Recent comments

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, we will likely read more similar stories in the future. People are increasingly using GPS navigation technology. The technology is quite reliable, so it is easy for users to let their guard down. But an inevitable map error, combined with a driver who is not using her or his better judgement at the moment, may result in a traffic fine, traffic collision, and sometimes even much worse.

    The problem is not going to go away.

    Police urge motorists to use maps instead of GPS

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Beyond civilization you have to think for your own. No navigation tools can do that for you. But with a GPS unit at least you know exactly where you are dying.

  • Creature Feature: Texas Banded Gecko   6 years 19 weeks ago

    This is a nifty-looking gecko. We have a bunch of them here in Hawaii (including IN my house), but none as patterned as this one.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    If anyone is still looking at this sight google the names Joe Kolodski, Kris Eggle, Steve Jarrell all are Rangers who were shot to death in National Parks in the last 10 years. Of course you may think well that is only three Rangers in 10 years, but couple that with the statistics on how many Rangers that have been assaulted and an agency that sees law enforcement as a necessary evil. The other sad part is that most criminal activity in National Parks is not reported directly to the public, there are no National Park police blotters in local papers, because the parks don't want the public to hear about all of the drugs, drunks, guns, and other criminal activity that goes on in the parks. The National Park Service morning Report only provides information on incidents that parks ask to be posted, many incidents across the country never get posted on the site.

    If you live near a park stop by and ask for the law enforcement statistics on gun violations, drug violations, DUI's, and use of force incidents where Rangers have had to use their guns, Tasers, or defensive equipment to make arrests. I am certain you will be suprised by the numbers that are provided to you. Oh yeah I have no problem with people carrying guns in parks if the regulation is changed and people with concealed weapons permits are allowed to carry. I know for a fact that we did not have enough rangers to properly protect the public in any National Park. Another question you might ask is how many law enforcement rangers are on duty in the park after midnight? The response will probably be none as most parks do not have the staff to operate a 24 hour law enforcement program and in most parks not even a 24 hours dispatch center.

    Don't blame the short staffed Rangers for doing their jobs and enforcing the current regulations. Also most criminal activity in parks goes on in overlooks, parking lots, and in cars going down the roadway and not out in the backcountry, just like the real world outside of the parks. Yes there is always the possibility of some crazy out in the woods, but most of the law enforcement problems occur on the roadways and overlooks.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Spawns Vandalism   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Better yet, they should bury them up to their necks on the beach and hope the birds nest in their hair.
    OK, seriously though, I can't believe these people (bar, motel, resort owners, fishermen) are protesting the protection of wildlife and natural resources, that make Cape Hatteras and the beaches a destination for tourists. Tourists which locals have been financially benefitting from for decades, but when they have to sacrifice something, they throw nature under the bus. Hypocrites, I will NEVER spend a penny on the local businesses because of this, and will spread the word about the ignorance of Cape Hatteras locals so that my friends won't either.
    P-

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I have one of the earliest Motorola handhelds with the mounting unit for the roof of the Jeep Wrangler ($1,200 if that tells you how old it is) and even with topo maps find that GPS is good for getting into trouble or documenting where to send the coroner for people with no common sense. Have rescued two such individuals and one had shot his own foot off while hunting. Nothing to signal with and no first aid. His buddy just happened to find him and I carry LOTS of first aid gear and bolt cutters for wilderness gates. Mans life was saved because you don't go into dangerous areas depending on rental cars and gadgets. I did take the coordinates with my GPS since I was there! Engraved it on my Campmor S/S cup for another trail memory.

  • Wolf Killed Illegally Near Grand Teton National Park, $3,000 Reward Offered   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Anon--

    I love how tough you are.

    Rick Smith

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I'm also glad that this story has a happy ending. But it is beyond my wildest imagination that people will venture FAR off the beaten path with NO preparation. Hopefully their near-disaster will be a valuable lesson to others!

  • Waterfall Along Dunloup Creek   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I only have two small words for comment.
    "SIMPLY BREATHTAKING"
    Sincerely,
    Paula Jean Tyler

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Oh my goodness. While I am glad that this story had a happy ending, it really brings to light the need to not become totally dependent on technology.

