Recent comments

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Rick,
    Thanks for engaging in the dialog.

    I can't remember if you worked at Crater Lake. I have many, many more examples from Crater Lake. One instance involves a whistle blower who exposed the dangerous conditions surrounding tour boat operations. He was an interpreter, and after blowing the whistle, he wasn't hired again at the park. There was a lawsuit. I can't remember all the details. It was very hush-hush and the park tried to sweep it under the rug.

    About the badges: Each badge has a property number stamped on the back. One employee told about getting two badges--right from the manufacturer--that had never been used and had no property numbers on them. I have heard and witnessed many more examples of such thievery, and while they're not to the scale of Ms. Buccello's crime, they're crimes nonetheless.

    One instance of employment law violation I did bring to the attention of management and was referred to the Regional Equal Opportunity Manager where I filed a complaint. I didn't report other instances due to my precarious position as a seasonal employee who could be terminated at any time for any reason.

    I'm not "chronically disgruntled", nor a "nihilist", and no longer feel "marginalized", although I often did as a seasonal NPS employee. Perhaps that's part of the difference: seasonal employees see and experience things differently than do some who are safely entrenched in the civil service. I love my current life and profession, and reflect upon my overall experience in uniform fondly; I forged many enduring relationships and have albums upon albums of photos documenting an adventurous and exciting period of my life.

    There are, however, some serious issues I encountered with the NPS. The NPS has what I'd call "dirty little secrets" (In fact, my book in progress--if I ever finish it--has a chapter with the same title). While it may be that there are "4 or 5 people making multiple comments", I'd argue these people are commenting because they have nothing to lose. I've chosen never to work for the NPS again, as have several other NPT commentors. Those who work or hope to work for the NPS generally won't risk speaking out for fear of reprisal. This is a well-documented aspect of the NPS. Jeremy even wrote an article on it in Park Remark (Speak Out, Get Fired?). In fact, Jeremy created Park Remark hoping to create a place for current rangers to discuss serious concerns and issues regarding the NPS, but most wouldn't, even anonymously. There's a culture of fear in the NPS, and I'm very surprised you've not experienced or heard about it. Most current and former employees I talk to--again, my circle was mostly seasonal--have similar stories.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Poor morale, underfunding, maintenance backlogs and such are the common shopworn refrains that I heard all through the Clinton years as well as during both Bush administrations. Trying to pin this on a White House occupant is as disingenuous as saying that the agency has very little control over its personnel policies due to OPM rules. Pass the buck and then sweep the problems under the rug.

    I also know a lot of people who are currently working for the NPS and many are scrambling to get out. Others say it is as bad as it's ever been but are staying because they still think working in a park is a worthy endeavor but even they are keeping their eyes on other opportunities.

    Of course those who retired peacefully aren't going to be the ones raising a stink, that's how they managed to make it to retirement! "Go along, get along" was a mantra repeated to me more times than I care to remember during my career, usually from a fat & happy mid to upper level manager.

    You can continue to marginalize and rationalize the motivations of those who are speaking out and claim that it is news to you that something is terribly wrong with an organization that thinks the theft of $10,000 "may not have risen to the level that would allow the government to deny her annuity." OPM rules or not where's your outrage?

    The American public is increasingly aware of the poor service, shabby facilities and surly attitudes directed their way by the rangers they all once looked up to. If you think this steep decline is going unnoticed by all but a few "disgruntled" people on a website you're dead wrong.

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Unless these areas (or other areas in the NPS system for that matter) are within the boundaries of the Congressional designated Wilderness, they are not bound by the laws, prohibitions, and spirit of the 1964 Wilderness Act, nor do many of these areas have a wilderness management plan. Of course, the Wilderness Act didn't set forth use levels. One only has to visit several other wilderness areas across the NPS to realize during the summer, often we are really not alone in the wilderness.
    As we saw with the 2006 NPS management policy fiasco, it is becoming increasingly easy for the NPS directorate to be handmaiden to the White House policy desires and not the Organic Act. Of course, one must only look at the rim of the Grand Canyon to see that development, tourism, and the NPS have always gone hand in hand.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Well, I read those comments, also. I am tempted to say that it is the same 4 or 5 people making multiple comments, but I can't be sure. Of course, if you are "chronically disgruntled", are a "nihilist" or feel "marginalized, you are more likely to comment on an issue like Ms. Buccello's conduct. Those of us who abhor it are less likely to comment since she is apparently going to pay for what she did.

