. The area has become inaccessible not based on reasonable natural limits but on the limits on growth that may favor the view but also favor the wealthy.

    Kurt has in the past also had Wayne Hare here to discuss the race gap that exists in the national parks, a gap that is harder to identify because it's not rooted in class--according the available research. Whatever the reason(s) for the lower and lower racial diversity in the parks and public lands, it is not uncommon in the cities to hear complaints among otherwise liberal people about environmental racism. Often, this applies less to parks and more broadly to the "green economy" and the effects that it has on people of color, but there is a parks element to it when one looks at the reasons that make the park visitor more and more homogeneous when it comes to class and race.

    What I'm getting at here is that it's not as simple here as talking about environmentalism as the cause of lower visitation to parks. On the one hand, like a lot of you, I feel a strong, "Good riddance." Let's be rid of all the people, especially the ignoramuses who come to parks to be entertained by something they might easily see in their home towns. On the other hand, it's not a good thing if environmentalism is used to perpetrate the other evils of our society. If access is based on class, is based on race, is based on something else that shouldn't be happening, then environmentalism is a problem. Unfortunately, I don't think the piece mentioned here has any interest in that aspect of things.

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

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    We live in a pluralistic society. There will always be people who would rather go to Disney World than to Denali, Gates of the Arctic, or Gettysburg. That’s fine. That’s what makes our society so fascinating. What we as a society must be careful about while preserving these parks is that we do not sacrifice their special values in an attempt to be all things to all people. I am reminded of a story that Aldo Leopold tells in “A Sand County Almanac.” Do you remember it?
    Let me tell you of a wild river bluff which until
    1935 harbored a falcon's eyrie. Many visitors walked
    a mile to the river bank to picnic and watch the
    falcons. Comes now some planner of parks and dynamites
    a road to the river, all in the name of recreational planning.
    The excuse is that the public formerly had no right of access;
    now it has such a right. Access to what? Not access to the
    falcons for they are gone.

    Rick Smith

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Sorry, Anon, but your unscientific sample doesn't cut it. I stand by my statement that "desolate" is ridiculously inappropriate for this context. Do you really believe that our national parks would be deserted if the Europeans were not there?! (BTW, I do understand the concept of overstating your case to make your point --which is exactly what The Economist did in this instance.)

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Having just returned from the parks in southern Utah, the statement "Were it not for British and German tourists enjoying the weak dollar, the parks would be desolate." is a stretch, but not an asinine statement.

    I have to disagree with the editorial comment "Folks, that has got to be one of the most asinine statements about our national parks that I have seen in recent years, and I have seen some beauts. What were they thinking?!"

    The vast majority of the visitors my family encountered were German and French. So much so that I was giving my 10-year old a brief language lesson on saying excuse me and pardon me in various languages as we passed on the trails, travelled on the shuttles and passed each other in visitor centers and heavily populated locations in the park.

    British attendance wasn't noticable, as they may have a different "holiday" period. But, by far, the numbers were stacked against American visitors during my visit to Bryce, Zion, North Rim in the first week of August.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I totally agree with Barkys' August 25th post !

    Let free enterprise "entertain" folks outside our National Parks. The National Parks were saved as "National Treasures" to preserve and protect their natural beauty !

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    "Environmentalists pose the greatest obstacle to restoring national park attendance to historically higher norms; by blocking needed convenience- and entertainment- related developments in the parks, environmentalists have taken away the main tool for increasing park attractiveness."

    THAT, folks, is the Inconvenient Truth!!!

    Perhaps outsourcing is just around the corner! Sell 'em to a large corporation to be better managed.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    As an 84 year old that has visited most of these parks over the past 50 or so years
    I would hope that more and more people would have the same thoughts as Frank C about our parks. If pure natural wilderness & wildlife doesn't "entertain" people let them
    go to a movie , disneyland, or whatever does entertain them. This will leave room for me ( and other interested people) to relax and enjoy as I expect to on my
    08/09 winter trip from Maine.
    HOORAY FOR FRANK C AND PEOPLE LIKE HIM !!!!!!!

