Recent comments

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Folks I messed up my grammer, so I edited it. It was originally posted earlier in the day before the posting above.

    Sorry

    Dapster

    Chris,

    Your quote:

    "As my time as a Senior volunteer at a National Park has taught me "Mitigation funding" is something you come to both love and hate, and thanks to the current adminstration the NPS's increasing reliance on it has become a serious problem."

    Can you please explain what you know about this situation? That's new terminology to me, and I would like to know how it might come into play in the CHNSRA issue. Thanks in advance!


    Mitigation funding is when a park get funding from a corporation to offset any environmently or any other damage they have done to a park because of their actions. For example, an oil company drills or drilled for oil near a National Park and to help Mitigate their past or future damage give the park MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. Now just think how this how this can become a problem.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Beamis,

    Keweenaw National Historical Park is an interesting example. First of, the places with in the park were already designated a National Landmark before it became a National Historical Park, second, is economic development really such a bad thing, and third is where a park located really matter. However, I also agree with you on many levels and that the "park" should never had been created.

    My belief is that the Keweenaw National Historical Park should have been designated a National Heritage Area under the administration of the. This would have given the place the economic benefits the local congressmen wanted, as well all of the other untold benefits that come with a "national title". Nevertheless, it was probably pushed to be designated a "National Historical Park" for a couple of reasons: 1. to get "mitigation funding" to help pay for turning it into a park, and 2. thanks to our current environmental laws get more funding on top of the mitigation funding (which is a benefit of being a NPS unit) to pay for cleaning it up.

    Keweenaw National Historical Park also highlights another problem with the National Park System, its increasing reliance on "Mitigation Funding". This is becoming a serious problem because many NPS units have been manipulated to maximize this type of funding. Some parks are improperly designated. Other parks are too small and don't include areas they should. While even more are too large and include areas they shouldn't or NPS shouldn't deal with. However, it can get even more troubling when combinations of all three.

    The most recent, and quite obvious, example of this the Lower Taunton river being included in the legislation. This my friend is an example of a park being larger than it should to maximize "mitigation funding" using what I call a mitigation zone.

    And Frank,

    That site you talk about acts a research center doing both historical and archeological surveys, which is why it costs so much money to run. Moreover, I do agree with you that the NPS shouldn't protect everything and that the system would benefit if more parks were run as affiliated areas not run or funded by the federal government but governed by federal law, monitored by NPS, and have a title that comes the economic benefit that of gaining a "national title".

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I do not believe in these kinds of exercises, but if we all sat around a table and listed the top ten NPS areas that we would prune, I suspect that our lists would be significantly different. And that's the rub. One person's pork barrel park is another person's crown jewel.

    There is one other potential flaw in the ideas that have been expressed in this thread. I'm not sure I know of one state or one NGO that would willingly accept the financial and supervisory responsibility involved in assuming the management of a national park area. In fact, as we know from history, it is much more likely that local and state jurisdictions try to pass their areas on to the NPS--Gateway and Golden Gate are two good examples.

    This has been a fun, stimulating discussion. I hope we can have more of them like this.

    Rick Smith

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    The simplest answer is that "a national park is whatever Congress says is a national park." But many Park Service leaders, from Stephen Mather to James Ridenour, have been unwilling to accept this answer. Mather worried that "low-grade" parks would set a precedent for reducing the quality of existing parks. Creating a park that had a dam in it might justify damming the Grand Canyon. Creating a park that was heavily clearcut might justify clearcutting Yosemite. So early park advocates believed that parks should be limited to the most spectacular and pristine areas.

    On this basis, Mather opposed many proposals for national parks--including parks at Lake Tahoe, Wasatch in Utah, Big Horn in Wyoming, Sawtooth in Idaho, and a Cascades park in Oregon and Washington that would cover Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and other Cascades peaks. Mather also kept parks out of the system that were added after his death, including Grand Coulee, the North Dakota badlands, Washington's Lake Chelan, and the Indiana sand dunes.

