Recent comments

  • Former NPS Director George Hartzog Passes   6 years 24 weeks ago

    RE: Bill Brown and George Hartzog:

    Kurt, thank you for your thoughts about Director Hartzog. I thought you would want to see the email exchange with Bill Brown, now of Gustavus AK, which I will paste, below.

    -- FYI: Several of us first heard about the death of George Hartzog from Bill Brown, a former acolyte of George's. Bill, author most recently of "Gaunt Beauty, Tenacious Life; a History of the Central Brooks Range," but most famously of "Islands Of Hope," was close enough to Hartzog that both supported each other and could confront each other. Although, I suppose Mr. Hartzog could confront anybody; fewer confronted him. You can see from the first message, Bill got the word from Bob Utley, historian of the Southwest, and former associate to the Director in the National Park Service:

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: bill
    Date: June 27, 2008 5:26:52 PM AKDT
    Subject: George B. Hartzog has just died

    Bob Utley just phoned me with this expected yet devastating news: George died within the hour of this message in the hospital.

    Only 3 days ago I called George and talked with Helen and Him, and he was energetically working on a draft position paper that would define the mission of the George B. Hartzog Institute at Clemson University. This Institute would center its efforts on the adaptations of the human species to the inexorable demands of Energy, Global Warming, and the Restoration of a Livable Environment for humanity and our fellow citizens on this unique, living Blue Earth. In turn, he centered the means of accomplishing this great aim on the National Parks and equivalent preserves in this country, and, by our example, around the world. These protected reservoirs of biodiversity and remaining functioning ecosystems are the seedbeds and the nurseries that will allow us, if we can understand and accept George's science-based wisdom, to repair and restore our lonely Earth, if we can learn to abide by its limits. E.O. Wilson calls these saved places Nature's Last Stands.

    This was the gist of our last conversation, one of many founded on the transformative role of National Parks and similar preserves in perpetuating our experiment in intelligent life on this friendly, sheltering EarthU in this vast universe.

    With love and affection to George and Helen

    Bill Brown

    On Jun 28, 2008, at 9:20 AM, JIM PEPPER wrote:

    Thank you, Bill, for your message and your feelings and thoughts.

    Just trying to think about the scope of George's work -- set aside for now the greater ambitions -- demonstrates the capacity of national parks and, for that matter, of government.

    I began by thinking of your "Islands of Hope" and the environmental education programs George started, that also were the way I met you. And then, the urban park programs, summer in the parks, "Web of Life" and "Man in the Biosphere," cultural parks, national seashores, aggressive legislative policy and wilderness office, pursuing Alaskan Parks and monuments, annual goals statement via Stewart Udall, national recreation areas. 2nd World Conference. In essence, parks as vital to the American People. George did tend to devour people whole, but also ate Assistant Secretaries for breakfast, as someone once said, and the building shook when he walked through the corridors.

    He inspired people. Those people inspired people in turn. The credits keep rolling through my brain. This roll of human energy demonstrates our capacity when we release our will and confidence, and believe in the things that are the best of this country.


    ----- Original Message -----
    Sent: Saturday, June 28, 2008 3:06 PM
    Subject: Re: George B. Hartzog has just died

    Of course, all you listed, plus more. What a privilege to work with [him] . .. I see Dwight Pitcaithley tackling the relevance question again in a recent speech. . . .. GBH was all about relevance. We don't have to ask what's relevance? It's getting out front and putting the NPS/S in the lead on all the issues you said and that George was working on when he keeled over. The social utility of the NPSystem is beyond quantification. And GBH broke into that realm at just the right time, and the idea still lives at an even more critical time. Best to you. . ., Bill

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 24 weeks ago

    People who are totally irresponsible should be punished. A hefty fine is in order ! Even if you don't have any common sense, there are warnings everywhere. People cannot be protected from their stupidity but they sure as heck can pay for it !!! Wildlife are wild and should not have to pay the ultimate price for stupid humans.

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Great Write Up...

    Visit for a wealth of information on Big Bend and the entire West Texas Trans Pecos Big Bend Region...

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 24 weeks ago

    How come Rocky Mountain National Park never gets the credit it deserves? I'm a guide at Grand Canyon but I'd take RMNP any day over GCNP. I realize I'm in the minority here, but still...

