Recent comments

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

    If they wait for congress to do something they will die waiting.

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


    Oh, what people do on the beaches of Cape Hatteras is 'customary & traditional' alright; the challenge is to 'secure' a legally enforceable right to continue the practices - based on the claim that they are C&T.

    Rights-of-way can be won, simply by using a route for a sufficient span of time. After a time, common use of a right-of-way can no longer be stopped, even though there was never any title to the ROW. 'Common use' of a route establishes a legal ROW, all by itself. (That's not part of C&T, but just an example of how a right can be 'secured'.)

    Notice in a previous comment, that Wrangell-St. Elias Park (14 million acres, with 2 million acres of private inholder property) provides for inholder-access, subsistence activities, and recreational ATV use, "In abidance with ANILCA ... ". A right is secured, based on a C&T: in this case, by being codified in an Act of Congress.

    Another example of the "codification" of C&T is seen in Treaties, such as those the U.S. signed with many Tribes. I believe, though, that the phrase has long been widespread in documents & contracts, aside from dealings with Natives.

    The stature & merit of custom & tradition appears to me - anecdotally - to be enjoying a rising social profile, and this could lead to more legal applications.

    Governments often seek to minimize the opportunity to make claims based on custom & tradition. France has often been paralyzed, thanks to guarantees extended to secure various customary conditions. The military moves members to new bases frequently, in important part to prevent them becoming too comfortable or too cozy in any one place ... and expecting they can just stay there indefinitely. Bureaucracy is famous for entrenching & fortifying their own customs & traditions.

    Therefore, in a situation like Cape Hatteras where the principle object of contention is plainly an established pattern of customs & traditions, it is common that the terms of enactment make no reference to C&T. Instead of focusing discussion on what people are & have long been doing (and how their pattern of usage might be modified, regulated or limited), the focus is instead placed on protecting bird & turtle nests. That way, officialdom "neither confirms nor denies" that anything customary & traditional is at stake. They ignore it.

    My intent is not to say that the users of Cape Hatteras are necessarily going to win anything in court by proving their usage is customary & traditional, but rather to point out that although C&T is generally ignored, events in Alaska demonstrate that substantive matters can be and are based on C&T. Major precedents have been established that tie C&T to Nat'l Parks in Alaska.

    A great strength of appeals based on customary & traditional practices, is that ordinary citizens can understand the concept & principle of it, intuitively. It is easy to relate & empathize with those who's values & lifestyle are expressed in such customs & traditions.

    It is not an accident, that affairs at Cape Hatteras are not address as customary & traditional, even though they obviously are.

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

    I love this idea. So many times while traveling with my husband, the guided tours just do not fit into our schedule.
    It is nice to have the rangers available for people who want ranger led tours, but it is also great to have this option available also.
    We will make sure that we use the GPS tours on our next trip

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

    I have used hand held electronic tour guides in many museums and other points of interest in Germany and Austria. They were available in different languages and very helpful in providing information about the location visited. The also allow the user to explore a location at his own pace.

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

    To see some of the beautiful pictures of Yellowstone River Falls, you can use this link.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I'd be with you, Michael, given a few things.

    I don't think NPS protection is enough. I think the Organic Act is flawed in that it has been twisted to allow the over development of our wild areas. When you say that a park is 97% wilderness, it is meaningless to me. How can an area be wild with roads slicing through it? (This is a rhetorical question and would result in a long philosophical debate in which I will not participate.)

    If other federal areas are turned into national parks, I worry that the government will pave roads, build tunnels, erect massive visitor centers; in short, the NPS will promote industrial tourism over preservation as it has for almost a century.

    Yes, clear cutting is horrible and ugly and should stop and shouldn't be subsidized by taxes. And what the Forest Service has done in Oregon and Washington, throughout the entire country, including what they did to the sequoia groves in SNF in the 1980s, is horrible. But it did it because it was pressured by interest groups. And the Park Service would further develop these areas because it, too, would be pressured by interest groups. Is clearcutting old growth timber in a sequoia grove worse than digging a sewage line through the Grant Tree's root system? Indisputably. But why should we accept either?

    I want a new system that really preserves, rather than "developing", what's left rather while paying lip service to preservation. Once that system is in place, and can isolate those areas from political pressure, then I'd be on board with moving many of the areas you've mentioned into that system.