    In proposing such parks, members of Congress often hoped that the magic words "national park" would help stimulate local economies. If nothing else, the placement of rangers and visitors facilities would bring federal funds into the areas. Mather saw the political benefits of spreading parks across the nation, but was unwilling to degrade the system with substandard parks. Instead, he promoted state park status for areas that deserved protection but were not nationally significant.

    More here

    There are many examples of parks that could be "pruned" from the system and turned over to state or non-profits, as Mather once suggested.

    Take Eugene O'Neill NHS: "This house is no more nationally significant than thousands of other buildings that were home, at one time or another, to various American writers and artists."

    Frederick Law Olmsted NHS: "Frederick Law Olmsted was a big spender when it came to parks, but even he might shudder at the thought of spending $1.3 million per year to maintain a house, one acre, and a collection of documents that together serve an average of less than twelve visitors per day" [in the early 1990s--currently closed to visitation].

    A smaller system means a more efficient system. The federal government simply cannot protect EVERYTHING worthy of protection, and an investigation should be undertaken to see which parks were established as pork barrel, and once decided, those parks should be turned over to other agencies. Pruning these units will only strengthen the entire system.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    LH,

    The "Lip Rippers" moniker is my personal favorite too. Classic! I have seen it in print on other sites, believe it or not. This thread contained some similar sentiments, as I know you are aware.

    Your albiet distant view is quite accurate, I must say. I would also agree with your "simplistic" comment, but I think that the posts on this thread by those of us painfully close to the issue have helped to clarify the situation, and show just how hard an area this is to manage due simply to geography.

    Thanks for your sympathies for our cause. I believe as you do, that this battle is far from over. I do not wish to see it tied up in courts, but would rather see a more democratic process be allowed to settle this affair. We’ll just have to wait and see on that, while breathing normally. Good advice there!

    Chris,

    Thanks for the excellent description of “Mitigation Funding”. I’ve never heard of it coming into play in the NPS areas that I frequent. I can clearly see how that could indeed become a huge problem. Kind of sounds like an area could be “bought/hushed up”, for the right amount of money.

    In the CHNSRA, I’m afraid it’s all about “Litigation” funding these days….

    Thanks again to you all for your insights. I think we’ve all learned something from this thread. I know I certainly have.

    dap

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I respectfully, disagree.

    I for one believe that the country can definitely do without a park commemorating our nation's "copper smelting heritage", most of which was a Super Fund cleanup site to begin with. The Keweenaw National Historical Park in Michigan is a prime example of something that would have never been developed locally or at the state level and was from the beginning a very upfront attempt to use federal money to create a tourist destination in an economically depressed part of the country. The local congressman who pushed it through admitted as much.

    Can we agree on at least one? There are others but let me take this momement to point to one very egregious example of abuse and say that it is very hard to deny that what we are looking at is obvious Congressional pork on display. This area is NOT nationally significant, nobody besides locals even knows where it is and it does not get very many curious tourists trekking into the U.P. to take in our rich heritage of copper smelting.

    Rick I'm more than willing to second-guess the motivations of a Congress that thinks nothing of funding an unjust war and bridges to nowhere. If anything second-guessing is the only natural response a sentient being should have concerning the works of these criminal clowns.

    Do you really think this obscure toxic wast dump of a park is up to the standards of "national significance"? I really have my doubts.

    As I said there are many more.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago


    Ted Clayton, there is a difference between the mature reflection of a nation and most of what we hear from people shaking their fist at the sky who complain about too many parks and parks that don't deserve designation. This is the context, I believe, of the Rick Smith remarks.

    You may not know it but the effort to undermine wholesale the legitimacy of this category or that of national park system units has been going on since the 1970's. It is even accompanied by its own moronic literature, books like The Thinning of the Blood. You may be outside of it and do not associate your remarks with this context, but without a cultural sense that there is great reverence for a Generation's effort set aside for preservation what it considers the essence of what it Values, our cultural continuity really is in danger. Preservation decisions are not unlike supreme court precedents. They can be changed, but in the main great priority must always be given these commitments.

