Recent comments

  • National Park Service to Charge for Clean Air?   6 years 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 weeks ago

    Does anyone know exactly where she was found?

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 weeks ago

    Thanks for the laugh-out-loud photo!

  • National Park Service to Charge for Clean Air?   6 years 34 weeks ago

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

  • National Park Service to Charge for Clean Air?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Look,

    We already pay taxes for environmental issues.

  • And, Speaking of Volcanoes ... Audio Story at Lassen Volcanic   6 years 34 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 34 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 34 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 34 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

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Excellent points, Beamis. The reluctance to change an outmoded and even dangerous uniform highlights the conservative, self-perpetuating nature of NPS bureaucracy. There is hope for major change if people continue to speak out and to think about alternatives.

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

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 34 weeks ago

    It is quite exasperating to see the money grabbing private enterprizes running some of our national parks. They should not be run on a hotel hilton theme .
    Some how the original intent has been lost to profiteering.

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Before everyone else dog piles on you Frank let me say that I wholeheartedly agree.

    We could start with the WW I era uniforms which give off the look and feel of a tired and outdated organization. I remember when Roger Kennedy was the director back in the 1990's and he proposed making changes to the uniform to update and modernize it and was greeted with howls of protest from the geniuses in the WASO directorate. They said that the uniform was what defined the agency and it would be very unwise for an outsider, hailing from the halls of the Smithsonian, to monkey with a proud heritage derived from the military occupation of Yellowstone. So much for incremental change. I always thought the Australian national parks had much better looking and practical field uniforms and wrote Director Kennedy at the time supporting him in failed attempt to upgrade the green and gray. He didn't last long as director.

    Another thing that is VERY old, after 91 years, is the constant drum beat of poverty and underfunding that reverberates through the organization, regardless of who is in charge in DC, that has become so dull and predictable that most Americans just tune it out. In my career I saw lots of solitaire playing computer screens being manipulated by GS-14's who never got outside long enough to rid them of their pasty white office tans, much less justify the expense of their positions. The waste and mismanagement in my park was extraordinary as was the meteoric rise of salaries and benefits for the least productive sectors of the agency. No one inside or outside the NPS really believes there isn't enough money to run the parks. People can see the shoddy infrastructure, canceled programs and shiny new police vehicles. They know the score.

    Poverty has now become just an automatic mantra like a parrot that was taught one joke and then sold back to the pet store. He don't know no better. The public is tired of hearing the joke and has tuned the green and gray bird out. Maybe euthanasia should be openly discussed.

    The parks need a new master(s) after almost a century of one-party rule. Ain't that waht true democracy is all about.

    Hang in there Frank. The dialogue IS the thing.

  • 91st Anniversary for National Park Service   6 years 34 weeks ago

    91 is old. A 91-year-old person would possibly be afflicted with arthritis and be very inflexible. A 91-year-old person possibly would have lost a great deal of functionality and might even suffer from Alzheimer's, dementia, or other age-related diseases and would be close to death. A 91-year-old person would have an archaic education that could not have possibly prepared him or her for the 21st century.

    No surprise that the NPS, too, has lost functionality and become inflexible with advanced age. The NPS was born in an era completely foreign to ours, its founding charter a product of a non-scientific time when snake oil was peddled on the streets. It's time to pull the plug on the life support system and look forward to renewal and rebirth.

    Oh, and I find the idea of "Are You Smarter than a Park Ranger?" incredibly distasteful and doltish and a possible legal violation (Don't use the NPS arrowhead without our permission, or we'll send the FBI after you! But it's ok for us to steal trademarks). I suggest replacing it with "Are you as stupid as an NPS administrator?"

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

  • The Essential Death Valley   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Actually there is quite a bit of adventurous and popular back country backpacking in Death Valley National Park. I have noticed that most of your guides / reports cater more to the day hiker, restaurant camping, hotel crowd.
    Not that I mind as it keeps the back country in Our National Parks a little more serene,
    I suppose :-)

  • Blue Angels Fly By Grand Tetons   6 years 34 weeks ago

    A fairly happy ending to this story as far as I'm concerned (though they managed one shot that they might use, but not what they wanted).

    See

    Clouds thwart Angels in Teton photo shoot

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

  • The Essential Death Valley   6 years 34 weeks ago

    The dunes photo accompanying this article is absolutely superb. Anyone who has ever photographed dunes in a similar setting can appreciate how difficult it is to get every element -- composition, lighting, texture, whatever -- exactly right. I'm impressed.

  • Learning About the Parks, and Getting Credit for It, Too!   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I couldn't agree more, your comment says it all:)