Recent comments

  • 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

  • How Many Tourists are Too Many in the Yosemite Valley?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Mark,

    Thanks for the comment. If I recall, the Record Flood of 1997 is what wiped out part of the Yosemite Lodge and the campsites you refer to. The valley was under 8 feet of water from the overflowing Merced. The park intended to rebuilt them but a lawsuit by the "Friends of Yosemite Valley" and "Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government" opposed it, seeking a capacity number from the park. Injunctions have halted the park from this work but allowed the road and sewer repairs you mentioned. Supporting the NPS are the following non-profits that are not a direct part of the case: The Yosemite Fund, The Access Fund, The American Alpine Club, California Trout, Friends of the River, National Parks Conservation Assn, and The Wilderness Society. The 9th District court has not yet rendered an opinion in the appeal of November 2007.

    For more information go to the Park Planning website www.nps.gov/yose/planning/litigation.

    Rick D
    www.hikehalfdome.com

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Officials Select "Lethal Reduction" To Help Reduce Elk Herd--Updated   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Or, in retrospect, another solution could be possible.

    Perhaps it's not the elk that are the problem here. It's the encroachment of civilization.

    We'll barricade highways 36 & 34. Nobody else gets in, just out.

    Developers will be herded to other areas - maybe Nebraska, or Kansas, where their activity won't intrude on the wildlife population. Maybe drive them down a fenced corridor parallel to I70.

    The tourist population could be culled, quietly at first. Rifles with silencers outside the local T-shirt shops in the late evening hours. Rubber bullets might be used initially, but I doubt that would be effective.

    i know it's not a permanent solution, but it's a start.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Officials Select "Lethal Reduction" To Help Reduce Elk Herd--Updated   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I have mixed feelings about many of the elements here.

    On one hand, after speaking with many locals in Estes park, I understand that the elk population is out of control, that they can be a nuisance, and even dangerous to the locals (calving in people's gardens and attacking the resident who is unaware of their presence).

    On the other hand, they're majestic animals. As a photographer, they're a staple in my fall schedule. They're the most prominent wildlife in RMNP. It's a shame they can't be relocated. It's also a shame that they can't reintroduce wolves into the park to help naturally manage the population.

    Another concern is the placement of fences in the park. Another eyesore in one of the most beautiful places in the world - but at least it will cost a small fortune.

    Hey, how about instead of putting up fences, we just pave the entire park - that way there will be no place for the elk to graze and they'll go elsewhere? No ugly fences, just miles of concrete.

  • Fishers Return to Olympic National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I have spent a fair amount of time in WA and OR and have no idea what a fisher is. I looked them up in smithsonian guide to North American Mammals. The link is here:

    http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=152

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

    Although some of our Stones River staff members have fire management training, our park does not have the internal capacity to manage prescribed burns. Because of this, we work closely with the excellent fire management staff of the Natchez Trace Parkway. They bring their equipment and highly trained crew to Stones River, and they plan and supervise the prescribed burns at the areas we have identified. Those members of our staff who are trained work right alongside Natchez Trace staff and are able to gain additional training and valuable experience from this partnership.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Park visitors who want to protect their trail-climbing privileges at dangerous places like Angels Landing and Half Dome need to be very careful about the safety measures they demand. The climbing community knows all about the perils of asking for too much. With a few notable exceptions (such as at Denali), the rock climbing and mountaineering folks don't pressure the Park Service to invest a lot of money and manpower in protecting climbers or in climbing-related search and rescue operations. They know that making strident demands for protective measures would backfire because the cash-strapped, shorthanded agency would respond by severely restricting or denying access to areas now open to climbers. This is not to mention that safety measures can be overdone, taking a lot of the challenge and interest out of many routes and trails.

  • How Many Tourists are Too Many in the Yosemite Valley?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Thank you for your article about the Yosemite User Capacity Symposium. To my knowledge, your article is the only one published in a news paper.

    I believe that the park has not released an actual news release article to the media on this upcoming event because they would like to control what information about this subject gets to the media. After the event, I am guessing the park service will spin an article to the media news people that puts their perspectives in a good light, as they relate to the changes in the park they intend to make, and are making. The park service has already stated that they do not want a carrying capacity, and will find a way around it, as is the case with their faulted V.E.R.P. system, which allows for growth as perspectives change over time. The changes they have made to Yosemite Valley and are making will be to the intended exclusion of average Americans who want to camp in Yosemite Valley, and the increase of the foreign day trip visitors that arrive on tour buses from San Francisco each day by the droves, swarming the park with people wandering all over the park by the tens of thousands each day. That is where the park service is headed with their new development plans for Yosemite Valley, with the removal of campgrounds and campsite is the Valley over recent years.

