Recent comments

  • Is San Juan National Historic Site Haunted?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    These forts are really something everyone should visit. We spent days wandering through learning about the history of the sites.

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Here's the latest wildflower forecast from Death Valley:

    Wildflower Update for Death Valley National Park
    February 8, 2009

    A strong storm has brought one to two inches of rain and significant flooding throughout the park the last few days. This has greatly increased our prospects for spring wildflowers in Death Valley. Much of the park received an early rainfall in October and a parkwide rain, nearly one half inch, just before Thanksgiving. This early rain, followed by warm temperatures allowed a widespread sprouting of annual wildflowers seeds. Some of these such as Desert Gold, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose and Sand Verbena have already been observed blooming along park roadsides in the southern and northern ends of the park.

    In Death Valley, the driest spot in North America, spring wildflowers are not a yearly event. It’s a rare treat for conditions to be just right. The bloom this spring may still be spotty, nothing like the huge blooms in 1998 and 2005, but still worth a viewing. The heavy rains were received late in the season, so the peak blooming period along the valley floor and up to 2,000 feet may be anywhere from mid-March to early April.

    Charlie Callagan
    Ranger Naturalist

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Jim, I'm told that Lake Manly, at least a portion of it, did reappear following the Feb. 7 rainstorm.

  • Are We Properly Caring for Our Ocean-Based National Parks?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    First, let me note that protection of marine resources has historically been substantially undervalued. Nevertheless, I have a couple quibbles with the above article.

    For one, the 99.9% figure includes both commercial and recreational fishing. It would probably be more appropriate to note the percent of US waters that are closed to commercial fishing. Fishing is permitted in National Marine Sanctuaries, Marine National Monuments, and waters designated as National Park, but only to the extent that such fishing is consistent with the designation of those protected places.

    For two, it is worth noting that the 85.5 million acres of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is about 2.5 million acres larger than all of the US National Parks *combined*. Additionally, the Bush Administration also recently nominated Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the first US nomination of a new World Heritage Site in 15 years. Moreover, not mentioned above is that the Bush Administration then outdid the above again by designating three new Marine National Monuments last month, with a total size of 125 million acres. Combined the four Marine National Monuments represent 2.5 times the total acreage of the National Park System.

    However, none of those four National Monuments are going to be run by the National Park Service. Thus one wonders whether protection of marine habitats should be consolidated under a single agency while maintaining the same level of protection? This might mean transferring Biscayne National Park to this agency, and maybe the marine sections of Dry Tortugas while leaving the NPS in charge of Ft. Jefferson and the nearby islands.

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This Valentine's day Iam sitting in the LA Basin watching a series of storms come through. I was wondering if there is a possibilty that a portion of Lake Manly might reform? Be a great chance to get an, "I kayaked Death Valley", shoulder patch if it did.

  • NPCA Applauds National Park System's Cut of Stimulus Package, But Says Much Remains to Do   6 years 15 weeks ago

    It would be really interesting to understand what some of the primary motivations among the various Congresspersons and their staffers were for the NPS getting the lower figure. Some questions that would be worth investigating - did some of the Senators questions whether the NPS had sufficient support staff in place to spend the money quickly? Did some of the Senators believe that some of the identified "ready-to-go" projects were ready-to-go because they were low-priority or not sufficiently meritorious enough to have been funded previously? Do some of the Congressmen have ongoing questions regarding cost control and efficiency in the National Park Service, and so are trying to use tight budgets as a proxy for greater cost effectiveness measures in the Park System? I don't necessarily have any answers for this, but two things do strike me as very intersting about the above article:
    - the NPS seems to have gotten a surprisingly low figure relative to the needs identified by Park Advocates like the NPCA, especially when, say, compared to the funding received for other National priorities in the bill like Education and Transportation Infrastructure spending, which are receiving spending increases of nearly a doubling in total funding or more for some programs within those areas. Surely spending on the National Parks would be just as stimulative as those other two categories, and certainly the NPCA routinely argues that the needs of National Parks is just as important as those areas, and yet as a percentage of budget the NPS is receiving much, much less, and certainly much, much, less in absolute dollar terms...
    - the NPCA seems to have meekly applauded the $750 million as "a very strong step" rather than criticizing the $1.5 billion in cuts from the House version of the bill. The NPCA is normally a fierce advocate for fully-funding the Park System, and yet the NPS ended up with only about 1/3rd of what the House was willing to give them. So why not a stronger stance from them on this? This stimulus bill was perhaps a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address any backlog of needs for the Parks and to "make Parks a priority." Quite simply, it didn't happen, and the NPCA seems nevertheless reasonably happy with that.... Very interesting....