  • Former NPS Director George Hartzog Passes   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Thanks for this write-up Kurt. In addition to the PDF document of G. Hartzog's oral history interview you link to above, we have his oral history in HTML/web page format, as well.

    rob mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 24 weeks ago

    The parents are complete idiots and should be arrested and prosecuted for child endangerment. They should also be sent to reading remediation so they can understand all the posted signs warning against getting too close to the WILD animals.

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 24 weeks ago


    1) you are right about the "Alagnak Wild River," but I regret to say that the National Park Service is partly responsible for perpetuating this problem.

    Some rivers are designated Wild in one place, and Scenic or Recreational, in another. This confuses the poor dears, too. But the main thing is the people who run this program don't really know much about national parks. These guys are into recreation, not park management.

    The NPS program is called the "National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program" and for administrative purposes those people like to name ALL the rivers -- which are actually designed "Wild" or "Scenic" or "Recreational" rivers by the law -- in the same catch-all "wild & scenic" name. NPS is also making the same mistake with some of the parks and preserves in Alaska. For example, they call it "Wrangel-St. Elias National Park & Preserve" when IN FACT congress designed the "National Preserve" separately from the "National Park." Each is a separate unit. They are more enchanted with the manager who administers the combined areas. Right now, there is an effort underway to name the collection of separate national park system areas in San Francisco "Golden Gate National ParkS" to enhance the prestige of the superintendent.

    2. I've been on the Alagnak, and it's a nice river. But if you want to go to Alaska and see one national wild river, try the "Noatak National Wild River."

    I think I'd put the Noatak on the top of my list among Alaskan rivers, but I don't know anyone who has canoed or kayaked them all. Maybe Pat Pourchot. It is hard to fathom why anyone would put the Alagnak at the top, not to speak ill of a great resource.

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I haven't seen the article myself, but if what you say is true, and they made a Top Ten list without any published criteria, then shame on them.

    People look for different things in the parks. Some look for convenience with majesty, others look for remoteness & untouched nature. I'm a day hiker and casual nature enthusiast, my criteria for a Top Ten list would differ greatly from a wilderness camper/fly fisher. I have a fondness for history, and Harper's Ferry is one of my own favorite NPS sites. Someone who isn't in to such things, it would assuredly be on the bottom of the list.

    It might be interesting for us to post our own Top Tens, with criteria. I'm sure you'd get a dozen different lists.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 24 weeks ago


  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 24 weeks ago

    That's the ticket. Take on the institution. Stick it to the "man". I have been reading your articles for some time now and have always found them informative and educational. I will take the word of a 44 year pro as to where I should visit. It feels wonderful to vent doesn't it?

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 24 weeks ago

    The bison have had a very rough time of it; they were upset in the winter. Don't be surprised if we see more of this; it's been a very traumatic time between the slaughter and the hard winter.

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

  • National Park Quiz 8: Firsts   6 years 24 weeks ago

    They have all those funny designations so they can justify hunting, harvesting, drilling, and mining in many of them.

    What bugs me is "Historical Park" as opposed to "Historic Site".

  • Park Advocates Rallying Around Theodore Roosevelt National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I'd have to agree with you Barky... probably my favorite too. I rode my bike around the loop road within the park and have never seen so much wildlife (in numbers and variety) in my 45 years. Going back in early August this summer and bringing along my son this time. There's nothing like the sound of bison breath outside your tent in the early morning... coyotes howling as the sun sets... and you're right -- not many people at all.

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 24 weeks ago

    The moron parade through our treasured National Parks continues. These parents should be put on a month of volunteer duty, wearing a sandwich board and walking up and down the park roads warning of the dangers of getting too close to wildlife (and the dangers of bad parenting).

    Wasn't there an even bigger dumbbell several years back who tried to place his toddler ON the big fluffy buffalo?

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Why can't people use their heads? I'm glad this child wasn't more seriously injured.

    This is the kind of irresponsibility that eventually ruins a visit to the Parks for the rest of us. How long before someone decides that we have to stay 100 yards away from bison too, not just from bears?