    Perhaps such a system is in place through the Wilderness Act, but unfortunately, it is too slow a process as Congress sits on proposals for decades. Again, the current system, in my opinion, is highly ineffective and dysfunctional.

    It's through dialog like this that solutions can be found. Let's hope that we can find some kind of solution; the future of our special places depends on it.

  • A Century of National Parks in Utah To be Celebrated Labor Day Weekend   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks for the warning, Lone Hiker. Actually, I have been working with the folks at Glen Canyon Institute and am totally aware of the politics of Lake Powell reservoir. I think things are rapidly changing, however. As you probably know, extended drought, rising demand, and global climate change have shrunk the reservoir by 60% and recent scientific studies project that it will probably never be full again. A recent Scripps Institution study found that there is a 50% chance that Lake Mead and Powell will go dry by 2021. The Lake Powell motorboaters can complain, but ecological reality is making the decision for us. That, and the fact that there is no way that Las Vegas is going to allow Lake Mead downstream to go dry while water is kept in the Powell reservoir for motorboaters. No way. It was fun (for some) while it lasted, but we're witnessing the final days of Lake Powell reservoir.

    There's also growing opposition to the idiotic Lake Powell Pipeline, which the water establishment old boys thought they could just ram through. Even a lot of people in St. George, who are supposed to benefit from it, think it's nuts to be planning for a population of 1 million people. And people elsewhere in the state are catching on to the fact that everyone would be subsidizing this boondoggle.

    Let's hope that the obscene amounts of water and electricity needed for oil shale and tar sands development will kill that lunatic idea. I'm less sanguine about stopping oil and gas drilling. The only way to stop that may be new and expanded national parks and wilderness. And, though a lot of Utahns are still in the pioneer mode regarding natural "resource" exploitation, things are changing, especially in Salt Lake City. I'm glad you still have hope, SaltSage236. We just need to keep up the pressure and things will continue to shift our way day by day.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 22 weeks ago

    FrankC and Ted,

    I appreciate your comments, even where we may disagree. As for my previous comments, I wrote them after a long day and I apologize if some things were not well stated. Here is a little more explanation, responding to both of your comments.

    Permanence. I did not mean to imply that the U.S. government was guaranteed to be permanent. My point was that it’s about the closest we can get. Yes, the UK’s government is older, which reinforces my argument that if we (or the citizens of any other country) want to give lasting protect to land, a national government provides the greatest likelihood of making it happen.

    U.S. Forest Service vs. Park Service. The only reason Mount Adams is protected is that 47,000 acres were designated as wilderness by the Congress in 1964, against the wishes of the Forest Service. Outside of the wilderness, most of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest has been logged, and only a few scattered roadless areas remain intact outside of wilderness areas. And the Forest Service has mismanaged nearby Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to such a degree that there is growing support for transferring it to the National Park Service. In contrast, Mount Rainier National Park has preserved the forest for 109 years and 228,480 acres – 97% of the park -- is designated wilderness.

    Eliminating National Parks. My early 20th century comment was meant to refer to the point FrankC made that Stephen Mather worked to limit the number of parks. I was contending that that many of those who advocate off-loading parks seem to be reflecting that view. Sorry that my comment came out somewhat garbled on that point. I do agree with Ted that there is little chance that many or even some parks will be offloaded. However, my concern is that the arguments used to justify such an action are undermining efforts to create new national parks.

    Affording National Parks. Many of the lands that are suitable for new national park designation are already federal lands. We are already paying to manage these public lands. In fact, we would save money in many cases by transferring the lands to the National Park Service. For example, 1,067,013-acre Mount Hood National Forest, some of which has been proposed as a national park, has an annual budget of about $20 million. The forest receives about 4 million visitors per year. But most of its budget goes to subsidized logging, roadbuilding, and other destructive activities. In contrast, Olympic National Park, about the same size at 922,651 acres and with more than 3 million visitors, has an annual budget of about $10 million – half the size of the Mount Hood National Forest budget. Most of those funds go to visitor services and facilities, stewardship, public education, monitoring, and research, not resource exploitation.

    National Parks Funding. There is plenty of federal money. It’s a matter of directing it to national parks, instead of any number of less worthy programs. This includes reviving and expanding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which could provide $900 million each year for acquisition. We should reverse the unhealthy dependence on fees and corporate funding. The growing concern regarding global climate change will almost certainly result in funds being available to acquire forests grasslands, and wetlands to sequester carbon and protect resilient ecosystems that can adapt to the changing climate. Some of these funds could be used to acquire new national parks and other public lands. It is already being done on a small scale in Tensas National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. Finally, there are more billionaires and millionaires today than ever before and some have been buying land to create new national parks in Argentina, Chile, and other countries. We need that same kind of leadership for our own national parks, as well.