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Hooray and well said ---- from an 84 year old that has visited most of these parks over the past 50 or so years and seen the areas turned into "some damn country club" and agree whole heartedly that some important factors have been lost. I could go on and on but I think previous commentors have pretty well said it all ----- even so I will be visiting Death Valley and some others again this 08/09 winter trip from Maine.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    if the national parks weren't for people to use, they would need to be called something different than a park:

    park |pärk|
    noun
    1 a large public green area in a town, used for recreation : a walk around the park.
    • a large area of land kept in its natural state for public recreational use.
    • (also wildlife park) a large enclosed area of land used to accommodate wild animals in captivity.
    • a stadium or enclosed area used for sports.
    • a large enclosed piece of ground, typically with woodland and pasture, attached to a large country house : the house is set in its own park.
    • (in the western U.S.) a broad, flat, mostly open area in a mountainous region.

    i realize the nps has a different mission statement than promoting recreation, but why should people pay taxes to support something they don't use? people won't protect, defend or pay for something they don't love or understand, if people stop using the parks at current numbers, i'd hate to see what happens.

    in my experience, anything labeled a national park on a map is something that receives heavy visitation anyway, so you wilderness folks can get over yourselves when dismissing the crowds who really need to visit them. the commenter above had it right, the screaming kids in the cafeteria is the next round of environmentalists (hopefully ones that are less smug) and they need to see these parks, crowds or no crowds.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Just to respond to the somewhat vitriolic attitude of some that I, or other like-minded folks on this board, are "environmental whackos", I will only say this:

    Is it that horrible that we advocate preservation of a small percentage of this country in as pristine a condition as is possible in this modern world? Does having that view automatically mark us as whackos? Am I really asking for something that terrible?

    Look, it's a big country. There are plenty of national forests, state forests, and private land where people can truly romp around on ATVs and shoot game. My father lives in rural West Virginia and hunts and fishes and joy rides and everything else, and I'm completely fine with it. All I'm asking is that we try very hard to keep our National Park System units as clean, and pleasant, and unscathed, as is possible. They really are few and far between, they are the crown jewels of this country, and I want to see them preserved for centuries to come.

    If the root cause of reduced attendance at the parks is because the public facilities are run down, then fine, let's fix the facilities (including the long-established roadways). If it's because people forgot they were there, then fine, let's have a public service announcement campaign or something.

    If, however, the root cause is simply because fewer people are [interested] in non-intrusive outdoor activities, or [interested] in any outdoor activities at all, then that's just life. I don't feel we should allow invasive off-road activities simply to draw more visitors. I don't think we should pave more wilderness simply to make it more accessible. I don't think we should build more IMAX theaters on park land to interest the video-game generation.

    We should not risk the health of the parks for the sole purpose of making people interested in them again. The primary purpose of the NPS is to preserve the unique natural wonders of our country, and that's the only purpose I want for them.

    ==================================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I have to say that I agree very much with "Frank C." I am among the 1 million plus Americans who live fulltime in an RV. Seeing and working at our National Parks and Forests is a major part of a lot of our lives. I have worked the past couple years for the Corp of Engineers as a Park Attendant Contractor. After talking to many part and full time RV`ers, I believe that the reason a lot of people don`t go to the National Parks is mostly because of the crowds.We`ve gone to Yellowstone just to find that there are no open campsites or the parks are so full of visitors that it`s very hard to get around. A lot of us had plans to travel to the northwest this summer but with the fuel prices the way they are,staying here on the east coast will be easier on the funds. It wouldn`t hurt a lot of our feelings if they shut down a couple parks every so often for a couple years just so it can recover from the human foot print left behing by those who don`t care.

