Recent comments

  • National Park Foundation Loses Its Honorary Chairperson   6 years 14 weeks ago

    No kidding. First I've heard of this. I guess her absence from NPS issues puts her above her husband on the Success-O-Meter: she didn't leave any mark at all, while her husband left a big stain.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I don't necessarily agree with the "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" concept, I think most of those arguing against the new proposal are kidding themselves about what would happen. Does anyone doubt that some people have been "packing" in national parks for years? Have any of you ever been frisked? I haven't, and I'm not convinced that the change will lead to more irresponsible gun carriers - they're already there.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  • National Park Foundation Loses Its Honorary Chairperson   6 years 14 weeks ago Mrs. Bush was trying to help the NPS while her husband was slowly destroying it? I am confused, how much good did she do and how much did she influcence her husband?

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I'm sitting here on the 21st. of January in Livingston Mt. looking forward to another clear day in the fifties. So it has been for the past couple of weeks. There is no snow in the valley, and it is getting pretty thin on the surrounding mountains. Yesterday I was out tilling soil in my garden (not that I plan on planting for four more months, but it was that nice out). I realize that this is all meaningless, just as the fact that Ancorage Alaska had the third coldest summer on record is meaningless. This is the weather, not the climate. The weather is what is happening today, this week or this year. The climate is what the overall trend is over many years. There is little doubt that the overall climate is warming. A couple of degrees is all that it takes to cause glaciers to disappear, bark beatles to run rampant, forests to vanish, arctic sea ice to melt and polar bears and other species to become extinct. As John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." Who knows what species is "hitched" to us in such a way that when it goes, we also go?
    We can argue the cause of climate change until we are blue in the face. The majority of responsible scientists seem to believe that the industrial activities of man at least are a contributing factor. Even many formerly objecting voices are beginning to lean that way. It is also possible to locate responsible scientists who disagree, as well as thousands of dissenting opinions of less than reliable sources.
    The point is that it really doesn't matter. If it is man caused, even in part, we might be able to reverse it. If not, then our fate may already be sealed. The good news is that most of the things we are being asked to do to combat climate change can do nothing but benefit us, both in the short term and the long; and we might, just might, be able to save the planet as a bonus. Winterizing our homes does nothing but make us more comfortable and save us money; as does switching to energy saving (and long lasting) light bulbs. Developing wind and solar energy, and moving toward hybrid, natural gas and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles does nothing but get us out of the back pockets of oil producing nations; and frees us from an addiction to a fuel source that is rapidly disappearing. Clean coal technology does nothing except create jobs for Americans and reduce air pollution. When companies "go green" experience has shown us that they do nothing but increase their profits.
    If we can save the planet as well, this is win, win. But even if we can't and we are all doomed in a hundred or five hundred years (or even if the planet is in no peril at all), these things still make sense. Even if climate change does not exist, we should all be backing the war against it; if for no other reason than our pocket books and the nation's economic health and security.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Interesting notion, that of "more usable land". But usable in what manner? The atmospheric variances that currently exist on the planet and the direct interaction that they impose on the existing land masses are a direct result of not only the proximity and topography of land masses in relation to the seas but in the specific temperatures of the sea water in a given region. On a small scale, I'm sure you're all aware of the concept of the El Nino / La Nina phenomenon that occur periodically in the Pacific region, and how climatologists relate the relatively small warming and cooling patterns associated with each phenomenon to our weather in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly here in North America. Space dictates that the permutations that might arise from an overall warming trend in the oceans of a little as 2 degrees C (about 5 degrees F for the metricly challenged) cannot be given their due in this post, but some of what is generally agreed to be the end products of such a shift in the sea temps would be the following: stronger surface winds; larger, more tightly compacted and far more vicious tempests, increased frequency of "severe" storms.

