Recent comments

  • Winter Visits to the National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I wrote about the rest of my recent winter trip into Yellowstone about an hour ago. While swimming in the boiling river was fantastic fun, this was anything but fun. It raises serious concerns about the cost of our winter treks into parks like Yellowstone and the lengths sometimes gone to for making it possible for us.

    If you are interested, please check out Hey Park Service! Don't bulldoze Yellowstone buffalo just so I can stay on my side of the double yellow line.

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

  • ‘Study Group’ Meets to Determine fate of Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance   6 years 24 weeks ago

    It's because I haven't given up hope that I don't accept the false dilemma. It's the deepest form of cynicism to believe that other people (even those who claim they want to work from the ground up) need to be champions for us to give us a voice in the process. The sheer physics of this system, that one person represents 300,000,000 is enough to know that people cannot truly be represented by such a system. Each member of Congress represents how many people? Of course, snowmobile decisions are made by the few, and the many are reduced to signing canned petitions.

    Hope has to lie somewhere else, and transparency is more than being televised by C-SPAN.

    Political capitalism (by that, I mean a lot more than the cost of elections; I mean the use of "the people" as a commodity on which to wage large scale power) is just as dangerous as economic capitalism. If we really care about places we love, and I love Yellowstone unlike any place I have ever loved, then we must not give in to Obama v. Hillary or Obama v. McCain or this sense that our vote actually makes a difference.

    Just look at what happens in Cody. People voted for a lot of those people; others are there as a byproduct of others who were voted for. Freudenthal's people are there, Bush's people are there, elected Wyoming officials are there. They are the "representatives." But, we know that they are not. They only represent people at the most abstract level; they only represent people because we have cynically given them this power.

    It doesn't have to be this way; we can do better. One of the first steps is recognizing that the choice given to us is a false choice. We have other options available. We have more hope than most right now will permit us to believe.

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

  • U.S. Senator To Make Bid to Allow National Park Visitors to Carry Guns   6 years 24 weeks ago

    This amendment is a really bad idea, Its hard to beleive that someone would be stupid enough to even consider this. Just what we need is another gun fanatic to make things worse for the general public. You would think these people would learn from all the tragedies that are caused by guns. I can just imagine the negative impact this is going to have on the safety and enjoyemnt in OUR National Parks. I don't wan this to pass for sure.

  • ‘Study Group’ Meets to Determine fate of Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Jim, it's your generation that shouldn't give up hope for change. With Obama there is hope for change. Don't give up so easily!

  • U.S. Senator To Make Bid to Allow National Park Visitors to Carry Guns   6 years 24 weeks ago

    First of all, if someone is in a National park to poach wildlife this bill will not bother them at all, They are there to break the law what do they care about anyone who may be legally carrying a weapon. Have you people been living under a rock or what ? Most people who carry guns legally don't go around flashing them like some school kid, I think most of you people need a reality check .

  • ‘Study Group’ Meets to Determine fate of Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance   6 years 24 weeks ago

    And, the choice that Anonymous provides us is the false dilemma that so many people content with themselves.

    That false dilemma is why the closed door meetings about Sylvan Pass, wars in far off places, and health care - decisions on which affect how you and I live are lives - happen without our input.

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

  • ‘Study Group’ Meets to Determine fate of Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Looking for a voice in government then vote for: Obama! Want the war machine to exist...then it's McCain! Do you want a cleaner and greener environment then vote for: OBAMA!

  • ‘Study Group’ Meets to Determine fate of Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Why do you believe that the vote in November could possibly make a difference on this particular issue?

    The power brokers here are from both parties. The system keeps people out of it. Why support that system in hopes for a few bread crumbs and the hope that these things aren't decided behind closed doors? Tonight, Obama's solution was to broadcast health care discussions on C-SPAN. Give me a break.

    We need to insist on a voice; now how does that happen? That's the question; the November vote is not an exercise in voice, it's the system's pacifier to keep us quiet every couple of years while people like this make the real policy decisions behind closed doors.

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

  • ‘Study Group’ Meets to Determine fate of Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance   6 years 24 weeks ago

    budget cuts have hit everyone somewhere at sometime. it takes better times to support the minority. want better times? november is right around the corner, exercise your right.

  • Strange Bedfellows: The National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Being the co-owner of a four wheeled vehicle that can and often does off road when ever possible in designated park areas, I feel that if my vehicle was polluting the very same places that I enjoy visiting (as much as possible year round), then I don't need my vehicle anymore. It's just that easy. If people want to continue enjoying what little land and air quality we have left we need to make some severe changes in how we live and commute. In Washington state some counties have different laws about whether vehicles are mandated to have emission tests done on their vehicles. A prime example of this is King County will fine any car that does not pass an emission test prior to licensing, where as Kitsap County does not. Trust me when I say there are a lot of non-diesel operating vehicles up here that should not be on the roads at all let alone in the national parks.