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   6 years 16 weeks ago

    As a former ranger in Yosemite and the Tuolumne Meadows Sub-district ranger during some of Dr. Sharsmith's legendary service as one of the finest interpreters I have ever met, I originally wrote a letter in support of naming this peak for him. I have subsequently changed my mind, and although I will not withdraw my letter of support, I no longer support this proposal. First of all, I now believe that Carl would not have wanted this kind of memorialization; he was too humble to want to call attention to himself. Secondly, I think naming peaks after people--whether in wilderness or not--draws attention from the feature and focuses it on the person commemorated.

    If we want to commemorate Carl, establish a scholarship or endow a chair in environmental studies. This would be a lot more appropriate in my mind.

    Rick Smith

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    "Thanks for the straight-up description of good, typical, play & work by the rules Americans. The compromising labors & unglamorous job-commitments of the many, is what enables our modern civilization to ... imagine & create National Parks, among other improvements.

    We created a social system that promised benefits to those who signed up for long tours in the economic trenches, and we owe them ... including a slice of the Parks."

    Thanks Ted. Whatever I may think about people as a group, anyone who has appropriate respect for the Parks has as much right to be there as anyone else, and those ordinary people are very much among those who were intended to benefit from the Parks.

    "If an individual can't find entertainment or enjoyment in tracking animals, watching ants work, sitting next to a towering waterfall, canoeing, hiking, exploring Anasazi ruins, discovering dinosaur tracks, or strolling through wildflower fields, then national parks are not for this individual. No one should compromise what national parks are for the amusement of, as Beamis puts it, the "bloated, mind-numbed masses of postmodern America""

    Frank C. - The characterization from Beamis makes me wince, but I can't disagree with the overall sentiment. The Parks are one of our greatest national treasures, and they need to be appreciated for what they are. People who visit should know and understand that they are not simply for doing the same things you can do anywhere, but in a slightly more outdoor environment. They exist to preserve and protect wilderness areas, wildlife, natural wonders or historical sites, and to give people the chance to see and appreciate them. A visitor center with an appropriate exhibit is fine; a comfortable room in a rustic lodge - ok. An amusement park and highrise hotels would be unforgiveable.

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Like all new technology it will take a while for the general public to learn to use these devices and where they can be used effectively. I doubt the Utah couple would have had much success with one in the Grand Canyon as PLB's don't seem to work there. The recent rescues in Sequoia are what these items where made for. Those that "go it alone" usually would prefer to stay out of touch, but family members sleep better knowing they\we have some means of communication to the outside world. A man died in the Wind River area of Wyoming because a boulder rolled on to his leg and was way to big for him to move it. According to the article it did not sould like he did anything dumb, just bad luck. If he had one of these he might still be treking today, but unfortunately, he was not found for a year. Regardless of the person(s) training, occassionaly they will get activated unneccessarily, but when they do and it is needed, the SAR folks will have a good set of coordinates to where to begin looking, money and lives will be saved. Events on Ranier and Hood these pat few years come to mind as places that experienced groups needed to be saved and the SAR teams involved needed all the advantages they could get.

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I certainly think this "always connected" technology brings advantages to the individual, and can be helpful to emergency responders. I typically carry ham radio equipment into the California, Oregon, and Nevada wilderness areas I visit for some of the same reasons. As a reliable device specifically designed to signal for emergency help, there's evidence that the SPOT system is not as reliable and effective as a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). (We discussed ways to call for help from the wilderness in The WildeBeat edition 122, titled Calling for Help Revisited.)

    But collectively, as a society, I'm wondering if making easier for people to call for help from the backcountry causes us to lose as much or more than we gain.

    Reading your article reminds me of an exchange I had in an interview with Ranger Laurel Boyers, who was the manager of Yosemite's wilderness for 11 years, and worked in the Yosemite wilderness for over 30 years. Here's a bit of the transcript of that interview:

    STEVE: And that brings us to some of the latest of devices, like the personal locator beacons that sort of give you an instant nine one one back there.