    Now for some additional background information. The existing pattern or roadmap that our storm systems follow is a direct cause / effect relationship with not only water temperatures, but more specifically WHERE those water temperatures occur at any given time during the year. The position of the warmer waters serves to direct the formation and general path of the storms, along with other factors such as the jet stream and other layers of aloft winds. As those warm waters drift, as they seasonally do, storms are directed as to where they will encounter and impact along our western coastline. Then, their reformation or intensity are subject to other wind patterns and water temperatures, most notably those conditions existing along the Gulf Coast, and those beneficial rains that allow the Great Plains to function as the Bread Basket of the World are largely a product of favorable conditions in the southern and along the southeast coasts.

    As for your supposition of longer growing seasons in the Plains? Not likely at all. A general warming trend in the Pacific is bound to shift storm patterns, which currently are optimal for the growing season in the center of the nation. Storms being redirected into Canada would most likely not reap the benefit of Gulf moisture without a tremendous increase in the south /southeasterly winds, which at the required velocity would rip the top soil from heart of the nation just as a similar situation did in the 30's. On the other hand, a seasonal shift to the south and the rains enter Mexico, a country that doesn't possess the quality of soil to retain the vast influx of mew moisture, and would most likely be subject to massive flooding and erosion. That coupled with the relatively narrow land mass that is Central America would encourage storms to reform before they even begin to degenerate as they currently do over the much larger land mass that is the US. That scenario doesn't bode too well for the Caribbean nations and other points east. A longer growing season? More likely, a season without conditions for growth, as the abatement of storms also would sound the eventual death knell of the Great Lakes and much of the Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado and Ohio watersheds. Not much to irrigate your crops with, eh?

    Additionally, if as they estimate, the melting polar caps would add as much as 200' to the existing sea levels, another rather significant chunk of "usable" lands would be eliminated from the equation along ALL of our coastlines, in all nations around the globe. And maybe most unfortunately for us all, there goes our planet's last reserves of fresh water, unceremoniously dumped in the salinity of the seas.

    But maybe it won't happen. Maybe the overall climate change is less drastic than we think. Maybe by switching to alternative fuel sources enough damage can be reversed to make amends for how greedy and blindly stupid our business managers have been. Maybe we, people of all nations, creeds, socio-economic backgrounds, will all come to our collective senses and act for the good of mankind. Maybe the world will indeed implode in 2012. And maybe a black man from Kenya and a White man from Kansas will have a son that will grow up to become President of the United States of America.

  • Yosemite National Park Officials Looking For Suggestions on Preserving Badger Pass Ski Lodge   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Those interested in the history of skiing in the National Parks should not miss Ch XIV, "The Problem of
    Winter Use" in the Mount Rainier Administrative History:

    The ski lifts and winter lodging have been gone for over 35 years, but current MRNP management still seems to view winter use as an inconvenient 'problem'. Many tens of millions of dollars have been spent to relocate the road and address some of the past issues. The large staff still plows the road after each snowfall to prevent serious damage to Glacier Bridge and various structures at Paradise. Yet the public is increasingly excluded over the past several years, with ever more flimsy excuses.

  • Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Low on Snow For Holiday Weekend   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Things still seem to be pretty grim in that neck of the Sierra for winter fun, Anonymous. Here's the latest forecast from the folks at Monticeto:

    Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 51. Calm wind becoming west southwest around 5 mph.

    Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38. Southeast wind around 6 mph.

    Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 54. East wind 9 to 15 mph becoming south.

    Wednesday Night: Rain. Low around 40. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

    You can keep tabs on the weather at this site as the weekend draws closer, but today things look pretty slushy.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Stephen -

    Thanks for your comments. Integrity of the evidence is always a valid area of concern for any topic, and worthy of discussion.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I've never disputed the issue of climate change. I was merely trying to protect the integrity of the evidence given, though, and I still maintain it was manipulated. If one truly believes in an issue, then no subterfuge should be necessary.

    While I'm at it, I do wish to clarify that Richard did provide the dates of the photographs and that a comparable seasonal benchmark was established.

