Recent comments

  • A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I LOVE the wheel chair accessible parts of the AT. Totally awesome that they made another section, I can't wait to take my parents there. My parents are getting up there in age and my Dad is now offically handicapped. During his younger years, both of my parents hiked every inch of the AT over the course of 3 summers. They loved it an have only happy stories to tell about it. My parents still go camping with my family and I, although not roughing it in tents anymore, and it's awesome to be able to take my Dad to these few places where he can go back on the AT, even in his chair. It sparks lots of memories, funny stories, and family dicussions with all 3 generations of us. Merryland doesn't get it, for those who no longer have the option of hiking due to age, injury, and illness, these few spots are an amazing opportunity to relive a section of their past that they thought was lost forever or for some, an opportunity that they never had the chance to experience. My hat goes off to the Green Mountian Club for a job well done.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    It is not about needing a gun, it is about what one wants and if one wants to carry a gun into a national park, that should be OK. Just because ONE idiot shot something he couldn't see , the rest of us should not be punished for that. Put the idiot away and let the rest of us go on. If, in fact, this is his fifth alcohol related offense then why is he free anyway?

  • "Hidden Fire" Continues To Burn In Sequoia National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I agree with paul. The trees are very sensitive to outside interference and fires are a big hazard.

    We need to protect these national treasures.

  • The Wild Side of Yellowstone National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I recently travelled to Southern California and visited the largest tree in the world at Sequoia national park. It was a blast. I got inspiration from your blog on national parks. Keep it up.

  • Pruning the Parks: Shoshone Cavern National Monument (1909-1954) Would Have Cost Too Much to Develop   6 years 18 weeks ago

    The so called Poverty Point National Monument is another prime candidate. While Congress made the declaration in 1988 to take this amazing prehistoric site in federal hands, the state of Louisiana believes their Poverty Point State Park is perfectly fine and does not even think about handing it over.

  • Pilgrim Places: Civil War Battlefields, Historic Preservation, and America’s First National Military Parks, 1863-1900, Part VII   6 years 18 weeks ago


    Quite enjoyable, and very informative body of work. I found it interesting how the different battlefields were saved in different time periods, especially in regard to Gettysburg.

    I reside in Richmond, Va., where we are literaly surrounded by National Battlefield parks, as well as state and private Civil War parks. The South was indeed late getting into the game, but I suppose that can be attributed to the fact that the region was so decimated at the conclusion of the war, that there were no extra resources for such conservation. Virginia in particular was so war-ravaged that it took until nearly the turn of the century for the area to fully recover.

    From the seat where I write this, I am within a couple of miles of Chickahominy Bluffs NBP, which recently received a much needed facelift. The entire swath of Maclellan's failed Peninsula campaign lies just beyond the swamp that is known as the Chickahominy River, and basically within the arc that I-295 creates East of Richmond. With so much history in your hometown, sometimes it's easy to overlook it with complacency. That's why the conservation of these areas is so important.

    I would like to see you delve deeper into the Southern National Battlefields, The ones in the Richmond area in particular.

    Thanks for a truly fascinating read!


  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Ric - which 'you' are you referring to?

  • Pruning the Parks: Shoshone Cavern National Monument (1909-1954) Would Have Cost Too Much to Develop   6 years 18 weeks ago

    How about Yucca House National Monument in Colorado? Unexcavated, uninterpreted, virtually unvisited and unstaffed and managed by nearby Mesa Verde National Park, it seems Yucca House ought to be included as part of Mesa Verde, or developed such that there would be some sort of interpretation at the site to illustrate for the public the significance of an unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan site.

  • The 9/11 Anniversary Draws Attention to the Flight 93 National Memorial, an Extraordinary Work in Progress   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Yes, the creation of the park immediately was the right thing to do, despite all the good and important NORMAL reasons to wait for a decision by a future generation before dedicating a new national park.

    But, there was NO need to leap right in and build a big memorial structure, or sculpture, to accompany the creation of the park.

    This truth is illustrated by the fact that today, attempting to mimic the success of the Vietnam's Vet memorial, we -- as a culture -- have a knee-jerk response to build something as the memorial to each crisis. The knee-jerk quality, the lack of imagination on the alternative ways to best commemorate Fl. 93, demonstrates the wisdom of waiting at least a generation before building a monumental sculpture.

