Recent comments

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    No, but I think it is the line "less kid-safe" that does it.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Are there others who think that my summary left the impression that The Economist has argued for 'Disneyfication" of America's national parks? That certainly was not what I had in mind.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    It sounds like the real problem is the lack of money NPS has for operations and imporvements at our National Parks.
    It is a new spin on an old problem that is only getting worse.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Coming back to the original bullet point: "Americans believe that their national parks are much less entertaining, less user-friendly, and less kid-safe than they should be."

    This is a value statement. Allow me to re-phrase that same statement: "Americans believe that their national parks should be much more entertaining."

    What does this mean, really? A major synonym of "entertaining" is "amusing", and there lies my problem with "making national parks more entertaining (amusing)." Put "amusing" and "park" together, and, well, you've got Disneyland. If you're looking for an amusement park experience, then by all means, please visit one of the 259 amusement parks in America. But please keep bungee jumping, ziplines, roller coasters, log rides, smashed penny machines, carnivals, and all their related "amusements" out of national parks.

    If an individual can't find entertainment or enjoyment in tracking animals, watching ants work, sitting next to a towering waterfall, canoeing, hiking, exploring Anasazi ruins, discovering dinosaur tracks, or strolling through wildflower fields, then national parks are not for this individual. No one should compromise what national parks are for the amusement of, as Beamis puts it, the "bloated, mind-numbed masses of postmodern America".

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    First of all, I'd suggest that people read the Economist Article. That's a good summary here, but contrary to the impression left, the Economist is not advocating the Disneyfication of our National Parks. They mostly advoacte maintenance and renovation, with some modern conveniences added in. It didn't sound like too much of a nightmare, though I don't think I would do anything to facilitate cell phones and TV watching in the parks.

    I think Ted Clayton and Kirby Adams pretty much have the right of this discussion. I consider myself an environmentalist, but the snobbery (I'd say elitism if the Republicans hadn't misappropriated the word) I saw in few of the commenters here is appalling. If the Parks are only for those relatively few Americans who appreciate complete wilderness, then the Economist was right. Why should the rest of the population pay for something used by only a tiny minority and a bunch of animals? And I don't place much faith in voluntary contributions either. I think what we'd end up with is sky high user fees. That way we can ensure that only a few people get to see them, but those few will be very rich. Or maybe those Eurpoean vistors will pay for the Parks.

    I envy people who can access the roadless wildernesses with just the packs on their backs. It's not going to happen much for me though. I'm 44 years old with a bad back, limited budgets and vacation time. For people like me, the public areas of our National Parks or a National Forest campground are often as close as we can get to a wilderness experience. And those retirees in their RV's? Well they've been working their whole lives just so they could have a few years to tour the country and see the wonders of the Parks. Those families with screaming kids in the cafeteria? Where do you think environmentalists come from? How do learn to appreciate nature if you never see it? How many parents do you know that are willing to take their young kids on extended wilderness hikes?

    The National Parks were never solely about preservation. They were established for the benefit and use of of the American people. They were intended to help teach people to appreciate and want to protect nature, and to bring them closer to nature, not to exclude them from it.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    For Now

    Most new immigrants go to state parks, but that may change as time goes on as Hispanics are a sort of new part of the population is many parts of the US.

    One "thing" that may or may not be a problem is how the NPS can't advertises. I am personally conflicted on this issue.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 22 weeks ago


    Thank you both again for your insight on this matter. It is definitely something worth exploring when this issue once again goes to court. (Notice I didn't say "If"...) It would seem that these practices do fall under the "C&T" heading, but I do see that "securing" them legally would be problematic, especially this late in the game. Had this point been pondered prior to the lawsuit that created the CD, it may have had a chance to be enacted. These days, I have my doubts. It would seem that "Establishment" may exist today, by your descriptions, and the fact that ROW's exist in the guise of "Interdunal" roads that are located for the most part West of the dune lines, with many of these roads being decades old. The beach itself could also be considered an ROW, in many places.

    I do consider this to be useful information against what we face in CHNSRA, as we need every legal loophole out there to help keep access. I plan to get this information in front of those who can make the best use of it, and see what they think. Thank you both again for your excellent descriptions of how a similar issue played out in far-away Alaska, and how it can possibly work in Cape Hatteras. I think I understand it well enough now to attempt to pass it along. Warning, some plaregism of your posts may be necessary! I hope you don't mind...