    We are all facile enough to disparage the simple clarity of the concept of preservation, or to trivialize this or that example of government action. We can say that culture, language, taste, climate and nation-states are all forever changing, and so nothing really matters. But Rick Smith is exactly right at the core of this. It seems to me as a people in America we do seek to establish excellence in our culture and civilization. Like expanding freedom, we have to fight to retain these best elements of what is best in our civilization. We will lose the best if we cynically parce the very concept of reverence for the things that sustain the excellence of our culture.

    As Rick says: "think about it."

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I agree with you, Beamis, that it is important to subject policies--feeding bears, killing wolves, etc.--to constant scrutiny. In my mind, "delisting parks" is a significantly different issue.

    Rick Smith

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I might add that without second-guessing the NPS would still be having tourists come to enjoy the spectacle of bears eating garbage at the Yellowstone dump, while the deliberate killing wolves would continue to be standard operating procedure as would the stocking of streams with non-native species of fish and suppression of all fires.

    Without second-guessing civilization ceases to move forward.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Ted,

    You make very good points, and agree with you on many points, but we have to be careful what we call and define a National Park. A National Park does not have to be as grand as the Grand Canyon. The current system and definition has created both an imbalance and a misunderstanding. A National Park should represent what is important national and the best a region has which is important for everyone to have.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Rick Smith & Michael Kellett,

    I have to agree with Lone Hiker. Little or nothing about the United States, its citizens or anything else human, is established in perpetuity.

    Certainly - absolutely - as Rick said:

    "We ought to be very careful when we talk about "delisting" NPS areas."
    Being careful and using our best judgment in these matters goes without saying ... but we should certainly apply & exercise our judgment.

    However, neither I nor my grandfather nor my grandchild possess the ability or circumstances to make decisions that are beyond review or second-guessing. If anything we create or decide survives perpetuity, it won't be due to our original far-sightedness.

    Again, yes, as Rick says:

    ... "we owe these areas the highest standards of care."
    Yes, of course - do our best by selections made in the past. But set the decisions of the former generations apart as inviolable and beyond review or reversal? Of course not. We can in no way afford to make our Grandparent's (or our own) judgment-calls 'untouchable'.

    Rick concludes:

    ... "I would hate to think that some future generation would second guess us. Think about it.
    I am thinking about, and I think that it is essential and in every human sense inevitable that those who come after me, will & ought to second guess me, will look at what I did from another point of view and through a different tint of glasses.

    To create the first Parks where there had been none before required a major reexamination of the values & perceptions and fond recollections & preferences of the generations that preceded those who conceived the possibility of Nat'l Parks.

    Had the practices & conclusions of earlier generations not been questioned & reversed, Rick & Michael, our Park system would never have come into existence in the first place!

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Rick,

    Yes, I agree

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Beamis - Yes, Platt became an NRA and is now Chickasaw NRA http://www.nps.gov/chic/

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    The ebb and flow of units within the NPS isn't exactly the most catastrophic event that might occur within our lifetimes, or the blackest mark attributable to the current generation "in charge". The system as a whole is modified based on situational criterion that also possess the ability to ebb and flow along the lines of generational concerns, regarding issues environmental, cultural, political, and a governmental need to "pacify" any given local or regional authority, special interest, personal interest, or "other". Second guessing is in our nature....."armchair quarterbacking" is becoming almost a right of passage on all issues great and small. I personally wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    "Fish lip rippers"? Now I've heard everything........that's the best someone could invent? Sounds more cartoon than derogatory.