  • Park Advocates Rallying Around Theodore Roosevelt National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I've been to over 100 NPS sites, and I have to say, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is my favorite. I put it over Denali and Yosemite which, although incredible beautiful and wonderful places in their own right, have crowding and access issues that make them trying at times. TRNP, on the other hand, is beautiful and wonderful, but it's also off the beaten path. When I visited a couple of years ago, I hiked for miles and miles and only saw a handful of other intrepid soles in the fields, forests & hills. Plenty of wildlife, clean & fresh air, absolutely loved it. Living in the crowded Northeast, I found it a perfect place to "get away from it all".

    The banner picture on my blog [shameless plug] is of TR Park for that very reason.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Currently I am employed in the Philippines. I love the United States and miss it terribly. It's odd to me that going through a country that has complete gun restrictions like the Philippines, I get frisked at any entry to malls, movies, Starbucks, or virtually anywhere. I saw a school yard that had a HUGE sign that said "no gun zone". That sure is a strange thing to see in a place where there aren't suppose to be any guns. I wonder why they would go through such trouble to put those checkpoints up. I wonder why they feel they have to tell people who don't have guns to not bring them in the school yard. I wonder why gunman after gunman chooses their rampage site based on gun-free zones.

    I guess the thing I wonder most is why Americans (Incredible as we are) don't realize that all the freedoms awarded in the constitution protect our way of life. We have virtually no fear of our own government. I personally own more than a dozen guns, many are for hunting. When I think about how fragile governments are throughout world history I feel urgency for independence. I feel as though I cannot rely on the government for any of my needs. While performing civic work in Southern California years ago I watched a drive-by shooting. I took cover in my apartment and waiting as the police took over an hour to show up. With no exaggeration I can tell you that just for witnessing the event our apartment was shot full of holes. How in the world can we look at the modern incidents like the Riots in LA and the looting after Katrina and feel like government can take care of us? It's not governments fault. It's not anyone’s fault. Have we forgotten that this is a world of chance? Have we forgotten that we are responsible for our own livelihood, loss, gain, and prosperity? Hardship is part of life. Bad things happen to good people. Who are we to judge when another person can protect their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? Does someone really have a place to go in the world if they don’t like the setup of society? Precautionary laws always limit freedoms. Why would we not rather have laws that penalize people for harming others? Isn’t that the only way to guarantee sovereignty and order? Choice is impossible to remove from the equation.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Would like to clarify and add that the first paragraph above is my writing, the rest of the disertation of facts was that of another distinguished gentleman, I stongly agree and support his heart felt thoughts. Thank you for considering this post

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Random Walker,

    Please let me start by saying you are well spoken and I respect your opinion. This is the healthy banter that gets us to look at all sides of the issues.

    Maybe you are right, you don't need guns in the Parks. Respectfully, Let me ask you this, because you don't want/need guns in the Parks and you are comfortable without them, should that comfort level extend to the Rights of others? I thnk not. The gun owners that are seeking entry into the Parks make a great point. These folks are upstanding citizens, they are fingerprinted, background checked and certified to carry. Perception of danger and fear I believe is a bit inflamatory, think of it from the perspective of preparedness. Would you go into the woods unprepared? Of course not. Also, your version of prepared is not the same as that of others and it shouldn't be, it's part of the American way. Though not having a firearm for self protection and that of loved ones is your Right and an acceptable risk for yourself, I do not think those risks need be imposed on others or their Rights.


  • Snowbound In June On Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road   6 years 25 weeks ago

    There is another, somewhat similar video at - this one shows the clearing of Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park. It's worth viewing, to understand how diverse the duties of the NPS are.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    "Guns in the Parks. Do We Need Them?"
    Not in the least...
    As a kid, you could find me and my cousin walking down the road with our rifles as long as we were tall.
    As a teen there was a rifle, shotgun and fishing pole on the rack in the inside back window of my truck.
    I was in the military for four years as a young adult.
    I spent 17 years exploring the forests, rivers, volcanoes and jungles of Mexico and Central / South America, South East Asia and Australia. I have spent more time than most folks backpacking in designated Wilderness and National Parks across the western half of America. Where I have never carried nor have encountered any situation where I felt a need for a weapon.
    While in population, in the USA I have noticed as MRC (not verified) said, a growing perception of danger, a fear of strangers, Mother Nature and the world in general.
    IMHO this fear of danger is an unwarranted, typically trite defense for the reversal of Our National Park rules.
    Anyway the sun is out, just saw a eagle circle over head, a northern flicker joined me for coffee this morning, deer, raccoon and bear are my closest neighbors. think I'll go out for a visit.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Rangertoo, with all due respect, you are mis-informed. The Consent Decree and how it was obtained violates NEPA, Federal Admistative Proceedures Act, REG-NEG Policies, US Code 16 Chapter 1, Sect 429 Enabling Legislation, Article 4 Section 3 of the United States Constitution

