Recent comments

  • Private Party At Charlestown Navy Yard Doesn't Lack Alcohol   6 years 38 weeks ago


    One reason for problems at Charlestown (both management of the events and the funding return to the park) is because the park chose to use a cooperative agreement to do this deal. Congress obviously intended park superintendent's to use concessiions for this sort of thing. read the 1998 concessions law and it is clearly implied. But look at the cooperative agreement authority, or the leasing authority, and you can see the park should not be using a third party to manage public events with either coop agreements or historic lease. With the concessions, there would be a real return to the nps, real evaluation of the management of the events, and real competition for the job.

    So the real question is: why would NPS management allow a superintendent to use the wrong authority, after so many years of trying to get this concessions law in place?

    If the park wanted, it could use historic lease authority, but the park would have to manage the activities. If the park cannot afford the pay the park staff, even with indirect compensation from the lease, maybe the park should realize these events just don't add up. But it is interesting that NPS Regional Director lets the park get away with this.

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago


    It is ridiculous to say or think that the Charlestown Navy Yard is not nationally significant, and should not be in the System. It is a major piece of American history, both as a functioning, major navy base and shipbuilding site since 1800 and the home of the USN Constitution (one of the sensational frigates that stunned the world and England in the War of 1812).

    It is more ridiculous and contradictory to first say the activities are inappropriate, and then that the sites themselves are not important. It is obvious that Mr. Beamis does not realize it is the specific political tactic of the enemies of the NPS that the way to undermine the system is to get rangers from one park to fight with those from other parks over the value of each of our units to the Nation.

    Further, Superintendents are supposed to be able to differentiate between what is appropriate at one park and not at another, based on the specific resources and the purposes of the area. For example, even in the heart of Manhattan on Wall Street at Federal Hall they would never permit anyone to drink red wine, even in the urban setting. It would stain the marble. But other drinks are permitted, in accordance with a permit and a proposal. On the other hand, under the same management, no functions at all with alcohol are permitted at Grant's Tomb, because it would not be appropriate at a tomb. On the other hand, no one would get a permit for a party with alcohol in an Alaskan wilderness area.

    Finally, as much as we all honor Mr. Mather, please remember that the first surge of historic sites and national monuments came in the System in the 1930's, first by executive order, later reinforced by law. As a result the NPS represents the very best of the cultural, scenic and natural areas representing the best of the American experience. The System would be pretty stagnant if we only had those sites from Stephen Mather's day. The American people yearn to protect and interpret the best of America, and these areas -- from the Teton's to Charlestown to the Wrangells -- are brought to the Congress, our representatives. Very few areas are included in the System if the NPS objects that the areas are not significant and not manageable.

    As long as we fight with each other, and belittle and trivialize the significance of this or that park, rather than fight for enough funding in this rich country for all the parks, Congress has an excuse not to fund; and, the NPS is forced to lease sites to find the money needed to provide for the rest of visitor services.

    You may have a good point with the party at Alcatraz. That park is receiving a lot in fees already and seems to have lost its way.

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I would rather see half naked men and women in Alcatraz than hear a car alarm in a giant sequoia grove.

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Why don't you two just get a room and get it over with???

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    In my opinion there should be a certain amount of decorum, dignity, and reserve associated with the national park areas. One can have "fun and enjoyment" in an environment replete with education, inspiration, and respect. Parks should not try to be all things to all people; there are venues available for cocktail parties and performance art, but not within the parks.

    When NPS management fails to respect the reason that a specific park area was set aside for preservation, then how can they expect the public to respect the site.

    The natural and cultural resources of each park are sufficient to justify their existence, NPS managers need only to protect them in perpetuity and inspire and educate the public about them.

    "I believe whenever we destroy beauty, or whenever we substitute something man-made and artificial for a natural feature of the earth, we have retarded some part of man's spiritual growth." ....Rachel Carson

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Isn't the draw of a national park or area the national park or area itself? I think it is time to rethink where we are trying to go. We are a society that has learned to want "entertainment" at every moment hence our need for tvs in our suvs. Enough already. You don't need to draw in gen x with a Vegas night club act on historical and protected grounds. They have an outlet for that. If that is the plan, why not just add video games in each of Alcatraz's cells and a mini mall in the old cafeteria. What's next, McDonalds moves into Yosemite because some generations won't go for the granola or beef jerky? How about we let these places speak for themselves. Eventually some will wake up and realize there is beauty and history around them that they should see. If not, someone else will. Let's not sacrifice the raw beauty and and or the intrigue of our national parks and areas in the name of cheap thrills.