    But, all memorials do not need a structure, or monumental sculpture, to be incorporated into the memorial park. ESPECIALLY not one on the scale going into Fl. 93 NM. For example, Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence, RI, a national park dedicated to religious and civic tolerance, is a garden. The Fl. 93 landscape is a lovely setting, and a perfect place by itself without ornamentation for the public to contemplate the significance of 9-11 and the actions of the passengers on this aircraft.

    There was no serious contemplation of the parkland itself being the memorial. We should not limit our imagination or alternatives to the knee-jerk, one-size-fits-all-response to every national crisis.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    You won't win any friends or influence any people with this one. What you did do is distroy any credibility that you might have had. If your argument held water then ban driving in the parks, (hummm.... not such a bad idea) because drunk drivers kill thousands of people a year.

  • Pruning the Parks: Shoshone Cavern National Monument (1909-1954) Would Have Cost Too Much to Develop   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Here is what you learn when you go to the home page of Hohokam Pima National Monument, which was authorized in 1972 to protect an ancient Hohokam village (Snaketown):

    The Monument is located on the Gila River Indian Reservation and is under tribal ownership. The Gila River Indian Community has decided not to open the extremely sensitive area to the public. There is no park brochure, passport stamp, picture stamp or other free literature available.

    Is Snaketown worth preserving? Of course! But to say that the managerial arrangement for Snaketown is inconsistent with the concept of a national park is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. This one would be near the top of my list for transfer and decommissioning.

    Here is the statement included at the bottom of an email message I just got from the Public Affairs Officer of a major park. I've highlighted the relevant words.

    The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American
    people so that all may experience our heritage.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I think you hit the nail right on the head with your comment, not the gun but the person.

  • A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Merryland, remember that the newly constructed AT segment (boardwalk and path) replaced an AT segment that consisted of road surface (Thundering Brook Road). This new trail segment is a step toward nature, not away from it. Further, the segment was built across a floodplain, which made a boardwalk a logical choice and wheelchair access a sensible provision. There are plenty of other stretches of the 2,175-mile AT where you truly can get away from it all in the sense of wilderness experience.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Obviously this nut job has not taken any hunter safety course, which I took at age 12. You don't shoot at a sound. You identify your target, check your background, look for the proper spot to place your shot and aim for that point. Sounds like some big city psycho that should stay in the big city.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago

    They do make perfectly quiet snow transportation with zero pollution. It's called cross country skiing.

  • A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont   6 years 18 weeks ago

    So much for getting away from it all. Next they'll install people-movers so you don't really need to hike the trail. Walk left, stand right folks.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I can see that most of you haven't camped at the various National Recreation Areas. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are staples there. The "issues" at Chickasaw are legendary.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Beamis - Platte National Park did indeed get incorporated into a National Recreation Area - the Chickasaw NRA, which is still part of the National Park System to this day.

    Lepanto - I agree with you that this is what National Heritage Areas are supposed to be, but unfortunately Congress has viewed them as an opportunity to slap the NPS Arrowhead on whatever locally-run historical and cultural sites are in the area. In practice, its sadly been even worse than the current "name game" redesignation wave for places like Congaree and Cuyahoga Valley.

  • Pruning the Parks: Shoshone Cavern National Monument (1909-1954) Would Have Cost Too Much to Develop   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I'm wondering if Hohokam Pima National Monument would be on your list for "delisting". Like Shoshone Cavern, it has never been opened to the public. On the other hand, there is also no question that "Snaketown", which Hohokam Pima National Monument protects, is a nationall-significant resource. To me, this raises something of a conundrum. I'd imagine that the National Monument/National Park System status affords a great deal of protection to the "Snaketown" resources - but can a National Park be solely about protection? Or does there also have to be a visitation element as well?