    When Congress established Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area in 1937 its intent was to permanently provide for all Americans a unique area for their enjoyment and use.
    For years now, those of us who utilize this unique resource have been under assault by a variety of environmental special interest groups who would deny us access, but not themselves. They have tried compaction studies attempting to show that ORVs’ were damaging the beach. Only to find their data lost when it rained or a storm occurred. They have filed lawsuit after lawsuit in federal court claiming harm and inadequate protection for the birds and turtles that nest here. And in each case where evidence was heard from both sides in the court, they were sent packing. Quite simply, their claims were refuted by sound science and law. All of this, again, at the expense of the American taxpayer. What occurred April 30th, 2008, in Judge Terrence Boyle’s court changed everything.

    It’s the Piping Plover that has become the “poster child” for these groups.
    The plover is a relative newcomer to CHNSRA. Every bird study conducted between 1900 and 1959 show that it was not until 1960 that the first birds arrived in the Park. Plovers nest independently of one another and not in colonies. They neither feed nor care for their young from the moment they hatch. They nest in areas that are subject to frequent overwash and frequently loose nests as a result. This has already occurred at CHNSRA in the 2008 breeding season, and not just with plovers. Predation has also taken its toll this year.

    The Piping Plovers that nest at CHNSRA are part of the Atlantic breeding population which is considered “threatened”, not endangered. It is very important to understand that CHNSRA is on the extreme Southern edge of the Plovers breeding range which accounts for the historically low numbers within the Park. Most Plovers nest well north of the Park, from Virginias’ Eastern Shore to Newfoundland, Canada; with the majority of nesting occurring mid-range.

    I am an individual who has utilized this resource, this National Seashore Recreation Area, for almost three decades. And like many, am so familiar with this beach system that predicting structure changes, overwash, and the like comes as second nature. Collectively, we possess more first hand knowledge of the workings of the beaches and the wildlife at CHNSRA than any environmental group in existence. It is, therefore, no surprise that an Alberta, Canada Plover study contains the following statement: “human presence in an area can be a very effective form of predator deterrence.” (USFW 2000) Interesting as well is a statement by Tim Gallagher editor-in-chief of Living Bird magazine, published in the spring 2000 edition; “But the large number of people always present at beaches does have a remarkable taming effect on birds.” This reflects what we see daily as we visit our cherished beaches.

    There are 21 documented ORV related plover deaths in the entire United States. Twenty of these were committed by federal vehicles. In the 47 years prior to the Consent Decree, not one single plover death can be attributed to an ORV user in this Park. One hundred percent of plover mortality at CHNSRA has been a result of either storms or predation. A far cry from the 24 Piping Plover nests the Army Corps of Engineers destroyed recently in the name of floating two barges of alfalfa pellets down a tributary of the Missouri River.

    The Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon and the Southern Environmental Law Center would have one believe that none of which I write in these pages is true though it’s all in the public record.

    The Consent Decree deals also with other birds such as Black Skimmers, Common Terns, Least Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Wilson’s Plover, and American Oystercatchers. None of whom are threatened or endangered. The Consent Decree treats them as though they are and at additional taxpayer expense. It also deals with the variety of sea turtles that occasionally nest on the Parks beaches though now requiring full beach closures, unlike the Interim Strategy.

    Some “Inconvenient Truths” for DOW, Audubon and SELC include: Under the Interim Strategy (IMS) the 2007 nesting season was the most successful Plover breeding season in over 20 years. Currently, under the Consent Decree, a single Plover chick is given enough beach area to cover the decks of three U.S. Navy Super Carriers, the largest warships on earth. As such, in most American communities, a convicted child molester can live closer to a public school than a fisherman and his family can get to a plover.

