Recent comments

  • Assateague Island National Seashore Rangers Troll Internet For Big Catch   6 years 20 weeks ago

    i bet she drove an orv. THose orv fishermen should be banned from the beach!

  • Wyoming Congressional Delegation Pushing Interior Secretary To Move on Yellowstone Snowmobile Plan   6 years 20 weeks ago

    There should be a huge internal combustion usage fee for for recreational vehicles- boats, PWC, off road vehicles. Mercifully PWC are banned from ocean waters in the SF Bay area, where I live. We get along fine without them. Get a canoe, sailboat or a kayak, or a bike, or snowshoes, or skis. Gas is dead, and killing us. If you love speed get a race car, i'm totally cool with that. The wilderness is not the place for racing internal combustion vehicles.

    It's like base closings in the 90's- people screamed it was the end of the world, but once they closed things were not so bad, in many cases better. Once people know it's over they will adjust.

  • Valley Forge Development Gains OK   6 years 20 weeks ago

    It's really a shame that when the park was created that they didn't include more land. It's just way too tiny and the enormous hotels/traffic/noise/construction/homes/businesses/city life is already built up right to some of its borders. It is hard for my 4th graders to imagine the area as a battle ground when they are watching the chaos of the hotels in the background. Not to mention hearing the honking of car horns, the noise from the traffic of which there seems to be an uncanny amount...

    You have to go to Valley Forge to really understand what this fight is about. You are going to have to go and experience it, stand on the hill tops and walk the paths, in order to understand why building a museum and educational conference center and parking lots (which on the surface doesn't sound like a bad thing at all) really IS a bad thing.

    Normally I love museums and as a teacher I am all for them, but in this case the museum will do more harm then good, in my opinion.

  • Wyoming Congressional Delegation Pushing Interior Secretary To Move on Yellowstone Snowmobile Plan   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Frank N, I second your motion !!!

  • Wyoming Congressional Delegation Pushing Interior Secretary To Move on Yellowstone Snowmobile Plan   6 years 20 weeks ago

    I personally would not hold my breath waiting for the DOI to act. While it is encouraging that constituent’s voices are being heard via their elected representatives, I doubt that their wishes will be granted. More legal wrangling is sure to follow.

    I also wonder about the longevity of snow coach use within the park. If and when snowmobiles are outlawed completely, snow coaches will find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of the same groups that oppose snowmobiles, and the battle will begin anew.

    A strikingly similar situation has already occurred in CHNSRA, in relation to Personal Watercraft, (PWC), useage. About 10 years ago, PWC's were effectively banned in the CAHA park unit through a series of rules that disallowed any beaching/launching from NPS lands. There are also limits as to how close a PWC can operate to the shoreline. All rules are stringent enough to basically make PWC use totally impractical. The really scary part of this ban is that any powerboat could be banned for the same reasons that PWC’s were. (2 Stroke emissions, noise, etc.)

    Zoom forward about a decade, and the same groups who sought the PWC ban are now attempting to remove vehicles from the beach, and in many cases foot-bound human access as well.

    If this is any indication on what is to come in Yellowstone, I fear for the future of any and all civilian motorized transportation within the park.

  • Wyoming Congressional Delegation Pushing Interior Secretary To Move on Yellowstone Snowmobile Plan   6 years 20 weeks ago

    One issue on motorized use outside the park - the travel plan for Gallatin National Forest has been all but struck down by a judge. There is a good chance that a lot of the national forests outside of Yellowstone will be managed more as wilderness areas. So, there may be a fair amount of restriction on snowmobiles - there already are on the wilderness areas north of the park.

    However, it would be extremely unlikely that the entire forest would be managed as a wilderness area. Areas along the Gallatin River are certainly in dispute.

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

  • Valley Forge Development Gains OK   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service, is the primary one responsible for this problem, more than the Zoning Board. She once had an option to buy the property, held for her as a favor by a friendly land conservation group. She surrendered that option which enabled the Valley Forge developer to buy this land for this disgraceful project .

    Even now, the National Park Service Director could be asking Congress for the money to buy the property, and is not. You know she knows better, because just a few years ago asked for millions to buy out the Toll Brothers development right next door, claiming it was sacred ground. If that ground was sacred, this ground is sacred. All is inside the park boundary designated by congress.

