Recent comments

  • Back in the Saddle   6 years 33 weeks ago

    i have visited the west 7 times since 1981, and a visit would be incomplete without a stay at Paradise, even if it rains during the whole stay.
    steve anderson, ex Wa resident(three years in Renton)

  • Judge Tosses Surprise Canyon Lawsuit   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Earthjustice can kiss my butt, they are just a bunch of lawyer parasites--NOT environmentalists--who make their living by trying to deny use of public lands to the taxpayers who OWN them.

    Surprise Canyon isn't pristine wilderness, it's a historical site that was altered for mining purposes over 100 years ago and should still be accessible by road as it was intended to be long before NPS encroached upon it.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    The larger issue here is that concessionaires should be, in some people's view, returning more money back to the park from which they profit. Lodges run by XYZ company in parks are important, because there are better things for NPS to worry about than changing your sheets. However, XYZ company could (and should) be doing a better job of giving back to the park where it does business. Staying or not staying at a lodge isn't going to change anything. Only if we elect politicians who will change the status quo will the problem be solved.

    And I would hardly say that Mr. Sullivan "condoned" park lodges in his original post. He did not endorse any lodge inside the parks...only the list of lodges and one "near" Oympic.

    ------
    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

  • Interpretation on the Tallgrass Prairie   6 years 33 weeks ago

    geeez.... i bet that you, as a former interpreter, would know one of the best things to say when you don't know the answer is "i don't know." kudos to the ranger for his honesty rather than making something up like a lot of interpreters do. additionally, one of the jobs of an interpreter is to get people excited about something so they go on to learn more themselves. what's that tilden quote about spark something.... i can't remember. but the fact that you were left with questions, rather than a bored yawn, is good, don't you think? i mean, you did google it, you did get more responses so his answer, rather than a lie that stopped your inquisition there, instigated more thought and research?

    it's not that i don't agree with you in some regard, perhaps someone should know the story behind the area's name. however, you spent an awful lot of time analyzing one individual and one set of expertise that clearly comes from something else (grazing and ranching) and perhaps had more to offer based on his experience. not all interpreters know every subject in detail. i think your research may have been more fruitful asking the park administration (easy nps reformers anti-gov types, this isn't a door to get all trollish, OK?) about the time the interpreter's supervisor has to do training, tour audits, asking for training materials, etc. and then give grades (perhaps) there rather than on an individual. i dunno.

    the symphony thing sounds great. i would pay to see that. man and nature aren't separate and it's not like our national parks are always this pristine chapel of untouched nature as pop culture has misrepresented.

    as i've wanted to visit this area for a long time, my vote is for another post, expanding on what you did, what you saw and what we should do if we were to visit. this place is intriguing.

  • Judge Tosses Surprise Canyon Lawsuit   6 years 33 weeks ago

    My Father and Uncle drove to Panamint City in the late thirties. Their mode of transportation was a a 1932 Chevrolet. No granny gear, no 4x4. They saw Panamint City before it was stripped of machinery to support the war effort. I heard this story often and went there myself in 1969. The road was washed out but I made it as far as Chris Wicht's camp by motorcycle and hiked the remaing distance, most of it on good condition two-track. I returned several times over the years while the county was maintainingm the road. These times using two and four wheel drive pick-ups. One time in 71 one I met a couple in their Corvette in Panamint City. Since that time our gonerment has seen fit to extend the the boundaries of Death Valley National Park far beyond the Valley itself. Panamint City and Surprize Canyon are NOT in Death Valley! The last time I visited was in 2004. I was amazed at the amount of recent vintage machinery in and around the City. In the history of America this area has been a mining area. All appearances are that it still is, even if only of historical interest. That is what draws me to it. But I'm getting old and the hike is not appreciated when most of it is over a perfectly good road. The drivel I read from those who applaud the permanent closure of Surprize Canyon leads me to believe that they have never been there and have no interest in it other than as an outlet for their misdirected energy.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I find it ironic that you've got something critical to say about nearly every article posted on this site

    Jeremy, I'm sorry you feel that way. However, during the last two weeks, I've only commented on 6 of the 21 articles on NPT, and that's far from "nearly every"; most of my comments, while they do involve critical analysis and offer a different view point, are not critiques of the articles themselves, but of the issues they cover.

    Matt, I'm not sure what Xanterra's giving to the NPS now, but I'd guess it's a very small percentage. Before Xanterra assumed control of the Crater Lake Lodge, the concession returned 3% of their profits to the park, but for a number of years the contract was expired and the concession gave no money to Crater Lake.

    My observation was not about the hierarchical value judgment of individual lodges. I was wondering why NPT, which often prints stories on the "plight of the parks", condones private profit from federally funded lodges (with the vast majority of those profits leaving the park) when parks are (supposedly) strapped for cash and could address budget shortfalls with a larger share of the profits? So in that way, it was related to the topic, but I'll leave the conversation to those who prefer to rank the taxpayer-funded, monopoly-controlled lodges in national parks.