    On a positive note, The Atlantic Piping Plover population is fast approaching the 2000 nesting pair’s figure that makes them eligible for de-listing as threatened. The most recent counts show 1700 nesting pair. Just four years ago, the most accurate estimate was 1400 pair. This represents a rather dramatic increase in breeding pairs in a very short period. Unfortunately, at the cost of even more taxpayer dollars, de-listing the Atlantic Plover population is probably going to be challenged in court.

    The environmental groups also claim a substantial drop in Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern numbers. What they don’t want you to know is that the bird count for the 2007 season shows a better than 20% increase in numbers. They know very well that the birds chose to nest on a newly recreated dredge spoil island within sight of the Park. A study that Walker Golder, attorney for Audubon, plaintiff, and member of Negotiated Rulemaking participated in. In reference to this habitat, named Cora June Island, N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission writes:

    "An outstanding success story can be found on Cora June Island, located near Hatteras Inlet. This island disappeared during Hurricane Isabel in 2003 but was rebuilt in spring 2007 during a dredging project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Only months after rising from the sea, the island was home to one of the largest mixed tern/black skimmer colonies in the state with good numbers of nesting adults that successfully fledged hundreds of chicks.

    The recent survey, which was conducted in spring 2007, is one of 10 complete coast-wide surveys conducted since the late 1970s to monitor population trends, distribution of colony sites and nesting habitat conditions. Data gleaned from the surveys help biologists make management and conservation decisions and prioritize research. The next water bird survey is scheduled for 2010. "

    Never mind that these environmental groups have sued to stop the creation of additional spoil islands which would provide substantial new habitat for the very birds they profess the need and desire to protect.

    They would prefer you to believe that night time driving on the Beaches at CHNSRA disorients sea turtles. Hence the ban imposed by the Consent Decree. But they would have you ignore Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the northern 22 miles of beach on Hatteras Island. At Pea Island NWR, there is no beach driving and less than a dozen lights visible from the sea. Very few pedestrians frequent these beaches due to the difficulty in accessing them. And yet Pea Island has no greater turtle nesting success than ORV accessible beaches but does have more false crawls, aborted nesting attempts, than the open beaches. They would also have you ignore the fact that Plovers don’t nest there in spite of the excellent conditions.

    Under the Consent Decree, if a turtle nests within the relatively minute portion of beach that’s still accessible by ORV, the Park Service is required to establish virtually the same nest enclosure as established within the Interim Strategy. Beach users may drive by, park by and fish by this clearly marked 10’ by 10’ revetment cloth enclosure at will. Until, that is, September 15th. On that date, the Consent Decree imposes full beach closures in addition to the procedures outlined in the IMS, making those areas impassable by vehicle or pedestrian. This is absurd and arbitrary. The Consent Decree clearly states that if a nest is approaching its anticipated hatch date (pre September 15) NPS is to follow the same procedures outlined in the IMS, not including full beach closures. Which means that in spite of the additional “path” NPS constructs to funnel the hatchlings to the sea, the beach immediately outside this small closure is accessible to both pedestrian and ORV use. So why is September 15th , the “magic” day? Because this is an arbitrary date by which perhaps some of the bird closures will have been reduced and the Consent Decree finally allows for “permitted” night driving. This is a thinly veiled maneuver to continue to prevent ORV access to the beach. If it was ok for me to drive by or park and fish right next the closure on the 14th, it should be just fine on the 15th.

    They don’t want you to know that at the best of times ORV users can only access less than 30% of the beaches at CHNSRA and that their “12% of the beaches affected” figure assumes 100% ORV access. This has not been true for many, many years. The truth is that well over 90% of the beach is currently closed either directly or by default. Areas bounded on both sides by closures are inaccessible even though they are technically open. They prefer to focus on ORV’s but the current closures prohibit pedestrian use as well. No entry means just that.

    It is, I think, ironic that as I labor over this communication, The Defenders of Wildlife have just sent their members an e-mail dated June 15th, 2008 that describes success as a result of the Consent Decree. “Since some of the most sensitive areas were closed to vehicles, birds like the piping plover and the American oystercatcher have been bouncing back.”

    Plover numbers are the same as they were last year under the IMS. I don’t know about the American Oystercatchers (AMOY) yet except for the nest on the Pamlico Sound side of HWY 12 between Frisco and Hatteras villages. There, less than 150’ from the 55 MPH traffic, in plain sight, an AMOY pair feeds their young and raises them to fledge quite happily.