    Why have we heard not a word of support for Valley Forge from Director Bomar? Valley Forge is one of America's most sacred places, the birthplace of the American Army, and must be protected.

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Well, I do think the President of the US goes wherever he wants, BUT there are several more interesting things about this, AND, see at the end my plea for understanding of how this looks to the Average Park Ranger, that all, except perhaps the Secret Service insiders should be able to understand:

    1. The most interesting thing about this trip is that he did it at all, at a time when so many bad things are happening to America.

    2. The most intriguing thing is that he brought Gonzales & Rove and Hughes with him. WHAT WERE THEY DOING WITH THE PRESIDENT IN THE FIRST PLACE? Certainly, not just getting together to see Gettysburg. Gettysburg, as our Secret Service family member knows, is a stones' throw from Camp David, where secure conferences with the President occur away from Washington distractions.

    As everyone knows, Hughes seemed to be the one closest to Bush as Governor then as President most associated with the "compassionate conservative" persona, and more recently as an international ambassador to reverse Bush's low reputation in the world. A reputation caused by the unilateralism of Cheney and Rove. When Hughes quit the White House, Andy Card, chief of staff, committed truth when he blurted out that without Hughes in the White House no one would be able to control Rove. After a decent interval, Card, another centrist, got the boot.

    More interesting is the presence of Gonzales and Rove, both of whom many in Congress believe would be guilty of prosecutable high crimes except for the fact that President Bush is blocking all White House testimony by the most extreme interpretation of executive powers ever launched, and there is no time left to pursue the case through the courts to force testimony. Why go through all this if Rove and Gonzales are not guilty?

    Most Presidents would never be seen in public with such tainted cronies, even if they continued to rely on them secretly. This President is either deeply relying on them, or doesn't care anymore what decent opionion in America thinks, or is cooking up a defence-and-get-out-of-jail-free-card for Rove and Gonzales. This trip happened just before the new Atty General announced a report nailing major errors from Gonzales, and appointing a prosecutor to look into the case. I am imagining a pretty heavy-weight conversation at Camp David, using Gettysburg as a welcome break in the intensity, or more likely, a cover to divert attention from the main event. This way they get to say they all got together with the Education Secretary to get an educational experience.

    Just as Cheney does not get an automatic pass from Bush anymore to do whatever he wants, the President would need Karen Hughes there to tell him how to reflect on whatever Rove and Gonzales are telling him about how to deal with the Justice Department's report and subsequent investigation.

    Rove and Gonzales are no longer government employees, having resigned in disgrace, and Hughes having resigned with honor: presumably they don't get perked in theory. But in fact, you can bet the taxpayers paid for the entire trip because the point of the trip really was the conference at Camp David.

    3. It is often hard for Rangers or the public to understand why their leaders should not see the same world the private citizen sees. You will remember the outrage that accompanied the failure of the first President Bush to identify a bar code or its purpose. However unrealistically, most of us are simple (in the best sense) and want their leaders to be like them. To understand them.

    I was superintendent of a Park visited by a Secretary of the Interior, who presumably was in that state to look at oil and gas development prospects quite a few miles away. That Secretary brought a very young and attractive foster daughter/exchange student and a very angry wife. They brought no equipment or supplies. Essentially, it was a vacation, and park rangers ferried them all over the park, were required to show them how to wear the gear and try to teach them to fish and canoe and avoid disturbing wildlife. The wife spent a lot of time yelling at rangers about the inadequacies of the visitor center or park facilities, so much so that the Secretary several times had to interject himself to defend the rangers.

    There was nearly a mutiny from the park staff. Finally late one night I met with the rangers to hear their grievances. After listening, all I could say was a) the Secretary of the Interior and other VIPs need to see government facilities to understand how they work and why they are important. Even if it seems like a taxpayer-subsidized vacation. and, b) you are professionals. It does not matter what they throw at you. You can handle it, and that is why you are park rangers. They only grudgingly understood point "a" but point "b" got through to them.