    Years ago our GPS unit (one of the first on the market because I married a technology geek) told us that we could take Mosquito Pass, near Leadville, Colorado, as a real travel route for the average driver. Having climbed Mosquito Pass, which is a difficult 4 wheel drive road at best, in a fully equipped Jeep, we laughed and laughed at the GPS unit and thought that surely no one could mistake Mosquito Pass for a regular road and attempt it in anything but an off road equipped vechile with an experienced driver. Well... if someone would try the Smokey Mountain Road... I hate to think how many rental cars have died on Mosquito Pass.

    Don't blindly trust technology, it is only as knowledgable as it's programmer.

  • National Park Service Considering Commercial Developments for Alcatraz   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I can't believe that the folks who offered comments are familiar with the Management Guidelines for the NPS and the legislation that created Golden Gate NRA of which Alcatraz is a part. The National Landmark Statement of Significance says: "Begun as a military fortification and the site of the first US lighthouse on the Pacific Coast (1854), Alcatraz was the first offical Army prison in the Nation. In 1934, the facility was transferred to civilian authority and it became the repository for the most hardened criminals. Alcatraz represents the far end of the penological spectrum, designed for punishment and incarceration only, rather than rehabilitation. The prison was closed in 1963 and ten years later the island was opened to the public as the first unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area." Historic areas within the National Park System were not created to generate money for whatever reason. They were created to PRESERVE the historic resouces and EDUCATE the visitor of the value of the historic area.

  • National Park Service Considering Commercial Developments for Alcatraz   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I went to Alcatraz a couple of years ago. They could use a place to get a bite of lunch. As I recall, if you got hungry there were no places to eat. While some visitor's services like food and restrooms to make the visit pleasant and comfortable are necessary, overnight lodging though seems unnecessary.

  • National Park Quiz 5: Biggest This or That   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Bob (Krumenaker), have you read Nevada Barr's two books set at ISRO? If so, are you interested in writing or collaborating on a review of Winter Study for Traveler? I'd really love to get an insider's view.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Most people don't advocate for anything at all.

    However, of the small minority that advocate for something, it seems that most people will advocate for those things which are closest to them. Very few people have a direct relationship with the national parks that isn't trumped by some other interest. Even if you are interested in national parks, more likely you will be - like me, interested in a particular region rather than the parks as a whole themselves.

    People understand taxes and guns - health and food and education. It's a lot easier to get people to mobilize around those things which they are familiar.

    If we think of why the national park system is what it is - lands and places set aside as exceptions to the rule, as places that are supposed to be preserved because left to our own devices, we probably would have destroyed them - the park has always been kind of abstract from the direct experience of most. It is a place someone must go to - a place that is not immediately there. It takes an extra step, an extra step that is required because we don't really know how to care for anything on our own.

    I'm not sure there is an easy answer to advocacy for the parks - not sure there should be such a thing, at least as it is being imagined here. I can imagine what it would be like to advocate for a park, for a place - much harder for me to grasp how to build meaningful support for a set of places. It's not that it's impossible - people advocate for their country, which is even more abstract than the park system (but even then, people don't have to go to their country; they are already there). How do you advocate for parks when we are disconnected from them? It suggests strongly to me that we cannot really advocate for parks unless we also see something in the park ideal that is missing and should be present in our own lives. That's why guns in the parks resonates as an issue - it touches home, whether it's people's liberty or people's sense of safety. That's no doubt why buffalo in Yellowstone or snowmobiles doesn't. Very few of us have truly been touched by that issue.

    Anyhow, there's a lot here to think about.

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

  • Wolf Killed Illegally Near Grand Teton National Park, $3,000 Reward Offered   6 years 19 weeks ago

    what about animals that are not beautiful ?
    why are people so attached to the Wolf ? It is just as much a vicious predator as any other in the wilderness.
    Is it because it looks so much like a beloved pet dog ?

