Recent comments

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    AWishfulParkUser--First, you are patently and maybe even blatantly unfair to Kurt R. He strives, and does so in a way the mainstream media would do well to emulate, to be fair. I think if you do a careful screening of his editorials over the months,it will become abundantly clear that accusing him of an anti-fee bias is inaccurate.

    Beyond that, what this boils down to is one more (of many) examples of bureaucratic bloat. If we, as taxpayers, were not already underwriting the operations of the NPS it would be different. As for the endless litany of complaints from NPS bureaucrats to the effect "we need more money," that would not be the case if they utilized appropriated funds in a better fashion. Anyone with intimate familiarity with the NPS (and it holds true for HHS, ATF, the VA, or about any other federal bureaucracy you wish to mention) surely has to realize that there are far too many employees who do precious little (and that is not to demean many others who are conscientious and capable).

    The simple fact of the matter is that the entire culture of the NPS has changed dramatically in the last two decades and, on top of that, there is far, far too much coziness between NPS bigwigs and politicians. That can be readily documented and has been in a number of books.

    This reeks of yet another money grab and I see precious little good coming out of it.

    Jim Casada

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    As polarizing as the extreme blacks and whites on this issue are, it would be interesting to see how a compromising gray path could be charted between them. I don't have that solution; I just wish for it.

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    You folks kill me with your undocumented assertions. Here is proof that entrance fees decrease access and use of public lands. http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/Fee_Policy_White_Paper.pdf

    And as far as accusing this magazine of a bias, why don't you start reading what Kurt published the other day about proposing entrance fees to the NPS. Is that the language of someone who is entirely anti fee?

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2014/07/travelers-view-great-smoky-...

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    The is a boring argument from those who think everything should be free. The NPS receives over $2 BILLION per year to fund the national park system. It does not seem unreasonable to ask those who visit to pay a TINY part of funding the cost of providing the SERVICE that they have the opportunity to take advantage of. (NPS collects only 90 million in entrance fees) When you talk about the cost driving people away, I have seen the research, specifically the NPS comprehensive study of the American public and many others and there is no clear link to visitation and entrance fees. In fact the comprehensive study lists many things that drive visitors away, having to plan (make reservations) to far in advance, distance from the parks, overall trip cost, not interested in parks, etc. Recreation fees never even make the list. If you want to encourage visitation, build additional lodging and campgrounds to increase supply to drive prices from hundreds of $ per night and make it easier for people to make reservations. Use the fees to create new recreation opportunities that people are looking for, that’s how you encourage visitation.

    As far as Kitty's argument of a fee “free for all”, congress now requires approval of every new fee or increase, what better way to limit fees, pass a law each time. Kurt your anti fee bias is clearing showing. Almost every group from NPCA to the Wilderness Society generally supports user fees as a way to bring much needed revenue to the public lands. Without it, (there will be no increase in funding from congress) you can be sure that recreation opportunities and visits to federal lands will decrease, as agencies lack the funds to provide the services and amenities that visitors require and want.

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Oh boy, here we go. And a republican no less introduces this. Well here is a simple fact. Public lands entrance fees decrease access to public lands. Period. The goal of the NPS is to promote the unimpaired enjoyment of public lands. This will create an inpairment that decreases access to public lands by taxpayers. There is a part of me that takes a wry joy in seeing dayhikers who will potentially share the burden we backpackers now saddle. It will eliminate the hypocrisay of folks here who think they should get a "free ride" to hike, fish and photograph for personal financial gain on public lands while the rest pay for them. But like Kitty said, it just opens the door for more NPS bureaucratic malfeasance. Any sensible taxpayer should contact their represenatives and voice opposition to this absurdity. I'm sure Jarvis is laughing all the way to the bank today. Folks forget that in these lean economic times, the NPS budgets have actually increased. How many folks here have seen their budgets increase in the past ten years? I haven't. When an agency can't make do with their increases, then its time to replace mgmt with someone who can eliminate unnecessary programs and quit paving roads that don't need paving. (That is a problem here in the Smokies where they claim 9 million visitors but that is a false number. 9 million folks drive Newfound Gap road and about 8 million never leave their cars because it is the main thoroughfare between the casino in Cherokee and Dollywood and the ko kart tracks in Gatlinburg, the armpit of TN.) It is a number they misuse to scream for funds so Blalock construction in Sevier county can crank up the asphalt machines again. Follow the money and you will see that they are the halliburton of the Smokies.

    But if they institute these fees, then trailhead parking and backcountry and wedding fees should be entirely eliminated. Any fool who believes that will happen needs to support it. I"ve got an idea. How about folks who use services pay for them? Since the visitor centers are so expensive, how about charging to enter one? The electricity on the donated Oconoluftee visitor center is over $1500 per month. The NPS told the GSMA they had to pay for that in perpetuity after the GSMA donated that facility. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth, this is the NPS at work. Giving more money to an agency that operates in this fashion is like giving car keys to a drunken teenager.