    So do I think that we should have our national park systems be associated with a lobbyist whose paycheck comes from one of the direct reasons for our parks pollution issues. No. But try to find a lobbyist who isn't lining his/her pockets with funds from the major pollution contributors, and align the NPS with them.

  • It's Time to Book Your Summer National Park Vacation   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Petrified Forest NP has no accomodation, whatsoever, not even a campground. And outside of the park, there are very limited resources, too. When I got there a few years ago, I simply applied for a backcountry permit, caried my sleeping bag, about half a gallon of water and some fruits one mile from the road and out of sight into the hills, and slept under the stars in the desert.

    I can really recommend that, it was a great night, and I did not miss any comfort. Oh and I was visited by a cangaroo rat, a small rodent, attracted by my food.

  • It's Time to Book Your Summer National Park Vacation   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Excellent suggestion!

    Along with Voyageurs, other parks that don't draw the heavy crowds include Isle Royale, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Kings Canyon, North Cascades, and Petrified Forest. And don't forget the national lakeshores, such as Apostle Islands, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Pictured Rocks and Indiana Dunes.

    Of course, trips to some of these parks involve different experiences, such as a vacation revolving around paddling (Voyageurs, Isle Royale, the lakeshores) or backpacking (North Cascades, Kings Canyon). But that's part of the fun of visiting different units of the park system.

    Beyond that, visiting parks -- big or small -- outside the traditional summer vacation period will almost always reward you with smaller crowds and better pricing for lodging.

  • It's Time to Book Your Summer National Park Vacation   6 years 24 weeks ago

    One way to stay spontaneous but still have a great national park experience is simply to avoid the most popular parks during their most popular times. There are wonderful national park units throughout the country that don't ever get the crowds that Yellowstone and Yosemite do. Others are only crowded at certain times.

  • It's Time to Book Your Summer National Park Vacation   6 years 24 weeks ago

    kurt- i find it slightly amusing that the exact next post after the ARC questioning is one telling people to get booking with xanterra. it's not "backcountry permits reservations open" or "slough creek is going to book" it's support the bigger businesses in the park! however, i am just giving you a hard time, keep up the good work.

  • Strange Bedfellows: The National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition   6 years 24 weeks ago

    ...."top Interior Department officials -- including the assistant secretary who presides over the national parks -- are preparing to gather in warm, sunny Arizona on Friday to dedicate the "Outdoor Recreation Village" in Glendale...."

    Does anyone else know what's going on in Glendale, AZ this weekend? That's right, The Superbowl! This reeks of a boondoggle trip if ever there was one. Give a bunch of high-ranking bureaucrats a excuse for "official govt. travel" to the big party and maybe they'll take a personal day or two to stay for the game on Sunday?! I bet us mid-level, career staffers couldn't get away with a trip like that. But these are the folks who dictate that we take "ethics" training every year.

    It might be legal, but that doesn't make it RIGHT!

  • Strange Bedfellows: The National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Another excellent and provocative post, Kurt. There is one point of good news...I think the cozying up of ARC to NPS and vice-versa has diminished measurably under the current Director, compared to her predecessor. But there is still too much of it!

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

  • Strange Bedfellows: The National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition   6 years 25 weeks ago

    NPT has opened a serious theme for discussion. The NPS has undertaken a commendable process of seeking out and rounding up partners, cooperators, friends, foundations, local governing bodies, in a noble effort to secure support for park fiscal needs and activities. The problem is that when one casts such a large net, it is inevitable that there will be some scalawags included in the catch Some organizations pose as supporters of the parks when in fact all they are really doing is furthering their own goals under the guise of "apple pie" and "motherhood" programs.

    Some lobbyist organizations disguise themselves as "green" organizations, but what they are really about is corporate interest... the bottom line profits of their members. For example, if your salary is being paid by companies making snomos or PWC or ORVs, then your mission will be to convince the public and park managers that using and operating such a vehicle is good for "kid's health" or having "fun outdoors"

    When dealing with such organizations, people managing public lands need to be wary and understand what motivates such "friends"

    "I believe whenever we destroy beauty, or whenever we substitute something man-made and artificial for a natural feature of the earth, we have retarded some part of man's spiritual growth." ....Rachel Carson

  • Using Controlled Burns To Manage Stones River National Battlefield   6 years 25 weeks ago

    That's an awesome photo.