    Be it a wolf, a bear, wolverine or what have you. If I perceive it to be a threat to my life, its goin down.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Thanks for your comments Owen. I agree that Kurt does an outstanding job of demonstrating his love and concern for the Parks. The NPT is a daily read for me so that I can find out what's REALLY going on in the world. I join with you in saying, "Keep up the good work Kurt, and please don't get discouraged".

  • Conservation Groups Will Head to Court Over Yellowstone Snowmobile Decision   6 years 19 weeks ago

    What I believe to be *the* central problem with this issue is it's become a political football and so, as the scientists themselves admit, science is not the guiding light on this matter.

    As for whether it can be demonstrated that snowmobiles are impairing the park for future generations, as opposed to simply impacting it today, good point. But the science certainly is clear on the impacts that currently are occurring.

    Regarding impacts of snowmobiles vs those of summer auto traffic, I believe the current research has proved that snowmobile traffic, at its current level, far exceeds in emissions what the summer traffic does.

    I also think it's accepted and understood that parks are to be enjoyed, and so no one is about to talk about banning all traffic from Yellowstone. Rather, the idea is to minimize as much as possible the impacts from existing traffic. In the case of winter use, that can be done by phasing out recreational snowmobile access in favor of snowcoach traffic, which has fewer impacts.

    There also are options for reducing summer traffic loads -- namely public transportation in some form -- but the political gumption currently appears to be lacking for such a move.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Thank you for raising this issue on NPT. It's difficult for most people, for whom parks are one-time travel destinations, to become interested in the details of park funding issues when personal finances and free time become more restrictive and gasoline prices soar above $4.00 per gallon. For most people, the present "hot buttons" are the war in Iraq, the economy, health care, illegal immigration, and Election 2008. Amongst those concerned with environmental issues, the future impact of climate change has top billing.

    I'm certain that our parks will experience a major decline in park visitation this summer, at least those parks located far from major urban and suburban areas will be effected. Nevertheless, the economic forces of industrial tourism will strive hard to offer incentives to maintain and increase travel stops to parks, and these forces will translate directly into political pressure on how parks are managed at present and in the future.

    It is extremely difficult for park managers, focused first and foremost on the protection and preservation of natural an cultural resources, to execute a decision that is perceived by gateway communities to negatively impact park visitation and their economic well-being. For those parks traditionally subject to over-crowding, providing for tranportation means other than the private automobile will require wide-scale public support before the necessary funding can be put in place. Zion Canyon with its shuttle service appears to be one of the major success stories. But Yosemite Valley and Cades Cove still have a long way to go before the private automobile is replaced with another, more resource friendly, form of transportation. The Yosemite Master Plan discussed the elimination of the private automobile from the Valley floor more than 25 years ago, but it has not been implemented due to the perceived impact that such a decision would have on park visitation and the economy of gateway and regional communities.

    Unfortunately, few information sources openly discuss the effect of NPS budget shortfalls, and the impact of increased privatization and commercialism on the national park experience. The NPS can't and won't do this. Most of the established environmental organizations shy away from this level of detail as well. So, it's very difficult for the general public to become informed about park issues, unless the story is featured in local news.

    Fortunately online, NPT is becoming a major outlet of system-wide information about the the parks and the NPS. I find NPT to be quite effective in communicating the multifaceted story about national parks and the national parks system, including the present and future challenges faced by park managers and the various ways in which parks are relevant to the American public at large. Don't let the apparent disproportionate reader commentary on guns and deaths in parks get you down. Please keep up the good work.

    I am certain that your excellent article will generate much more discussion.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Glen Canyon NRA Starting Random Boat Inspections to Prevent Mussel Infestation   6 years 19 weeks ago

    they should check all boats,this has been a problem for years in the great lakes and other n/east areas,common lets wake up out west...all it takes is one boat..stop it now...

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Ouch!! You hit me hard with this one Kurt. I read the NPT daily but I rarely comment except for gun issues. We must ALL be enthusiastic about preserving our Parks. I'm not sure our government has the Parks' best interests at heart; just their own.