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Okay, we can pick this up another time. One of my favorite philosophers is G.W. Leibniz, a contemporary of Locke, and he disagreed with Locke on so many things. He actually wrote a dialogue called New Essays on Human Understanding that reads more like a blow by blow response to Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. I come from the rationalist tradition, though I'm not that fond of Descartes or Spinoza. Anyhow, we aren't really that far removed from that climate, though Locke's worldview has been far more influential on practice, especially in the American experience. Perhaps, that's why I think the critics of Locke are all that much more relevant, whether they be rationalists like Leibniz or fellow empiricists like Berkeley. I'm especially fond of the critiques offered by the Scottish common sense realists, especially Thomas Reid. Of course, this isn't just academic to me. How we talk about what we think we know and why we know it goes deep into our discussions about things that are seemingly more accessible, like the issue of race in the national parks. Often, our dividing lines, or the reasons we stay divided, come to basic questions about existence and knowledge. A lot of us haven't thought much about those problems, but we still carry on the thinking of these dead men almost unwittingly. It's doubly interesting when one thinks of the role European men like Leibniz and Locke played in the racism of our own times both consciously and as part of the colonial process.

    I don't think one needs to study Locke and Leibniz to talk about race in the parks. I think all one has to do is talk and be willing to consider the force of the discussion on each of our lives. I hope that people will continue to do that. the other stuff we've been talking about is there for those who are interested--in the history, in the history of the ideology, etc. But, it's clear from even just this discussion that racism poisons us, keeps us separated and disempowered. Discussions that explore that experience are worthwhile. And, it might as well be in the parks context; there are a million fitting reasons why.

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

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Jim,
    Thank you and I'm sorry for my sarcasm.

    I'm weary of the discussion and will just agree to disagree. Let me first add a bit of clarification or whatever.

    I lean toward libertarian and free market, not only in economics but in science.

    John Locke wrote "The strength of our persuasions is no evidence at all of their own rectitude." In other words, never mind how you feel or what you think might be; you have to be checked.

    Liberal science says you must run your belief (in this case, that minorities are underrepresented in natural areas) through the science game for checking. So, Hare came up with a list of studies that have been checked in the "marketplace of ideas" to back his opinion. But one person's experience is not knowledge; it's personal experience. For it to be come knowledge, it needs to be checked. That's all I was sayin'. I'm sure Kurt and Jeremy and everyone else is tired of this, especially of my sarcasm and ranting.

    So adios!

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Great observation Felicia -- there are a number of parks that simply shut down a big chunk of their operation once the Bush adminstration decided maintenance was the number one NPS priority. I've gone to a lot of parks in the past few years that were closed on a Monday or Tuesday, restricted their off-season hours greatly, or closed down the main attraction of the site (Hampton NHS historic home, Dinosaur NM visitor center, Frederick Douglass NHS, among others). All those excess FEMA trailers are being put to good use.

    -- Jon Merryman

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I'm sorry if you took what I was saying as patronizing; I apologize.

    Are we really talking about knowledge when we are talking about anything empirical? I don't think so. It's all subject to induction, which is always at most probable.

    My point about anecdotes as "evidence" was not to suggest that they were knowledge but to say that anecdotes can be evidence of something, perhaps not sufficient evidence, but evidence nevertheless. When someone has an experience of racism, their report of it is evidence. Whether that evidence adds up to anything is for further exploration.

    However, in no case is the result of the testing knowledge. It's strong or weak, probable or improbable.