    If you'll notice, the park has managed to eliminate three and a half entire campgrounds from the Valley recently, while they have invested in the development of spectacular tour bus friendly infrastructures that enables the Valley to accommodate ten times the amounts of daily visitors that it ever did on the busiest of days at any time in the past. Specifically, I am referring to the strengthening and widening of various roads into and out of the valley, that they say will accommodate the large tour buses better, the expansion of paved trails at the Lower Yosemite Falls area, that they say will accommodate more people, which they feel is a positive statement. Clearly their new Yosemite Lodge plans will accommodate more people and is going forward as planned, along with their new city like sewer expansion project, which has been underway now for ten years.

    However, the U.S. court of appeals is now reviewing the issue of a Carrying Capacity for our beloved Valley, for all the right reasons. The park service had wanted to eliminate the requirement of a “carrying capacity” in their latest Merced River Plan, but the public created a law suit to hold their feet to the fire. The public won the law suit in regards to the issue of a “carrying capacity”, because we the public understand what they meant by their statement that the park service wanted to "accommodate all who want to come", something of a mantra they have used over time. This is a term they use which actually means that they intend to update the park to accommodate as many people as possible, on any given day, to accommodate a burgeoning foreign tour bus industry. The park service is paving the way for these new tourist businesses capitalizing on Yosemite National Park, while eliminating campgrounds* for Americans who like to recreate there by way of the most popular method of visiting the park; which is camping.

    Campers bring their food with them, they often have kids and campfires, and they don't meet the modern "green" compliance requirements the park wants to aspire to. This is where the public needs to jump in. Many of us either like to camp or we want to protect the rights of future Americans who will want to camp in Yosemite Valley, like many of us have done. We can be "green". More often than not, we are environmentally concerned. We are okay with limiting the number of footprints on the ground, to preserve and protect our park.

    If the park would replace the campgrounds they removed, they should establish a use carrying capacity for the park around the inclusion of those park visitors first, before they decide to establish a carrying capacity that might include five-million international tour bus visitors in the park per year. The park service's manipulation of the demographics of the visitors, targeting visitors who spend money over Americans who just want to camp, is wrong. Please consider attending this symposium, if you want to contribute your views to their so called efforts to establish a plan for moving forward with a Carrying Capacity for our park. Join the efforts, if you agree, with the Yosemite Valley Campers Coalition, or www.yosemitevalleycampers.org, in their effort to protect camper’s interests in Yosemite, by setting a limit on how many people can swarm into Yosemite Valley each day or year, but only after the campsites that they removed in 1997 without public comment are replaced.

    Mark Sutherlin

    * The campgrounds removed, as mentioned above consist of Upper and Lower Rivers Campgrounds, half of Lower Pines Campground and the Yosemite Valley Group Campground.

  • Everglades National Park Asked to Give Manatees Protection From Boaters   6 years 25 weeks ago

    The above mentioned figures were were compiled by USGS from many different agencies/groups. Upon further questioning their lead researcher admitted they can not be deemed as reliable. What can be deemed reliable is the USGS did a manatee study (their first in the ENP) over the past five years. This included sightings, GPS tracking, and carcass recovery. One (1) manatee was recovered as a motorcraft inflicted death during this five year period. That was in 2003. The same lead USGS researcher admitted the deceased manatee could have been struck to the north of the park and found it's way to to the park as injured or as carried by tide. The area just north of the park has much higher numbers of manatees and boat strikes.

    I urge the use of sound science and leave the emotional draw of the cute non-native species out of management decisions. Don't get me started about how many acres of vital seagrass beds they have destroyed to the detriment of many native species in the park.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I totally agree with Kath's comment. The only suggestion I would add to it is this: while making that last half mile of the climb, there are areas of large gaps between chains. Some of the gaps are in spots where the chains would certainly add to the stability and safety of the climber. If the chains were continuous to the top, with short or no gaps, I believe the safety would be improved significantly.

  • Park History: Everglades National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    we need the CERP like it or not!!!!!

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt, you do say it like it is! Pure greed!! I wish I could write with such flair and poise..."the pen is mightier then the sword"!

