Recent comments

  • Creating Cape Cod National Seashore Forced the National Park Service to Think Outside the Box   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Since the "42" typo was only in the body of the article (the abstract correctly specified "47"), will you give me 50 percent credit? :-)

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 16 weeks ago

    There is a big difference between a vehicle that is being ridden or driven thoughtfully & considerately in the course of transporting oneself and achieving access, and a vehicle that is being used as a source of entertainment, in & of itself.

    In the case of Yellowstone snowmobile tours, each accompanied by a formal guide and restricted to set routes, the usual excesses of riding snowmobiles for amusement are curtailed and the participants' behavior can be expected to remain moderate. They are using the machine to access snowy country, and do not have a license to tear up the landscape at will (a popular activity of choice on snowmobiles).

    Highway motorcycles - which figure prominently in these comments - are nowadays sold as "crotch rockets": they are consumer entertainment products, by definition. The basic intent is to enable one to 'act up', and if there is a shocked & dismayed audience - all the better!

    Congress has in recent years systematically pressed to provide improved markets & venues for recreational vehicles in the context of all public lands, Parks included. Partly this is an economic stimulus idea, and it may also be partly to encourage those inclined toward conservative and consumer lifestyles in contexts which are sometimes dominated by liberal-environmentalist perspectives.

    Some will object aesthetically to the presence of snowmobiles in National Parks, at any level or style of usage. Some are simply offended by the machine, and prefer it not be allowed at all.

    Personally, I find the crasser forms of consumerism somewhat bovine, but I like that hard-working citizens pour unconscionable amounts of money into the corporate development of astonishingly excellent machinery. It is then up to each of us to decide how we personally use the equipment.

  • Creating Cape Cod National Seashore Forced the National Park Service to Think Outside the Box   6 years 16 weeks ago

    As a point of correction - Cape Cod National Seashore is 47 years old. I remember going to visit as a day trip with my parents and siblings when I was a small child. I never realized it had only just opened just after I was born. Thank you for the article and reminding me of such a wonderful place to visit. We currenlty live in Kansas and I will look for an opportunity to visit there again.

  • The Secret Life of Drugs in Parks   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I am an Olympic Peninsula local, and have enjoyed the Park as my backyard for over 50 years. As a youth, and at times as an adult, I have picked salal and swordferns, gathered wild mushrooms, peeled cascara bark, collected polypores, stuffed gunny bags with moss, and practiced other so-called forest-byproduct activities.

    I like it, quite a bit. Though it is not my favorite word ... it is good karma. In this respect, such work resembles tree planting (the Mother of All Brutal But Good Labors). It is very demanding, and the reward is downright pitiful, until one has trained, conditioned & inured herself. But it is very cool, to walk into the woods and do something that is productive, using only your own hands and (considerable) wits & skill.

    But both the industry and the culture have problems. The industry is very 'old school', and has manipulated the markets and the pickers for generations. This difficulty has attracted the stern attention of the Washington State Legislature, and other State & Federal bodies. We anticipate improvements, possibly dramatic.

    The culture of picking has a severe image & esteem problem. People who do this work are near the bottom of the social echelon. To 'stoop' to picking stuff in the woods, is not an option a person undertakes lightly. There are 'defenses' that will have to be maintained, socially, and internally.

    Yes, some pickers will be chronic drunks, unemployable pot-heads ... and illegal aliens. But families have put children through college, picking brush. There are those in remote, economically depressed (but wonderfully wild!) parts of the Olympic Peninsula who at least partly and sometimes wholly buy property and sustain themselves, on the profits of independent gathering in the woods. It is not prevalent to be that successful & productive at it, but it is possible and there are good examples.

    Pickers must know a great deal about a large number of 'patches' of terrain, to keep themselves active. There is often an element of informal proprietorship of the patches that are used ... and groomed, cared for, and even kept secret. For anyone who is at all serious about the work, who is glad to have what is often a part-time & seasonal source of income - there is very much a matter of reputation involved, and it is foolish to jeopardize it.

    Buyers are often on quota. Seasons often start slow, and taper off slow. Only a few pickers can be employed, under such circumstance. So the buyers will contact favored pickers, when demand is light. Doing anything stupid, like picking without permits, going into other folk's patches, or (the Mother of All Stupidity) doing anything illegal in the Olympic National Park - will lose one professional status, fast.

    Established pickers very rarely go lunatic enough to strip product from the Park. A few might be so inclined ... if they thought they could get away with it, but that is essentially impossible. Usually, the hit 'n run Park rip-offs such as Jeremy mentions in this post, are the work of managed gangs of illegal aliens. The way it works on the Peninsula, a locally savvy & experienced Mexican brings in a group of naive compatriots who are extremely dependent on the boss. They know no English, don't know where they are, how go anywhere or do anything. They are deer in the headlights.

    These gangs are known to engage in a variety of unethical and illegal activities, within the picking industry, and other menial forestry-related venues. They are the primary source of the occasional illegal moss-theft or fern-stripping in the Park. The word stupid really applies to these violations, because it is impossible to conceal the activity, and it attracts the determined attention of a variety of officials & individuals ... including the buyers, who very much resent finding themselves on the phone with Park Headquarters, or with a Ranger law enforcement rig parked in front of their business.

    Picking in its many forms has the potential to be rehabilitated and made an attractive component of rural lifestyles. There are government agency initiatives aimed at this goal, for some years now. If your love of the hinterlands leads you to move from a developed area to a remote region, you will most likely have neighbors who participate in the business, and the opportunity to practice it yourself will arise. If so, I recommend trying your hand - and heart - at this very engaging enterprise.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 16 weeks ago

    ". . . the quality of . . . interpretive presentations . . . isn't the direct or indirect result of NPS policy, training, screening or selection."