  • New Lodge Gives You an Opportunity to Better Know Kenai Fjords National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This is great news. I'm not sure how many Lodges have been built recently in National Parks, but it doesn't seem like many. This Lodge sounds like it should really benefit visitors to this relatively unknown gem of a National Park.

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   6 years 15 weeks ago

    The handshake is a good suggestion, Franz; I can attest to the worth of it from personal experience. Let me make an additional suggestion. If it isn't feasible to stop and thank the uniformed military personnel you see, say a soldier hurrying past you in an airport terminal, just salute him/her by placing your hand over your heart. You'll see a lot of smiles.

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Short, but very moving. Having been to Gettysburg and several of the other War Between the States battlefields (which by the way are disapearing at an alarming rate due to urban sprawl) and stood where the battlelines were formed on Cemetary Ridge, and tried to imagine..... And stood above looking down into Devil's Den and hearing the voices....and wondering how we could ever forget....

    And now our World War II veterns are dying by the thousands every year as they reach their 80's and 90's. Then will come our Korean and Viet Nam vets as they move up the ladder...

    Please do as I do, when you see a vetern - anywhere, anytime - walk up to them, shake their hand and thank them sincerely for their service to their country.

    And stop by Arlington Cemetary sometime...and look at the thousands and thousands of white tombstones marching in perfect formation onto the horizion....and try not to be permanently touched...

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    "FYI MH, there are tons of reports of CCDW carriers stopping crimes"-Amststz

    Hmmm, there are many more reports of people without guns stopping crimes.

    But the real point that I want to make is from something that you said later in your comment. "...the law says that after training, testing, and a shooting test I am aloud to carry in certain places, abiding by certain rules. It allows me to protect my family if need be and others if I can do it safely."

    There you said it, "certain places", not all, and the reason for that is guns are not appropriate in all places. Part of understanding if guns are appropriate in parks is to study their impact (i.e., do and EIS).

    As for an earlier argument about cars in parks causing more deaths to both people and wildlife there is one very important difference between cars and guns.... purpose. Additionally, before any road in built in a park today an EIS is done to help quantify its potential impact.

    The very difficult task will come in defending the statistics used in an EIS. How do you compare potential human lives lost/saved/ or even changed to environmental impacts? I think the key there will be in the Organic act... it helps argue the purpose of the parks and in the end, the parks are there for preservation of the environment (not for the ungoverned use of the people).

    Also... notice that is discussion is being framed around NPS sites and not around wildlife refugee sites.

  • NPCA, Congressman Issa Battle Over Propriety of Stimulus Funding for National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    It seems pretty clear that Mr. Obey has taken several steps to recuse himself from lobbying his Dad. Nevertheless, in Washington perception is all too often reality. At the end of the day, one of the NPCA's topmost priorities is to lobby for increased appropriations, and it will certainly be very difficult to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest between their chief lobbyist and the head of the House Appropriations Committee. Its hard to see how this issue will go away quietly without even more being done to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Howdy Kurt:
    If the good rains continue to come, I surmise we just might catch the belly flowers in bloom as well. Get your best camera out for a spectacular spring showing.

  • If Science in Lake Clark National Park Is Good, Is It Also Good in Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Another interesting question is where science should rank in the National Park Service's mission. The NPS already has two priorities: preservation and visitation, should scientific inquiry also be in the mix? Or should scientific inquiry primarily be handled by a combination of other Federal agencies, such as the US Geological Survey and partnerships with universities?