    That's what I'll throw out there to start this discussion. I don't think there's a stark line between the anecdote and the repeatable experiment, and the meaningfulness of either depend upon a context. If I'm talking about the number of elk in Yellowstone, and I go out and say, "Wow, I just didn't see many this year." That's worthless to answering the question. However, if someone isn't hired for a job because of reasons of race, their telling of that story is directly relevant to that. As instances of racism are sufficient for there to be a problem of racism, we don't need to know whether racism is a general pattern to know that it's a problem. The specific instances are enough. There, the anecdote is relevant. In neither case is the end result concrete knowledge. There's always a chance of being wrong, a chance of falsification, and knowledge is certain if it's anything at all. The end result of evidence isn't knowledge but probability. Evidence is meaningful when relevant. That's how it's used in a court of law, and the threshold of its importance isn't knowledge but probability. Quantifiable and repeatable things are more reliably probable, and that's why science can be quite useful to us. However, that's not the end all and be all of evidence; the end isn't knowledge (though we use the word "know" loosely; I certainly have even within this discussion).

    I've laid some of my epistemological cards on the table. I think you have a high burden to show why anecodtes aren't evidence and why the scientific method is necessary to have a conversation of racism in the parks. What might it produce that makes all other discussion moot until it happens? I think science has a far more important role - to provide us with a diversity of colorful metaphors to flavor our discussion.

    As for taking things personally, I think you've missed my point. He certainly was talking directly about things you have said; it's not the same thing as to attack you personally. There's a world of difference. Are we identical with the statements we make? He was picking on what you said, which presumably speaks to an idea that you or others may hold. You happened to say it, but that's not a personal attack. It's an attack on the ideas you've shared, which you have no ownership over. That's another reason that anecdotes are potentially useful to us for discussion. Like anything that's communicated, they are able to be taken by someone else and considered in a different light. The aim isn't to repeat so much as to analyze, synthesize, and therefore understand. That is, what does a proposition speak to, and what doesn't it speak to?

    But, we should slow this down, perhaps. What do you take knowledge to be? Why? And, how do you know? I have one hunch. I have a hunch that your answer won't be something we could empirically verify.

    For those who don't want this to drift far from the subject, think of this claim. Our problems in the parks aren't problems of science so much as they are problems coming to grips with the values we presume to know. Just as racists once presumed to know their superiority; we presume a lot of values that science doesn't shed any new light on. Those are questions of knowledge; they are not questions of empiricism. The questions are fueled by our experience and are not prejudiced simply toward the measurable variety. That's all I'm saying.

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

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Jim,

    When someone else uses the exact same words and the exact same phrasing I used and then uses the word "pretend", well, that's quite hard not to take personally.

    "Let me know that you really want to go down this path because it's a very serious sort of question, and I don't think you'll like at all where it leads."
    "However, I'm still around and willing to have the epistemological discussion when you want to have it."

    Stop patronizing me. If you want to have a discussion about the liberal scientific method and what constitutes knowledge, that would be great. I still hold by my assertion that anecdote is NOT knowledge and that knowledge is derived empirically and is independently verifiable, which anecdote is not.

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I have no idea what Mr. Hare has to say about this, but I have plenty of my own thoughts on these remarks.

    Mr. Hare has taken several thinly-veiled slams at me. The first instance referenced people who "pretend that they lost their job because of somebody else's need to hire a diverse staff." This was clearly in reference to my previous statement, "I was 'diversified' out of a job at SEKI. My boss, a Hispanic woman, wanted to 'diversify' the staff, so she hired a Hispanic woman for my position." The second occurred in his last comment: "Contrary to what is sometimes put out there, white people are seldom actually 'diversified out of a job' by a person of lesser abilities."

    I think this is unfair. He took slams against ideas represented in your posts; those aren't necessarily slams against you. If he were taking slams against you, they would be ad hominems; however, he was careful to leave you personally out of it. That's not a "thin veil"; that's a way to talk about ideas, positions, and stances without making this about you per se, but about the position.

    In the first instance, Hare implies that I'm "pretending" that the reason I wasn't rehired was due to my boss' desire to see more Hispanics on the staff. I'm not pretending and have plenty of anecdotes to support my claim.