    ----------------------------------------
    Reform the National Park Service!
    http://NPS-reform.blogspot.com

  • Interpretation on the Tallgrass Prairie   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Typically in the area of Kansas where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is located, the requirement for support of year-round Bison grazing is between 8-10 acres per animal, although the estimates vary depending upon rainfall and subsequent plant conditions. There are also widely varied opions regarding the fencing required to keep bison contained, as well as the requirements for interior fencing that would allow managed grazing. I have a small bison ranch approximately 45 miles northwest of the Preserve and have been successful with a 9 wire 6 foot tall fence. For additional information about Bison in Kansas and in the US, I would recommend contacting the Kansas Buffalo Association (http://www.kansasbuffalo.org), as well as the National Bison Assocation (http://www.bisoncentral.com). I am a member of both organizations and one of the many functions of both organizations is to provide further education about the Bison.
    I also was a part of the Symphony on the Prairie (I sing with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus) when it was held at the preserve and I can tell you that it brought a number of people out to the Preserve that would otherwise have never come there. It was amazing to me to listen to the comments of the 'city dwellers' that had no idea there was anyplace like that in Kansas. There were many that were absolutely amazed at the vastness they experienced compared to what they are normally accustomed to. This is indeed going to be an annual event, but it is not held in the same location each year so that should help to limit the impact on the Preserve itself, yet still raise awareness among those that normally would not be exposed to the true beauty and grandeur of the native tallgrass prairie occuring in Kansas.
    I am very pleased to see this article about the National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve here, and to see that you took the time to visit it while in the state of Kansas!!

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    A few quick notes -

    The NPS has lots of concessions operating in the parks. Things like the park phone system and garbage service may be operated by a concessions. It is cost-effective to let others operate some services within the parks. It makes sense to me that lodge operations should be handled by a concessionaire. We don't need park rangers checking you into your room or changing your sheets. This does not mean there aren't problems in the system, but why should that diminish the stature of the hotel?

    Let's not confuse the people who operate the lodges with the lodges themselves. This list states simply that the Ahwahnee is the best lodge in the parks, it doesn't say that Delaware North (the concession that operates the lodge) are the best. In a few years, some other outfit may be managing the hotel, but the hotel remains in the park, and the hotel may continue to be rated "the best". We can debate the best/worst concession contracts on another day, but for this article, as Lone Hiker says, lets see if we can maintain some focus.

    Are there lodges in the parks that should have been included on this list? I've already suggested that maybe one of the Olympic lodges should be here, anyone second that opinion?

  • National Park Service to Charge for Clean Air?   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Is there any way to find out if this survey is related to the ongoing State Implementation Plans (SIP) being written across the country this year that are supposed to improve visibility in our national parks, in order to comply with fairly recent rules on regional haze? Here in Minnesota, there has been balking by some of the industries that need to reduce their emissions in order for the state to comply. Areas that will be affected by Minnesota's SIP are Voyageurs National Park (MN), Isle Royale National Park (MI), Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (MN), and the Seney Wilderness Area (MI). I'm guessing that Minnesota's not the only state that's experienced industry resistance to reducing emissions.

    Hopefully I'm just being overcautious, but my concern is that if somebody wanted to argue that it's not worth making industry spend money to comply, a survey that comes up with a low economic value for visibility as expressed by a public lack of willingness to pay for it could be nice ammo for them. I'd be very happy to be wrong.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    How did you guys manage to drift so far off on a tangent? Franks's comments competely ignore the contents of the article. But I'll put in my two-cents worth on this bellyaching anyway. See editorial above. Then PLEASE try and maintain your focus!

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I'm not overly enthusiastic with privately run corporations charged with the lodging concessions in nationally held lands either. But do you really have any clue as to the reasoning behind these lease agreements? Strictly from an economic standpoint, what is your breakdown on operating costs (e.g., building construction costs, maintenance and upkeep of buildings AND grounds, salaries, benefits and general staffing issues like the associated training costs of hiring and managing a part-time staff, restaurant management, laundry services, HVAC systems, and trying to tie this all together with enough insight to competently respond to the multitude of questions pertinent to the specific locale in which you operate? The NPS was intelligent and foresighted enough to realize that it simply cannot fiscally compete in the professional hotel management aspect of operating a lodge facility on their properties, so they did the next best thing. For the benefit of ALL park visitors, they allow "privatization" of certain aspects of lodging, agreed to in consultation and with, and operated strictly within NPS guidelines, that allow for certain corporations to serve as middle-man between the NPS and those of us who visit. FYI- It is the NPS, NOT Xanterra, or their likeness, who determine annual lodging rates, where facilities are allowed to be erected, size of accomodations, etc. If you had any inclination to do your homework, you would find that the privateers are that in name only, and that the NPS pulls the majority the strings, and certainly holds all the aces in this deal. As well they should. If you are that bend out of shape about privately owned lodges on national lands, don't support them. Stay in a tent. Does that pose an issue?

  • Missing Hiker in Yosemite Found Dead   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Does anyone know exactly where she was found?