    Political Reality. I agree that things have been politically tough. But we can’t wait 20 years, or even 10 years, for politics to move our way on its own. We are losing more and more land each day to exploitation and development. National parks have always been politically difficult to create. Our existing parks only happened because of the hard work of dedicated citizen activists. It can happen again. We need to change the political reality. A number of grassroots groups are already doing that by advocating new national parks from Maine to California. They know that the American people love parks and will support new ones, given half a chance. The centennial of the National Park Service provides a milestone for a major new initiative. The time is now. Future generations will thank us for it.

  • A Century of National Parks in Utah To be Celebrated Labor Day Weekend   6 years 22 weeks ago

    There are currently no proposals that I'm aware of to allow energy development within any of Utah's national parks, the possible exception being Glen Canyon NRA, where a proposal for exploratory wells was struck down a year or so ago. I'm not sure of its current status, however.

    That said, drilling on the edge of these parks is about as bad drilling within them. I suggest you take a look at how the BLM is proposing lands adjacent to the parks be managed in the agency's ridiculous slate of six resource management plans being released in quick succession as we speak. (The Vernal plan came out today, preceded by Moab, Richfield and Kanab.) Log onto SUWA's Web site at Also, you can see the potential scope of devastation oil shale and tar sands development would have on places like White Canyon, which snakes through Natural Bridges. Log onto

    This kind of development in canyon country is simply insane, and the politics in Utah is concerned almost entirely with resource exploitation. It makes you wonder if there's hope... but of course, there is. We just need to be vigilant. What I find interesting is some Utahns' philosophy regarding natural resources. I went to an energy conference in Salt Lake last year, where a Utah-based speaker proclaimed that leaving Utahns' natural resources (oil, gas, uranium, tar sands, etc.) in the ground is "hoarding," and thus a sin: The people of Utah must share their wealth with all who need it lest they be deemed selfish in the eyes of God. No kidding. Scary.

  • A Century of National Parks in Utah To be Celebrated Labor Day Weekend   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Careful Micheal, you're opening up yourself to a ton of anti-recreation e-mail expressing those sentiments regarding Lake Powell. Which, by the way, I happen to agree with and have been resoundingly blasted for on past threads. Such is life. You might also catch some flak from the Utah residents who think that 82% of the State being held in reserve as "public lands" is already WAY too high a percentage and would like to see it reduced, dramatically, immediately. But good geopraphy being hard to come by, national park material-wise, I share your opinions that expansion of the system, in places where it already exists, provided the surrounding terrain fits into the character of the lands already established, is an idea whose time has come. And this ridiculous notion of oil drilling in and around the parks, or anywhere else for that matter, HAS to stop, because as we all are aware, oil is NOT the "fuel for you future". Since the vast majority of the oil we utilize is for transportation, by the gradual (starting immediately) tranfer to more sensible fuel sources, the "need" (or greed, more appropriately) for additional drilling will go the way of the horse and buggy, no offense to our Amish readers.........

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

    I think this is a good idea. My family and I enjoyed using portable audio tour guides at Carlsbad Caverns some years ago as well as similar devices at the Van Gogh museum in 2000.

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

    Mr. Pepper and Mr. Clayton,

    Your insightful comments on the "Customary & Traditional" aspect of park management were quite enjoyable and thougt provoking. We on this coast generally know little of Alaska due to proximity. The comment about "exotic events and far away and irrelevant" also aptly describes the situation as it is in the CHNSRA, at least as it began. Very little news reaches the rest of the lower 48 about this area, generally. With the amount of tourism in the area, though, more of the general public from a larger geographic area have become aware. Hence the ever-larger public outcry.

    Your descriptions on the "C & T" also may apply to a type of net fishing that is done in CHNSRA. A vehicle, always a pickup truck, brings a net boat to the beach. Said boat is launched into the surf with the net trailing. The net is anchored on the end opposite the boat, and the boat then proceeds to pull the net out into a large semi-circle, arcing back towards shore. The net is then brought up onto shore and the fish retrieved. I’ve seen these fishermen doing this for as long as I’ve been visiting the area. I would assume that this probably was accomplished using horse and buggy at some point in the past. Manually heaving the boat, (reminiscent of the surf boats of the Lifesaving Crews that preceded the Coast Guard), manually would be a chore. I’m sure mechanization was utilized as soon as it was available and practical.