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    I'm curious where the Organic Act directs the NPS " to enhance recreational opportunities for visitors"?

    My understanding is fee monies can't be used for 'operations', so it seems these revenues can only be spent on development, further worsening the NPS's disgraceful multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog.

    During my career in the so-called Maintenance Division, at least a third of the work we did was development and actual maintenance was a much lower priority.

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    I agree with Jim Burnett. Especially with Jim's first and last paragraph, But would put a subparagraph in the last paragraph; should be clear as mud.

  • Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Can anyone provide a link to a "plain language" version of how the proposed fee bill (H.R. 5204.IH) would actually read once all of Bishop's changes were applied? It's very difficult to understand the full impacts of Bishop's proposals without printing out both the existing law and his proposed changes, comparing them line by line, and then making all of the revisions - a very tedious process that discourages thoughtful analysis.

    Here's an example of just one small section of the bill under discussion:

    "SEC. 8. EXPENDITURES.

    (a) Use of Fees at Specific Site or Area- Section 808(a) (16 U.S.C. 6807(a)) is amended--

    (1) by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (4) and (5), respectively;

    (2) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraph:

    `(2) shall be used to develop and enhance existing recreation opportunities;

    `(3) shall directly benefit visitors to Federal recreational lands and waters;'; and

    (3) in paragraph (5), as redesignated by paragraph (1)--

    (A) in subparagraph (A), by inserting `visitor' before `health'; and

    (B) by striking subparagraph (E) and inserting the following new subparagraph:

    `(E) capital construction costs associated with administering the recreation fee program; and'. "

    This is a good example of why legislation can have unintended consequences. It should be a requirement that every bill that is introduced include a plain language version of the final product, after all additions and deletions to the previous law have been applied. Perhaps that already exists, but I haven't located it.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 weeks 1 day ago

    I also have this goal of eventually restoring a Jeep Wagoneer, buying an Airstream trailer, and spending weeks on a road trip to Mount Rushmore, Bandlands, Yellowstone, etc. a la the classic 1960s Americana vacation.

    If those parks weren't there, that all goes away. It's not like I'm going to put tens of thousands of dollars into restoring a classic vehicle, buying a recreational trailer, gas, food, supplies,etc. to go visit...I dunno...the *cough* allure of Cheyenne Wyoming instead?

  • RVing In The Parks: Five Great Western Campgrounds In The National Parks   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Rick, thanks for reading even though you don't have a rig. I used to make fun of RVers but then we decided to take an extended road trip, wanted to be comfy and work from the road, and that was that! Now I'm one of 'em. Eeek!

  • RVing In The Parks: Five Great Western Campgrounds In The National Parks   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Stormy you're so right, some of the best parks just aren't RV-friendly. It's my mission to find the ones that are.

    That's a great tip about Mammoth Hot Springs, thank you. We are often in CA and now we have a great excuse to check that place out! We love hot springs.

    Thanks for reading.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Count me as another anecdotal example of someone who would mostly just stay home if the parks were closed. I'd probably visit some nearby state parks and forests a little more instead, but they cost almost nothing to visit.

    I wouldn't spend the considerable time and money to visit Utah, for example, for any other reason than to visit the amazing national parks and monuments there.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Economic engines? Remember what happened when the Clowns of Congress closed the parks?

    Yes, peope went elsewhere to recreate.

  • Millennials In The Parks Are Not An Endangered Species   5 weeks 2 days ago

    I spend waaaay to much time on this website, but seldom comment. . . This caught me. . .

    We raised our kids, tent camping through the parks and other place in the late 80s and into the 2000s-- right at the beginning of the time where you could hide in an MP3 player or some such. We refused. Looking out the window games, talking and thinking about where we'd been or were going . . . As a last resort, pull out the books or activity items from the previous or next stop.

    Laughingly, years later, they suggested a Wii so that "dad" could "rock". With a side feeling of "badge of honor' that they'd never had a videoo game.

    But, the point is, they saw, we comunicated, and today they look forward to times on the road or in the back country. We continue to camp together when we have a chance, and they have an appreciation of the greater world around them.

    I don't dismiss those that have no chance for similar experiences -- we need to work toward those, but I do have a bit of problem with those who hide behink DVDs and IPads. There are moments, to be sure, where these fill a need or even add to the experience, but please don't run away from "real" moments together and in nature!

  • RVing In The Parks: Five Great Western Campgrounds In The National Parks   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Good article. I've never traveled or vacationed in an RV, but we certainly have some immense behemoths passing through our small town. An article like this helps me to understand some of the issues these mobile houses have to negotiate.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 weeks 2 days ago
    Jul 25, 2014, 2:57pm PDT Nearly 1M national park visitors deliver $67M to Oregon (Photos)

    http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/2014/07/nearly-1m-national-park-visitors-deliver-67m-to.html

  • Red-Legged Frog Tadpoles Released In Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Very interesting post.

  • Essential Summer Guide '14: Spanish Galleons, Elephant Seals, And Great Birding At Point Reyes National Seashore   5 weeks 2 days ago

    It looks so exciting.