    Stones River, by the way, is facing monumental threats because of development at Middle Tennessee State University, (located just across town, it's the fastest growing university in America), in the city of Mufreesboro, and in the Greater Nashville Mess of a Meglapolis itself. For example, TDOT has considered building a highway interchange in the park, and NPCA consistently puts STRI on its list of "10 Most Endangered Parks"

    Stones River might be 'just' another battlefield in the park system, but it's one worth preserving.

    http://www.civilwarnews.com/archive/articles/highway_ballam.htm

    http://www.npca.org/magazine/2002/april_may/ten_most.html

    ---
    jr_ranger
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Emerson
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com

  • Using Controlled Burns To Manage Stones River National Battlefield   6 years 25 weeks ago

    In many areas of this country you can ask Pheasants Forever or Quail Unlimited for help with a prescribed burn and reseeding the burned area.

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I have had the privilege of visiting Yellowstone on snowmobile twice. I love this trip. There are no crowds, it's like having a private pass to the park. I have to admit, before I went on the trip, I was ambivalent. I'm a conservationist at heart, so I was leaning toward the snowmobile ban. Now, I have to say that I support the limited use. Our guides were very conscientious, and shared a very environmentalist perspective. The guides keep their groups on the same main roads that the regular season traffic travels. The machines are the most clean running that are available. I have to wonder why they are not restricting the number of cars/camper/motorcycles to 540 during the regular season? Also, I wonder if anyone has a statistic for how many snowmobiles actually enter the park each day vs. the number permitted to.

  • Winter Visits to the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I can highly recommend a winter visit to Carlsbad Caverns. Although the bats are gone, so are the summer crowds. The silence while strolling slowly down into the Natural Entrance to the cave along the dimly backlit self-guided trail is overpowering. It's like entering a sacred underground gallery of art, a place of worhship, ornately decorated with complex vertical fixtures, both massive and delicate, formed from eons of dissolutions and re-depositions of calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate.

    During the winter season, the ranger-to-visitor ratio is outstanding. You will find from three to six uniformed rangers stationed underground, roving along the self-guided trail, eager and able to answer individual questions. They encourage conversing using only a very soft tone of voice to preserve the sense of silence underground.

    Formal ranger-led guided tours are reserved for the Kings Palace, the Left-hand Tunnel, the Lower Cave, and elsewhere where group supervision is required. Reservations and tickets are required for all guided tours. But, I would most definitely rate the self-guided walk to the Big Room from the Natural Entrance as a "must do" experience for all first time visitors, with winter being the very best season for this journey.

    If you can, avoid using the elevators for entry into the caverns. This route of entry is rather anti-climactic. Use them only if the Natural Entrance is closed,or if walking downhill over a rather steep, but paved series of switch backs is not an option physically.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Winter Visits to the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Well, that is the Boiling River, a thermal run off which flows into the Gardner River. In the pools where the run-off meets the Gardner, over tiny little waterfalls, the water is as warm as bath water.

    Now, it was cold getting in and out! However, while you were in it, it was really like the most wonderful bath ever.

    The Boiling River is a bit too popular for its own good; even when I first went in it back in 1993 in the middle of the night (at the time, I didn't know that a hefty fine would go with that), we still came across some drunks we were convinced would fall in the "boiling" part of the hot spring (this was at 3 AM). On a summer day, you'll barely find room for yourself to sit (in the spring, forget about going there, the high river makes it too dangerous, and the area is closed). The area and the land around it is a bit fragile. I wonder how it has changed over the years; I don't notice a difference in the last 14 years since I was there; so perhaps it's holding up okay. If it isn't, I would like to know so I don't add to a problem.

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

  • Winter Visits to the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Jim, skinny dipping in mid-winter? You folks bring out the hardiness of life that's good for the soul...I love your spirit! Thanks for sharing the family.

  • The Insanity Behind the Christmas Mountains Sale   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Mr. Patterson should be removed from office. The State of Texas agreed when the land was donated to it that the land would be preserved as a state park. Now, Texas (read: Ye Old Land Commissioner) is going back in its word.

    “We feel strongly that the state's intended sale of the Christmas Mountains sends the wrong message to foundations like Rick King Mellon, one of the few in the country which have focused substantial resources on land and water conservation to assure perpetual protection of these assets in the public domain,” Conservation Fund Executive Vice President Richard Erdmann wrote in a July 16 letter to Patterson.

    “Should this sale proceed, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has informed us that it would find it very difficult for it to consider the state as a potential beneficiary of any future conservation contributions on its part."

    If Mr. Patterson will not honor his commitment and do what is right, the Governor needs to step up to the plate and ask for his resignation.

    ---
    jr_ranger
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Emerson
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com

  • Winter Visits to the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I actually packed both my long johns and my swimsuit on our Sunday drive into Yellowstone. We actually posted some pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/GenevieveandRiver/YellowstoneWinter2008 .

    I also witnessed something really terrible in the park that made my heart drop. I'm going to post something about the whole experience in a couple days, more focused on this incident (though my partner Genevieve wrote a small snippet about it in one of the captions).

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