    I also agree with this statement:

    “For example, are SUVs on Cape Hatteras any different than Model T Fords lined up on the sand in the 1920s? Or even the horse & buggy of the 1800s?”

    Before the CC Camps of the Roosevelt era, there simply were no roads on the barrier islands, and all driving was done on the beach from the Virginia Capes to the South end of Hatteras Island. So in my mind there is no difference with respect to mode of transportation utilized. It is also true that the original charter for CHNSRA was written to specifically include beach access for motorized vehicles to the coastline. I don’t recall that there were any stipulations for TYPE of access at that time.

    Could these items fall under the customary and traditional heading? Sounds very similar to me. I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this.


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

    This is a great addition to the services provided by the NPS. It should not replace ranger lead tours, but is a great option for those who would prefer tours of a different pace from the norm, or would choose a less traveled path. And, as pointed out, makes it easier to accomodate the hearing impaired. I'm happy to have my tax dollars used in this fashion.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    "I definitely agree with the Coalition that the current gun regulations should not be changed. I feel safer when I visit a National Park knowing that some fool is not carrying a gun that could endanger my life or anyone else's life. And just as important, wildlife is safer and can do there own thing in their habitat, not the humans habitat. Please do not change this law!!!!!!!"

    How is it safer knowing that some "fool" is not carrying a gun illegally??? I carry a gun and I would protect anyone. It is safer having people like me, who are licensed to carry, around in any situation. Fine, you don't want to allow us to carry our legal sidearms in parks...fine...just don't come crying to me if there is someone there with an illegal weapon pointed in your face and no permit holder there to help you.

    Moderator's note: This comment was edited to remove a personal attack.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I've read the stories of the patients in the Los Angeles Drug Rehabilitation. Marijuana should be the least of our concerns. No one there has an addiction problem from smoking only pot.

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

    Many people today are comfortable with this type of technology and would likely get out of the cars and follow some trails to use the device. Something that is not as likely to occur with a scheduled tour given peoples desire for independence and time management. We made an effort our most recent National Park trip to do 3 separate programs, but I must say that we might have done more if we could have done it on our own schedule.

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

    James R. Pepper et al,

    I gave some thought to the question how the brand-new ATV machines became 'customary & traditional' in the Alaska land-claims process. Speculatively, it would be reasonable that they were ultimately classified as just the most recent 'model' of Off-Road Vehicle, ORV. Ex-military jeeps were prevalent following World War II, and in the pre-war era tracked vehicles - often bulldozers - were the dominant vehicle in the backcountry. Many if not most 'trails' in Alaska were originally created by bulldozers driving cross-country and blading off a rough cat-road as they went. Jeeps and other smaller/lighter machines then followed, and kept the 'roadway' clear.

    I could imagine that the argument which prevailed could be, that it is spurious to reexamine each new version or model of a machine used for the same purpose & function. For example, are SUVs on Cape Hatteras any different than Model T Fords lined up on the sand in the 1920s? Or even the horse & buggy of the 1800s?

    Functionally, an ATV is just a jeep, etc., but smaller and with a much-lighter 'footprint' on the landscape. ATVs can also be tracked vehicles, corresponding to bulldozers.

    I will look for solid documentation of this possible treatment of the ATV tonight & over the weekend.

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Yes of course. the more publicity the better it is

  • A Century of National Parks in Utah To be Celebrated Labor Day Weekend   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Ditto, Salt Sage236 recommended: "Glen Canyon should be restored and elevated to National Park status. Adjacent wildlands, such as Great Gulch, Little Rockies, Dirty Devil River, and Dark Canyon, should be added to this new park." How true this is.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    James R. Pepper,

    I admire & respect your participation in the great Land Claims Settlement era. It was more historic than many yet realize, and it still continues to unfold.

    The Senator who dismissed that well-off people (with airplanes) were appropriate participants in subsistence illustrates another public misconception, and a possible policy-shift in official handling of the subsistence community. An active effort by the State now seeks to dissuade that subsistence is a form of rural welfare. While plenty of individuals involved with subsistence are impoverished, others are quite well-off, and in particular households which may contain low-income persons, combine to provide high-function homes with better-than-typical resources (communications, health, income, transportation, nutrition, education, entertainment, etc).

