Recent comments

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Wanted to let folks know, I've made an important update to the original story. We've heard from the National Park Service today. Upon further study, it appears as if revealing a Real ID to park rangers would not be a requirement of admittance into our national parks. More details are at the end of the original article above.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    It is whacko; are people serious about organizing a movement not to comply? Why do I get the sense that if this happens and a boycott is organized that people will still find themselves putting themselves through this absurdity?

    Just brand us now; that would save the government a lot of time and money.

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

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    That this idea is even being entertained as a possibility is ample proof that the federal government is NOT the entity that should be running the parks and monuments of this land.

    It sounds like some lost plan that a diligent historian has unearthed from the hidden vaults of Nazi Germany, where Himmler proposed a plan to check I.D.s at the entrances to German parks in order to maintain national purity and prevent the unwanted invasion of "undesirables" and seditious aliens like Jews and gypsies.

    This is so totalitarian and downright whacko that I can't believe most folks who contribute dialogue to this website are still such avid cheerleaders for the federal government, especially in light of their abysmal record whether it is in Iraq or the Florissant Fossil Beds.

    Your government education and servile indoctrination has served them well.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    I sincerely doubt that anyone actually intends to require ID at all National Parks. All the other examples, federal buildings, courthouses, planes and trains, are secure environments, so we can expect that the ID might be required at similar sites. The Washington Monument, for example, has metal detectors and x-ray machines. The Liberty Bell requires some level of security check. I don't know whether ID is particularly useful in those places, but I think we can agree that it makes more sense to require ID at that sort of monument than at Wilson's Creek or Hovenweep.

    However, for the sake of historical context, I'll note that back in the sepia-toned early days of the national parks, visitors had to give their names and home addresses at the entrance stations as a matter of course. That's what entrance stations were for.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Federal law enforcement already has the legal right to inspect your ID at any time while you are out on federal property -- regardless of what you are doing. If you do not have a passport or other federally-compliant ID, then when the so-called "Real ID Act" kicks in, they will also have the legal right to detain you until your identity can be verified.

    This is a legal right. It has nothing to do with technology, databases, resources, citizen complaints, or desire to enforce the law. Law enforcement is separate from a law's existence, and this law is already two years old. Maybe when the law kicks in there won't be much enforcement -- then again, maybe there will -- but what about in five or ten years?

    Bottom line: starting May 11, 2008, every person out on federal land runs the risk of being detained if their ID does not comply with the so-called "Real ID Act."

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Yet another reason to reclaim our public lands from the federal government.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Yet another reason to reclaim our public lands from the federal government.

  • When Nature Calls, It's Hard to Find a Restroom on the National Mall   6 years 32 weeks ago

    The lack of restrooms is a definite problem on the National Mall - although I wonder how the NPS will deal with the situation without turning additional restrooms into de facto homeless shelters. The other major problem is that all of the Smithsonians and Federal Buildings surrounding the Mall effectively shut down around 5pm, creating an effective dead space in the heart of the City. Hopefully the Park Service's plans for the National Mall will allow for additional restaurants, cafes, coffe shops, ice creameries, etc. that could add some cultural vibrance to what should be the heart of the Nation's capitol.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    I too have been to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and have been appalled as well. Its really a shame, as this place has some of the most truly amazing fossils found anywhere in the world - insects so finely preserve in stone that you can even see the veins in the wings! Thanks for bringing this appalling situation to a wider audience!