    As to her retirement, the NPS probably has nothing to do with it. Retirements are handled by the Office of Personnel Management qnd the Civil Service Retirement System. I am not an expert in this area and will defer to anyone who is, but her crime may not have risen to the level that would allow the government to deny her annuity. All I am saying is that we shouldn't be too quick to hang something on the NPS over which it may have little control.

    Once again, I will say that I am sorry that some of the people who post on NPT had such rotten experiences with the NPS I didn't. Most of the NPS retirees with whom I communicate didn't either. I know a lot of current NPS employees. I don't hear anything from them about wholesale corruption or criminality within the Service. When they talk about poor morale, they attribute it to the jpressures of working for an Administration with such a sorry environmental record. It's that record that worries me.

    Rick Smith

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Rick I'm curious about your reaction to the comments from current rangers below the article that I cited with a link. Do you think they are also seeing a side to the NPS that is not often seen (at least by you) or are they maybe telling it like it is? Could there be a kernel of truth in these seemingly heartfelt revelations?

    I sure witnessed my share of cover-ups and criminality, it's one of the main reasons that I left a highly awarded and promising career track. The fact that Pat Buccello was allowed to retire tells me everything I need to know. Where else can you steal $10,000 and then get to retire on full benefits? What you did or did not see doesn't change the fact that a lot of former and current employees understand all too well that the inner workings of this agency does not pass the smell test.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker,
    There is no siphoning. It's a set percentage of revenue the consessionaire agrees to pay for the right to do business in the NRA. The NPS strictly regulates the fees they may charge for ANY goods or services provided with-in the NRA boundaries. I do agree that Aramark may charge more at other venues. That's probably why a beer costs a minimum $5 at any of the myriad ball parks or concert halls they manage. I believe the whole point of this discussion was monies being diverted from the NPS budget. It is absolutely not.

    I've owned a business before. I've worked for Aramark and the NPS. I find you comments about "gullible to a fault" and "the American sucker" highly offensive.

    Ted

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    It should come as no great surprise that some dual career appointments work out well in parks and some don't--not unlike any appointment. I helped make several dual career appointments during my career that worked out very well. As to nepotism being rampant, I doubt it. There are very few places where there is a sufficient diversity of positions available to make husband and wife teams possible. Many couples, therefore, spend long periods of time working apart. Despite what Frank may think, it's not that easy when NPS employees get married.

    I can't speak for Mary Bomar but I do know Wade pretty well. I know that he does not condone the actions of Pat Buccello any more than I do. I don't get the part about rampant criminality. Beamis and Frank are convinced it exists. I'm convinced it doesn't. Frank claims he has seen supervisors breaking employment law on several occasions. I hope he brought those instances to the attention of park management, but I guess he wouldn't because he doesn't seem to trust them either.

    I also don't get the part about badges with numbers. The only use of the numbers of my badgees were for property records. I always wore a name tag on my uniform. When a visitor asked me who I was, I didn't say that I was badge 3016. I said I was Rick Smith and pointed to my name tag.

    As to cover ups, I am sure that some have occurred. Frank believes he has tracked down two instances. There are probably more. On balance, however, I found during my career that the NPS was pretty up front about admitting its mistakes. It's also been pretty strainght forward with some of its harshest critics. I remember Bob Barbee, the superintendent of Yellowstone, talking with Alston Chase on network TV about their divergent opinions regarding the Yellowstone ecosystem. Walt Dabney appeared almost nigntly on network news shows during the Yellowstone fires of 1988 to answer critics of the federal government's fire management policies. I'm not sure that the NPS has always been as transparent as I would have wished, but I left the NPS satisfied that the agency did not routinely sweep things under the rug.