  • Millennials In The Parks Are Not An Endangered Species   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Lee and Carli I have to play devil’s advocate and disagree to some degree. I am a 30 year old father with tattoos and sometimes “foul language”. I love the outdoors and the greatest 6 months in my life was spent thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail 7 years ago. I met one of my best friends and my wife on the trail. I grew as a person and built self-confidence from that experience and now work for a public land manager. I did not have a phone or even a camera on the trail and to this day do not own a smartphone (in fact I rarely use my cell phone). My thru-hiking friends and I spent every day together. Whether it was raining or cold or uncomfortable for whatever reason we dealt with it together. I agree that I look forward to exploring wilderness, perhaps in a different way than my parents, but I do not want to be “plugged-in” when I do it. Just the idea drags me down. It seems like something that takes me away from the moment and I hate the idea of something taking me away from that experience.

    Now, I do take pictures and up load them when I get home, usually with some commentary regarding the experience but only after reflection. I am frustrated when I take friends to special places in a National Park, for example, and they spend their time on their phone as oppose to enjoying and appreciating the moment with me. To me the wilderness is the only place where one can “un-plug”. I agree that social media is a powerful tool and can only help market or advertise our country’s special places but why does it need to occur during the moment? Why can’t it wait till we get home?

  • Traveler's View: Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Backcountry Fee Debate Points To Larger Problem   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Honestly, I think the argument for keeping the road open was important back in the 20's - 50's because it was the main cooridor for shipping, but today that doesn't fly, because commerce is not allowed to flow on this road through the park, since it's been shifted to interstate 40. I-40 was built well after the parks establishment. So, with the building of the interstate system, that changed how the highway 441 through the Smokies was used.

    And Stormy, if you are planning a good trip in the Smokies, and you need some advice, just PM me and I can give you some tips on best trails, etc during that time of year.

  • Traveler's View: Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Backcountry Fee Debate Points To Larger Problem   5 weeks 2 days ago

    DH and I are looking forward to our first visit to the Smokies next year. As a Westerner I'm used to paying up to $25.00 to visit a Natl Park so it amazes me that there is no fee to enter GSMNP. I understand the original intent to keep the main road free (although there is precedent for charging to get 'through' a NP on a main road*). But I also understand the need to finance facilities & improvements.

    Perhaps they could implement a graduated system using color-coded window tags. If you're just traversing the park to get from A to B you get a free, dated & time stamped green (or whatever) tag that allows a certain (reasonable) amount of time to drive straight through. Day Use could be a lower fee and different color with a reasonable 'exit' time. Overnight/camping a fee to match other parks and again, a different color.

    *Lassen Park charges the full entrance fee to use the through road (Hwy 89), as does YNP to use the road that goes from Mammoth to Cooke City.

  • RVing In The Parks: Five Great Western Campgrounds In The National Parks   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Thanks for this article! As an RV'er it's not always easy to find good campsites in National Parks. If I may, I'll add Mammoth Campground at Mammoth Hot Springs in YNP. Many large spots, all 'pull throughs'. Our overall length (truck + trailer) is 50 ft and we still had plenty of room to park our Prius behind us in the site.

  • Acadia National Park Officials Proposing Slight Change In Visitor Capacity For Isle Au Haut   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Here's our latest blog post on Acadia National Park's draft Isle au Haut plan and the Aug. 5 hearing on it. Might the park's official non-promotion policy be leading to recent drops in visitation, truly making Isle au Haut the quietest side of Acadia? http://acadiaonmymind.com/2014/07/acadia-national-park-proposes-to-keep-isle-au-haut-primitive/

  • Traveler's View: Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Backcountry Fee Debate Points To Larger Problem   5 weeks 2 days ago

    I'm also not a fan of the whole "it will price the common man out of access to our national parks" argument. It can cost hundreds of not thousands of dollars in airfare or fuel to get where one is going. $10-20 isn't going to break anyone that has the will to make a visit. Getting to parks can be expensive. The parks themselves, not so much.

  • Traveler's View: Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Backcountry Fee Debate Points To Larger Problem   5 weeks 2 days ago

    I agree that the personal attacks here are out of hand, especially when it comes to GRSM.

    I think GRSM needs to charge admission fees. It's weird how this wildly popular national park is free to access, yet comparable parks across the country are $10-20 or more. It seems like a no-brainer to charge a nominal fee to access and support it.

    Charging "leave no trace" light users of the park a fee while giving free access to cavalcades of motor homes that trample everything in sight and disproportionately consume resources and pollute is simply sick and twisted.

    If I understand correctly, the land transfer by the state of TN only prohibits charging a toll for Newfound Gap Road. Either get the TN legislature to change this law, or else put toll booths on the spurs that come off the road. The road itself could be free, but require paid access for Clingmans Dome, Chimney Tops, Le Conte, etc.

    A park that bears the weight of millions of visitors a year and faces annually decreased funding from Congress is doomed to fail without funding from the people who are consumers of its resources.