    LAUREL BOYERS: Which I think is really sad. I think that takes much of the wildness out of it. And I'm very sorry for that... When you talk to peple about -- you ask somebody to tell you their best wilderness experience, what was the coolest trip you ever took, invariably, they'll tell you a story of surviving something. Of something that really stretched them out, that really tested their mettle, you know, tested who they were, and made them really proud and got the endorphins going, and got them all pumped up. It's not the time that you look down at your thing and said, you know, "come get me, I just twisted my ankle", or whatever. It's, "I toughed it out and I made it off the hill and I had to drag myself on my injured ankle," ...or, "it poured and I had this horrendous creek crossing." Or, you know, whatever is was, it was something that really tested them, and that is so key to why wilderness is important to our heart and soul and spirit, because it provides a place where we're really more at one with nature... Now we're living in boxes, we drive around in boxes, we stay in boxes, we're very insulated from the natural world. And the more we use technology to insulate ourselves while we're out there, the more we loose in my opinion.

    Ranger Boyers appeared in a number of editions of The WildeBeat, including Keeping Bears Hungry, Ranger Changes, Thanks Ranger Boyers!, Ticket to Half Dome, and Calling for Help Revisited.

    Here's the core question: Are you having a wilderness experience if you can rescued from it at your first inconvenience?
    __________
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
    A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Kirby & Frank;

    I am putting real estate and regional relocation information that I use for my own pre-purchase research (Olympic Peninsula & Alaska) on a separate temporary webpage. (This will be moved to my regular website.) Please e-mail me with any questions/comments.

    Ted

  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    My name is Sunny Smith and I am the Marketing Manager for BarZ Adventures, the makers of the GPS Ranger multimedia tour guide system. We appreciate your interest in our GPS video tours at the National Parks and now have tours operating at 8 different resources within the National Park system. In addition to those that you mentioned, we also have tours at Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park that both launched August 19th. We also have a tour at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia, which actually was our first tour to be installed in 2007. I would like to respond to some of your comments if I may. Our aim with the GPS Ranger in National Parks is not to replace Ranger-led tours. In contrast, we feel as though our products are a great supplement to the other interpretive services that the parks offer. In MLK National Historic Site, for example, a visitor that would like to tour Martin Luther King's birth home can only do so through a live, ranger-led tour. Our tour product alerts visitors of this along with the times and schedules so that they can take advantage of this offering. To this effect, our tour goes hand in hand with the live tours, and actually encourages participation by delivering event information. Also, as mentioned by others in the above comments, our tours offer an alternative for those visitors that may not want to be in a large group tour, would like to travel at their own pace, or would like the flexibility of different start and stop times that better coincides with their schedules (the GPS Ranger is always ready to go as needed).

    In response to Kirby's commentary above, consistency and quality are two of the main benefits of a GPS Ranger tour. Instead of getting the mediocre park ranger, you always get the best and most informative version. Our Vicksburg tour is a prime example of this. Hosted by Terrence Winschel, the foremost Civil War historian and park ranger, tour-goers get a compelling and informative tour with a Civil War expert to over 70 points of interest! On a ranger-led tour, you may or may not get such an informative and engaging experience.

    The GPS Ranger is a perfect way to open up access to interpretive information to even more visitors. As tours can be delivered in any language (indeed our Independence, Zion and Bryce tours are all available in 6 different languages) non-English speaking or foreign visitors to the parks can take a tour in their native language. And as you mentioned, Captioning and American Sign Language are also opening up tours to the deaf and hard of hearing. BarZ Adventures is committed to increasing accessibility to the National Parks for visitors with disabilities and are starting our foray into Audio Descriptive tours for the blind and visually impaired. The interactive GPS maps are also beneficial for listing accessibility information and locations (handicap parking, ramps, accessible trails and picnic tables, etc).