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    This sad incident is an example of the kind of problem that I predict will become more common if the existing regulations concerning firearms in national parks are relaxed. Why? A significant number of today's visitors to parks are urbanites with limited experience in the out-of-doors, and therefore more inclined to panic when "things go bump in the night." I don't make that observation lightly, but base it on 30 year's experience as a ranger in some of the largest parks in the country. The fact that this incident occurred in the afternoon illustrates even further the tendency of some individuals to shoot first and hope for the best.

    In this situation, given the circumstances and players involved, it's a moot point whether the gun involved was a rifle or handgun. A firearm was readily at hand, there was a perceived "threat," and the knee-jerk reaction was to fire away. Proposals to make firearms readily available in parks will only increase the risk of similar situations.

    That is not an indictment of responsible owners of firearms. I include myself in that category, and I am not "anti-gun." That does not mean, however, that the carrying of a loaded weapon is necessary or appropriate every place in the country. I have camped in parks for 50 years, and have never felt the need to have a firearm as part of my gear.

    A reminder about the current NPS firearms regulations is in order here. Those regulations do not prohibit possession of firearms in parks, but simply require that they be unloaded and stored so they are not immediately at hand. Those rules have served parks and visitors well for decades, and given the rarity of violent crime in national parks, this debate is more a philosophical and political one about "gun rights" rather than a practical one about the need for guns for self-defense in parks. The existing rule is a good example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    In my 30 years as a ranger, I did not encounter a single situation where a visitor needed a firearm for self-defense against another person - or a wild animal. I did, however, encounter a number of situations in which heated words were exchanged and some occasional shoving matches ensued - often among members of a group, and often involving alcohol. I have no doubts that some of those situations would have had a much more serious, or deadly, outcome, if a loaded firearm had been readily available to one or more of the participants.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Look at it this way. A rowdy drunk man can do more damage with a gun than a rowdy drunk man throwing beer cans at a bush.

  • A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Hmm, very interesting. Kudos to the builders. Of course, I'm sure the pork-project folks will come along to poo-poo this project, but I think it's a nice idea.

    I wonder if the real AT hikers appreciate having an even boardwalk for a portion of the trip?


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • "Hidden Fire" Continues To Burn In Sequoia National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Anyone who's been to Sequoia knows that fire plays an intricate part in the health and survival of the great trees.

    I hope no one has been hurt in this blaze, I hope it doesn't damage park facilities, and it's a shame that some people who travelled to the park are now out of luck, but a fire at a park is not necessarily the bad thing. Plus, Mother Nature likes to mess with us from time to time.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 18 weeks ago

    I have, however, seen the villainous types that you describe

    Indeed, I exaggerated for the purpose of using a quote from Star Wars. I also think I have less tolerance for general rowdiness than the average person. Further, I can definitely draw a map with contour lines representing camping civility. Some areas we've been, the camping crowds are the nicest and least rowdy you can find. Other places, we'll know pulling up to the campground that it's going to be a long night. We've gotten in the habit of using KOA's if backcountry isn't an option. The family atmosphere of the KOA's seems to eliminate the domestic disputes erupting at 3am and the impromptu dirt bike races we've run into at some private joints. You pay more for it, but you sleep better.

    I don't think I've ever found anything but the personable, friendly, helpful folks you speak of in the NPS sites. I've always attributed that to having shared interests with these folks. My wife and I don't drink, don't like loud vehicles, don't own a TV, don't hunt, don't fish, and don't have kids. That seems to put us at odds with how most of the folks enjoy the Interstate campgrounds. (And we're 35 and 27....imagine how boring we'll be 30 years from now!) In the parks, I always seem to run into retired folks on cross-country bird watching excursions (as happened in Teddy Roosevelt this summer) or something like that to make it a pleasant experience. I've never felt nervous or unsafe in a park, but definitely have when camping other places.

    As for hotels, I can't argue with you. The expense of hotels repels us more than the clientele, though. A bed isn't worth $80 a night.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago


    The outbreak of massed hostilities in Europe over the summer of 1914 riveted & consumed (horrified) America, President Wilson and the Congress (destroying, as they did, much of the civilized world). So intense was the political climate that by June 1915 the Secretary of State William Jennings Bryon had resigned in protest over Wilson's quiet bias for Great Britain over Germany (the President and the United States were publicly & officially neutral).