    Closing the beaches is an obvious attempt, in my view, of headline grabbing and stirring up emotion amongst the "all access" side of the debate, a thinly shrouded and poorly conceived notion that by, in essence, pissing off the locals and completely trashing the local economy, movement can be expedited on one side or the other. This, I grant you, is the view from a comfortable distance, and may or may not be totally accurate. But since I have no vested interest in the program, per se, maybe I'm being overly simplistic in my assessment of the situation. But I admit to taking umbrage with ANY "political football" that people try and simplify into the "Enviros vs. Human Progress" issue. Too convenient, too simplistic, and WAY too inaccurate in ALL cases. All emotion and limited substance is a poor way for EITHER side to affect the desired result. I, in all honestly, wish you well with achieving a resolution that both /all parties deem acceptable. But I certainly wouldn't be holding my breath if I was on EITHER side of this debate. I smell a protracted legal battle about to ensue. As if what's currently happening isn't protracted enough!

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Rick,

    I totally agree.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I have said this before on the Traveler and I will say it again. We ought to be very careful when we talk about "delisting" NPS areas. Each generation of Americans gets tp add to the National Park System. speaking through their elected representatives, the areas it believes merit protection in perpetuity. As a matter of generational equity, if for nothing else, we owe these areas the highest standards of care. When I think of the areas that my generation has added--the Alaskan parks, MLK Jr., Kings Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains, etc., I would hate to think that some future generation would second guess us. Think about it.

    Rick Smith

  • Fall Kills Woman in North Cascades National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I have known Bob Terczak since 1978, a very experienced hiker and climber, Bob was well versed in reading maps and knowing what to do in dangerous situations. In 1983 my ex-hushand and Bob went on a similar hiking trip in Maine, they made it to the top of the summit which was sheer ice, it was a clear day and they even have a photo of them both at the top, you can see for miles around. On the decent they got caught in a freak blizzard and lost the trail in snow. They tried to put up a tent but the trees were too close together so they had to keep hiking in the deep snow till they could find a space. Luckily, after 6 hours exhausted and soaking wet, they found a deserted logging cabin with a stove to wait out the storm. After that experience I discussed with my ex-husband that there should be a device that all hikers going into National Parks should be REQUIRED to carry a GPS homing device to call when in an emergency. There is no reason with the current techology of GPS and homing devices that this type of tragedy should occur again. With every expedition there is an element of danger, every climber knows that possibility. Bob knew all about preventing hypothermia and survival skills. There is no doubt in my mind Bob did everything to save his wife and plan out the best way for them to both survive. Simply, this was a tragic accident. My heart goes out to Bob and friends and family of Cathy.

    Diane Kerr.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    "I agree that our government has been substantially captured by special interest groups. However, I don't know how you can say that the American people are the problem."

    I refer you to Jonathan Rauch's Government's End, particularly the third chapter, titled "Hyperpluralism". From page 50:

    "Th[e] lack of uniqueness is one reason I renounce calling the groups 'special interests'. Another is that the 'special interest' label is more than three decades out of date. Groups are interested, yes; often narrow, certainly. But the fact is that seven of ten Americans belong to at least one association (according to a 1990 survey conducted for the American Society of Association Executives), and one in four Americans belongs to four or more. Further, many of these group members have no illusions about what their own and other people's organizations are doing: In the 1990 survey, half of the respondents said that the main function of most associations is to influence government. And so we're kidding ourselves if we pretend there is anything special about either interest groups of their members. Almost every American who reads these words is a member of a lobby."

    I'll clarify my previous statement that the "American people working together IS actually THE problem when it comes to government's dysfunction." By organizing into many, many disparate interest groups to influence government ("working together"), the American people have made government dysfunctional.

    Check out the book. It's illuminating.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Beamis,

    Thanks for the discussion. This is an interesting essay. The Ben Franklin quotation is typically multi-layered in meaning, of course. But anyone involved in the American Revolution had to be a level-headed optimist down deep, no matter how much he protests. And the writer of the essay sounds the same way, speaking favorably about Camus but then saying:

    All in all though, The Audacity of Hope is written by a man who sounds articulate, capable, intelligent, conscientious, considerate, and genuinely committed to a politics beyond the narrow interests of himself or his party. Americans ought to feel, if not hopeful, at least grateful that Barack Obama is in the running.