    I totally disagree here. Referring to my [Mount Rainier NP] experience again, had the ranger at least had her program audited or coached, I believe it would have been better than the program I saw. At Zion, we had a stinker, but through an intensive coaching program, his programs were elevated. The stinker I remember from Zion was hired, and he told me this directly, because he was half Japanese. (I also remember this stinker giving me the tour of admin and angrily pointing out that all the photos on the superintendents' wall were "old white guys".) At Sequoia-Kings Canyon, my boss hired a woman who was Hispanic simply because she was the highest ranked Hispanic on the list. On her Grant Tree hike, she went around telling visitors that trees had a lot of gravity (I think she meant mass) and making many factual and delivery errors. This policy of diversifying the staff, at least in my observation, is at least partially responsible for the decline in quality of NPS interpretive programs.

    Training at national parks is a mixed bag. I've had great preseason training at some parks ([Zion NP and Crater Lake NP]), and wretchedly horrible training at others ([Fire Island National Seashore and Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP]). For new interpreters, that training a crucial part in producing quality interpretive programs.

    Back to hiring, but I'll the issue of affirmative action behind: If the NPS came up with a better hiring/screening system, I believe the quality of interpretive programs would improve. The current hiring system, which I won't delve into--it would take pages and pages to describe--is broken. It's an entanglement of preferential treatment and relies on self-rating rather than investigation and demonstration of stated skills. It's an unfair and ponderous system of really meaningless numbers and artificial ranking.

    I agree that no uniform (not even one as uncomfortable and impractical as this) can make up for a substandard employee. Certainly, there are many fine interpreters and rangers out there on the front lines, but there seem to be more stinkers lately, as observed by Beamis, me, and others.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Excellent observations Ted. This would be a worthy discussion for a future NPT thread.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    This thread needs a rebuttal to the Va.-Pilot article referenced in the original text.

    I hearby submit said rebuttal, from the "Island Free Press", penned by Mrs. Irene Nolan, and island resident and long-time writer for several Island newspapers. It speaks for itself, and supports Dr. Mike Berry's article also include in this thread.

    Island Free Press

    By Irene Nolan
    Move ORV debate back to Hatteras

    The Virginian-Pilot
    © August 4, 2008

    What they said

    The controversial consent decree about beach driving that's caused so much turmoil on the Outer Banks includes a provision that allows the parties to renegotiate the details. That's exactly what off-road vehicle users, environmental groups and local officials should begin doing as summer nears an end.

    Last week, a U.S. Senate subcommittee heard testimony on a bill, introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and Rep. Walter Jones, that would scrap wildlife protections at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, imposed by an April 30 federal court order. Under the bill, those protections would be replaced with less restrictive guidelines the National Park Service had been using.

    Sen. Burr, a subcommittee member, said the change would let residents and visitors return to a tradition of protecting wildlife while enjoying the seashore "in a way that God meant it to be enjoyed."

    But the bill's prospects dimmed when National Park Service Deputy Director Daniel N. Wenk said his agency opposes the bill. He said the consent decree is a more effective way of balancing wildlife protection and recreational uses than the agency's previous strategy.

    According to Wenk, the decree's restrictions on beach access for off-road vehicles and pedestrians during nesting and breeding seasons have increased populations of vulnerable bird species and sea turtles. This year's figures for turtle nests are at a record high.

    The Park Service's stance is remarkable, given the agency's years of foot-dragging on developing a plan regulating ORV use - delays that prompted environmental groups to file suit against the agency.

    The consent decree, which ended that lawsuit, was the result of an agreement signed by conservationists, park officials, a coalition of ORV users and Dare County officials.

    But business owners and ORV users are upset with how the new restrictions have played out. Several prime fishing spots have been closed in the past two months because birds were nesting nearby. The restrictions are easing now as the breeding season ends. Last week, ORV users regained partial access to Cape Point, a popular spot. (Nightly closures, designed to protect nesting turtles, remain.) More reopenings are expected soon.

    Even with the closures, ORV users and pedestrians have had broad access to the beach. On Thursday, Park Service figures showed 26.4 miles of the park's roughly 67 miles were open to ORVs and 58.5 miles were open to pedestrians. The majority of the prohibited area is due to normal seasonal or safety closures. About eight miles were closed because of wildlife.

    It's too soon to gauge the economic impact of the closures, but the effect doesn't appear to be as dramatic as feared. Retail sales tax figures for May and June aren't yet available; bait and tackle shops and other businesses are reporting a sharp drop in sales. Other economic indicators are generally positive, however.

    Carolyn McCormick, director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, said in an interview that "the closures did not help us in any way, shape or form." But, she said, key tourism figures in Dare County were good in spite of closures, gas prices, a weak economy and wildfire smoke.

    Comparisons of 2007 and 2008 figures show occupancy taxes on hotels and rental houses in Dare were up 6.3 percent in May and 2.85 percent in June. Year-over-year, gross revenues from the meals tax were up 5.12 percent in May but down 1.09 percent in June. (Numbers for July aren't ready yet.)

    Park Superintendent Mike Murray said it's too early to measure the effect of the consent decree on attendance, but an increase in May and decline in June generally fit trends reported by other parks.

    In the meantime, passage of a federal bill overturning the decree looks doubtful. It's unlikely the full House and Senate would take up the measure before the year's end.
    In any event, it's hard to envision Congress jumping into this contentious situation and generating a useful response. The consent decree left open the potential for tweaking the details. Islanders, conservationists and park officials should begin that work for next year rather than continue to spin their wheels in a time-consuming, unproductive debate on Capitol Hill.