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Pardon my puritanical instincts, but I personally don't see the correlation between museum facilities and the NPS budget. On the other hand, if Yosemite is granted a disproportionate amount of the budget as suggested within the Centennial Initiative, all bets are off. I don't care WHO has the deepest pockets, and trust me, Grand Teton has about the deepest pockets you'll ever encounter. The entire fabric of this initiative was supposedly intended to bring about rapid and long overdue NEEDED improvements, as from what I've read regarding who gets what, the whole project is a farce. What can I say, just another shining example of your government in action.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Yosemite is not an unusual circumstance, in the staffing of "gated" entry points only during normal business hours, whatever that translates into. It seems as though the definition of normal varies widely across the system in actual practice, irrespective of the printed literature. During the course of my wanderings I always time my entry to ensure that I'm not wasting precious time waiting in line for the privilege of entry. But seeing as I purchase annual park passes, I can't honestly feign any sense of guilt in my practice either. But I'm curious as to why this identity card is required at park service centers and not, apparently at border crossings.....maybe somebody can explain that one to me with a straight face. It's also true that there simply isn't enough manpower to effectively police the parks, but is that really an issue? Anybody care to venture a guess, in terms of overall percentage, how many non-paying customers we're dealing with and the total dollar revenue being circumvented? Granted every dollar is more precious than gold to the operating budgets of the parks, but I doubt whether the extra few thousand (I'm being generous) dollars that average out across all parks is enough to warrant this extreme response from Homeland Security. When they start effectively responding to the situation with our borders, I'll purchase their stupid card. Until such time, if this inane policy is indeed implemented prior to the border mess being cleaned up, it should prove to be quite a boom-time for the state parks systems. And a corresponding decrease for backcountry permit applications.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    The NPS has enough blueprints and acronym laden initiatives to clog Crater Lake and cover the Everglades. How many more studies, working groups, panels, visioning sessions, conferences and official reports does it take to see very clearly that NPS is a dysfunctional, self-perpetuating, politically befuddled bureaucratic morass. The parks and the visiting public deserve better!

    Now don't go and jump on Arnsberger, he doesn't know any better. Reports and studies were the lifeblood of his career. He just can't countenance the awful truth that this agency is too broken to fix. More money will NOT help. It hasn't helped public education and it sure won't fix the systemic weakness that is inherent to all agencies of the federal government, especially those of the corrupt and ineptly run Department of Interior. The people writing these reports and initiatives are simply clinging to power and secure jobs.

    To better serve the interests of the national parks in the future will require a whole new paradigm shift towards smaller more locally focused management that is both public and private and often will be a combination of the two. The 100 year-old model is officially dead. No one needs a WASO sanctioned report to tell us that the flat hatted green & gray has seen its final days of relevance.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Thanks Kurt! You're full of so much information.

    Sadly, the training at SEKI never covered fossilized Taxodiaceae or Cupressaceae or whatever it is now, and I never stumbled upon any mention of it at the Park in the pre-Internet era. I had to settle for living with the living ones.

    However, if you want to know where the historical blueprints are with the sewer line through Grant's roots, I can point you in that direction.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Now, Haunted Hiker, before you can fix something you have to know what's wrong with it, no? And I agree, the NPS seems to have more than enough bureaucracy in it. But how can you fix something if you don't have a blueprint or know exactly what's wrong with it?

    The agency's asset management program was long in coming, but we finally have a pretty good idea of what's wrong with the park system's infrastructure and a metric to determine where to start in fixing things. Shouldn't similar efforts go into, for instance, trying to assess how the regional offices function, whether there's a need for a full-fledged staff in each and every park unit (they share superintendents and staff in places like Sequoia and Kings Canyon and the Southern Utah Group, why not elsewhere?), and even whether the number of NPS units should be trimmed?

    I don't like the sound of "reports and series of reports" any more than you, but how else can things get corrected? I like the idea of a free-standing committee that would assess things across the board and help guide the NPS. Of course, for that to happen I think we'd have to have a drastic makeover of the NPS hierarchy. Specifically, the NPS director could no longer be a political appointee, for such an individual would no doubt be quick to ignore a committee's recommendations.

    Perhaps such reports have already been prepared. If so, let's give them some daylight.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Kurt...you kill me...in a good way!

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Beamis,

    You nailed it again. Could Arnberger's statement sound more bureaucratic? By God! This crisis calls for reports, reports and "a series of reports!" Reminds me of a scene in the movie Office Space where there's a bulletin board in the background with a flow chart titled "PLANNING TO PLAN."

    Would some DOING TO DO be too much to ask for on this go around?

    Anne, thanks for adding your studied perspective!!! I worriy less about where the funds come from as I do about how efficiently they will be managed. And will we remember and see the results of the Centennial Initiative more than 50 years later as we do the Mission 66 projects?

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    C'mon Frank, look at the tree rings. Obviously it's Sequoia affinis, which is most closely related to today's semprevirens.

  • Grand Teton Bears, Update   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Bears let me know when the apples and pears are at their prime.
    Deer let me know when the strawberries are juicy.
    Raccoons remind me it is time for a dump run.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Beamis's logic, as usual, is sound and thoughtful.

    Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a well-run state park, and the sequoias are well-protected. Sounds to me like some people can't accept local control and protection of natural resources. By that argument, parks like Calaveras should be transfered to the NPS. Were that to happen, they'd probably dig a sewer line through the grove like they did next to ol' General Grant in the 1960s. Rip apart, sever, maim, kill thousand-year-old roots so you can flush your crap in the grove. That's NPS protection fer ya.

    Oh, and speaking of sequoias, are those fossilized Sequoiadendron giganetum or Sequoia semprevirens in the photo ("redwood stumps")?

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Even at Yosemite National Park, the entry gates on the roads are only staffed during normal office hours. There isn't the budget for staff to manage visitor entrances and exits at other times.

    I was once told by someone at another park that hikers entering and exiting the parks on foot from adjacent forst or BLM wilderness areas were still liable for park entry fees. But of course, there is no way they could justify the manpower to enforce that either.

    It may be some security bureaucrat's dream to identify every park visitor, but there just aren't the resources to ever make it happen.
    -----
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    Download the MP3 programs or subscribe to the podcast at...
    www.wildebeat.net

  • Grand Teton Bears, Update   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Here, here J!
    This is a HUMAN problem. Problem is these fines aren't big enough. $200.00 is nothing nowadays when folks don't bat an eye pouring 70 or eighty bucks into their SUV's gas tank. Make it $5,000.00 and people might start paying attention!

  • Grand Teton Bears, Update   6 years 32 weeks ago

    How did we, humans, get to be so arrogant? Why do we think that the 'bear' (or any other animal) needs to live with us? We are suppose to be 'smarter than the average bear' and yet we still crowd them out of their habitat, feed them when they have plenty of food of their own and in general, feel we can change them to 'our ways.' I say write those citations! Why kill a 'problem bear' when the problem is actually the human. I agree with the joke about 'relocating' the humans out of the area, to bad it is a joke.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    I generally prefer state parks to national parks because they offer a more resource focused experience and are not managed by people who are just stopping off for a few years before moving on to another park, in another part of the country, to help complete a career punch-list. Some of the states with excellent park systems include: Florida, Texas, Nebraska, West Virginia, Nevada, South Dakota, California and Oregon.

    I find it ironic that Merryland is saying that turning these currently neglected fossil beds over to another controlling authority would result in not enough people being concerned with their fate. Isn't this article about NPS neglect of the Lorax's beloved fossils?

    P.S. Good for you Jr. Ranger. Love the JUST the parks and your career will go nowhere, but you'll have a better time and get to date more girls in the gateway towns. Believe me I know!

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    At least I'm not looking to climb the ladder.....

    ---
    jr_ranger
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
    http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
    http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
    President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
    Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 32 weeks ago

    The sentiment is well taken, but I'm not certain that the only tag that draws cross-country trekkers ends with National Park, National Monument, National Preserve, etc. While the majority of state managed facilities are indeed lacking in many areas of grandeur, most notably in their food and lodging aspects, what lies within the boundries of the parks (e.g. scenery, solitude) is more often than not well worth the extra time and effort. Bear in mind however, the main reason that the state parks do not offer these ammenities is the fact that they generate a minute revenue stream based largely on the fact that they don't collect admission fees, and the fees that they do charge are generally about half of similar NPS facilities. Not surprisingly, the proximity of ammenities to these "ugly sister" parks are many times conveniently located in the surrounding communities, many of which rely heavily on the annual influx of travel season tourist dollars, and are either adjacent to or a very short commute from the parks. (There are exceptions however, and you may find yourself literally stuck with either McArches or the gas station QuickieMart, which will probably be in the same building.) And VERY few state parks lack for tent and hard-side camping facilities, just pillow-top beds and in-room jacuzzi tubs. I guess it depends on which of the following options suit you best: 1) pack in your own meals and temporary residence, 2) camp at the park and head into town for breakfast and dinner, concentrating on the local cuisine to optimize your experinece, 3) complain to the staff that they are missing the opportunity of a lifetime by not having built a 5-star hotel / spa in anticipation of your arrival, or 4) miss out on the opportunity to expand your appreciation for some historically significant portions of the history of our country, highlighting the best and worst of our heritage on a national, regional and local level.