    Actually, he doesn't have anything to say about you. Obviously, you feel that you lost your job because of your boss's desire to see more Latinos on the staff, and Mr. Hare doesn't think that happens very often. However, no one is asking you to defend yourself. I haven't heard that from anyone or from any quarters. Seldom or not so seldom, these are experiences worth sharing and considering. In your case, without judgment about the particulars but just considering what you are sharing at face value, there's a wealth of things to talk about. What you point to is a process that is rather patriarchal used to correct a wrong that came out of a patriarchal society. I think that's a strong point to consider. It speaks to the depth of the pain of the situation and how racism has had a bad effect on everyone, including those who have belonged to groups that have been in general privileged. It speaks to the need for us to break down generalizations and be open.

    On the other hand, your sarcasm about anecdotes, I don't feel, is very helpful or relevant. You never heard me say that an anecdote was what you caricature it to be in your response. However, I'm still around and willing to have the epistemological discussion when you want to have it.

    As for Hare's second assertion, that "white people are seldom actually ‘diversified out of a job’ by a person of lesser abilities", that is clearly another slam, but Here left a loophole by using the word "seldom". By using this word, Hare admits that it sometimes happens. Sometimes is too much, especially in light of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits using race as a hiring factor.

    And, where did you see Hare justify racial discrimination in hiring? It seems he went at pains to show you that there is no policy to do this. I think he was pointing to a fact of practice, not something that the government does on principle. Again, I'm not sure why you are making the argument more personal than it is? It's good form in argument not to call someone out because the individual is irrelevant to the general point. There are plenty of personal things to share, and we are dealing with people attached to these arguments, but his point is worth considering regardless of your defensive posture against what he's saying. I'm really curious why you feel the need to be defensive. I wonder if that's a relevant talking point to consider here. You have had some very negative experiences when it comes to race and your experience with the National Park Service. I don't know how that speaks to the larger points about diversity, about coming to grips with the history of racism in the current picture, in our place in it, and what we might do about it. Your story is part of that puzzle; I wonder why you see it as antithetical to what Mr. Hare suggested in his original piece or continues to suggest.

    All that said, we are not an equal opportunity society in any number of ways. We all know this; I know that you know it to based on other things I've read by you on different issues. Things that we can do to make each other of the processes that keep us from opportunities is worthwhile, including an analysis of the opportunities themselves. For instance, I'm against war. I have a lot of trouble getting enthusiastic about the issue of gays in the military or women in combat because I fervently believe that there shouldn't be a military at all. Maybe, there shouldn't be a Park Service at all or a national parks system. All of that will change the way we view the remedies of diversity, but if we are going to acknowledge the current reality and accept that, then we had better be willing to work on opportunities within that reality. If that still leads to injustices, then when are we going to fess up to those and do something about them? I don't think we can on the one hand say that race doesn't and shouldn't matter and then prop up the social mechanisms and systems that make it reality. If we are going to do the latter, then we have to acknowledge the former. I am for fighting systems of oppression because one's race does not matter, but the history of racism is a reality and a present. And, fighting the systems that make racism the reality it is has to start with considering the larger puzzle and with people sharing their experiences openly. Being defensive prejudices what I think should be an open discussion, and so I think that's also worth considering. I often find myself defensive about things; there's often a lot of justification for being defensive, but there's often something else behind it as well that's pertinent at another level.

    Hare also previously stated (and reiterated): "People like to invoke, 'It's culture, not color.' I hear that all the time. But we've been together over six hundred years! Do we really have different cultures?"

    First, "we've all been together over 600 years"? The first Africans arrived in what is now the United States of America around 1620, less than 400 years ago (Columbus arrived in the hemisphere 515 years ago, still not more than 600, and certainly we weren't all "living together"). I get it, though. Use a bigger number and it'll back up your point.

    Are you seriously going to quibble over 85 years? I mean, we can get ridiculous and say, "Well, maybe the Americas weren't what was assumed?" "Maybe, the Vikings should be counted." I mean, geez. Do you think the point was to make up some ungodly big number. Would over 500 years be less of a point than over 600 years? Does cherry picking a literal error over a figurative estimate make your point or your criticism hold more water? It's hard to understand how what you've said here is relevant to Mr. Hare's points about race and culture. It's worse than a strawman since at least a strawman is relevant. It's like saying someone doesn't know what they're talking about because there's a typo or a grammatical error in their statement. You sound like people I've argued with who insist that anyone who calls a "bison" a "buffalo" is incorrect because "buffalo" are those animals over yonder. However, you not only can figure out that "600 years" means "long enough," and any more precise way of saying things is not more helpful to advancing the discussion.

