Recent comments

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 21 weeks ago


    The idea that the states or municipalities are going to take over the adminstration of national park areas runs counter to the prevailing trend: the assumption of areas like Gateway and Golden Gate by the NPS when local and state management entities can no longer afford them. Which level of government has the deepest pockets?

    As to the idea that trusts or NGOs can assume the management of some of the NPS areas ignores the fact that almost no park area can be self-sufficient without pricing itself out of the market.

    I have argued in the past that this is a matter of generational equity. Each generation of Americans gets to add to the National Park System tha areas it believes merit protection and preservation in perpetuity. I can't imagine a future generation deciding that what my generation added to the System--MLK Jr., the Alaska parks. Kings Canyon, etc.--no longer merited protection in the National Park System but ought to be managed by a state or some kind of NGO. Nor am I willing to second-guess previous generations of Americans.

    As you point out, it is a matter of priorities. There is enough money to finance the System. We just need to make such funding a higher priority.

    Rick Smith

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Let's just hope the irate ranchers that despise Judge Molloy's ruling (and would be poachers) keep their long guns at bay. Empty the bullet chambers and let the wolves help balance nature once it's intended to do!

  • Wolves Join Grizzlies in Fishing at Katmai National Park and Preserve   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Let's see, a little fish hors d'oeuvre for snack and now for the main entree...mutton! I love this little piece Kurt!

  • Glacier National Park Officials Again Voice Opposition to Railroad's Avalanche Blasting Proposal   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Build the sheds!, don't bomb the park!!! After all, Mother Nature was already here, the railroad came along and built the tracks through this section, they should build the sheds to protect them, not destroy the animal life or the enviroment!!!!

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Now that is one step in the right direction! If the government would keep their "grubby" little hands out of everything, then maybe, just maybe, we could take more steps in the right direction. God put the animals on the earth, who are we to remove them???

  • Judge Restores ESA Protection for Wolves in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem-Updated   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Thanks for following this Kurt. This is an emotional issue. I do not want to see any species overrun, nor do I want to see one wiped out.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    We got a jump on our summer travel early this year, and so far our family has been to Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, and Rocky Mtn. National Park, and my daughter visited Pearl Harbor. Our favorite, though, was spending an old fashioned 4th of July at Ft. Laramie National Historic Site. They had games for kids and adults going on all day, plus all the historic reenactors, plus the ice cold bottled was a day to remember! I'm glad to see that one made it on your list--it really is a fascinating look into our pioneering past, but often gets overlooked. :)

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 21 weeks ago

    You must be new to this website because I have long advocated (and subsequently been pilloried for) a long list of possible alternatives for administering many NPS units under a different umbrella. Some of them include non-profit trusts and foundations, turning many of the smaller and less visited historical units over to willing state and local municipalities or non-profit historical societies as well as tightening up the ease with which Congress can create less than nationally significant units for purely political purposes, even when the NPS deems them inappropriate for inclusion in the system (see the recent thread in NPT about the newly created park in Patterson, NJ).

    You can check on my past postings for more about what I think is the essential paring down that must occur in order to maintain and preserve the true crown jewels of the system.

    With two expensive wars backed by an overheated printing press it ain't hard to see that Uncle Sam is in the poor house and can't afford his expensive park system any more than he can his $53 trillion in unfunded Medicare and Social Security obligations. The time to look for alternative ways to preserve the national parks is now. Our broke uncle is headed for foreclosure and the parks are going to be the last thing on his mind while he's standing in the welfare line.

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Beamis, I am all ears. What do you suggest ?

  • Zion National Park is a Magnet for Canyoneers   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I love exploring the canyons in Zion, but having witnessed a flash flood in Zion I could never be a true canyoneer. To say the flash flood left a vivid impression on me would be an understatement. I could not believe the force of the flash flood, how fast it came out of no where, how long it lasted, the roar of noise it created, and the debries that it left behind. I was in a awe of the power of mother nature, and because of that there is no risk of me taking someone's canyoneering permit spot next summer!!

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Well, Bob, it would be nice if you could see your last wish to fruition through the same tenacity that got the park established. Unfortunately, I think only prayers and sacrifices to the Avian gods are going to help at this point. The realist in me knows it can't happen, but the romantic still wants to believe they're out there - a couple dozen pairs waiting for a comeback. I think there's room in ecology for the occasional romantic notion.