    Along the same lines President Clinton used to fly his helicopter to Baltimore to see the Orioles play. He flew into Fort McHenry. It meant, on the spur of the moment, that that park was shut down, and visitors who may have traveled from Utah to see the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner, and this unexcelled symbol of American steadfastness and duty, were turned away from the park. I wasn't working there, but knew many who did. The rangers hated it. They thought it indulgent. They thought American citizens should not have the wake of the President so toss American citizens around, as if he were the Queen of England.

    My own thinking on this is, whether at Gettysburg or at Ft. McHenry, we must accomodate the President. BUT the elected officials should be sensitive to the feelings of average Americans, and take care to TRY to experience things, as much as possible, as normal people do. It couldn't hurt to pay the entrance fee, at the very least for Rove and Gonzales and Hughes.

  • Wyoming Congressional Delegation Pushing Interior Secretary To Move on Yellowstone Snowmobile Plan   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Great idea. Let's put into place yet another winter use plan that ignores the law, the courts, the EPA, the Organic Act, science and tons of public comments. Then we can spend a few million more taxpayer dollars doing yet another study, which will be ignored; and having yet another comment period, which will be ignored. It's starting to feel like that Star Trek episode where they are caught in some kind of time warp and they keep living the same day over and over. Or maybe, just maybe, they could come up with a winter use plan that is actually in compliance with the law and with good science!? Then local ooutfitters could actually plan for the future with some degree of certainty. They could get on with converting over to snowcoaches. As compitition went up, prices would come down; and average people who cannot afford four or five hundred dollars a day to rent a snowmobile and guide, would actually be able to visit Yellowstone in the winter. Snowmobilers could still enjoy riding through thousands of acres of National Forest land outside of the Park (no guide needed) as they do now. Park animals would be less stressed. Park rangers would be less stressed. Skiers and hikers would find more quiet and pristine beauty, as well as fresh air. Yes, snowcoaches make noise and polute as well, but the big difference is that each snowcoach can carry upwards of twenty people; instead of having twenty individual machines racing around.
    Yes, Superintendent Lewis, let's do this one more time. But let's make this the last time. Let's do it right this time. Let's make this plan beyond reproach. Read the law and follow it. Listen to the reports. Stop chasing pennies of taxpayer money with dollars of taxpayer money. The American people need you (and the Park Service/Interior Dept.) to do the right thing, once and for all.

  • Turkey Hunters Appreciate Wildlife Habitat Preservation at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    I agree that the Pinnacle Overlook is spectacular, and have seen many, many wild turkeys in the Cumberland Gap area. I fail to see turkey hunting as a sporty hunt, though. They are fairly large targets, don't move particularly fast, are loud and easy to find... where is the challenge in that? Population control, obviously I can understand that, but really the turkey is not up on my list of really sport worthy hunting animals. I had no idea that the Wild Turkey Federation even existed. Learn something new everyday!

  • It’s Good to be the President When You Visit Gettysburg National Military Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Oh dear, I mentioned my husband working for the Secret Service and it suddenly all becomes "satire". I am die-hard nothing political. It's nothing for you to change to a "satire" intent after the fact but you clearly were extremely jealous of a President getting the VIP treatment even in your follow-ups. One word of advice, if you truly fancy yourself a satirist, don't quit your day job, you'll starve.

  • Appellate Court Upholds Lower Court Ruling on Development at Gateway National Recreation Area   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Other than to make sure I acknowledge when you seem to have the better of the argument, I don't plan to say any more on this topic.

    -- You make a good point about needing to move forward now on the leasing plan. I agree with that, and agree the long delay is unconscionable

    -- You make a good point about the legislators and supporters of doing nothing, having an obligation to go and get the funding for Sandy Hook, or shut up. I am aware other members of the congressional delegation in NJ have been very cynical, for example, about the ineffective efforts of the local congressman to get any appreciable funding. Compare that to the funds that the NY congresswoman got in Staten Island for the part of Gateway over there.

    -- You make an exactly right point on the difference in the legislation between Jamaica Bay and the rest of Gateway. That legislation also puts an affirmative responsibility on the Secretary of the Interior to identify and organize the preservation of historic structures on Sandy Hook.

    thank you for a well informed and stimulating discussion. It would be a great microcosm of all the national parks, except for the really miserable job of drafting the original legislation in the extreme. Few parks have it so bad.