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    FYI MH, there are tons of reports of CCDW carriers stopping crimes. Therefor we have shown that by carrying there is the possibility that we are keeping you safer. As far as the car thing I was simply responding to the statement "And with all do respect to carriers of concealed weapons permits, passing a proficiency test on the use of a handgun seems unlikely to do much for the piece of mind of the average family-of-four on vacation." By your rational I shouldn't carry because it's only a proficiency test, which is false. I was asking how much "training" do people get before they drive a vehicle and for that matter how long do they have to wait before getting their license back after say a reckless driving charge, DUI, etc? In my opinion they are more of a threat to my family of 6 the a legally caring, trained CCDW person. There are idiots out there that take carrying to the extreme, but I have yet to find where a legally carrying individual has been charged with, and convicted of a crime when trying to help. (I'm sure that's about to change). The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with CCDW, that argument from my piers is ridiculous. However the law says that after training, testing, and a shooting test I am aloud to carry in certain places, abiding by certain rules. It allows me to protect my family if need be and others if I can do it safely. If the law reverses I won't like it but I will abide by it. I doubt though that the criminals, who you should be worried about, will.

  • Two Rangers Have a Narrow Escape with an Avalanche in Alaska   6 years 15 weeks ago

    You're exactly right about the long drive - that's a fact of life in much of Alaska. My one brief visit to Skagway suggested that shopping for anything but the basics is pretty limited there, but this was a good reminder that I'm glad I don't have to drive 812 miles one-way to get to the nearest Home Depot!

    Re: the training session - I deleted some of the details that I didn't think would be of interest to many readers. The training was the annual law enforcement "refresher' that all commissioned NPS rangers are required to complete each year. A number of those sessions are held in central locations or larger parks, and rangers from smaller parks such as Klondike Gold Rush attend the one closest to their duty station. The two rangers were also hauling some radio equipment back to the park from Anchorage, rather than paying to have it shipped in by air, so the trip did double duty.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I definitely have to second the nominations Macchu Picchu, Gros Morne National Park, and Iguazu Falls National Park. Gros Morne has spectacular fjords, and is also one of the only places on Earth where rocks from the Earth's mantle are exposed at the surface. Even if you don't appreciate the geological significance, those rocks give certain sections of the Park an eerie moonscape feel (and quite different from the various lava beds like Craters of the Moon in the US), which stand in stark contrast to the emerald green hills lining some of the fjords. Meanwhile Iguazu is perhaps the most spectacular waterfalls in the world - massive in scope, with tremendous volumes of water, and surrounded by lush rainforest. Its preserved by National Parks on both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides.

    Some other nominees:
    -3 Tanzanian Sites: Hard to chose among Kilimanjaro National Park with its spectacular mountain, Ngorongoro Conservation Area - set in a perfect crater and boasting perhaps the largest permanent concentration of "safari animals in Africa, and Serengeti National Park - whose annual wildebeest and zebra migrations are surely one of the Wonders of the World
    - Roman Forum: Not technically a National Park, although it would surely be a National Park in the United States, the Roman Forum and adjacent Colloseum and Arch of Constantine is of the most-famous and most-amazing archeological and historical sites in the world
    - Pyramids and Sphinx: Again, not technically a "National Park" but surely merits inclusion on any such list.
    - Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal - "The crown of the world" includes Mt. Everest

  • Two Rangers Have a Narrow Escape with an Avalanche in Alaska   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Its also interesting to note that a road trip from Skagway to Anchorage is some 812 miles (nearly 16 hours) and requires travelling through Canada to get around massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. That's quite a drive for a training session, let alone for shopping!