    As for Congaree, one of my favorite things was the attitude of the rangers at the VC. They reminded me of the folks at Sleeping Bear, but even more proud of their park and genuinely excited to interact with visitors. One of them started talking about the park's establishment like he was discussing his newborn baby. Then, when he heard we were headed to Carolina Sandhills NWR next, he told me about his history there and we talked about longleaf pines and red-cockaded woodpeckers for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, my wife mentioned to another ranger we would be canoeing Cedar Creek the next morning, and instantly there were maps spread all over the counter while the ranger talked about the route and where she'd heard there were new portages. Now, I'm sure the lack of visitors had something to do with it, but I've never been taken care of to that degree in Acadia, Everglades, or any of the western parks. It seems like I often run into rangers that view me as a necessary evil. I think that's completely forgivable, having seen what the rangers at Yosemite and Acadia and Grand Canyon have to deal with from many of the visitors. But it certainly makes experiences like Sleeping Bear and Congaree more than memorable.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Kirby, I'm not surprised that you enjoyed Congaree National Park. It's one of the best kept secrets east of the Mississippi. I'm a bit biased, I must admit. It's my home park, and I was part of the small (but tenacious) grassroots campaign that saved that magnificent river bottom hardwood forest from being turned into coffee tables and pallets. My one remaining big wish for that place is that a viable population of ivory-billed woodpeckers will be reestablished there some day.

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Ticking a few off my lifelist during a colossal car-camping trip this August. We're hitting Theodore Roosevelt, North Cascades, Olympic, Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, and Badlands. (I notice everyone here uses codes, so I suppose I should say "THRO, NOCA, OLYM, MORA, YELL, and BADL") Being the odd chap I am, I think I'm looking forward to Roosevelt the most. And I'll have to find time at some point for my home park, and one of my favorites, Sleeping Bear Dunes.

    Next year it's either Big Bend or Acadia. I'm an ecology geek and I've never been to a desert, so BIBE is looking good. Last year it was Congaree, a pleasant surprise and one of the best NPS experiences I've ever had. many parks, so few years - and dollars!

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Yes, Bob, you've been fooled! The dunetop vantages you speak of are generally between SSW and SSE of a typical camp on the east shore of North Manitou. (Everyone else camps on the west side, so this is only relevant to me, I suppose.) So in the first shot linked below from Pyramid Point, you're seeing North Manitou's south shore about 7 or 8 miles almost due north of you. Looking due east from a typical camp on NMI, you'll be seeing 15 miles of water until you hit the Lelanau Peninsula which is both trending away from you to the east and losing the hundreds of feet of relief it has in the dune area. So the land is barely visible. I don't know where the sun rises on the 45th parallel in mid-July, but just a little bit north of due east from this camp and you've actually got about 80 miles of open water! See the sunrise pictures.

    South Manitou is more for the fanny-pack-wearing crowd with kids in tow, but with some redeeming ecological features - an old-growth cedar grove, for example. North Manitou is wilderness and far more enjoyable. The rangers have generally informed me that I'm one of about 30 or 40 people on an island 20 miles in circumference on the trips I've made there. I suppose some times and seasons are busier, but it's definitely the choice for nature. I think it's the garter snake capital of the world. And two years ago, I managed to see a piping plover about 15 feet away from me, just before I turned around to see a huge adult bald eagle swoop over my head on it's way out to pick something out of the surf. Good stuff.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Brown Bears Fishing at Katmai National Park and Preserve   6 years 22 weeks ago

    That is an incredible image. The beauty reminds me of the Great Bear Rainforest which I visited last year. Nice to see nature at play in a safe place!

    bamboo and organic clothing

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 22 weeks ago

    If y'all think a new administration is going to solve the systemic problems that face the national parks, starting with needless and wasteful layers of entrenched bureaucracy combined with brazenly shameless politicking I've got news for you: it ain't gonna happen!

    This is, after all, the federal government we're talking about.

    I worked for the NPS through three different administrations and the song has always remained the same regardless of what party was in the White House: namely that the agency was an underfunded, top heavy bureaucracy that was deftly manipulated by petty vote grubbing Washington politicians on the make.

    My friends, these circumstances are not about to change any time soon. A corrupt, war-drained, insolvent and bankrupt government is nothing to pin your hopes on; yet that is precisely what most of you continue to do year after year, hoping against hope that things will somehow get better under the stewardship of the self-perpetuating mandarins in DC.

    Isn't it time to look elsewhere for salvation?

  • Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try Not To Breath the Air   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Hey folks, take a good hard look from Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, the pollution is even worse. With all the fires in California and the daily auto emissions, you can kiss this once majestic view good bye. Sad but true and getting worse!

  • Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try Not To Breath the Air   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Marylander, I live near GSMNP and you are so right except that the air is getting worse in the fall too ! What a crying shame !

  • Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try Not To Breath the Air   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I have pictures of the Smokies from 25 years ago that clearly show how the air is getting progressively worse... it makes me very sad. My family and I have a strict policy, however, of only visiting GSMNP during the spring time or the late fall when the crowds are much more managable. Now we can tack better air quaility to our list of reasons to avoid the summer there.

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Such a farce and waste of money. We need new administration from the top President, new Secretary of Interior, new National Park Director.

    Wasting time and money on a political PR event is a crying shame and pure BS when we have so many dire needs !