    Frank and Beamis' careers seem to have shown them a side of the NPS that I didn't often see. I only worked in 6 parks, two regional offices and the headquarters office in DC. Their experience may have been much more extensive than mine was; it was apparently much less pleasant.

    Rick Smith

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Whether or not funding has been allocated is a non-factor. In order for those funds to have been cyphoned "Off the Top" the have to have been appropriated from some revenue source. If the local fees in the Lake Powell area have remained the same, it is a fact of business that they have been increased elsewhere along the Aramark corporate umbrella. There is absolutely no such thing as a free lunch.

    Faith in this manner of corporate pledge is indicative of the effect that marketing and corporate propaganda can have on consumers uneduated in the methods of doing business. I know from personal experience. Our holding company practiced the EXACT same techniques, quite effectively I add with tail between legs. But it works. And those who we were able to manage to control via this shell game were exactly the types of clientele that every American company relies upon.......gullible to a fault, loyal as the day is long. The American Sucker.

  • About The National Parks Traveler   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I run a on-line travel site for anyone looking to go on vacations so i have been serching the web to find other sites that give informatioin about thier place of vacation and this site has excellent informatioin on Nationial Parks Iam using my Yahoo group to put links so people can see all the beautiful places they can go before they book on my site. My yahoo group page is called Next Stop Vacations and it is new and my vacations site is www.nextstopvacations.com Iam still learning how to make it more fun for everyone to come to my site. Its a work in progress :)

  • Plague Confirmed As Cause of Death for Grand Canyon Biologist   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    The death to biologist Eric York is a shame, but due to the Plague it is a disturbing one.

    When I lived in New Mexico I became aware of the strain of Hunta Virus associated with SW fieldmice. I am certain you are aware of that deadly virus.
    We just have to be very caucious these days and never take too much for granted in nature.

    Take care.

    John Lisa

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    A wilderness experience? You really have to ask?
    Most of the National Parks I have been to have raped the wilderness with roads, lodgings, gas stations, parking lots, buses, trails, bridges, signs, scenic flights, large groups guided by corporate outfitters, etc..
    There are a few of Our National Parks that I enjoy as a wilderness type of experience.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Nepotism is rampant. In the national seashore I worked, I was told by higher up LEs that in order to get the chief ranger they wanted, they also had to hire his wife as chief interp. She ran interp into the ground, and after her husband retired, they created a special position for her (since they couldn't fire her for incompetence) and took away her chief interp duties. I've seen other examples of blatant nepotism as several other national parks. Cover-ups? How about the 2002 sewage spill in Munson Creek at Crater Lake? It was as serious as the 1970s spill, but few knew about it. I found out during a trip to the Summer Solstice party and poking around Munson Creek, finding yellow biohazard tape everywhere, asking questions, and getting unofficial, off the record answers. That never made the news. Oh, then there was the shooting incident at Mazama Village, too, which was all hush-hush. People I knew who were working at CRLA were told not to say anything to anyone about the incident, and they wouldn't even give me their opinion for fear of losing their jobs. Criminality? I've witnessed supervisors breaking employment law on several occasions. Some have told me how they snatched up badges without serial numbers. The NPS is rife with corruption and career mindedness. It's time to put an end to this atrocious waste of taxpayer money.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    As I have witnessed over the years on other forums and blogs, whenever a posting goes contrary to the beliefs of folks over at www.wayneswords.com they head over, join the offending forum / blog and post their values, beliefs etc..
    I am not saying this is a bad thing, just that it makes interesting reading on their own bulletin board which one can find at:
    National Parks Traveler on the Castle Rock Cut *LINK*
    or
    LPYC soliciting lowering CRC comments to NPS *LINK*, which states, "I just received a mass e-mail from Lake Powell Yacht Club soliciting our comments to the NPS comment site below. I added my 2.5 cents there already."
    or
    Fresh comments on the NP Traveler site are up., which states, "Forest and Mondofish, among others, have been heard from. Might not hurt for a few more to pile on and smother the green-goofay-eggheads with ,,,,,, OOPS! Sorry. That's hardly PC of me. Pete K."