  • Conservation Groups Will Head to Court Over Yellowstone Snowmobile Decision   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Alas; "unimpaired for future generations" is a mighty limp criterion. It's not much of a stretch to say that lots of sustainable yield activities (including hunting, fishing, trapping, selective logging, and many kinds of gathering, just to name a few) would leave a park unimpaired for future generations.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I can offer a few points of speculation on this:

      - The Federal budget process is very long and very opaque, from the time the President submit's his or her proposed budget to Congress in February, it is typically at least eight months, and often more, before a budget is actually passed. Plus, the intermediate steps to getting to that point involve a lot of parliamentary maneuvering, tons of long meetings, and plenty of spreadsheets - in ther words, budgets can be plenty boring.

      - Budgets don't typically involve matters of principle. Two persons who are equally concerned about the Park System can very honestly reach two different numbers on recommended funding levels for the Park Service for next year. By contrast, this "Guns in Parks" issue has become a proxy battle for those people who wanted to ban most forms of guns and the various friends of the NRA. The "2nd Amendment" debate is perhaps the one of the longest-running debates on the Internet. *Of course* it generated a ton of traffic. (To say nothing of the fact that the Supreme Court had already pushed the issue to near the top of the national agenda for this year.)

      - Most people recognize that one of the basic laws of economics is that "our needs are infinite, and our resources to meet those needs are finite." Everyone understands this in basic way when it comes to our household budgets - and it holds true of Federal budgets as well. The various members of Congress who set funding levels for the National Park Service (outside of NPS-generated revenues) are also hearing about the Nation's needs for:

        - more highways and transit to relieve congestion in our cities
        - more healthcare for the millions of uninsured in this country
        - better classrooms for failing schools in rural areas and inner cities
        - more research into alternative fuels, new cures for diseases, and basic science
        - more safety inspections of imported consumer goods and health inspections of our food supply
      And the list goes on. So the National Parks have to compete against all those funding priorities. Its a good fight - but its also anything but an easy one. And many honest people will set other priorities....

  • Conservation Groups Will Head to Court Over Yellowstone Snowmobile Decision   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I'd be curious to know how this lawsuit is proceeding. I think the environmental groups would have a fairly hard time with this case for two reasons:
    - it will be hard to establish that snowmobile use in Yellowstone is leaving Yellowstone impaired for future generations
    - any argument that did establish that snowmobile use in Yellowstone is leaving Yellowstone impaired for future generations would probably also not look favorably upon the number of automobiles that can be found on the Great Circle Road on any given day, and I think that there are very few people who are currently willing to attack automobile visitation to Yellowstone

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 19 weeks ago

    You are correct that the Gila River Indian Community prohibits almost all access to Hohokam Pima National Monument, as they consider themselves to be descendents of the Snaketown inhabitants and because they consider Snaketown to be a sacred place. As best as I understand, the NPS does have minimal jurisdiction in the sense that if the Gila River Indian Community wanted to engage in some kind of development that would harm Hohokam Pima National Monument - I believe that the National Park Service would be able to step in to stop it.

    The one other NPS Unit with almost no National Park Service jurisdiction is Poverty Point National Monument - which is run as a Louisiana State Historic Site. They're actually rather resentful of the "National Monument" designation, and very much intend to keep the site under State jurisdiction. As near as I can tell, the NPS seems fine with that, given that the State is maintaining adequate preservation of the site.

    The NPS does often close critical habitat areas. Piping Plover closures are quite common in Gateway NRA, for example. Parts of the Dry Tortugas National Park are closed as migratory bird habitat. I'm sure there are probably many others.

    To further add to the confusion, though, there are actually at least a dozen Naitonal Parks that permit hunting. It may be fairer to say that National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges have similar levels of protection. There seem to be examples on both sides of one area having a greater degree of protection than the other.

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Sport hunting is not a reliable indicator of protection. In the National Park System, sport hunting is permitted in national preserves (categorically, I think) and in some other parks. Among the examples are Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (feral hogs, several exotic game species), Cumberland Island National Seashore (archery deer hunts), and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (deer, small game).