    They also write:
    “The emergency plan was developed to be flexible, with temporary closures that can be lifted and reopened to vehicles once wildlife is no longer using certain areas. Already, some areas have been reopened this season.”

    This ignores the rash of immediate closures that followed the April 30th signing of the Consent Decree. Because of the Consent Decree, anyone with a cell phone can call NPS, report bird activity and the Park Service is required to close the area for weeks at a time. All of the areas that have been reopened as of 6/26/08 were initially closed due to inaccurate and perhaps false observation.

    They would rather you didn’t think of them as parties to the lawsuit that has prevented the replacement of the Bonner Bridge, Cape Hatteras’ lifeline and only over ground hurricane evacuation route; a bridge with a safety rating of 4 out of 100. The bridge in Minnesota that collapsed in 2007, killing many, was rated at 27. Since when do we so blatantly condone risking the loss of human life? The environmental groups have already announced that if the new bridge is attempted they will sue.

    The Consent Decree is an obvious attempt at changing a National Seashore Recreation Area into a private wildlife refuge. Which has so far, been successful at the cost of untold taxpayer dollars. Remember that the plaintiffs are consistently reimbursed their legal fees and expenses by the already strapped Park Service and DOI. You must also consider the cost of constant monitoring, flying in and housing of un-needed special even teams, additional, extensive new signage, additional vehicles, law enforcement and infrastructure.

    The impact of the Consent Decree on the economies of the villages bounded by the Park has been astounding. Thousands have already cancelled their reservations or vowed not to return. And yet both the environmental groups and United States Fish and Wildlife Service continue to utilize the arguably inept Voglesong study as the foundation of their economic and visitor usage statements in spite of a government funded peer review that deems the study essentially worthless. The esteemed panel also regarded the data and its collection methods so flawed that further review of that data would be a waste of time.

    “Dr. Michael A. Berry served as any Army officer in Vietnam in the 1960s. After returning to civilian life, he earned a doctorate in public health and worked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where as a senior manager and scientist, he served as the deputy director of National Center for Environmental Assessment at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. During his 28-year career with EPA, he had extensive interactions with environmental organizations, local governments, the federal courts, U.S. Congress, universities world-wide, and institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. For more than 20 years, Berry, who lives in Chapel Hill, taught public health, environmental science, and business and environment courses at the University of North Carolina. He is currently a writer and part-time consultant, specializing in the evaluation of environmental quality and human health effects, environmental management strategies, and policy”.

    He writes:
    ”There has been no opportunity for public participation, comment, and input with regard to this new ORV regulation. For any environmental regulation issued by the federal government, citizens have the right of public review and comment as provided by the Federal Administrative Procedures Act. Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, citizens also have a right to know about and attend federal government meetings, especially when those meeting involve special-interest organizations trying to influence the government. Under the Freedom of Information Act, citizens have a right to obtain all unclassified information, such as scientific information and correspondence with special-interest parties, that is held by the federal government”

    The Consent Decree has changed the very nature of the Park. Though the environmental groups claim to want to preserve CHNSRA for future generations, I fail to see the value of a National Park that remains inaccessible during the spring, summer and fall, when the majority of Americans that visit the Park take their vacations at this time. And if USFWS gets their way by declaring CHNSRA critical wintering habitat for Great Lakes and Great Plains plover populations, though they openly admit they have no idea where the wintering birds originate, this will include the late fall and winter months as well.

    Preservation has been, so far, successful without court intervention and a draconian Consent Decree. What choice did Dare and Hyde counties and the various beach access groups have other than to consent? It came down to either accepting an agreement that they had no voice in and hoping for the best or face certain closure and the enormous economic impact that it would spawn.

    A Federal Judge is bound by law to render a fair decision based upon the merits of the evidence presented before the Court. But Judge Boyle declared his intention to provide the environmental groups exactly what they sought without hearing any evidence from either point of view and precluded the intervening parties, Dare, Hyde, OBPA, CHAPA and others from entering any evidence at all. This occurred within the first few minuets of the March 2008 hearing. During the second hearing, in spite of being charged by law to consider the economic impact of the proposed closures within the Consent Decree Judge Boyle repeatedly declared his lack of knowledge and understanding of CHNSRA, the villages contained therein, and signed the decree anyway. His obsession with closing Ramp 4 (Bodie Island Spit) as related in the transcripts of the April hearing is baffling. What the negotiations between the environmental groups and DOI promulgated can only honestly be referred to as a Decree of Forced Consent.