    As for do we have different cultures, the answer I'd tell you, that most multiculturalists and anthropologists would tell you, is a resounding OF COURSE! While there some can say we have a prevailing culture in this country, there are many separate cultures. We have a gay culture, hundreds of different aboriginal cultures, Asian cultures (look at the China Towns across the country and tell me they don't represent distinct cultures in America), rural cultures, urban cultures. There are millions of first-generation and illegal Mexican immigrants, whose culture is very unlike ours (different language, food, religion, etc.).

    I'm not sure that the two of you aren't having more than a semantical argument. I think the overriding concern is that the use of "culture" not be used to cloud the reality of racism in this country or the fact that people have had, for totally bogus reasons, a history thrust upon us on the basis of race. Whatever cultural hierarchies exist are relevant also in a discussion of racism, but one cannot deny the one by asserting the other.

    Speaking of this last culture, I was at Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (operated by the USFS) on Sunday. I saw Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, the whole rainbow of color. One Mexican male made rude sexual comments (in Spanish - he assumed I didn't know Spanish) about my future wife (there's a personal anecdote for you, something I don't need a study to prove because I can see it). Clearly, that behavior is not tolerated in our mainstream culture as it is in Latin America (I remember having to watch videos during Peace Corps orientation about Latin American cultures and the difficulty female volunteers face there) or in African-American urban culture (seen a rap video lately?). I'm sorry, but I don't really want to run into that type of BS sexist patriarchal machismo anywhere, let alone the backcountry where I'm miles and hours from social safety. But hey, what can diversity do for you?

    I love Multnomah Falls.

    Anyhow, your anecdotal sarcasm on anecdotes is delightful; you're right, we don't need a study to talk about what you experienced. We'd need a study to know what is tolerated by mainstream culture or by "culture" in Latin America. However, I think it's an interesting thing to talk about sexist patriarchal attitudes and racism. I'm sure it would be worthwhile to study why patriarchy is a part of different culture. I mean, look for instance at Plains Indians tribes during the 19th century. Plains nomadic societies became far more hierarchical and patriarchal as trade for buffalo increased and as labor became more and more specialized in tribal society. This is not an excuse for sexism; the slavery that women suffered was brutal. It is to say that you cannot tie a patriarchal tendency simply to a definition of a culture (or a race or a sex or a class). Many tribes were judged, however, on their essence, on their worthiness as beings, based on certain behaviors that were not independent from the dominant society. Sometimes, criticisms of the acts seen in different people slip into becoming racist or bigoted because they are generalized that way. For instance, does your use of the word "machismo" tie in any way to the culture you were criticizing? Would you use that word to describe non-Latinos? Perhaps, you would. I can't say.

    Diversity can be a beautiful thing; I worry about the way you cynically conflate diversity with what you judged to be an incident of sexism that's tied to a particular culture. I don't know how to say it concisely, but you seem to conflate the sexism that exists in a culture with the essence of the culture itself. That's often what's at root in bigotry, that kind of generalization. I hope you meant something else and were being a little too sarcastic for my slow wit.

    Why was there so much "diversity" at Multnomah Falls, Oregon's number one tourist destination? Because it's easy to get to, and people across all of all colors are lazy. And fat. They don't want to hike. You can see the Falls from the freeway, the parking lot, or behind the gift shop. In addition to being too lazy to walk, people don't want to have to plan ahead or carry food and water great distances while they walk, so the Falls also works because it has a restaurant, lounge, gift shop, and ice cream stand. If there is one predominant US culture, it's the culture of Lazy.

    Well, that's something we can agree on; there are too many lazy people. I hope we are not lazy in pursuing discussions like this with the seriousness and passion they deserve and then taking difficult actions. Hiking up the falls isn't that hard; dealing with a human history of abuse toward each other and the earth is a much harder hike. I see no reason why it has to be as lonely as it sometimes is.