    Again, good luck with your high-minded efforts.

  • There's Plenty to See Above Ground at Wind Cave National Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Good thing there is a lot to do above ground since the National Parks pass is about worthless underground.

  • Park History: Biscayne National Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Which has better snorkeling, Key Largo or Biscayne Bay? How inexpensive each is also matters. I'm not interested in paying $$$$ to go out on a boat. Thanks!

  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Not Immune to Bear Problems   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Thanks, Jim, and thanks, Rick, for the kind words -- I hope to see both of you again soon. I, too, wish a few more of my colleagues would take advantage of the forum that the Traveler offers.


  • Mount Rainier National Park Proposing to Reroute Section of Wonderland Trail   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I hope they take the high road. Place the trail above the floodplain. In 5-10 years, the blasting will look "natural" too.

  • Appellate Court Upholds Lower Court Ruling on Development at Gateway National Recreation Area   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Dear d-2:

    I've been away, and just got a chance to read your reply.

    I can't comment on the NPS staff and administration, other than to say that from what I've seen the personnel at the Sandy Hook Unit seem to have done the best that they can with available resources, perhaps hampered by higher-ups.

    Without more work than I did for my Asbury Park Press comment, I would say that from my reading of the Gateway Act and other legislation the NPS already has the authority to cross the line in circumstances like this, when they REASONABLY determine that it's necessary. In this case we could still debate whether it would have been better for NPS to try to get the money to restore the buildings [if they didn't], and then go searching for some use for them. I see that as potentially very wasteful.

    Look at Fort Hancock this way . . . none of the 36 buildings were ever open to the public, so nothing at all is being closed to the public, a lot will be open for the first time, and everything there, including what the NPS itself and others tenants already on site are utilizing, will benefiit from the synergistic effects of new technology, materials [to the extent Interior and SHPO will allow], suppliers, contractors, etc. concentrated in the area. A true renaissance for the Fort and Sandy Hook. Buildings have been falling down for 35 years - more than half the current lease term. If it doesn't "work," the public gets everything back in 60 years, in a lot better shape than it's ever been.

    I could agree that it might be better to insert a step in the process that mandated notice to Congress when NPS felt that it had to "cross the line," sort of like a "fair warning" at an auction. Require that NPS make their best case for what they are going to do, and give Congress a last chance to come up with the money to do something else or accept the consequences, and responsibility, for not having done so.

    Here it seems as if opponents, effectively having stalled matters for going on 10 years and not during that whole time proposed any real alternative, simply want to start all over again. Why weren't they pushing legislators to step in with funding for some alternative, instead of pressing for repetitive, useless, investigations, where earlier ones had found that the NPs had clearly acted pursuant to law? Not having done so suggests that in fact the opponents' real purpose is to so delay anything being done that the buildings decay past the point of no return, something that a few are very close to. That's why I avoid reading blogs. Most of the writers simply spew invective and opposition, complaining of payoffs, incompetence, or evil intent, without suggesting that they have an alternative to propose, or have ever accomplished anything on their own. Most here are far better informed than I on issues involving the "Parks," and can at least debate those with different opinions with some respect.

    A thought comes to mind as I type, regarding your seeming issue with what's being done with Floyd Bennett Field. I have some fondness for the place as, in searching like many of my Vietnam-era peers for an alternative to the Army, I took the Navy's exams for flight school. Passed with flying colors, except for vision not quite perfect enough. Probably a good thing, as slogging around in the swamps for the better part of a year with 80-90 pounds on my back got me in great shape [at least then and for a number of years thereafter], and flying might well have landed me in the Hanoi Hilton with Senator McCain and his friends. But I digress . . . A year or so back, as I was spending more time than I should looking at the issues involved here, I noted that the Gateway Act [or possibly something else within the legislative history] made wildlife preservation a priority for the Jamaica Bay unit, while it did not do so for any of the others. Opponents of Fort Hancock had argued, with no stated basis, that wildlife at Sandy Hook took precedence over preservation of the Fort's buildings and heritage, and were clearly wrong here. Might have some significance there, although I'm only marginally familiar with what's going on.