    It is true that the consent decree allows for modifications by the court at the request of the plaintiffs, the federal defendants, or the intervenor/defendants.

    The decree instructs that the parties must submit to dispute resolution before seeking modifications.

    And there is little reason to believe that the environmental groups, having gotten just about all of what they wanted, will give one inch on the expanded bird buffers, night driving, or complete closures for turtle nests after Sept. 15. (Before Sept. 15, the Park Service can provide ORV trails behind nest closures when possible.)

    Furthermore, the plaintiffs are now participating in a negotiated rulemaking process, with other seashore stakeholders, to devise a long-term ORV regulation. They claim to be participating in “good faith,” but we and others question that assumption. Until there was a consent decree, everything was on the table. Now, the groups will be negotiating from a base of the terms of the consent decree. We do not think the environmental groups will give an inch from what they got under the decree.

    Virginian-Pilot editorials continue to refer to the “less restrictive” interim plan.

    And, by the way, we don’t like the inference in this and previous editorials that it was the Wild West down here on the beach before the consent decree. The locals and visitors have lived with closures for wildlife protection for decades – closures that increased in size and time span over the years.

    Yes, the interim plan is less restrictive in some areas. The major differences are the size of the buffers, night driving restrictions, and the fact that the interim plan gave park management some discretion to make decisions when the closure calls were close ones. There is no discretion under the consent decree.

    The Southern Environmental Law Center, and now the Park Service’s deputy director Daniel Wenk, have proclaimed the consent decree a success after just three months.

    That anyone could declare a management policy a success in three months defies reason.

    The Pilot editorial specifically refers to sea turtle nests at a “record high.” The implication in the editorial and in testimony at the Senate hearing by SELC attorney Derb Carter is that this record high is a result of the consent decree.

    The facts do not support that the consent decree has caused this turtle nesting boom.

    Sea turtle nesting on the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on northern Hatteras Island is also approaching a record high. As of Aug. 4, there were 23 sea turtle nests on Pea Island, compared with 14 last year, which was considered to be a good year. And there has not been any driving on the beaches there in decades. It is perfectly possible to assume that it could be a record year for sea turtles on the entire North Carolina coast – not just on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore under the consent decree.

    Yes, there were seven piping plovers fledged on the seashore this year – and only four last year. But the percentage of fledged birds per breeding pair is slightly down this year.

    This year 11 pairs of piping plovers fledged seven chicks for a success rate of .64 chicks per breeding pair. Last year the six pairs fledged four chicks for a slightly higher nesting success of .67 chicks per nesting pair. Furthermore, the four chicks fledged last summer under the interim plan was a large increase from previous years. From 1999 through 2006, there were either no chicks or only one or two fledged per year. The average rate of fledged chicks per breeding pair over the last 15 years on the seashore is .66.

    One piping plover nest was lost in a storm this year. Another nest and the rest of the chicks were lost to predation, as has been the case in the past. There is no evidence the chicks were killed by ORVs. Environmental groups will argue that the consent decree with its increased buffers allowed more pairs to nest this year and more chicks to fledge, but there is no reason to believe that nesting and fledging would not have been up this year under the interim plan.

    The interim management plan was devised by the National Park Service in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with public input. It went through a review process that resulted in a Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact (FONSI) and final rule publication in the Federal Register last July.

    Now the leaders of both of these services in Washington, D.C., are throwing their local management and staff under the bus by basically saying that they didn’t get the job done with the interim plan and the consent decree is better.

    Well, where has the Washington leadership been these past few years while the interim plan was being formulated?

    We can agree with the Pilot editorial that the Park Service’s stance on the legislation is “remarkable,” given that local park management sent several ORV plans forward to their bosses, beginning in 1978 --only to have those bosses in Washington take no final action.

    And the 35-year or so delay in having an ORV regulation is what has given the environmental groups the ammunition to get as far as they have – that and a sympathetic federal judge who was known to have a problem with ORVs on the seashore.

    The economic figures that are being thrown out by both sides of the beach access issue are totally meaningless at this point – unless, of course, you are one of the tackle shops whose business is down by 30 percent.

    First, most visitors don’t even know about the beach access issue when they get here.

    Next, occupancy figures will not show any fallout from beach access until next year. Most of Dare County’s occupancy taxes come from rental houses, and everyone who has rented a house knows that you do not get out of your contract unless there is a hurricane on your doorstep and maybe not even then. My brother-in-law died three days before his scheduled vacation on Hatteras in June, 1998, and the rental company made his widow, my sister, honor the contract. No refund. So you think anyone would get a refund because a few beaches are closed?

    The point is that even the folks who knew the Point was closed couldn’t change their plans this year.

    The question will be whether those people will come back again next year. And no one can answer that now – not Derb Carter and not The Virginian-Pilot editorial board and not the beach access advocacy groups.

    The question of how many miles of seashore beaches are open to ORVs can’t be pinned down exactly. It’s a moving target that changes every day as birds come and go and turtle nests reach their hatch window.

    In its editorial, the Pilot said 26.4 miles of seashore was open to ORVs. Today, I figured about 17, including three miles of beach south of Ramp 30 that was closed to ORVs over the weekend because of a turtle nest. That three miles of the beach is open to pedestrians, who can walk behind the nest.

    Finally, we can agree with the Pilot editorial that there is little or no chance that legislation to overturn the consent decree will pass this year – or maybe any year.

    There are only two more summers until there must be a final ORV regulation, so what’s the point?