    CHNSRA was established first and foremost as a National Seashore Recreational Area. This is blatantly obvious when one reads the enabling legislation formulating and forever establishing the Park.
    Dated August 17, 1937 (50 Stat. 669), provides in part:
    Sec. 4. Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area…

    On June 11th, 2008, Senators Elizabeth Dole, Richard Burr and Representative Walter B. Jones introduced bills S3113 and HR6233. These bills, if enacted, would put aside the Consent Decree and return CHNSRA to policy and operation governed by the IMS. This would effectively take management decisions out of the hands of a few special interest groups and return it to the professional scientists and staff of NPS at the savings of millions of taxpayer dollars over the life of the Consent Decree.

    Already these groups assail the media and their members with tales of doom were these bills signed into law. Some claim that Congress has no business even dealing with this matter. I beg to differ. Congress established this Park for the American People as a whole and provided us with a place we have fought hard to preserve as the unique and dynamic place that Hatteras is; or was. For years, most of us have lived by OBPA’s motto, “Preserve, Protect, Not Prohibit.” For example, to this day NPS does not employ “beach clean up crews”. We do this at our own time and expense. This hardly represents a user group with a penchant for environmental abuse.

    Congress reserved the right to change the nature of an established National Park for itself. And so there is no question as to whether these bills should be co-sponsored and enacted.

    16 U.S.C. Section 1a-1 states, "The authorization of activities shall be conducted in the light of the high public value and integrity of the National Park System and shall not be exercised in derogation of the values and purposes for which these various areas have been established, except as may have been or shall be directly and specifically provided by Congress."

    Surely this applies to forced closures as that constitutes an activity as well. Non government organizations have taken over scientific management of a National Park, an activity (Consent Decree) not sanctioned by Congress in spite of the obvious “derogation of the values and purposes for which these various areas have been established”.

    I urge every member of the Senate and House of Representatives to co-sponsor and foster these bills into law. Sound science and the weight of law should never be substituted for supposition and misleading statements.

    Please help return our National Seashore Recreation Area to the true stewards of this resource.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I have a couple of comments.

    Lets start with there are HEAVILY armed folks conducting illegal activities in National Parks, well enough armed that the Park Rangers are out gunned. Then we can add bears and cougars, etc. I can't carry a Park Ranger with me(they're heavy) and I don't expect a person security detail to ensure my safety. This is America, we have the right and obligation to protect and defend ourselves, not to depend on others to do so.

    I am amazed at how out of touch we have become with our Constitutional Rights. Saddly, in one generation we have quietly gone from a society in which owning or possessing a firearm was "non-event", due to the fact that it is a Right. Now there is this position that firearms need to be heavily regulated. In the hands of responsible individuals firearms are a "non-event" as they should be. Sensational journalism has turned an inanimate object into a demon in our society, guns do exactly what they were designed to do, go bang when you pull the trigger. People responsibly use firearms millions of times a year and between 750k and 2million times a year to defend their lives, we don't see these facts in the press.

    The worry and fears of those who are against people carrying in National Parks are those that fear the irresponsible gun owner. Did you know that concealed carry holders are fingerprinted, background checked and certified to carry? People that go this far to excercise a Right are not who/what need to be feared.

    Thank you for your time,
    Though I personally think this does not go far enough, I think it's a good start.

  • Snowbound In June On Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt, great clip on the Sun Road snow scenario. Never seen the magnitude of a working force to remove so much snow on such a dangerous stretch of mountain highway. Rugged men doing a tough job! Interesting subject!!

  • Celebrating Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road   6 years 25 weeks ago

    My family was out to see the sights last year in the hear wave... We were disappointed only in that it was 95 degrees at 8,000 but the views and the experience was breathtaking... I took 3 teenager (17, 18 and 16) along and they liked it better than Yellowstone. Anytime you can get 3 teenagers to be in awe, it is a good trip... I would rather see the NPS send the money to maintain the road so others could have the experience my family had than spending on something else.