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    our situation was caused, in part, to a lack of adequate controls on the market

    That's a total myth.

    Government intervention is what has caused the current financial mess.

    The excessive consumerism is encouraged by government, well, the quasi-governmental cartel of bankers known as the Federal Reserve. "Stimulating" consumption by pumping trillions of printed and/or borrowed dollars into the economy will not help. Letting the free market set interest rates and encouraging saving and real investment (not some pseudo, inexact definition of investment) over spending will help. Ending inflationary monetary policy will help. You're right about the deficit spending under Bush, but Obama has promised trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Government deserves the blame, not some illusory "free" market.

    Taxes are essential if our nation is to function.

    How was nation able to function for the 137 years prior to the income tax?

    However, with all its faults, our government and our nation needs and deserves a share of the money we gain

    Wow. Scary statement. "Needs"? "Deserves"? Orwellian.

    "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government." --Thomas Jefferson

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    In the context of this story, perhaps we're making a bit too much of the exact vantage point, time of year, or other factors in the two photos.

    If we look at the photos in broad rather than specific terms, there's no doubt there's been a dramatic reduction in the area covered by the glacier.
    Whether it's winter or summer, the surface of the main body of a glacier isn't open water - and there's a lot more open water visible in the later photo.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    First of all, I'm not sure how I managed to claim your name while posting to you. Sorry about that as I'm sure I probably addressed the response to you in the wrong place.

    Secondly, I do not believe it is from the same vantage point at all, but thank you for looking into it anyway. For consideration, I would recommend just looking at the mountain peak farthest away in each photograph, to the top right edge of each image. If indeed taken from the same vantage point, then the older image has been cropped considerably, at the least.

    Lastly, the difference between the seasons could account for the vegetation as well. That should not be so casually dismissed, if indeed the scientific method is at all important.

  • Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Low on Snow For Holiday Weekend   6 years 14 weeks ago

    What do you think about this upcoming weekend Jan 23rd - Jan 25th? We were thinking about Montecito Lodge to do winter play with our 4 yr old but don't really want to spend all the money if the snow situation is no good.

    Thanks for your help.

  • National Parks and the Inauguration of President Obama   6 years 14 weeks ago

    i don't doubt that Obama will be a vast improvement for the U.S. and the rest of the world

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    "Fortunately the end is near as the federal government is totally bankrupt and its creditors are about to stop lending it any more money by refusing to buy treasury debt which has been the fuel of the current reckless borrowing and spending spree. The Feds will try to print their way out of the predicament but that will fail miserably and the final day of reckoning will be upon it. By the way, that day is not too far in the future.

    President Obama is about to preside over the end of an exhausted and depleted empire. It is time for those of us who love the parks to honestly look at other avenues of administration for the national park system. It would be wise to have that discussion now before its present owners auction them off in a fire sale the likes of which the world has never known."

    You may be surprised to learn that many of those you label as "socialists" agree with some of the basic points you make, particularly in re: to our economy and the difficult times ahead. However, you should acknowledge that our situation was caused, in part, to a lack of adequate controls on the market and excessive consumerism. Indeed, the greatest economic malpractice and runaway deficit spending occurred during Republican administrations. It was Bush/Cheney who urged Americans to go out and shop rather than make personal sacrifices following 9/11. Insofar as national parks are concerned, they are a commonly shared heritage of all Americans and should be managed as such. I will likely never visit most of the parks that my taxes help to support, but they are nonetheless my heritage and deserve my support. Taxes are essential if our nation is to function. We have every right to demand that our tax dollars be used wisely and efficiently and that they be fairly levied. However, with all its faults, our government and our nation needs and deserves a share of the money we gain, in part, due to the fact that we are Americans.

  • National Parks and the Inauguration of President Obama   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Obama is playing a few cards very close to his chest. I'm afraid we're just going to have to wait and see where Salazar will lead the NPS.
    I have a feeling that the NPS, Fish & Wildlife, and the Forest Service are fairly low priorities during the first 100 days of the administration.
    Let's hope the Thomas Hill painting is a positive indicator!