    Thanks again!


  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I have trouble seeing anything negative about this. I just got back from an extended trip through Olympic, Theodroe Roosevelt, Badlands, and Yellowstone National Parks. I saw a lot of the old-school interpretation you speak of, Kurt. And I hate to say this, but old school isn't always the best school. Yes, I saw some beautiful interaction between rangers (perhaps volunteers?) and families at Hurricane Ridge. I was also warmly engaged by several rangers at the Hoh VC. I was really impressed by the knowledge of these folks and their willingness to say "I don't know" when the subject at hand exceeded their knowledge. I mean no arrogance by this, but I usually walk into a national park knowing more about specific aspects of natural history than a lot of the rangers. I spent two years studying Olympic natural history before going there. That's just my thing. I love probing the rangers to find any morsels they have to add to my book learning. Unfortunately outside of my experience at the rainforest in ONP, I've run into some rangers that don't seem to grasp more than the list of memorized facts they regurgitate. I also saw a lot of verbal regurgitation that lacked any enthusiasm. While a ranger at Hurricane Ridge had a bunch of ultra-hyper kids all excited and focused on sub-alpine meadow ecology, there was another young ranger stumbling through a monotone presentation about the mountains that was painful to watch.

    Like teachers in our schools, there will be rangers with the talent to interpret and those that simply can't. I think electronic interpretation filling in some gaps that lack of funds or lack of skill create can only be a good thing. And just as the Internet hasn't sent books to their grave, GPS units won't replace rangers, be they grand or mediocre.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago


    I can empathize with your frustration with the environmentalist movement. I cringe at the public actions of environmental groups that only serve as fodder for the "environmentalist wackos" commentaries on Rush Limbaugh's show. No one's going to make an environmentalist of Limbaugh, but a lot of mainstream America is repulsed by comments that are seemingly or genuinely misanthropic. That's why my money goes to groups like the Nature Conservancy, an organization built more on principles of true conservation than Ed Abbey-style "set fire to the billboards" - even if that means (gasp!) sleeping with the corporate enemy now and then.

    I can't speak for Barky and Frank, but my reaction to the entertainment comments was born of the sentiment you accuse Frank of holding - that the parks are for people seeking distance from Disney and Hollywood and Microsoft, and that not an inch (beyond the visitor centers, that actually make some serious effort at education) should be sacrificed to these conventional consumer lifestyles for the sake of attracting more visitors that won't appreciate anything outside of the entertainment complexes anyway. I suspect a higher percentage of land in this country is already devoted to consumerist entertainment than the percentage of folks who prefer such entertainment over the kind you and I enjoy. I will take your point that the message mustn't be snarling, sneering, or snickering, but I won't concede that parks must be comprised to any further extent than they already are. I don't know that you're saying that either. Your gripe is more with the delivery than the message?

    The problem here is that the situation for the preservation of wilderness and nature is dire. Measured words and compromises will end with defeat of the minority. In my opinion, the great diversity of lifestyles you speak of, while certainly a beauty of humanity, are not compatible with great diversity and vitality of the natural world given population growth run amok. Those who love land unsullied by human hands are left to vehemently defend the last refuges and/or rail against population growth. Both of those courses are likely to marginalize us, unless we find some means of inciting a respectable passion without writing the new Monkey Wrench Gang. I'm not sure how that's going to happen.

    And, having just returned from ten glorious days in ONP and the San Juan Islands, let me say that I envy you for every day you get to spend out there. When finances allow, I hope to join you. I need to milk a little more cash out of corporate America first, hoping the monster will fund my own escape from it

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Kirby said:

    "Frank's frustration [is] with the need to make every square inch of our country entertaining, user-friendly ...
    My distinct impression is that, more accurately, Frank objects that any square inch of a Park unit is developed in line with conventional consumer lifestyles. And, I think Frank is forthrightly expressing the environmentalist norm there - not just his own viewpoint.

    Kirby, Frank, Barky: I have lived all my life in the woods of the Olympic Peninsula. I spent a long hitch in the Navy ... got a peek at Florida, upstate Illinois ... a long peek at San Diego and San Fransisco (Oceania, Asia, etc) ... and returned thankfully to the woods. I know the natural estate as relatively few are privileged ... and I seek it, embrace it, and pay the cost of abiding with it, by preference.