    We feel that our tools are a supplement and alternative to other forms of interpretive information (with the additional added benefit of making National Parks more relevant and accessible to the younger generation through technology), as well as a way for parks to counteract reduced funding while still meeting their interpretive missions. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about our systems or current tour venues. Thank you.

  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Hi Ted,

    My name is Sunny Smith and I am the Marketing Manager for BarZ Adventures, the maker of the GPS Ranger multimedia tour guide device. For a primer on the product and how it works, you can visit the Products page of our website: http://www.barzadventures.com/GPSVideoTours/Products.html and the Technology page for more technical information: http://www.barzadventures.com/GPSVideoTours/Tech.html.

    We implement our mission by working with various organizations within the National Park System, such as cooperating associations, like the Death Valley Natural History Association, Zion Natural History Association, or Shenandoah National Park Trust, contracted concessionaires within the parks like Eastern National, or independent tour operators that are interested in creating tour products for national park visitors, such as our relationship with Utah based, GeoQuest Tours. Please feel free to contact us with any specific questions you may have.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Bob Janiskee;

    No, I did not get a sense that you 'shaded' The Economist's 'Disney-message'. But I will say they themselves 'massaged' the message ill-advisedly. (I have not read their article.)

    Consider:

    "Environmentalists pose the greatest obstacle to restoring national park attendance to historically higher norms; by blocking needed convenience- and entertainment- related developments in the parks, environmentalists have taken away the main tool for increasing park attractiveness."

    I think that statement partially mis-characterizes what environmentalists are up to with their agenda, and makes it facile to conclude that the implied antidote to environmental interference is simple "more circus".

    That is, more specifically, that environmental initiatives seek to impair access using any & all devices available - no just suppressing a narrow range of "convenience" or "entertainment" facilities. If you put those words in The Economist's (anonymous) mouth, or filtered their more-subtle meaning to make your article fit in a tidy space ... well, that's just the hazards of journalism! ;-)

    Candidly, I was pleased & impressed, to see you put up this 'barroom' style invitation to engage in the more-risky aspects of what this forum is, and I think is intended to be about. I.e., in this caliber of engagement, you are sure to 'get it' from the left, or from the right - or from both at the same time!

    My congratulations. :-)

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I think the problem describe in this article is part of a much larger problem with the park system and what defines a "National Park". I agree with Ted on many of his comments, yet environmentalists do bring up some good points. A compromise must be reached but the environmentalists have a history of not willing to compromise.

    I will diverge from The Economist's conclusions, by predicting that is the environmental movement, rather than our Park system, that is in "deep, deep trouble".
    I think this says it best because if the emvironmentalists get nothing done, on any front, they will be in "deep, deep troble".

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Some of you might remember Larry Nahm, one of Yosemite National Park's first librarians. Larry worked with many of us who had the privilege of residing in Yosemite during the early 1970's. I just received the following account from Larry of a recent hike he took up to the summit of Sharsmith Peak on the eastern border of Yosemite, and have received his permission to share this account online.

    [Note Larry's reference to Yosemite's legendary seasonal ranger-naturalists of former times.]

    It was a good, leg-stretching ramble yesterday to the top of Sharsmith Peak with the Bristlecone Chapter of the Ca. Native Plant Society. Leader Cathy Rose, as always, performed splendidly telling stories, evoking memories of Carl (and Will Neely and Bob Fry en passant). Ivesia, Lemmon's paintbrush, rock fringe, sorrel and alpine gold were among many species still abloom. We saw several of the endangered pikas and frogs. Marmots, reportedly, had a day or two earlier settled in for the winter; none were heard or observed. A prairie falcon, harassed for an instant by a smaller bird, zoomed out of sight. Twelve folks made the saunter, but three stopped short of the summit. A sextet from the Yosemite Association passed us, and summitted first.

    I rest sore muscles today, and recall the greater energy enjoyed back when....But the salubriousness of the alpine air, of the alpine ethos--it seems undiminished.

    Enjoy summer's remains.

    Larry