  • After the Inauguration ... Next Up, the Lincoln Bicentennial   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Thanks for a great article!
    I was fortunate enough to work at Ford's Theatre for a short time (not as an NPS employee), and not a day goes by that I don't miss that incredible place. What a great opportunity that was to learn about Lincoln.

    My car proudly sports the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial License Plate, celebrating Indiana as Lincoln's boyhood home, and my bookshelf is filled with Lincoln related titles.
    What a great year this shall be!

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Here is the caption, (from the USGS web site) which Kurt could have included with the photographs above:

    On the left is a photograph of Muir Glacier taken on August 13, 1941, by glaciologist William O. Field; on the right, a photograph taken from the same vantage on August 31, 2004, by geologist Bruce F. Molnia of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

    According to Molnia, between 1941 and 2004 the glacier retreated more than twelve kilometers (seven miles) and thinned by more than 800 meters (875 yards).

    Does this satisfy your photographic skepticism?

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Richard Smith......sorry, they're not. It's not even close frankly. Try again?

  • and the National Park System Under the Obama Administration   6 years 14 weeks ago

    You raise a good point, and it's one that the Park Service is aware of. Indeed, for a few years now technicians have been measuring ambient sound levels at various parks to try to get a fix on what is natural and unnatural as well as to measure decibel levels.

    They've actually done some work at Glacier, and in their discussion the park managers saw fit to open the narrative with the sentence, "We live in a world of over-stimulation."

    Further done in the discussion they add:

    The value of this resource has become increasingly more important as it becomes threatened. Glacier National Park still retains much of its natural soundscape, but "noise" (defined as the unwanted intrusion of sound) is becoming ever more prevalent and, increasingly, recognized as a management concern. The type and amount of development around the periphery of Park will largely dictate the future condition of the soundscape. Increases in traffic and construction within the Park add to manmade noise and aircraft operations over and near the park are becoming a growing issue. Scenic helicopter rides that originate outside the park boundary intrude on the natural soundscape over a wide area, particularly affecting hikers and backpackers.

    Soundscape management has become an important management issue at Glacier Park. Any significant degradation of the natural sound environment deprives park visitors of the chance to connect with and appreciate the natural scene. Opportunities for escape from the noise and from the hectic pace of modern life are becoming increasingly aware.

    Things definitely can be too noisy still in Glacier and elsewhere in the park system, but managers are aware of the problem and are working to develop solutions.

  • and the National Park System Under the Obama Administration   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I understand this problem is small in the grand scheme of park system finances and management. This may not be a widespread problem but I imagine thousands of visitors have similar sentiments, which relate to conduct in polite society. I found my visit to Glacier National Park significantly and negatively impacted by noisy vehicles. In my case it was motorcycles/choppers with loud exhaust pipes. Their negative impact was made when arriving and leaving illegal parking outside hotel front doors, as well as throughout the park. Their noisy presence interrupted many quiet settings as they passed my area, even when I was down trails. Their permitted presence seems incongruous with some of the tenets the park system stands for. Many states have statutes against exhaust modification to loud pipes but are difficult to enforce because of their complexity and required equipment. If there are national park statutes against noisy vehicles I saw no indication of their successful enforecement. I suggest a simple audible/distance for idling and pass-by driving be established so that park exclusion and fines may be imposed by park staff on violators. A similar audible/distance practice is in use in some states to enforce against noisy car stereos.
    Thank you.