    The point is that the process that environmental advocacy groups have pursued has ignored the work and input of the residents of and visitors to Hatteras and Ocracoke and the hard work of the local park staff.

    If the interim plan was good enough for the Department of Interior last year when the final rule was published in the Federal Register, why is it not good enough now?

    We still say that the National Park Service should go back to the interim plan until negotiated rulemaking is concluded.

    In the meantime, maybe the intervenors should ask the environmental groups for some changes to the consent decree for next year and see what happens.

    Can’t hurt to ask.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    It seems very doubtful that career Park personnel welcomed the new proliferating fee-systems. They did not envision themselves becoming nickel & dime collectors from an irate public. It is harshly dissonant to their self-image, to be rooting & grubbing from an often resentful & doubtful public, to support the Park budget.

    Most of the basic citizenry holds that these are our Parks, supported on the public purse, and that fee-systems are a manipulation. To what purpose this irritation of both the Park folks & the public is aimed, is the key question.

    That bureaucrats (Park personnel) become comfortable & territorial is a perennial problem for modern civilizations. That Park people have taken on very strong political positions - and even active agendas - aggravates their relationship with Congress, which isn't remotely as green & liberal-preservationist as tenured Park officialdom.

    I will speculate, that the idea to have the Parks support themselves through user fees, is a convenient ruse aimed to achieve goals which Congress could not expose to the light of day without a backlash.

    Although the public is largely conditioned to accept the situation as natural, it is by no means necessary that Park folks be activists for the Green movement. Essentially, the public tax dollar goes to support a large body of professionals all across the nation, who prefer policies & positions which reflect a minority Liberal-Environmental agenda. Neither Congress nor the public have a makeup or orientation that is reflected in the positions & attitudes of Park professionals.

    We in effect subsidize the Sierra Club et al, in the form of the Park payroll.

    It seems feasible that these mismatched viewpoints and political adversities have prompted Congress to embark on a cloaked campaign to 'shake up' the Park Service. Fees may be a device to that end.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Certain occupations are entitled to uniform remunerations due to the nature of the environment in which the operator is placed. My basic clothing doesn't qualify, but many of the "accessories" specific to the minimum safety level from hazards posed by the job are supplied by the employer....lab coats, respirators, protective eyewear, gloves, masks, foot-wear shields and the like, at ZERO personal expense to each employee. It's called the cost of doing business. To expect a park ranger to "stand out" so as to be easily identified in a crowd, for purposes of emergency contact, leadership, as on tours, hikes or interpretive walks, crowd control (or maybe management is a most proper description) or other required "quick ID" situation without a specialized and unique manner of dress is not being realistic. Thereby, the employee hired to conduct such functions should absolutely be permitted either uniform reimbursement or be outfitted entirely from the exterior clothing and for any "tools of the trade" as necessitated by the job; flashlights, canteens, radio, sidearm, holster and ammunition (as deemed necessary by park management, pending assignment to be conducted on any given daily rotational basis), backpacks, parkas, mukluks, and whatever other toys that are specific both generic to the position and specific to the location.

    Unfortunately Beamis, this wouldn't do a thing to elevate the quality of the written reports or interpretive presentations . On the other hand, that situation isn't the direct or indirect result of NPS policy, training, screening or selection. You do, after all, have to choose from the "best available", sad as that statement may be, both prior and subsequent to the quotas being fulfilled. And we can't force all government hires to be proficient in English, now can we? Why should they be any different than their superiors?

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Another issue with the park service and loud motorcycles is that the park police use them. A park police motorcycle officer roared by my house one sunday at 8 am while escorting some VIPs to the Mt. Vernon Estate. I drove over and asked him about his motorcycle. He agreed that it was much louder than it came from the factory, that it had aftermarket mufflers which were much louder. He had no idea that it might actually be illegal. He was a super nice guy and professional and it is not his responsibility to decide what mufflers are used on motorcycles (that is what I told him).

    There is actually a section in Section D of the federal regulations which states that federally procured motorcycles cannot exceed a decibel limit of 71, which is much lower than the decibel limit of 80 for street legal motorcycles manufactured after 1983.

    Anyway, this might be a barrier in getting park police to enforce loud motorcycles? What bothers me the most is that the practice by the park service police of using these mufflers sets a terrible example for the general public. There were people lined up to talk to the officer about his motorcycle, it is like a constant advertisement that loud motorcycles are perfectly ok.

    Plus, it seems to run counter to two National Park Service management policies that stress the importance of mitigating noise.

    4.9 Soundscape Management: The National Park Service will preserve, to the greatest extent possible, the natural soundscapes of parks.

    8.2 Visitor Use: For the purpose of these policies, unacceptable impacts are impacts that, individually or cumulatively, would unreasonably interfere with the atmosphere of peace and tranquility, or the natural soundscape maintained in wilderness and natural, historic, or commemorative locations within the park.

    (c) Low noise emission product standard. For the purpose of Low-Noise-Emission Product certification pursuant to 40 CFR part 203, motorcycles procured by the Federal government after the following dates must not produce noise emissions in excess of the noise levels indicated:
    (1) For street motorcycles with engine displacement greater than 170 cc:
    Date A-weighted noise level (dB)
    (i) January 1, 1982 73
    (ii) January 1, 1989 71

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    One thing people need to keep in mind is that despite the "ORV" being attached to this story wherever you read it, the problem is not just access for vehicles. It is also access for pedestrians. The Consent Decree calls for huge closures for both people and vehicles. It is true the pedestrian closures are smaller than for ORVs, however, even with the pedestrian closures the best beaches are closed to everyone - including surfers, kite fliers, etc. It's not just ORVs that we are talking about.