    If there is anything I have less use for - personally - than rampant Western consumerism, it might be rampant Western corporatism (two sides of the same dubious coin, imo). I share these basic objections & sensitivities of conventional environmentalism, and others.

    I am speaking out here against the positions expressed by Barky & Frank, partly to defend the Great Unwashed who are the human victims of the 'anti' sentiment, but also in rebuke & warning to a fallacious and self-destructive modus operandi of the environmental movement.

    Environmentalism will do neither me nor the assets it purports to protect any good, if it defames itself and ends up going the way of the Hippies ... which I think is a good description of what is unfolding right now. Environmentalism is on track to become the dissipated, long-haired joke of yesteryear.

    Hippies espoused Peace (cool!), Love (yeah!), and Dope. Dope? What kind of stupid trash-talk is that? Had the Hippie movement been able to rid itself of the perverse fetish of drugs, it may have won the world. Seriously. Those of us who were there will testify, it was more powerful & pervasive than environmentalism has ever been. Did I not see John Lennon invoked?

    Environmentalism likewise embodies wonderful principles & ideals. And, it has developed an abiding, increasingly snarling hostility toward the culture & society in which it is embedded. It looks at the great diversity of lifestyles which differ from it's own model, and sneers. It looks at the great democratic tradition that gave it birth, and snickers.

    Environmentalists have perhaps one fourth the ballot-power needed to enact their viewpoint within a democracy ... and they are progressively setting themselves up as the enemy of the three quarters. Do the math.

    The outcome of these (essentially anti-social) environmental policies, postures & attitudes is likely to be rejection by & marginalization within society ... not unlike what happened to the Hippies. Environmentalism is stepping over the line, and the Sleeping Giant appears to be waking.

    People who love and are committed to environmentalism really ought to do some serious reflection soon ... and toss the bong before their dreams go up in smoke.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    As nearly every individual in this forum has stated the same reaction to this discussion, National Parks were not established for the entertainment and modernization of contemporary America. Well, no sh*t Sherlock. Anyone who would demand our National Parks were "customized" should be deemed insane and sent away - in my mind. But the truth is that the majority of Americans tend towards a disrespectful approach to "animals, nature, wildlife, conservation et al..." Our society grows more intolerably ignorant with every passing day! just turn on the boob tube. It is appalling when someone can pick up a whole bag full of trash on a trail in one of our parks. The only thing that concerns me here is that this lack of interest would generate less tax dollars to fund the maintenance of the parks. My father has worked at Shenandoah National Park for nearly 30 years (getting ready to retire ; ) as a park maintenance crew member - Since Bush began the heavily outsourcing projects a few years back, I think around 9/11 thousands of National Park employees have been laid off and fired. With the amount of employees left there is no way to keep up with maintaining trails going deeper into wilderness, nor is it necessary. Over time there will be less trails, and less visitors in our parks, requiring less maintenance. Which means the parks will generate less "income", however the overhead will continue to decrease significantly. Our National Parks will cost obsolete tax dollars to maintain. It may also be mentioned that it is not a lack of interest of the public towards our National Park system that is the cause; the cause of the decline is the root of that issue, in that the Federal Government did not properly maintain interest in the parks with advertising. And the minimal advertisment they did use merely portraythe parks to be tourist attractions - instead of places of preservation! The Federal Government or ratherpowers above it have influenced the world to behave in ridiculous ways. Unless something is done about this CIA/KGB method of brainwashing to create profits for trillionaires, as in a conscious effort of the masses to reject "public opinion" altering techniques - this world is headed for sh*t anyways, and all of our National Parks will be nuked, and none of this will even matter - but if the world doesn't end soon in fire and brimstone then yes, conservation and global warming are important issues, and "public opinion" regarding these issues needs a major shift in the opposite direction, a task easily achieved by the powers that be ; )

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    A great invention.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Tastes change, institutions change and different races of people will predominate for varying periods time of in any given locale.

    Enjoying wilderness and the outdoors is becoming a less and less popular pastime for the bloated, mind-numbed masses of postmodern America. That's just great by me! I don't want them there anyway.