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Kurt, your Death Valley article is very timely, given that the park just celebrated its 76th birthday this past Wednesday (February 11). Speaking of timely, it looks like my January 19-21 visit to DEVA was just in the nick of time, since roads have been closed now in many of the areas we visited. It rained the last day we were there, and that really caught me by surprise (Death Valley being the driest place in North America). A ranger I queried about the rain told me that the January 21 rainfall in the Furnace Creek vicinity was "about the fourth" in the park since October 6. I took him at his word and haven't checked the official records.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    a bunch of you guys are idiots. the law abiding, licensed to carry, would be able to carry. the criminals and non-law abiding will still carry, if they want; so who has the advantage here? who's safe? i don't feel safer knowing the fbi, or cop, next to me, can't carry and the criminal who decides to rob the store, while he's there, or take a pot shot, will. are the people in the gang infested neighborhoods safer, if cops didn't have guns and the gang members armed illegally? think about it, makes no sense, this is stupid. the people fighting this, are either stupid idiots, like carrying illegally, or know people who do.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    How does the world look from your holy perch, B. Amstutz? I don't understand how owning a gun has anything to do with keeping me safe from a terrorist. Terrorist attacks occur in all kinds of countries, both those with very strict gun laws and those with very loose gun laws. I don't see how owning guns has anything to do with this. Yes, I thank our military personnel for putting their lives on the line to defend the country, but I don't see how that justifies allowing guns in national parks.

    I'm also wondering whether you really believe that guns and cars are equally appropriate for national parks, or if you wanted to rethink that point. I agree that cars have more overall impact, but I also have to believe that they might be just a teensy more essential for actually, y'know, visiting most parks.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I've never had any problem with people carrying guns, generally dislike the gun-control lobby, am well trained and licensed to carry myself, and would fully support concealed carry in the parks...

    ...except for these "discussions" here. After reading this stuff I want to become a gun control activist. The ignorant, condescending, and melodramatic comments are certainly persuasive, thought not, I fear, in the manner intended. The views of the more measured and logical of the gun-rights supporters (surely, hopefully, a majority of that camp?) are certainly marginalized by this. Sad, but a similar fate as debates on any other emotionally charged issues, I suppose.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Just stating facts fontinalis. I'm not angry at all. As for protector, do you sleep good at night? If yes then I, and my other brothers in arms, are doing our job. You are welcome. As a friend and author wrote in his book "On Killing" you are just a sheep and we are the sheep dogs. You follow along doing what everyone else does criticizing the sheepdog until one day when the wolf comes by. Then we are your best friend. I'd rather be criticized by people like you and fight the terrorist in their "yard" than leave myself, my family, and my country vulnerable to threats foreign and domestic. So bash us gun carriers and military all you want, we'll still be here when you need's our job. Sleep well tonight, and tomorrow when your driving down the road, feel safe that you won't be blown up by a roadside bomb . And know that your kids will be safe in school, unlike the massacre that happened at a school in the Soviet Union. Because terrorist " don't live here" and you don't need protection........right?

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Nothing like an angry rant with a little ad hominem assault thrown in to engender confidence, eh?. I'm sure everyone fells much better knowing our new self-appointed protector, Amstutz, is on watch. Enjoy your next trip to the park, folks. Stay low.

  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park's Mining History   6 years 15 weeks ago

    A good followup to this item would be an article detailing the controversy surrounding the bringing of this area into the park, the decision makers behind that idea, and the resultant waste and difficulties foisted upon the Service with that decision. This would be particularly timely considering that the name of one of those primary decision makers is now being bandied about as a nominee for Director of the National Park Service.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 15 weeks ago

    You do all realize we, (CCDW) permit holders, carry all over the united states right now, right? And there already are thousands who do. What is so different about me carrying it in a NP? As for the training. You lump everyone into a non trained don't know caliber, etc, category. I myself am in the military. Infantry (door kicker/grunt) and have been for 13 years. Been to Iraq over 30 months, been in very stressful situations, am trained to know when to pull my gun and when not to. I also have been hunting 16+ years and have been in the woods more than most of you traveling tourist posting quotes and stats. Speaking of stats... check the one on Australia's guns law and how well that one worked out. How much training do people get before driving a car? Statistically these are more deadly than guns, especially legal guns! Should we ban all motorized vehicles from NP? What's their impact on the environment? Bet it's worse than my gun's. I could go on and on about how ridicules the gun ban and your reasoning for it. Just make sure if, God forbid, you ever find yourself being robbed, your kid is being taken from you, etc. you let me know NOT to use my weapon because you don't believe we need them in the hands of people who can use them correctly. ( Oh and drugs aren't smuggled across the borders in NP either so don't worry about criminals with fully auto guns in your NPs. )