    Also, before you decry the mobile surf fishermen and their noise and pollution, you should realize that it is these folks who care more, and do more than anyone to preserve these beaches for everyone, including the wildlife. The NC Beach Buggy Association, for example, hosts regular "beach respect" outings where everyone pitches in and cleans up the beach. You also have to understand a bit about the area before you make statements about allowing evil ORVs. Cape Hatteras in large part is only a beach, it is not a resort community. In years past pre-dating the establishment of the park the only way to get around was to drive on that beach - there were no paved roads. Beach driving is a part of the history and heritage of the island. Hatteras Island is not like Myrtle Beach or Atlantic City - it is big and wild and natural. You can't take a boardwalk 200 yards to the surf. If you want to get to Cape Point for example - one of the most unique places in all the world - you need to travel about 1.5 miles one way from the nearest parking lot (which is going to hold very few cars.) Since May of this year sadly, you have not been able to do that - it was closed until recently. Now it is open for a short time before it will be closed again because of the magic September 15th date when turtle nest closures become full beach closures (no humans allowed). Someone who thinks this is about turtles or birds should try and explain why you can walk behind a turtle nest on the 14th just fine, but the 15th onward is not to be allowed. And no, it does not have to do with the possible hatch window - full beach closures are already setup around that starting at the 50 day mark for each nest.

    Imagine you grew up on Hatteras Island, imagine it was your parents or grandparents whose land was taken away from them by the federal government to create this National Park Recreation Area (no, it is not a "wilderness area"). They did not receive anything in return except a promise that the public would never be denied access to this resourse - now that is exactly what is happening.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Because the access is sooooo long. If you are unfamiliar with the area in question look at it on a map. the dunes you cannot walk on The access areas in general do not allow for very many people to park and access with beach chairs, coolers, and the like. People with handicaps and restrictions with the ability to drive is considerate and compassionate the closures have restricted this access and shown that no knowledge about the true nature of this situation has been propaganded to such a degree that people do not realize what is at stake here. Human beings lives, livlihoods, and their childrens rights. Allowing an organization to sue our government and then have the tax payer (you and me) pay for the suit, dictate how where and when you can access public lands is an affront to our forefathers. If you do not believe like they do or act the way they want you to they sue. essentially forcing their will onto a free people. The interim plan was in place before the suit came about and was being effective. they are sitting in on the regulation negociations and you have to ask if they will negociate in good faith considering the suit. I believe not. The access to the beaches from each ramp from the closures have left no room to even turn around when there are a lot of people. read the report from the nps and do the math. you will see a spin from these organizations that should make you pause and do more research.

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I have done some research on the subject of motorcycle noise, I live close to the entrance of the GW Parkway which is a national park area starting at the Mt. Vernon Estate. Loud motorcycles often turn this area into what sounds like a racetrack.

    It turns out that there are indeed hard to find federal regulations that are designed to regulate motorcycles and motorcycle exhaust systems. Many state and local laws that contain language pertaining to mufflers for street legal vehicles which is meant to reference the federal regulations. For example, a reference to "standard factory equipment, or comparable to that designed for use upon the particular vehicle as standard factory equipment" when referencing exhaust systems (muffler) will allow an officer to simply visually inspect a motorcycle muffler for the required EPA label which will be present if the muffler meets those conditions (stock or designed as stock replacement for street legal muffler).

    These federal regulations are EPA Title 40, Part 205, Subpart D (motorcycles) and Subpart E (motorcycle exhaust systems).

    Subpart D—Motorcycles

    Subpart E—Motorcycle Exhaust Systems;sid=9d2dcc1c4ab65a26531fdd1d7bf8e83d;rgn=div6;view=text;node=40%3A24.;idno=40;cc=ecfr

    Motorcycles evidently cannot be [legally] manufactured to be loud. Owners replace the factory exhaust which must meet the federal regulations with an aftermarket exhaust system designed to make at least 2 to 4 times as much noise as a street legal muffler.

    How could park police enforce these laws, is it possible?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    This is so typical of a ignorant comment to make an all inclusive statement like "ORV's should not be on the beach" and "if fisherman want to fish the point let them walk their gear out". Well in your fabulous well thought out plan lets consider the handicapped and small children. Should we just post a sign stating you are not welcome? These inclusive statements are exactly why we fight you so hard. You will exclude anybody out there to further your cause. I only wish people like you would learn to think before you speak!!

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Carol has not even got a clue what CAPE HATTERAS NATION REACTIONAL SEASHORE is about. It is not a wilderness area!!!!! A group of special intrest groups, (Dow, Audbon and Sleg), have formed an alliance and threatened to sue and close six for the most fished spotes on the outer banks. Under this threat a conscent decrees was forced down the throats of those involved. Thses groups got more than their six spots shut down. When you close the ramps to the beach you shut down more than just that area. You shut down the entire beach because of lack of access to the space between enclosures because you can't get to there.

    Aside from not being able to fish the economic empact of this will eventually kill the local economy. I spoke with the owners of some local bait and tackle shops and their bussiness is down anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent from last year. the local motels and campground are having similar problems. The reality agents are not hurting because of the time frame for rental houses, usually 6 month to a year in advance. Next year will be the telling story on their situation.