    The Euros enjoy the parks and they've got a more valuable currency (at least it is this week) to spend here so let's welcome them with open arms. They actually like to hike and learn about natural history too. Go figure.

    No matter how busy a park is I can always find a place to go where I won't be bothered. A spot where I can take off my clothes and swim or roll boulders down on unsuspecting motor-homes while remaining undetected by the gun-toting LE rangers. Parks are a laugh a minute for me whether crowded or deserted.

    This whole issue is a non-starter. The Economist? Does anyone actually read that anymore?

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Actually, though, entertainment is a normal, healthy human behavior. Our propensity for and capability to create settings for entertainment and the social & psychological rewards it brings, is one of the more attractive things about humans.

    Ted, I'm sure you appreciate that there are many definitions of "entertainment", and that what is arguably the most attractive trait of humans, our individuality, grants us all the right to define what entertains each of us. I would submit that it is obvious The Economist uses "entertainment" in the context of the referenced article with its grandest Disneyesque connotation. I have friends that save up for years to go to Disneyworld. To me, any location labeled as "Disney" is synonymous with hell on earth. To each his own, and I thank God for the Disney properties for those who favor them, as earnestly as I give thanks for the national parks I visit for precisely the purpose of escaping the social interactions forced upon me daily. You may call me a misanthrope, but I'm not the only one. (Sorry, started channeling John Lennon there.) Frank's frustration with the need to make every square inch of our country entertaining, user-friendly, and kid-safe is not unique to him. We're ever-growing in numbers and our refuges for the entertainment we enjoy are rapidly being taken from us. For now the parks, save for a hundred yard radius around the tourist-trap visitor centers/gift shops, still stand as havens for those seeking the best nature has to offer - sans-society. I pray they continue to be woefully boring.

    Now, for an another argument, you can suggest that without an adequate study of how many people Like Frank and me pay taxes, this money shouldn't be used to prop up entertainment-less parks. We can save that for a later day. Being of several minds on that argument, I can't articulate my thoughts at this late hour.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Spot is a step in a good direction. It combines several independent, pre-existing services, to make a useful new service.

    The unit-cost is $169.99, which is certainly ball-park or better for devices in this genre.

    The base service-fee is $99.99/yr, likewise a realistic outlay for normal people. The Google Map/tracker option is $49.99, which could be a nice 3rd-party gift.

    As a 'peace of mind' status-tracker, it sounds good, and cost-effective. As a way of recording information as you proceed on your adventure (update your website?) this isn't it. Yet.

  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    When I walk in the creek-canyons and woods surrounding my home here on the Olympic Peninsula, I come across many specific specimens & sites that I want to remember & revisit, to watch how they develop and further pursue thoughts & questions that they stimulate.

    Long ago, I began to take notes on my walks, first describing locations in terms of dead-reckoning and triangulation from other features (it is often very hard to return to a given site within the trackless 'jungle' here.

    Later, I began using my GPS to record the location of ... great ancient snags, robust patches of Devil's Club, the stray Dogwood, a Wild Ginger bed, nurse logs ... it's endless!

    I am going to investigate this GPS Ranger product to see how it works, and how they try to implement the 'mission' ... which seems fairly close to my own activity.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Frank expresses a sincere disdain for entertainment, and perhaps for people who seek it. Actually, though, entertainment is a normal, healthy human behavior. Our propensity for and capability to create settings for entertainment and the social & psychological rewards it brings, is one of the more attractive things about humans.

    The enjoyment of entertainment is not the mark of a depraved or deviant person.

    The culture of new Mexican Americans may be a generation or two out of step with white, environmentalist America ... but we know that not so long ago, the now purified & worthy 'good' Americans flocked to the bleachers to watch Yellowstone Rangers feed garbage to fighting bears at the dump. Real classy, those 'good' Americans. So the Mexicans threw down their litter - they should "stay out"? I have to think there is a more winning approach.

    These sorts of attitudes will diminish the long term prospect that the environment movement will be able to effect the better causes & goals that they have taken up.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I agree with most of the comments above. I can add some commentary on the notion that International visitors are picking up the attendance slack. In early August 2008 I visited Yosemite and Sequoia and it was EXTREMELY rare to hear any English speaking visitors on all the walks to the points of interest or at visitor centers. I honestly felt like I was somewhere in Europe.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Barky takes The Economist's point that the 'anti' policies of environmentalists have reduced Park attendance one step further, by describing them as "good".