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Yes Pete, that is correct. The "SUM" cost of their (Aramark's) overhead package remains the same, so not only Aramark, but even those who actually USE Lake Powell, will be the one's indirectly paying for the project.
    As has already been said, "What's not to like?" Even Libertarians should approve of this one!

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I am truly astounded by the continuing commentary that is being placed below the article on Pat Buccello's guilty plea to the theft of $10,000 from the NPS. It has now been 17 days since this news piece appeared on the web, yet current and former rangers (mostly LE) continue daily to share their frustration and anger at an agency that they see as overwhelmingly corrupt and cynically career driven. Their biggest beefs are nepotism, cover-ups and rampant criminality.

    It's a slant on things you won't hear coming from Bill Wade or Mary Bomar.

    Check it out: http://snipurl.com/1ts8h

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    LH:
    I'm not able to follow this. NPS will pay for the project. Not Aramark. True, NPS will utilize revenue generated by concession operations to pay for it. So Aramark funds it indirectly. But since the NPS skim off the top of Aramark's operation is the same whether the cut goes forward or not, how does it affect Aramark's bottom line? The "SUM" cost of their overhead package remains X whether NPS spends the money on other infrastructure maintenance, repair or upgrade, or, whether or not they spend it on the Castle Rock project, right?

    Pete K.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    This will be my last comment on the subject, as IMO it's miles off-topic and the topic in question is of far more interest to me. I will however make this final comment.

    While Lone Hiker does indeed offer a few interesting ideas, he/she is dead wrong in making this comment:

    "For you to believe for one instance that their entire customer base will not feel the sting for this project is simply not realistic."

    The money has already been collected! It's part of the requirement for being awarded the concession to do exclusive business in the GCNRA, not an additional cost of doing business to be passed on to their (Aramark) customers in the form of higher prices, lower wages, reduced level of service, or anything else. The funds have already been collected and are discretionary, to be used by the NPS for any project benefiting those who use the GCNRA. That would be mostly boaters and fishermen like me!

    Trying to keep it real. Enough said, at least by me.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Most of what the government does to us is on the shady side of unconstitutional, but this discussion is about the CRC. As the GCNRA is a national RECREATION area rather than a national park, recreation is the issue here. The cut has been lowered several times over the years. There are no artifacts that would be involved here. No time and waste of taxpayer dollars for an EA is needed. The safety of the people that pay to use this RECREATION area should be paramount. The savings in fuel, reduction of pollution, and time saved in responding to emergencies uplake demands that CRC must be open at the lowest levels of the lake.

  • Park History: Arches National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    And maybe the biggest highlights of all at Arches......the crowds are miniscule and there's not a difficult hike in the entire park. Although somewhat off the beaten path, it's a fantastic place for families, even those who have younger kids not quite yet into the whole hiking experience. To them, it's like a BIG sandbox, and there isn't much soil damage you can do on slickrock, which is also easier for the youngsters to traverse. If they're looking for Pizza the Hut or McArches for dinner, you're have an inconveniet ride to Moab, but it could be worse.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Geez, if what you say is true, you'd sure think that a country as great as ours would have had at least one single Congress in those 97 some years decent enough to abolish that illegal 16th Amendment, now wouldn't you?

    Tax revenues generated by this Act of Congress are to the Washington bureaucrats what nicotine is to many people.....a craving, an addiction to which they simply aren't willing or able to remove themselves from, no matter what the cost. Once the government began spending this revenue source prior to it actually being in the treasury, we were all done for. Now they simply can't and won't stop, short of a taxpayer revolt. Which isn't really a bad idea. They can't throw us all in jail, and since they don't have the stones to deport illegals, I feel safe as a citizen of this "great nation" in taking a stance against these types of injustices. As citizens, that's our responsibility, our duty. Or, you can choose to be a lamb heading to slaughter. The choice is all OURS.