    I spent a month starting May 12 thru June 10 2008. If this concent decree is not over turned beore next year I won't be spend any money going somewhere I can only ride the roads. People go there mainly to fish and enjoy Gods creation called the ocean.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    For those who think they have a need to blame ORV's for the Bird population decline first need to take their uniformed little minds over to www.nps/caha and check for yourself on the piping plover reports and you will see they have not actually increased in population of nests this year at all. I would also like you to note that there are no documented deaths of a piping plover by ORV, but there are many from predetation and storms. Does this mean you will ban acts of god from the beache also. After gathering your fact maybe we will actually listen to you.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Owen I agree with you about the important contribution ranger naturalists bring to the experience of many visitors (having been one myself for over a decade in the NPS) but the uniform alone does confer knowledge, depth or insight. I'm afraid that the visiting public is seeing an overall decline in the quality of interpretive services in the NPS, judging by the number of sub-par programs I have attended in the past few years over a wide range of units. I hear this from other people as well. I can honestly say that this was NOT the case until fairly recently. What happened?

    It is a situation that probably stems from a number of factors which includes the dumbed down curriculum of public education (and college as well), the inability to attract people willing to dedicate themselves to turning out superior material for a low-paying seasonal position and the lack of focused auditing and coaching from mid-level managers who are too absorbed in the latest WASO mandated trend such as podcasting and safety campaigns.

    I'm sorry to report that I've sat through way too many programs of late that were filled with bad grammar, lack of a central theme and often end with the depressingly familiar message that the world is going to hell in a handbasket if humanity doesn't come to a screeching halt and mend its wicked ways towards our humble and besieged Mother Earth. It seems that the fruits of a so called "environmental education" have finally come home to roost.

    Maybe rangers should start selling carbon credits after their programs instead of handing out Junior Ranger badges. It would provide a boost for their depleted budgets as well as help to cleanse a tapped out and exhausted planet.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    ORV's have NO BUSINESS on the beaches at all unless they're emergency vehicles!!!!!!!!! Why can't fishermen/women WALK down to the beaches with their gear??????? I say that no ORV's (except fro emergency vehicles) should be allowed in ANY wilderness areas.....They enable people to trash the beauty,hassle the animals with their noise,and pollute the air.

  • Olympic National Park Ready for Wolves?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I live on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Sequim. My grandparents milked cows on the "Sequim Prairie", with about 300 other farm-families. Over the last 40 years, Sequim became the largest community on the Peninsula, as farmland was developed into originally retirement housing, and more lately as a general development for folks seeking a less urbanized home, but with a more suburban character, rather than a 'straight' rural culture. Sequim is a suburban-like 'enclave', within a strongly rural region.

    It is not surprising that Sequim folks show much more interest in reintroducing wolves than the other communities of the Peninsula. This was well-documented in the careful social surveys that accompanied the preliminary investigation of the proposal to reintroduce wolves, during the late 1990s.

    However, it is also true that Sequim some years ago undertook to make pets out a small remnant herd of Roosevelt Elk that would come through their fields and yards each year. Now they have a very much larger herd of elk which likes to spend a much larger amount of its time ... breaking down their fences and trampling their grounds ... and the nice folks of Sequim now often complaint about the elk being such a nuisance.

    It seems doubtful the elk-weary folks of Sequim - who still oppose hunting the elk - have overlooked that wolves could help relieve their present problem. The larger problem is, though, they did not think through their earlier ideas about elk (nor listen to experienced advisers who cautioned them), and they appear to be repeating the mistake, in the case of wolves.

    The greatest concentration of elk habitat and elk herds, is in the western parts of the Olympic Peninsula. Since the Olympics are actually only a rather small region, and the physiography is radially-circularly arranged, wolves introduced at any point in the Olympic area would soon spread to all other areas ... whether their elk-control was wanted or appropriate elsewhere or not.

    Communities in the west of Olympic Peninsula remain strongly rural and resource-based. They opposed wolf-introduction. Candidly, the way Congress approved the social survey upon which further action (inaction) on the wolf proposal was based, seems to have been predestined to lead to the outcome that prevailed. In other words, Congress responded to wolf-proponents request for a study of wolf-introduction, by conducting scientific studies of communities known beforehand to oppose the idea. Documentation is available.

    If the sampling of opinion conducted in Sequim is repeated in other parts of the Olympic Peninsula, you may well be surprised, yet again. Firstly, the Congressionally funded study found & emphasized, that the main objection to wolves was not the wolves, but that interest groups and agencies from outside the jurisdiction, sought to make decisions that would affect the local jurisdiction. Many rural residents would in fact prefer that the Peninsula be as wild as it can be. They live here, and put up with the area's shortcomings, because they like it wild. Sharing the place with wolves is hardly anathema to the lifestyle or philosophy of many residents.

    The Sequim folks made an unfortunate and avoidable mistake with their local elk. It is possible to make a similar short-sighted misstep, with wolves. Elk could be heavily devastated, all across the Peninsula. If it were decided to 'adjust' the population of elk (which some suggest, but could be difficult to justify), wolf-introduction as a way to achieve it could readily prove to be heavy-handed overkill.

    An elk die-off could lead to further wildlife destabilization effects, especially with cougar and deer.

    Wolves are known to be making their way into the Cascade Mountains, not by introduction, but by natural dispersal in the absence of hunting & trapping pressure. These are natural populations which are moving and establishing themselves in a cautious and stable fashion. It is possible, and even anticipated, that some will before long find the Olympic Peninsula, and will gradually work their way into the ecological opportunities that exist here.