  • Summertime: What National Parks Are On Your "Must Visit" List?   6 years 22 weeks ago

    All of them are on my "Must Visit" list, well those from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean anyway.
    Will be in ONP for a week to ten days here soon, then it will be MRNP the following week then
    NCNP for a while.
    That is about as far into the future I dare go :-]

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Gates of the Arctic National Park, on the banks of the Noatak River in summer.

    The sun never really rises or sets. It swings around you at night to the north, skimming the horizon around this beautiful, wide glacier-carved valley. Everywhere else you get this magical 15-minute twilight.

    Here, right across the north rim of the park that magical twilight goes on all night long.

    Perhaps as wonderful as the Noatak Valley in the park, but in an altogether different way, is morning on Itkillik Lake all the way to the far northeast, actually within the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. The Itkillik is a mysterous, primal landscape of open tundra, ancient artifacts, with mountains of the Brooks Range in the distance. In that twilight in that place you feel you are back thousands of years. In those mornings you feel you are in the newest, and the oldest landscape in America.

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Kurt, you always do try to give the benefit of the doubt, something that makes this such an up-beat site.

    But the bottom line here at this "conference" is that it is no conference at all. For the first day, the political leadership of the National Park Service -- Secretary Kempthorne and Director Mary Bomar -- organized the whole day just to talk "at" the park professionals. There was no conferring of substance that day.

    There was only one day to confer in an organized way among professionals. It might work as a smoke screen for any newspapers or TV, and that was the spin in the NPS PR, but this even was never structured as a conference.

    Sure, there are brief opportunities for old colleagues to reconnect, but in fact, compared to 3 previous superintendent conferences I attended, you don't even have time to even see a fraction of the people you know, much less have a meaningful discussion about building a positive agenda for the Service. A lot of NPS people actually are just talking about how soon before they retire. What a dispirited bunch.

    Mary Bomar conducted exactly the same sort of "conference" when she was Regional Director in the northeast, also as a PR event. Again, no real time for professional consultation among colleagues, no identification of issues, examination of issues and impediments, development of alternative strategies for moving forward. Just like this Utah conference, it was mostly talking heads, as a way for then-Regional Director Bomar to show off to Washington officials with lots of photo opportunities. The report on that regional conference was mostly a series of photos of Mary Bomar -- you can look it up. Nothing came out of it but a call for uniformity and "accountability" which is a euphemism for blaming the parks for the failure of the NPS leaders to fight for necessary funding, and a way to avoid any real initiatives. At this previous conference the Washington office gave regional director Bomar a big award for a project begun and conceived by her predecessor, and the whole 'conference' was declared a victory, with no forward movement at all.

    So, watch this space. You can count on a report of success from Director, with pictures of the Director, reiterating everything claimed in her opening speech about all her successes, while emphasizing the need of the parks to remain "accountable," just as if this was the universal conclusion of all in attendance. There will be nothing in this report any different than Bomar's message on day one, indicating that no 'conferring' went on at all with the unfortunate field professionals who were forced to pay the expenses out of the strapped budgets of the parks. Am I wrong? If I am wrong you will see emerging from this conference new ideas clearly stated, new strategies developed with full participation of the newly empowered parks, and specific actions and assignments laid out to move past the dreadful state parks toward SUBSTANTIAL SOLUTIONS.

    This is just a stage managed event. Nothing of substance, no serious strategic planning can happen, or is supposed to happen, at an event like this. Like her earlier conference, this is just a stage for Mary Bomar. Compare this to George Hartzog's event at the end of his career, the Second World Conference on National Parks at Yellowstone and Grand Teton's. Yes, you could say that conference was also a show piece, but Hartzog's conference had substance. It rallied parks around the world to use the strategic value of parks and the enormous diversity of thinking about the management and purpose of parks as a way to leverage the funding and political power needed to sustain and expand preservation. It was a call to arms, and concerted action to follow. Secretary Kempthorne and especially Mary Bomar are NOT trying to empower the parks to shake anything up.

  • National Park Quiz 11: Blue and Gray   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Anon: The decisive Union victory occurred in New Mexico, and that is what the quiz item states. There isn't room in a quiz item to deal with every nuance. I don't dispute your facts.

  • National Park Quiz 11: Blue and Gray   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks for the quiz, didn't do too bad, however question # 7 about Pecos National Historical Park is very misleading. The Battle of Glorietta Pass was fought there, but the battle field was only added to the park in the early 1990's, access to the battlefield has been limited ( the Park has been trying to get a highway realigned for safer visitor access (at least that's what I had heard several years ago). The battle ground was held by the Confederacy, it was the separate action when the Union destroyed the CSA supply lines that lead to the CSA withdrawing back to Texas. So the correct answer is at best misleading. The Pecos park also preserves the remains of an Indian pueblo and Spanish Mission. Well worth the visit when in the Santa Fe area.