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    And, frankly, the town of Cody is not involved in the meetings, simply representatives claiming to speak on behalf of the town. In the case of Cody, a grassroots group called "Shut Out" of Yellowstone was propped up by the city to fight this (thus becoming less grassroots over time), but this is a private meeting between power brokers. The public, including the public in Cody, are not really involved.

    On another note, we made our first drive - since moving to Bozeman - into West Yellowstone, the self-proclaimed "snowmobiling capital of the world." It was a beautiful drive along the Gallatin River. However, along the drive, you see snowmobiles of all types, many on the groomed trails in the national forests. As you get closer to West, you see huge groups of them everywhere. Over the town, there was a kind of blue haze. Outside of the haze line, you could see clearer skies in almost every direction. I've heard of this haze, but I had never witnessed it, and I can't be sure if the haze wasn't just a cloud that happened to be right on top of the town (or was the haze I've read about). The air in town stinks - almost as bad as the town I just came from (though that town happens to have millions of people in and out of it every day - not just a couple thousand).

    On the bright side, I was able to have a nice lunch with my partner and my baby and got an out-of-print, hard-to-find book about Yellowstone's second superintendent, Philetus Norris. We also saw a pack of bison outside the park in Montana; (unfortunately, these same bison (or nearby bison in the same area) have been suffering again under some vicious hazing. This week, Buffalo Field Campaign reported a hazing operation that actually was harassing pronghorn that were also caught up in it - that's especially sickening since the area only has about 250 of them).

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

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 26 weeks ago

    Kurt, I was just gonna say what the article said in the last sentence, so rather than repeat it.... Well said!

  • Another Snake Story from Everglades National Park   6 years 26 weeks ago

    Snakes? Why'd it have to be snakes?

    Southern Florida is an ecological mess. There are so many people releasing non-native "things" into the 'glades, canals, swimming pools, and coastal waters. There are thousands of stories like this just waiting to be reported and while entertaining on one level, it's also a very sad statement on humans' unique ability to truly foul things up.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 26 weeks ago

    One could also make that the argument that if there were NO cables, the risk/thrill takers would still attempt the climb. Furthermore, the NPS is providing a safer alternative during the warm season.

    Frankly, I'm aghast to see pictures of that many climbers on the cables. I had no idea there were three deaths there this last year. My husband and I hiked to the top in two days, June 1995, was never that crowded, maybe ten folks there around 10 in the morning. We had on chest harnesses, safety rope with two carabiners, hiking boots, well rested, took all safety precautions. No way would we do this hike in a one day trip, nor would we even attempt to climb with hundreds of folks on the cables. I have a very bad feeling if the crowds are not controlled on the cables to some extent then a horrific accident involving many is brewing to happen. All it will take is one person to fall and start a domino effect. If this type of crowding has been an issue for the last few years, I'm somewhat perplexed that more deaths have not occurred.

    I live in NC and was recently researching the Park as I wish to take my children to the Park this Summer. We certainly will not be climbing Half Dome, I would never subject my children to that strenuous, dangerous hike, too young and no experience. I am stunned to read other hikers accounts of inexperienced individuals making the climb, tennis shoes and sandals, young children, what the hell are parents and these thrill seekers thinking? Ah, the mentality of some who don't percieve the risks that are explained, "If the NPS has the cables up, then they must be safe!" I feel the crowds need to be controlled, the Park is clearly enduring the effects of crowding. If an accident involving many deaths evolves, then watch out for the litigating vultures.

    How can the NPS regulate hikers on the cables? Permits? Not a bad idea. You'd have to station a ranger at the base, educate the masses with more signage, just what the wilderness needs. What a mess. I would hate to see the cables come down, it's exhilirating for those of us who appreciate the wilderness and the risks involved in experiencing it.

    I wonder how different the Park will look since I last saw it.

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 26 weeks ago

    With today's expected change of the rules to allow more shooting of wolves and the plans of wolf management that have been approved for the states (especially those of Wyoming and Idaho), it will be interesting to see whether the expansion of a wolf here and there into Colorado (as well as into other states; for instance Oregon) happens before the wolf populations face decimation.