    To allow the wolves to come on their own, to 'feel' and 'work' their way in, could give us the best of all possible outcomes - wolves in a truly natural state, and a much reduced risk of radical ecosystem disturbance.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I keep seeing Hatteras Island refered to as a natural area. The "natural" part of the island was "destroyed" when we built the dunes as one of FDR's depression ending work projects(no there is nothing natural about the dunes they are manmade) in order to have a hard surface road. Why build a hard surface road on a barrier sandbar? For developement so tourists (humans) could be attracted to the beaches and money, jobs etc. could be created. These manmade dunes keep the natural process of ocean overwash from occuring, which causes the front of the island to be shaved off and keeps the backside of the island from building. As a matter of fact Hatteras has only been an island for aroung 150 years. We artificially keep Oregon Inlet open with manmade jetties and dredging. Before you side with the misinformed (or intentionally misleading) wildife groups. relearn your basic science on barrier islands. Hatteras is a manmade park. Check Webster for the definition of the word Park. As for the birds check out the science and history of the story; nesting pairs, chicks fledged per year where the nests are/were located it doesn't match what I see the "wildlife groups" claiming. notice effects of hurricanes.
    Beach buggies do not harm the beaches, if anything the tracks attract and hold sand. The dunes are destroying the beaches. My children learned a respect for wildlife and geology by fishing and driving on those beaches. If my only access to wildlife is the nature channel what a shame that would be. The bridge and allowing the sale of alcohol on the island has done more to change and damage the experience of Hatteras than anything else. Drunks and punks drive thru turtle nest enclosures not fishermen and women or their families.

    I had always considered the audobon society as good people. I have seen the light now though. They speak with a forked tongue and deal underhandedly.

    When the park was formed and the land bought beach driving access was promised.

    The NPS was doing a good job, find out the truth about how many birds this year successfully nested outside of the bird enclosures from the last 20 years. Manage wildlife with science and evidence, not opinion.

    How can "they" sue the gov't with my tax dollars? Why can't I use their tax dollars to defend my rights?

    I belive that at the highest level the "do-gooders" are being used. This is not about the birds, a real estate take over maybe? Own eight little spots and the gov't and our tax dollars will maintain and provide someone with 2 islands and a private national park.

    as stated so well above: "When few can have access to our wild areas, few will stand to protect them when they need protecting."

    Please learn the geology and history of Hatteras Island and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Learn the science of the issues. The evidence will lead you to membership in the OBPA and the NCBBA. Bring a fishing rod and your children!

    Tight lines and sharp hooks

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Hunters with firearms are the main control on Olympic Peninsula elk-populations today. Hunters - both local rural folk and veritable hordes in pickup campers 'from the cities' - lobby heavily to manage the herds at the highest achievable levels - the better to successfully hunt them.

    Present limits on the carrying capacity for elk are set primarily by the amount of clearcut logging being done outside the Park on public & private timberlands. Elk - as browsers - do best where most of the growth is in the form of brush and herbage. Once trees begin to dominate a site, they shade out such growth and the area offers insufficient food for them.

    These are, bear in mind, Roosevelt Elk, bigger than typical North American Wapiti, and they travel, live & feed in large herds. Many dozens ... even hundreds in the old days when they had access to extensive forest fire regeneration areas. The limited size of today's clearcuts, may in turn be limiting the size of the herds we see.

    Kurt, it is my understanding that originally, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside the Olympic Mountains (about 30 years before it was made a Park) explicitly as a refuge for the summer calving grounds of the elk herds. The herds head above the timberline for the meadows, as directly & early as the melting snowpack allows. Further, the really desirable forest stands were in the lowlands outside the rugged terrain of the Olympic Mountains ... and both Roosevelts failed to preserve those forests and have been criticized for demurring to timber and State economic interests. By the time Franklin made the Park, the big lowland trees - the real forest treasure that would have astounded people today (I've lived with the stumps all my life...) were gone.

    There are good studies showing dramatic elk increase following large fires of the past (The Forks Burn, 1952, perhaps 50 square miles), and hunters today head directly for clearcut regions (in the lowlands) that have had a few years to 'jungle out', and the elk have learned where they are, but not enough time for tree-regeneration to start killing off the browse.

    Wolves would be expected to drive the elk from low-quality understory where they might now be loitering in the fall within the Park (to avoid the hunters, possibly). Such 'elk parks' are a known habit of the herds, and they do chew-up & trample such sites rather noticeably. They shelter from hard weather and chew their cud within such open-understory, closed-canopy timber ... and will nibble on what little brush grows there, easily overpowering its ability to regrow. But that's just part of being elk ... and possibly avoiding the dominant predator today. [close to Franks' comment..]

    The basic 'problem' with the idea to reintroducing wolves in the Olympics, is that they are expected to follow the herds out of the Park in the fall, as the elk return to the lowland wintering grounds, where they will compete directly with firmly entrenched & highly organized hunters. The assessment of the Park's wolf carrying capacity was about 50 animals. Their assessment-descriptor did not include the private & commercial timberlands, making key parts of the wolf-proposal a wink & blink game.