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Marianne,

    There are four main lodges inside, or very close, to Olympic NP. Which lodge you choose sort-of depends on the experience you are looking for. Kalaloch Lodge is on the coast, and some cabins and rooms look right out on the Pacific Ocean. Lake Quinault Lodge was designed by the same fellow who built the Old Faithful Inn. The lodge and restaurant at Quinault are terrific; it isn't uncommon for weddings to be conducted on the main lawn which leads to the lake. The lodging at Sol Duc Hot Springs is a little more rustic, but the main attraction there are the naturally heated pools. I covered Sol Duc in a movie presentation earlier this year on the website. Lake Crescent Lodge may be my favorite, but I haven't been there in many years. It's an old lodge right on the lake with a lot of little cabins.

    The park's gateway communities also have a lot of lodging possibilities. The towns of Port Angeles, Squim, Forks, and (to a lesser degree) Aberdeen have plenty of hotels to choose from. Of these, my favorite is the Port Angeles Inn. It's got a nice view of the Straight of Juan de Fuca, and it has easy walking access (via stairs) to the downtown restaurants, and shops. It's also right next to a big Safeway, which makes picnic prep easy.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    You mention a lodge you liked by Olympic. Can you name it? I am looking for a great place to stay there. Thanks!

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Frank,
    I find it ironic that you've got something critical to say about nearly every article posted on this site, and yet you implicitly endorse us by your repeated visits. You are correct, you have said it again and again and again, enough so that anyone who reads this site regularly knows your what your views are. I have a feeling you'll be back again soon, just in case we didn't get your point the first 100 times you left it.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Frank, what exactly do you mean by "gives almost nothing back to the park"? What is the fee that these lodges pay to NPS? Is it the same across the system or does it vary from park to park? I'm not familiar with how NPS manages their concession system but it sounds like you are. I'm interested in seeing how much the NPS earns off a place like the Ahwahnee.

    Matt

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I find it ironic that a site so against "privatization" of park management implicitly endorses monopolistic pilfering of park profits by private concessionaires. I've said it again and again, but the feds spent $17 million (in 1995 dollars) re-building Crater Lake Lodge for a private company, which charges $200 a night and gives almost nothing back to the park.

    ----------------------------------------
    Reform the National Park Service!
    http://NPS-reform.blogspot.com

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 33 weeks ago

    You're welcome Beth! Without trying too hard, conversation can get pretty serious around here. Occasionally, I try to keep it a little light-hearted if I can.

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Thanks for the laugh-out-loud photo!

  • National Park Service to Charge for Clean Air?   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I guess we can all, uh, breathe a sigh of relief :-)

  • National Park Service to Charge for Clean Air?   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Look,

    We already pay taxes for environmental issues.

  • And, Speaking of Volcanoes ... Audio Story at Lassen Volcanic   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I've been a year-round park ranger (interpreter) at Lassen for 2 and 1/2 years now I have to say no matter how many times you've visited the park, it will always leave you wanting more. I've hiked Lassen Peak at least a dozen times this year and everytime I see something different: thousands of butterflies near the summit, a peregrine falcon swooping around Vulcan's eye, or just last week a powerful dirt devil on the summit that was whipping dust hundreds of feet into the air. I enjoy the smiles on peoples faces as they reach the top of the "tallest mountain they've ever climbed." I met a 80+ year old man who has climbed Lassen Peak every year for the last 50 years. It is true the park's namesake trail can be a busy, but if you look all around you, the beauty of this world and the people who inhabit it can be found up and down the trail.

    Lassen's backcountry is another world alltogether. I've been out on 4th of July backpacking trips and seen less than a dozen people a day. I can't wait to listen to Wildbeat's part 2 of the Lassen adventure.

    For the next program i'd recommend a visit to the backcountry in the winter. I moved to this remote area after spending 9 years in Atlanta, Georgia. The winter peace and quiet and vastness of the area will humble the most humble of visitors. A moment of silence in Lassen in the winter will ring true in your ears for eternity.

    -Russell

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 33 weeks ago

    Don't know if there is an official committee, but we could start one! I've given our man a straw flat hat for the desert environment of Death Valley ... we have to keep SOME of the tradition alive, how else would we separate the NASCAR drivers from the NPS Rangers?

    my flickr mashup

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I don't think this uniform would be appropriate in some of the hot weather parks like the Everglades or Death Valley but would be fine at units like Alcatraz and Isle Royale. It's important for the local climate be taken into consideration when dressing rangers for their field related duties.

    Thanks for the endorsment Jeremy. Is there really a uniform committee? I wouldn't be surprised if there was a whole working group dedicated to it. Just wondering.

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 33 weeks ago

    I nominate Frank and Beamis to head up the NPT centennial uniform committee. I'd like to suggest the NPS consider uniforms like these from NASCAR. They are built from a fire-retardant material (addresses safety), and there is plenty of room for the logos of Proud Partner organizations. I don't think directors order #21 has any objections to branding of the uniform. This may be a way for the NPS to take in a little more money, although says Beamis, they may not need it.

    mulsanne via flickr