    I in turn will take Barky's point an additional step, by describing the attendance-reducing effect of environmentalist policies as "intentional".

    It is commonplace to hear & read citizens lament that environmentalists are working to drive people from public facilities. I'm not saying anything new, by noting that environmentalists take up many supposedly protection-motivated causes, as surreptitious proxies to discourage & impair public use to the Parks.

    I will diverge from The Economists interpretation that present trends will lead to further declines of public interest in the Parks, though, and will instead predict that environmentalist-instigated deprecation of the public & human role of Parks and other national lands will accelerate the decline of environmentalism in national politics.

    Even here in the pages of The Traveler, I read comments openly dismissive of the role of democracy & representation in the setting of our Parks' and National policies.

    I will diverge from The Economist's conclusions, by predicting that is the environmental movement, rather than our Park system, that is in "deep, deep trouble".

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    • Attendance for America’s national parks peaked more than 20 years ago (in 1987).

    Good. Parks were far too crowded. At least we won't hear the news talking about "loving our parks to death" any more.

    • The annual attendance declines for California’s Yosemite National Park (9 of the past 13 years) should be considered ominous, given that California is America’s most dependable bellwether state and Yosemite is California’s most attractive park.

    How much of this decline is due to problems accessing the park due to roads being washed out?

    • Having become more satisfied with the recreational options available in/near cities, Americans are now less interested in outdoor recreation opportunities in rural, back country, and wilderness locales.

    Lower wilderness use means lower wilderness impact.

    • Americans believe that their national parks are much less entertaining, less user-friendly, and less kid-safe than they should be.

    It's not the job of national parks to "entertain" people. The Organic Act says nothing of entertainment. If you want entertainment, visit Disneyland or watch a movie. User-friendly? Does this mean the NPS should install elevators to Crater Lake's water level (as many visitors--jokingly?--requested)? "Kid-safe"? What does this even mean?

    • Hispanics, the fastest growing component of the American population, show little interest in visiting or paying for national parks; since Hispanics will soon account for 20-25 percent of country’s population, this should be a matter of great concern.

    Here, some might say I'm coming across as prejudiced, but as an "honorary Mexican" (a title given by my best friend), I'll take the risk. I visited Silver Falls State Park in Oreogn on a Mexican holiday and picked up a full bag of trash on my hike down to the falls. I can say "good" to this statement. If other cultures can't learn how to preserve nature and not throw trash on trails, then they should stay out of national parks.

    • International tourists are taking up much of the slack created by diminished park-visiting interest on the part of Americans. By implication, the National Park Service needs to work much harder attracting and pleasing them.

    I don't think it's the job of the NPS to "please" international visitors.

    • Environmentalists pose the greatest obstacle to restoring national park attendance to historically higher norms; by blocking needed convenience- and entertainment- related developments in the parks, environmentalists have taken away the main tool for increasing park attractiveness.

    Thank god. Parks are for preservation and not for entertainment. If you can't find entertainment in watching wildlife or sitting near a waterfall, then national parks are not for you. And "needed" convenience development? National parks are NOT cities.

    • As national park visitation continues to decline, Americans will become less willing to see their tax money spent to improve the national parks and expand the National Park System.

    First, I don't think national parks "need" improving. They were fine they way they were (wild). However, this is a huge argument for moving national park funding from a tax-based funding system to one consisting of voluntary transactions.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Um, good??

    The NPS system's primary mission, IMO, is the preservation of undamaged natural ecosystems, unique natural features, and sites of national historic importance. What better way to preserve a site than have fewer visitors tromping around them?

    The thought that fewer people supporting the parks = less public funding to keep the parks healthy is a problem, but I'm not terribly upset that fewer people visit them in the first place.

    When I hear that "we need to increase attendance at the parks", all I see is the government turning these national treasures into little Disney Worlds, where we clear-cut acres of old-growth to put up rides and let ATVs run rampant and let people shoot stuff. I'd rather have them be pockets of wilderness devoid of human activity.

    Maybe I'm just being extra-cynical this evening ...