    Small numbers of wolves have been moving into various parts of the region surrounding the Olympic Peninsula. Since these wolves are not generally being hunted or trapped, it is reasonable that a pack may establish on the Peninsula by it's own devices. This could be a considerably more interesting & valuable process to observe, than another head-butting contest by opposing human groups.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    cape hatteras is not a park, national parks traveler. it is a national recreational area for human biengs.human biengs have been driving on the beach at H.I. for a long time, human biengs that have been driving on the beach for a long time have been long time stewards of the beach. they clean it up, love the enviornment and the wildlife. they dont go around chasing plovers, attempting to band them, killing and maming hundreds of them. oh yes its true. killing predators such as fox and coons. also true. shaking hands and pledging to negotiate in good faith, all the while spinning yarns and decieving honest americans. you really need to get the facts and stop pretending to be for something, when your true objective is totally different.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    Who you talk to is the real question. What isn't said in all this is the fact that the Consent Decree in words APPEARS to take all parties positions into account. What it doesn't say is that ALL PARTIES have equal ability to verify sightings of nesting birds. What it doesn't say is Last Year Nests were located at grid X Y, and oddly this year every nesting area was withing close proximity to the access ramps to the beach. The original set aside on some ramps did leave room for pedestrians and vehicles to pass, but with in a week, Incredably, some one violated those particular areas and by Decree, the are was expanded and now did include ramps and access paths. In effect limiting the ability to pass the closed off access to get to the areas that remained open. Blockage from both end kept miles of beach inaccesable for most of the summer. The fishing community was locked out. Oh there was beach available to fish from, but not in areas where fish are normally caught. If you are of the opinion that the poor little birdies are being pushed out, you need to read more. Read the Island Free Press, even read some of the information about these effect birds available on the internet. You will quickly learn that the Piping Plover (PPL) Spring and Summer nesting area is closer to Long Island (oh yea, they have money, their beachs aren't closed) and their wintering area is Fl, GA and the gulf. The PPL at CHNSRA are just lazy mooches. they decided not to migrate, took up residence in an area that is not condusive to their survival. The mooch food off the fisherman ( would that be a reason their nest are located in the BEST FISHING AREAS?) and now they have a few bird wacko's sueing the FED GOV. Remember folks when they win, they get all their cost reimbursed by YOUR TAX DOLLARS. One - it takes away from the money available to run our parks, two- You know a tax increase is in the works to make the agency budget for the following year. three- this is a vicious circle, sue, get money, raise taxes, sue because they have more money to sue for. We, property owners in Hatteras love the bird as much as the next person, but if they can't survive without the wholesale rip off system. This year there were 7 birds fledged. that's 3 more than last year, at what cost? It is multi-millions of dollars per bird... that's the cost. All we're saying is think before you spout off about the poor little birdies that you know very little about.

  • National Park Quiz 14: Historic Houses   6 years 16 weeks ago

    I normally do fairly well on these quizzes, but this one I just blew completely. I only got 4 correct, including the bonus... Apparently I need to pay more attention to the historic houses!!

  • Is the National Park Service Obligated to Better Promote Proposed Change in Gun Regulations?   6 years 16 weeks ago

    As I grew up on the Sol Duc River of the Olympic Peninsula, Lyle Cowles - a lead Park trail-crew foreman - raised his kids next door. My family subsisted largely on deer & elk, with lots of choice fish & beach-food (plus a huge garden & wild fruit). The Cowles were vegetarian 7th Day Adventists. Lyle went ashore with the Marines on Guadalcanal, and his weapons hung on the bedroom wall, though he did not hunt.

    I did not experience an urban environment until about age 5 ... and thought the whole world consisted of forest, mountains, and small roads threading little towns together. I was shocked to see streetlights burning along the freeway ... and everywhere in the city when we got up at 5am in the morning!

    The Park is a sample of how I'd prefer everything to be, but without the borders and extra rules. I therefore like the Park & wilderness. The NPS is far from perfect, but at least on account of it we have decent reminders scattered through the western States.

    I always knew it was goofy to suspend the 2nd Amendment, within Parks, but the irregularity of it never really percolated up the priority queue through other issues, for me. That it (somewhat strangely..) now obviously has, for Congress and the Dept. of Interior, should probably serve as a clue to all of us that there may be more than one side to any particular coin. That seemingly-simple moves may arise from/reflect complex motives & factors. (Indeed, Congress has been prominently 'experimenting' with Park-policy, for many years.)

    Many (contemporary) career Park-people and folks of related liberal-environmental viewpoints have taken positions with regard to Parks and their personal role in & identification with them, which are at odds with various important facts & realities. Park personnel are employees not of an ideal or theoretical notion, but are servants of the truck drivers and waitresses of our nation. Park lands aren't the holdings of abstracted entities, but are the property of the public. Additional layers of rules & red tape might obscure the situation, but we shouldn't let ourselves misconstrue the basic facts. The great unwashed public is the boss. Even Congress is only the trail-crew foreman.

    My off-hand interpretation of the recent DOI ruling to allow local (State) laws to set the firearms regulations on Park lands within their jurisdiction, is that it may be intended as a corrective, to bring career Park people (and additional circles of close sympathizers) around to a more reality-based posture, with respect to whose land it is they are caring for, and who's viewpoint & needs are ascendant. It looks like it could be a 'shot across the bow', to me.

    To let the new ruling induce one to take sides in a conflict between opponents and supporters of gun ownership, is to invade Iraq when the problem is clearly not there. It is a diversion and a misapplication of resources. The options open to Park professionals and like-minded preservationists do not include making a call on the 2nd Amendment (and since D.C. vs Heller, this is plainly a fall-back & regroup point for opponents, anyway).

    Instead, the available actions for the Park & allies mainly center around how to successfully & competently manage the presence of firearms within Park facilities, and how to more-broadly inform & guide the general public (once the formal comment-period & appeals-processes are completed).

    I believe the fear of firearms within Parks is largely a matter of perception, and that what goes on in the Parks will remain close to what takes place now. I - like others who are knowledgeable on the matter - know that certain individuals have long elected to discretely tuck a pistol in their backpack. Few problems arise with such individuals, and few will arise henceforth.

    Thus, what is a stake is not the safety of our Parks, nor the disposition of the 2nd Amendment. Instead, it appears to be a question of who really has the ultimate proper authority to set basic policy. Park firearm policy has been guided by the personal beliefs and lifestyle positions of a dedicated & excellent few, who nonetheless were never elected, do not represent the citizens, and acted beyond their authority. That appears now to be under reconsideration.