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

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Ranger X you're priceless!

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Mr. Hare has taken several thinly-veiled slams at me. The first instance referenced people who "pretend that they lost their job because of somebody else's need to hire a diverse staff." This was clearly in reference to my previous statement, "I was 'diversified' out of a job at SEKI. My boss, a Hispanic woman, wanted to 'diversify' the staff, so she hired a Hispanic woman for my position." The second occurred in his last comment: "Contrary to what is sometimes put out there, white people are seldom actually 'diversified out of a job' by a person of lesser abilities."

    In the first instance, Hare implies that I'm "pretending" that the reason I wasn't rehired was due to my boss' desire to see more Hispanics on the staff. I'm not pretending and have plenty of anecdotes to support my claim.

    As for Hare's second assertion, that "white people are seldom actually ‘diversified out of a job’ by a person of lesser abilities", that is clearly another slam, but Here left a loophole by using the word "seldom". By using this word, Hare admits that it sometimes happens. Sometimes is too much, especially in light of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits using race as a hiring factor.

    Hare also previously stated (and reiterated): "People like to invoke, 'It's culture, not color.' I hear that all the time. But we've been together over six hundred years! Do we really have different cultures?"

    First, "we've all been together over 600 years"? The first Africans arrived in what is now the United States of America around 1620, less than 400 years ago (Columbus arrived in the hemisphere 515 years ago, still not more than 600, and certainly we weren't all "living together"). I get it, though. Use a bigger number and it'll back up your point.

    As for do we have different cultures, the answer I'd tell you, that most multiculturalists and anthropologists would tell you, is a resounding OF COURSE! While there some can say we have a prevailing culture in this country, there are many separate cultures. We have a gay culture, hundreds of different aboriginal cultures, Asian cultures (look at the China Towns across the country and tell me they don't represent distinct cultures in America), rural cultures, urban cultures. There are millions of first-generation and illegal Mexican immigrants, whose culture is very unlike ours (different language, food, religion, etc.).

    Speaking of this last culture, I was at Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (operated by the USFS) on Sunday. I saw Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, the whole rainbow of color. One Mexican male made rude sexual comments (in Spanish - he assumed I didn't know Spanish) about my future wife (there's a personal anecdote for you, something I don't need a study to prove because I can see it). Clearly, that behavior is not tolerated in our mainstream culture as it is in Latin America (I remember having to watch videos during Peace Corps orientation about Latin American cultures and the difficulty female volunteers face there) or in African-American urban culture (seen a rap video lately?). I'm sorry, but I don't really want to run into that type of BS sexist patriarchal machismo anywhere, let alone the backcountry where I'm miles and hours from social safety. But hey, what can diversity do for you?

    Why was there so much "diversity" at Multnomah Falls, Oregon's number one tourist destination? Because it's easy to get to, and people across all of all colors are lazy. And fat. They don't want to hike. You can see the Falls from the freeway, the parking lot, or behind the gift shop. In addition to being too lazy to walk, people don't want to have to plan ahead or carry food and water great distances while they walk, so the Falls also works because it has a restaurant, lounge, gift shop, and ice cream stand. If there is one predominant US culture, it's the culture of Lazy.

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    "And more importantly, why, after 600 years of being together, we choose to be so separate from each other while maintaining so much suspicion, animosity, and ignorance of the other."

    I think the whole issue of "diversity" is about focusing on differences rather than bringing people together in the first place. The reason the NPS pays lip service to this trendy and meaningless notion is that it knows where it's bread is buttered and has to bow to all of the politically correct mandates emanating from the mandarins in DC. I agree with your observation "that if they can sincerely regurgitate the Park Service message of support of diversity, that they really don’t need to actually DO anything. No accountability what-so-ever." They know deep down that it is a meaningless game but one that they must go through the motions for to advance a career.

    If it had meaning and some clarity of purpose it would naturally emerge as a meaningful construct. As it is now diversity is a silly numbers game that only divides us further by driving a wedge through society based on the notion that we are better off with representative numbers in all things. If this ever truly comes to pass I guess it'll be the end of professional football, baseball and basketball in America because there are not enough white people to represent the race in proportion to their numbers. I wonder why no one ever brings up the lack of diversity in the NBA? Maybe because merit and skill trumps skin color when you want your team to be a success. Just a thought.