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • National Park Quiz 16: Waterfalls   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Joseph and Anon. Dark Hollow Falls is a cascade waterfall, not a plunge waterfall. (Don't know if it can also be considered a tier horse tail.) Sorry it took so long to correct the typo in the answer section, but I only found out about the problem a few minutes ago. I've just returned from northern Michigan, where we've been ensconced at a place with no TV, a "maybe yes, maybe no" cell phone signal (as Kurt can attest), and of course, no Internet access to check on Traveler commentary. How's that for weaselspeak?

  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    As an educator I feel that this is a wonderful way to enhance a students experience. It allows students to get speicific information in a format that they are more comfortable with. Students will be more into using the GPS than a guidebook.

  • North Cascades National Park Officials Over a Barrel With Stocking Trout   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Lakes in the high-country of Olympic Nat'l Park were also stocked with fish - as part of the very popular 'enhancement' programs early in the 20th C., before the land became Park. There was a fervor for this kind of activity during the 1920s, etc., and when airplanes became sufficiently competent it became the rage to fly over every plausible body of water in the mountains, throwing out buckets of fry.

    A few seasons ago my party was in the well-known Seven Lakes Basin, and we fell into conversation with a very agreeable Ranger-gal (she flopped down on her belly and slurped untreated water from the lake-edge with us!). In the course of our visit, I asked, "Are there still fish in these lakes, and is fishing allowed?"

    She became highly animated: "Oh yes, absolutely, go after them, get rid of them - all of them! They eat the native salamander tadpoles."

    That piqued my curiosity - "Has the Park tried getting rid of them - put scientists & experts to work on it"? She nodded slowly, "Yes, we tried several things ... and then even tried sterilizing them [the lakes]."

    In desperation - after all plausible ideas failed - the Park tried chemically sterilizing several test-lakes. That got rid of the trout, alright, but the second phase of the operation, to restore the treated lakes with 'transfusions' from healthy lakes didn't work. Something was lost that prevented acceptable recovery, and the experts could not identify & overcome the problem.

    ... So, while North Cascades may stop maintenance-stocking, trout populations in similar sub-alpine lakes in nearby Olympic Park have proved very resilient, without a recurring stocking program (50 years or more?).

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 22 weeks ago

    James R. Pepper,

    I wanted people to see that just because their favored activities on Cape Hatteras are customary & traditional, that does not mean they will be meaningful (much less decisive) in court. So I provided examples.

    At the same time, I wanted to counter the general assumption that things customary & traditional are the mark of fuzzy-headed thinking. That C&T is the recourse of whimsical or even whiny folk. Again, I used examples.

    Some of these illustrative examples are admittedly less than fully-willing participants in my thesis, but I think they inform us in useful ways even if they are slightly tortured.

    Rights-of-way is a useful example, because it underscores the factor of "scope": having the right to use a certain trail has no bearing on other trails or routes in the same area or in other areas. There is no such thing as a "right to movement", which allows us to use whatever route one would like. Rights-of-way are ('have' to be) "established" and they are limited to a specific scope - free movement is not an "entitlement". Customs & traditions likewise have a scope, are established, and are not entitlements.

    But the important non-similarity between ROW and C&T, is that C&T cannot be secured under 'common law', as can ROW. To "secure" a C&T practice, it must be recognized 'in writing'. In a Treaty, as part of an Enactment of a duly authorized Agency of the Government (NPS), by Act of Congress, or within contracts between any combination of public & private parties. All of these documents & instruments have been used to recognize - and "codify" - specific customary & traditional practices as rights. But the right exists, only after it's in writing, not just because C&T has been established.

    Customs & traditions are almost always "established" informally, in a fashion that parallels common law provisions, but they are "secured" only under formal legal purview.

    The precedent in Alaska for the legal recognition of customary & traditional practices does not mean that other cases of C&T are now guaranteed recognition. What has happened in Alaska, though, has certainly added muscularity & stature to customs & traditions as contenders in the legal process. Events & conditions in Alaska make it far easier and more credible, for folks everywhere to look at their own customs & traditions as meaningful players in the social & legal scene.

    I agree with James' statement...

    "The rights are not "secured" based on custom. Custom in Alaska informed the Congress, and the Congress then determined what statutory uses would be permitted, subject to reasonable regulation. There was no inherent customary and traditional "right" of access, and no such prior right exists on the beaches of Hatteras."
    ... and I hope my statements in this comment are compatible with his.