    I think the author is saying that blind, unrealistic hope is a dead end. But he seems to be saying that hope based on realism can change things for the better. If you agree with that, then maybe we're not as far apart as it may seem.

    FrankC,

    [T]he American people working together IS actually THE problem when it comes to government's dysfunction. No amount of hope will alter our parasitic economy and pry loose the strings of government from narrow interest groups.

    I agree that our government has been substantially captured by special interest groups. However, I don't know how you can say that the American people are the problem. The problem is that the people have been deceived and cut out of decision-making process by politicians who are beholden to special interests.

    If people have the facts and leadership to help them find the way, they usually make the right choices. That's what happened when Franklin Roosevelt rallied the country during the Depression and World War II. The only way to get our country back on track is to engage and energize the public, as Roosevelt did, and Obama is trying to do. I have hope that he can....

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Don't know the answer to that one. At the time the park service was peddling the line in public meetings that the power company was doing all it could to mitigate the negative impacts of the project and that it had even installed raptor shields on the transmission towers to keep hawks and eagles from getting fried by the high voltage. The resource management chief at the time was all ga-ga for these shields and didn't seem to be taking in the bigger picture when other issues were brought up at these meetings.

    No one filed a lawsuit (it's Utah not California after all) but many in the local community felt that for all its talk about saving viewsheds by mitigating visual blight and restoring landscapes to their "pre-Columbian" pristine splendor the NPS had failed to even pay lip service to the notion that this was an unfortunate outcome for the park.

    The power company was owned by a multi-national corporation at the time (Scottish Power) and they were unmoved to do anything other than the cheapest bottom-line job their bean counters in Europe had dictated. A sad day indeed for Zion.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I decided to respond since I was the one that used sarcasm to make my point on putting lockers at the point is a bad idea and after going into shock after seeing the response by LONE HIKER.

    First let me state Lone hiker you are correct as Dapster has stated we have tended lately to be more of a shoot from the hip kind of group. I want to say that anyone put in the position of losing something special to a group that when faced with facts holds their hands over their ears and screams to avoid losing ignorance as a defense. I want to also state we do need to work together and if both sides understood the situation as you and Dapster we wouldn't be here.

    I noticed no one is mentioning that this latest attempt in closing the beaches was one of many that has happened. With this one partially succeeding only because they chose to loophole through the system by using ORV managament and Piping Plovers as "Political Footballs" (I really liked that one). These people will stop at nothing. The have tried and lost many times before and they will not win this time either.

    As far as the last paragraph by Lone hiker, I would prefer snow. As a person who lived in both upper and lower Michigan with access to the beach and the snow (though more of the later) I know you can always throw on another layer. Though at the beach you take off too much and you start to offend. The trick is know that line before you cross it.

  • National Park Quiz 16: Waterfalls   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Completely coincidental to this week's quiz, I found myself writing today about waterfalls - focused for points of reference mostly on the Yellowstone ones I have experienced - but really about all waterfalls.

    See Reflections on the beauty of waterfalls.

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

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    @ Beamis (or anyone else who knows): Was the NPS sued in the Bonneville Power / Zion case for not protecting the Park's resources? Or was there something in the Park's original designation that allowed the power company to put through the power line? I'm asking because it's my understanding that sometimes there's a kind of time bomb in the original designation, just waiting to be triggered by a proposed industrial project.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Several years ago Bonneville Power built a huge transmission line across Zion National Park which replaced and upgraded an older one. There was a great deal of fuss and bother by a variety of groups opposed to it who had argued that for a few dollars more the power line could've been placed underground along the highway right-of-way leading to Springdale and Zion HQ. Ultimately the NPS was most compliant with the power company and pooh-poohed all those who were concerned about the impacts this large and unsightly eyesore would generate upon a mostly unvisited corner of the park.

    You can see it today on your way into Zion along Hwy. 9, as you crest the hill west of Rockville beneath the ramparts of Mt. Kinesava. There for all to see is the much vaunted "protection of national park status" writ large upon the Utah landscape.