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Kath and others who think I am recommending that the Park Service or some government agency do something to address diversity: I’m not suggesting any NPS or government program. Nothing I wrote had anything to do with any government program. I would like to see people of all colors, including the color white, not buying into myths and stereotypes perpetrated by Marlboro, Hollywood, and etc. I would like to see us all get wet, get cold, and get along. That seems like it would be of no disadvantage to anybody and just maybe an advantage to all.

    I would like people of the color white, when they look out onto a sea of white faces – be it a day hike on a portion of the Appalachian Trail, or a Blue Grass concert in Telluride – to recognize that what they’re seeing isn’t ‘market determination’, and to simply be curious.

    I would like to see people of color get outdoors and take advantage of a unique advantage of being an American by enjoying the many wild and scenic public lands that are their birthright as well. I would like them to not say to me, “We don’t do that.” Because we do. For example, buried next to Admiral Peary in Arlington National Cemetery is Mathew Henson, the black man who actually led Peary to the North Pole.

    Contrary to what is sometimes put out there, there are no quotas. They’re illegal. There are no official double standards of abilities, except that often for a person of color to make the same achievements as a white person, he or she has to rise even further above the crowd. Contrary to what is sometimes put out there, white people are seldom actually ‘diversified out of a job’ by a person of lesser abilities. But it’s a great excuse. And if skin color occasionally does give a person an advantage, um…you get the point. An NPS associate regional director for the Intermountain region recently wrote, in response to negative feedback and complaints on the supposed lowering of standards to hire more diversity:

    I cannot find a single directive, regulation,
    order, or practice that has mandated a reduction in qualifications in
    order to obtain a more diverse workforce. This is an example of
    individual racism turned into institutional racism.

    When I say I don’t want to see the NPS do something through a program, I’m perhaps not being entirely honest. I was with the Park Service long enough to hear a great deal of officialdom about diversity, and long enough to see it come to nothing. If an agency is going to make so much noise, perhaps it should actually walk the walk. The Park Service has ranger training academies set up at about 10 mostly white community colleges. What if just ONE were set up at a mostly black or native school? And guess what? Several years ago this was suggested. The schools are overseen by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia – where all permanent rangers receive their training alongside the FBI, Secret Service, and ATF. FLETC objected. Ten academies in mostly white schools, but one at a mostly black or native school was ‘problematic’. So I don’t know what the NPS answer is. I’d like to see hiring managers held accountable for walking the Park Service’s talk. I know from direct experience, that if they can sincerely regurgitate the Park Service message of support of diversity, that they really don’t need to actually DO anything. No accountability what-so-ever. However, I was just making an observation and asking a question. Einstein said it was more important to ask the questions than to have the answers, and the Buddhist faith emphasizes curiosity. I’m not Einstein and I’m not Buddhist, but I’m only asking of you – not the government – to be curious, and ask questions. That’s it. I’m asking people of color to ignore the myths. That’s it.

    But my essay wasn’t really about the Park Service, or even being outdoors. It was really about why we choose to limit our own selves by buying into revisionist history and stereotypes. And more importantly, why, after 600 years of being together, we choose to be so separate from each other while maintaining so much suspicion, animosity, and ignorance of the other. The outdoors, where we all get tired, wet, cold, and hungry – regardless of race - would be a great classroom and a great place for us all to ‘just get over it.’ We wouldn’t even need funiculars.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I was wondering why Frederick Law Olmsted NHS was a least visited park since it is in an urban, and one would assume fairly accessible, location. Is it related to the park closing? Per the NPS website: "Frederick Law Olmsted NHS is currently CLOSED to visitors in order to carry out a construction project involving park buildings, grounds and collections. The park anticipates reopening in 2010."

    When did the park close??

  • Bringing Color to the Public Lands Landscape   6 years 38 weeks ago

    The reason I asked the author of the article to specify what the NPS should be doing is that he raised that very question. (A question he never answered.) He says in paragaph 2, that the NPS is looking into ways to boost 'diversity' among park visitors.