    That the U.S. did not send troops to Europe until late in the War does not alter the impact of events on our Congress. The passage of the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 remains embedded within and dominated by the overpowering circumstance of World War I.

    But, my previous comment was of course in reply to Kurt's earlier challenge:
    "But where would you start [to revise the Organic Act]? Should each application of "conservation" be replaced with "preservation" in the Act? Should the sections Ted referred to earlier regarding livestock grazing and logging be struck? While it's already clear that the Organic Act places preservation of park resources above enjoyment of those resources, does that section need to be clarified or strengthened?

    How far would you go with a revision?"

    My comment above replied to Kurt's question, saying it is unlikely there will be a 'surgical' remedy to the 'crudities' of the Organic Act; that if anything the Act would be swallowed up in a broad reform of the motley ensemble of related historic legislation intended to safeguard our natural heritage.

    And, that it is environmentalism itself that primarily stands in the way of that happening. Thus, it is the diminishment of their capacity to obstruct, that most likely would present the opportunity to reform. Do see my previous comment for the details.

    Notice that Kurt also introduces the notion of "conservation" versus "preservation". I did not deal with this matter previously, but will give it a pass now.

    That environmentalism divides into 'conservation' and 'preservation' camps is a major reality which is normally kept closeted with the other skeletons. Preservationism dominates in public affairs, and typically promulgates a one-sided message, carefully ignoring that there is another (very large) aspect to environmentalism.

    Why did Kurt mention this schism within environmentalism, in connection with the possible reform of the Organic Act?

    First of all, the 'objections' to the Organic Act - the provisos for logging, grazing, etc within Parks - are there at the behest of conservationism. And more than likely, those provisos are still protected by conservationism, 92 years after the Act became law. Plus many other factors, often much more complex & sophisticated.

    In other words, so-called 'good' (i.e., 'preservationist') environmentalism isn't going anywhere, without their 'conservationist' counterpart (with whom they are joined at the hip, and who increasingly hold the purse-strings ... and own the massive land-holdings bought with donations & membership fees).

    Although it is common to read preservationist-oriented literature that conveys the impression that conservationism was replaced generations ago by more enlightened views of the environmental ethos ... nothing could be farther from the truth.

    I will go so far as to say that rhetorically, the actual dynamic in the later part of the 20th C. settled into an arrangement wherein conservationism agreed to feed preservationism all the rope they think it'll take to hang themselves.

    The #1 theme, the rallying-flag and the battle-cry of preservationism has become Global Warming, caused by the selfish & meritless actions of humans. The rhetoric has been ramped up in round after round of escalations ... in which conservationism does not participate.

    Preservationism is taking itself further & further out onto a limb, stacking up more & more chips in the middle of the table on an increasingly hair-raising gamble, insisting that earth's climate really and truly will unfold in a particular fashion, and for particular reasons.

    Conservationism stands on the sidelines, taking notes. Maintaining political & corporate contacts. Accumulating real estate.

    At the present time, the most likely opportunity for serious legislative address of the motley state of U.S. environmental law appears to lie in the aftermath of the failure of the "AGW", Anthropogenic Global Warming model (over-promoted by the preservationist-wing of environmentalism).

    In that context, conservationists will have retained their credibility, and they hold vast amounts of desirable acreage. It is they, not the higher-profile preservationists, who will be in a position to negotiate on the floor of Congress. It is even possible that conservationism could formally merge their holdings with those of the National Park System, creating a new system ... and do so in accordance with conservationism-concepts.

    To wit. Near me on the Olympic Peninsula is the Hoh River, partly within, partly outside Olympic National Park. It is the wettest & wildest temperate rainforest watershed in these United States, bar none. Two hundred inches a year. It is a veritable jewel, causing any flavor of environmentalist to salivate involuntarily.

    A conservation organization called Hoh River Trust has been buying private land along the Hoh, outside the Park. Last I checked, they had about 4,000 acres. This is the most productive timber land in the entire USA ... bar none. And they will be logging it - carefully! - and using profits to (guess what) buy more.

    Hoh River Trust is going to manage, use & grow the conservation-base.

    This, I predict, is the future of environmentalism.