  • Park History: Dinosaur National Monument   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Of all our NPS-managed national monuments, Dinosaur most deserves to be elevated to national park status. Dinosaur, as you elucidate above, is an amazing place, an oft-overlooked gem of a park full of opportunities for adventure. It even features one of the top 10 largest natural arches in the world, Outlaw Arch, discovered in 2006 in a side canyon of the Yampa River. If Black Canyon of the Gunnison is worthy of its national park status (and it is!), then Dinosaur is doubly so. Trying to convince the locals of that, however, is a different story.

    While I can think of a dozen different names for the park, "Dinosaur" inspires a sense of wonder and intrigue that "Yampa Naitonal Park," or "Green River National Park," simply don't, even though "Dinosaur" only describes a small part of what this park is all about. I say keep the name, make it a national park, and inspire the public to give this park a visit and the respect it deserves.

  • Lassen Volcanic National Park Gets Its First Purpose-Built Visitor Center, and It’s a Dandy   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Very impressive. I would caution as an engineer and designer that people study closely the comments that are being made in current plumbing engineering literature regarding waterless urinals.

    THese units ( there are several styles ) are criticized for requiring much maintenance, and not functioning as well as advertised. Some engineers who have experience with them are stating low-flow yes, waterless no, and vowing they will not use them again at this time.

    Infloor radiant heating can't be beat.

    Isn't the US Government standard as promulgated by GSA LEED Silver ? Someone in management has to have made a decision to "upgrade" to Platinum and should have been required to justify the additional effort and expense to taxpayers. I have to assume that exercise was done.

  • Are There Really 391 Units in the National Park System? You Won’t Think So After You Read This!   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I think the fast food analogy is quite apropos........more concern about quantity than quality. Unfortunately, many times those staffing the units (both NPS and Colonel McBell King in the Box) are about as competent as their counterparts as well, and from employer standpoint, probably interchangable without a notable dropoff in the level of services rendered to the public. What's that old saying about getting what you pay for?

  • North Cascades National Park – Forty Years on the Map, Seventy Years in the Making   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Funny you mention Dharma Bums. Kerouac, a Lowell, MA native is celebrated in his home town in October with a celebration called "Lowell Celebrates Kerouac." This past weekend was the main weekend for LCK and here at the Lowell NHP, we had writer/photographer, John Suiter give a presentation on his work "Poets on the Peaks." Mr. Suiter traced Kerouac, Philip Waylan and Gary Snyder's time in the Cascades and has some real nice photography, which I understand NCNP had at one time had an exhibit of the work at the park. This is the 50th Anniversary of Dharma Bums, and interest in Kerouac continues to grow. Depending what list you read, Dharma Bums appears somewhere as a top travel novel or religious awakining.

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Charlotte was a very dear old friend of mine and the entire event is horrible. I have not spoken to the family recently, but I have been to visit her grave and like her, it is beautiful. She is definately missed.

  • How Far Should National Park Rangers Go To Safeguard Your Life?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    This just in from Lake Mead 19 year old Bullhead City man died at Lake Mead after he jumped into the water off of a boat and did not re-surface. Yes, a recovery followed, several divers risked their lives to pull the body up. If he wore a life jacket this would be a none event. Let's keep this thread going, let’s bring attention to something that matters to both visitors and our employees in the National Park Service. Why do people who recreate in water park units choose to disregard the one thing that will save their lives? If they really knew how many visitors die in parks doing exactly what they are doing they might think twice. Let’s give visitors the benefit of the doubt, treat them like adults and let them really know the kinds of dangers that exist in National Parks. They might just surprise us and start taking care of themselves.

  • North Cascades National Park – Forty Years on the Map, Seventy Years in the Making   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I believe the same bill also established the third component of the North Cascades Complex - the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Not Immune to Bear Problems   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I hope the readers of the Traveler will appreciate Bob's summary of the situation. It is not often that a superintendent uses the Traveler as a way to explain the NPS's side of a potentially controversial issue. Thanks, Bob, for taking the time to do this.

    Rick Smith