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 35 weeks ago


    Excuse me - your assertions are inaccurate. While you are correct that snowmobiles were allowed in YELL for a decade or so until the late 1990s, the leaders of YELL and the NPS then analyzed the science and determined that the resources were being damanged. They then initiated efforts to eliminate snowmobiles altogether in favor of the quieter, cleaner and more economic snowcoaches. It was in 2000 that the current administration decided against that approach (this came right from Secretary Gale Norton and presumably from just under the top guy in the White House) and to initiate a series of (now up to four) environmental studies - evidently attempting to obtain the answer they wanted. EIS #4 still says there is resource damage, even at the numbers or snowmobiles proposed, and the public - by a margin of 4 out of 5 - say no snowmobiles. The "spin" or interpretation of the data are political, not scientific in nature; made by NPS managers who do not have the latitude to do what's right because of political pressure. To say that "the coalition of NPS Retirees were the guys who had power and control for the last 25 years and did nothing about the snowmobiles in Yellowstone," is inaccurate and unfair.

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    RainyRoads:

    I'm not going to turn this into a libertarian rant, but think your faith in politicians is most certainly misplaced. Congress is not an institution that is widely hailed for its virtues nor is much of what goes on in the city of Washington for that matter.

    There are many other violations of the Constitution, way too numerous to mention, that have occurred in the history of the Republic besides the illegal and immoral 16th Amendment. The most currently egregious example of this habitual Constitutional disregard would be the costly and bloody wars being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan without an official declaration from your beloved saviors on Capitol Hill, as is explicitly mandated in the Constitution. Go ahead, read it. I promise you it's all in there.

    There is in fact currently one lone member up on the Hill who agrees that the 16th Amendment is unconstitutional as well as many other actions, decrees and levies of the lawless proponents of the Warfare/Welfare state. His name is Ron Paul and he is also running for president as an avowed constitutionalist. You might want to check out his campaign and stated positions. It might be an eye opener.

    Being a great country has nothing to do with the government. We've manage to succeed, so far, in spite of it, most certainly not because of it.

  • Park History: National Parks Built Around Caves and Caverns   6 years 35 weeks ago

    On a much smaller scale, the northern end of Snow Canyon State Park in St. George (or more accurately, Ivins, I believe) UT. has some interesting caves formed by the same geological phenomenon, repleat with cinder cone visibly scarred by the eruption a scant 10,000 years ago, as estimated in park literature. A great introduction to "raftless tubing" for the younger set or those who think they might tend towards claustrophobia.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 35 weeks ago

    For clarification purposes, the studies I've surveyed make mention of 2 million boaters as an annual visitation estimate and does not directly correlate to 2 million vessels traversing the waterway. This I understand with all clarity. But in the "real world" of business, of which I possess extensive experience, any corporation doing business in more than one location bases their fees for products, services, etc. on the sum cost of doing business. The entity in question must account for the sum overhead package, no matter what nature they be, in the base prices that are charged to the consumer. As you all should be aware, the Aramark Corporation is a national service company. For you to believe for one instance that their entire customer base will not feel the sting for this project is simply not realistic. All costs of doing business will be passed throughout the operating network, whether it is an increase in employee health care rates, pay raises, transportation related fees (e.g. fuel rate increases, maintenance costs, building of distribution centers, tax rates on properties), increases costs of raw materials, handling and processing, or the above mentioned "slush fund" designed to benefit a SMALL portion of their service base.

    Speaking of keeping it real........

  • Misty Hike at Yosemite's Vernal Fall   6 years 35 weeks ago

    What strikes me about this photo is its lack of color. Most photographers are taught to look for that splash of red when composing their shots, but the lack of color, the almost monochromatic composition, of this shot really sells it for me.