    What a mess we tend to make of things; I'm amazed we are all so confident of what the proper management answers are. We all seem so eager to manage and the necessity of it. Manage we do and then some, but each generation seems to think it can manage away the errors of the past. They only manage to exacerbate things. In an ethical woods, we mostly tend to fluctuate between cycles of chopping everything down and planting everything back, as though we are chemists who can reduce our world to a couple variables. But, it's for naught, and those of us who are observing will continue to be shocked and saddened by all who are left suffering by our choices. As we celebrate the wolf, I fret as I see the next chapters ready to unfold.

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

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 26 weeks ago

    Bravo Terry,,,I feel exactly as you do.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 26 weeks ago

    "The text of the Second Amendment is, 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'"
    Where does it say, ".........on federal land"? Where does it say, ".....However, such rights may be infringed on private land or in federal buildings, or by state and local governments"? (Federal buildings, last I checked, were on federal land BTW.)
    Are you SURE that my arguments ignore the intentions of the founding fathers. Many scholars believe that the INTENT was that members of an organized militia could bear arms...not necessarily the general public. I tend to agree that the intent was the general public, but this has never been settled. One could even argue, I imagine, that within the National Park the Park Service rangers ARE the "militia".
    I only used Disneyland as an example of a place, just like our National Parks, that has millions of visitors every year, and where we take our children to recreate.
    This law, as it stands, is pretty much an honor system "don't ask, don't tell" law anyway. If you have a gun under your jacket (because you simply can't go anywhere without your security blanket), no one is going to pat you down. No one is going to search your car (without just cause). I'm not an idiot. I know that lots of people are, no doubt, already carrying loaded weapons in parks...just as they do everywhere. NO ONE IS TAKING ANYONE'S GUNS AWAY FROM THEM!! However, the law as it stands, makes them think very hard about firing it or brandishing it. That whole "federal offense" thing. (Yes I know that most gun owners are responsible....those individuals who are responsible for making gun related deaths the second most common cause (behind automobile accidents) of unnatural death in the United States are not.)
    Our National Parks are sacred places. The last thing that we want is for them to start looking like many of our National Forests and BLM lands: signs shot full of holes, squirrels and birds with their heads blown off, rusty tin cans full of holes along trails. My opinion is that this law should remain unchanged. You are entitled to your's
    Thank you, Kurt, for letting me ramble on with these long comments. I promise I'm done now!

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 26 weeks ago

    Frank N. makes some good points here. I'm glad he's never felt endangered while hiking the backwoods. I hope I never do either. I hope I never need to start a survival fire, but I carry a magnesium fire-starter anyway. Does this mean that we need to outlaw fire-starters because they could be used for arson? C'mon. give me a break!

    The Disneyland comment doesn't carry much weight with me either. Disneyland has metal detectors and security guards. The backwoods where I hike has neither.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 26 weeks ago

    I'm not a member of the NRA, nor do I own a handgun, nor do I support the current administration. I am, however, a Constitutionalist and believe the job of every American is to defend the Constitution, not just part of it.

    Frank N.: malls, gun shows, and city parks are NOT federal land and are cases of private parties or local government regulating guns and are thus permissible under the Constitution. Remember, the Constitution is a limit to federal power and doesn't apply to Disneyland or the other flippant and ill-conceived examples listed.

    Thes arguments continue to ignore the Second Amendment's guarantee of the People to bear (or carry) arms on federal land. Your arguments continue to ignore the Founders' intentions. If you believe that the federal government should be able to prohibit law abiding people from owning and carrying guns, then you should work to have the Constitution amended.

    Ignoring the Constitution is what the current administration is doing by trying to bypass Congress to negotiate a treaty with Iraq. Ignoring the Constitution is how Japanese-Americans ended up in prison camps on American soil. Ignoring the Constitution leads to a loss of rights.

  • Super Volcano, The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park   6 years 26 weeks ago

    Kurt: thanks for the heads-up on the new book. I wrote about the Super Volcano extensively for the Casper Star Tribune and struggled with how to convey the technical information from the scientists, to the lay reader. I'll have to see how Breining handles it.
    Most of the scientists I've talked to felt the Discovery/BBC show got the essential science right, if a bit sensational. Still, how can you talk about a super volcano eruption without it being sensational -- making Mt. Saint Helen's eruption look like popping a pimple.
    I used to newspaper in the Colorado mountain town of Creede, which is set among spectacular cliffs -- all that remains of a super volcano eruption some 65 million years ago.
    Living in proximity to Yellowstone reminds me of that hoary joke about civil defense exercises in the '50's -- the duck and cover routine which ends with "and kiss your *** goodbye."