    Perhaps the NPS could host private parties inviting the 'right' demographic. (She says sarcastically).

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    this is a great subject and thanks for bringing it up, kurt. i am against these sort of events, but have to ask the question "what else are they going to do?" if the events do not net any profits, then dump them. but as far as fundraising park administrators rising through the ranks, in my estimation, the bathrooms have to get cleaned somehow. like it or not, i applaud them for at least doing *something*. if not through partnerships and "fundraising" what else are they going to do? anyone check the amount of benefits (medicare, prescription health, returning soldiers injured) paid out and budget deficit of the federal government lately? our government & nation certainly has the money, but the priority is definitely not taking care of our national parks.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I'm always gut-punched when I read these kinds of stats. I'm unsure how Great Smoky Mountains survives hosting nine million people in the course of a year. Even with the majority being drive-throughs or tour buses, this is an unbelievable amount of footprints in that area. It would be staggering enough if we actually had funding in place to handle the pressure to the infrastructure and environment. But in these times when funding is ridiculously low...? How the hell is GSM still in one piece??

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    It becomes confusing when what is allowed in a historic prison cell-block, by establishing a service-wide precedent, could be applied to Cades Cove or Hayden Valley. It's frrightening really.

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I wholeheartedly agree with Beamis' point that there are some questionable units of the national park system. Unfortunately, it seems more congressfolk want to have a park of any kind in their district than want to adequately fund the park system, which, really, is at the root of the problem.

    As a result, we're stuck with the hand we're dealt. In that context, I would suggest that more scrutiny needs to be placed on the special-use permitting system if for no other reason than, as DO 53 points out, "superintendents should be aware that local decisions related to permitting special park uses may have service-wide implications, and set precedents that create difficulties for other superintendents."

  • Rocky Mountain Trying to Give Wetlands A Chance Against Elk   6 years 38 weeks ago

    We went hiking this weekend on RMNP's Cow Creek Trail. McGraw Ranch, once a guest ranch and now part of the park's building inventory, is now a research facility reached by a small bridge across the creek. The beavers have been busy a short way upstream from the bridge. The park service has fenced off the area where the water flows under the bridge, presumably to prevent the beavers from damming up the creek at that point too and eventually flooding out the retored cabins where researchers now live, so there's only so much wetland restoration by beaver effort that the park service wants there. It's light-handed and practical, and I suspect that the newer, larger fence will be so too.

  • Tiger Lily in Olympic National Park   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I love this site. You are pulling off an unusual mix of welcoming controversial discussions over NPS mgmt and appreciating the beauty of parks at the same time.

    Andy
    www.hauntedhiker.com

  • Parties in the Parks: Much Ado About Nothing?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I think this debate should be more about what kinds of units the NPS is forced to administer by a politically charged Congress. Is Alcatraz a "national treasure". Would Horace Albright and Stephen Mather have envisioned a federal prison as a part of America's "crown jewels"? A place that the author this article calls "a venerable unit of the national park system, one whose stories revolve around pain, suffering and misery."

    Is a regional urban park for the S.F. Bay Area, paid for by the taxpayers of the entire U.S., something that should be shouldered onto the yoke of the NPS? Why can't the local governments of that region run thier own urban park? Why do folks in North Dakota and Alabama have to chip in for a park located in one of the wealthiest areas in the world?

    As with Boston Navy Yard, another real "national treasure", the units being discussed, so far, are not the traditional types of places that were orginally designated as national parks. This includes the Santa Monica Mountains, a regional park for Southern California, that would not have been high on Mather's list of worthy inclusion. Maybe the discussion should be about whether there needs to be a house cleaning of sorts of the less than stellar sites that were put into the system for reasons like boosting tourism in a depressed area, saving open space in a rapidly expanding metropolitan region (not the job or proper role of the national government) or to designate something of local signifigance that a Congresperson can stick the national government with the tab for.

    I think the confusion about the proper types of uses for the parks mentioned, so far, is more related to their nebulous status as national parks in the first place. This is maybe where the discussion needs to begin.