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Sorry Sandi, but I've taught more Bios classes than you'll ever take. Plants love CO2? There's some accuracy in that statement. Plants tolerate CO2 is a better way of making that statement. There's also a bit more accuracy in the statement that with the slash-and-burn deforestation that's been eating away those carbon-sucking flora to which you refer, the earth's ability to filter excess production of CO2 has been reduced. By what percentage this reduction can be measured can be bandied about by various E&E friends of mine, but the overall statistic will be that we (i.e., the Earth) are less able to handle the excesses that we were in years (centuries) past. And for what it's worth, simply placing carbon dioxide in the presence of water doesn't make it magically disappear, not by a long shot. Not quite sure if that's really what you meant, but I hope not. Or I'll have to have a long what-for with your chemistry instructor.
    Maybe for once and for all time, we can call this what it really's NOT the consumer that's the real issue in this equation. Consumers only utilize the tools that they are given. If all the people in the US immediately began to live their lives without automobiles, electricity, natural gas, etc. this issue wouldn't simply vanish. Those behind this mess are those who refuse to change the fuel sources that mankind uses, or who claim it's too expensive to change, or that no market exists for "green" fuel technology. I wonder how fast our suppliers mindset would be altered if by chance their incomes were challenged by a sudden unexpected depletion of natural resources?

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I guess the operative inference was in pointing to "our" definitions. For simplicity sake we often refer to things in "our" terms, but clarity and understanding could be obtained by utilizing more exacting terms, which neither include double entendre nor doublespeak. Therein lies a major issue with "our" version of the English language.......too many definitions for the same terms, many of which can be used to bolster opposing viewpoints to the general confusion of the issue at hand.

    While General George and many of his peers so frequently quoted within the posts to this site are no specific heroes of mine, it could also, and just as accurately be stated that many other of that group (the Founders) and of philosophers (dating to Plato) would disagree about the intent and responsibilities of government, dating back to the earliest influences of political structures founded by most "Western" societies. All of those positions on BOTH ends of the spectrum were derived from various periods in time quite unlike the current circumstance in which we exist. Previous civilizations dealt with a multitude of issues no longer relevant to our "modern" society, and around such issues opinions were formulated and expressed. Franklin, for one, expressed his fears that the governmental structure being established in the mid-to-late 18th century would only be able to be sustained by a virtuous society; that very societal composition which he also stated could not sustain itself given the nature of mankind, whom he observed to be corrupt by nature, as has been demonstrated across time and geography and has found a "universal truth"; Jefferson (and others) views on the slavery issue are evidence of outmoded thought processes. So I don't think Ben would qualify as one of your stronger supporters of our current "democracy", progressive or otherwise. And for clarity sake, Ben favored a Republic modeled after the Roman pre-Caesar era council. At least, that's what he wrote in his papers. Finally, as we stand and debate the merits of our current political cesspool, in the larger picture isn't a society, ANY society, sans governmental or some other method of directional structure akin to anarchy?

    In closing, a much belated Happy Holidays to you all. At least I sincerely hope they were for you. Now, back to the bloodbath!

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   6 years 14 weeks ago

    It is NOT government that is inherently bad.

    Washington, who wrote that "government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master", would disagree. So would other Founders and philosophers.

    Take from one and give to another isn't your precious democracy

    Democracy has evolved into what some Founders, such as Franklin and Jefferson, warned: war of all against all. With the fall of the Republic and its replacement by a progressive democracy, we have seen the advent interest group politics, and people vote for those who will take from those who have to give to those who have not.

    And let's not be too exacting with our definitions

    Should we instead engage in doublespeak? "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength"? Consumption is investment?

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   6 years 14 weeks ago

    I'm glad to see this. As an Environmental Educator for the NPS, I often see my colleagues in state agencies pressured to present hunting as "necessary for healthy wildlife populations." I've often thought that was BS, simply a way to justify hunting - "oh the predators are gone so we must take their place." The fallacy of that argument is shown up by wildlife management practices in Alaska which include destroying wolves and other predators to establish just that "unhealthy" condition artificially. In the end, the limits of habitat, such as food, shelter, weather and disease will limit wildlife populations far better, and probably in a far healthier way, than hunting. Hunt if you must, but don't portray it as for the wildlife's benefit.