    That is, subsistence is not about 'subsisting' on a meager or marginal plane, but rather is just another pattern of living, particularly well-suited to isolated rural & remote settings. It is in the State's interest, that the people in the hinterlands form competent communities which can take care of themselves, rather than 'subsist' as dysfunctional liabilities. It is now fairly common and certainly normal for reasonably successful rural subsistence participants to own airplanes (and, I think, always was).

    Yes, for sure, dog-teams maintained 'on the land' make a far greater impact on the habitat than machine-based transportation. I do not know the circumstances under which the status of ATVs transformed from recent introduction (as you accurately note, they were very new at the beginning of the ANILCA process) to officially 'customary & traditional', but speculatively the dog-argument could have played a role.

    I am aware that other fundamental shifts in the enactment of the ANILCA and ANCSA Acts have transpired, beginning at the beginning and proceeding at various points through the years.

    In the early years, I did not expect subsistence to survive. It looked like a ruse or ploy, which would fritter away into nothingness. For some time now, it has been evident that I was quite mistaken.

    ... Again, I believe that these exotic-seeming events & precedents unfolding in seemingly far away & irrelevant Alaska are very much material & meaningful, in the future of policies pertaining to Parks and other public assets throughout the Conterminous States.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 23 weeks ago


    My crystal ball is as murky & cracked as all the others ... but the economic challenges we are experiencing now seem to be associated with basic 'structural' factors - domestic & global - that suggest we could be at the beginning of an historically difficult era. Going forward, the budget-conditions at NPS could even deteriorate.

    The timing for a massive expansion of the Nat'l Parks does not look auspicious.

    Many States are - like the NPS - on hard times and in budget-crisis. Notably, it tends to be resource-based regions that are relatively well-off. Those that have a prospect for resource-enterprises are moving concertedly to - among other things - protect those prospects from protection.

    That means "land". Land to drill, log, tunnel and otherwise extract resource from. Large swaths of Arizona and Utah are current in discussions here on the Traveler ... and actively under multi-pronged development-exploration.

    Suggestions to expand the Park system in a serious way will often collide with the plans of States where available lands might be reclassified ... from open to development to no longer open ... against their wishes. The Federal government is in some of these cases quite energetic partners with the State & corporate spheres, to promote the prospects of development.

    Public opinion is marching steadily higher in favor of robust action on the energy-front, and this could translate fairly directly into broad support for old-fashioned 'industriousness'.

    In 20 years things might be looking up for us again, and a little gravy might start showing up on these 'captive' budgets like the NPS. For now though, we seem to be stuck with various defensive strategies & postures. It looks more like a time for hanging on to what we got, than launching large-scale acquisition programs.

    Actually, Michael, I'm not seeing much likelihood for the off-loading of major Park assets. I know this can be a subjective call (what's a jewel and what's half-baked), but pawning off or shutting down anything that has wide-spread name-recognition with the general public carries serious risks.

    It's all fine 'n good to have a local dust-up like at Cape Hatteras, but when the general public starts to ventilate and the winds & thunderheads start to buffet Congress ... the GOP and the Democrats ... threatens the seat-distribution in the next ballot - well, that's something else entirely. I expect the occasional Park disposition to remain largely unknown (admittedly traumatic to some) and to generate no significant low-pressure cell over the nation.

    That means, to me, that the Nat'l Park System as we know it will remain not only intact, but essentially indistinguishable from what it is now.

    I doubt the Parks are going anywhere, and would harshly oppose any general 'sell-off' ... as would, I'd guess, about 60 million other voters. To waken the Sleeping Giant this way would be too much of a political debacle.

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 23 weeks ago

    "America's federal government is the closest thing to perpetuity that we will get. It is literally the oldest democracy, and one of the oldest continuous governments, on earth."

    First, America's government is not a democracy. It is a republic. We don't pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the democracy, for which it stands. At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin told an inquisitive citizen that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention gave the people “a Republic, if you can keep it.” Perhaps we are now wallowing in a pure democracy, something the founders fought against, but the original intent of the Constitution was to establish a republic. John Adams was particularly concerned about the mob rule of democracy, and many founders vociferously expressed objections to the "tyranny of the majority" that is pure democracy.

    Secondly, calling 232 years "the closest to perpetuity that we will get" seems exaggerated. And as for continuous governments on earth, the USA can't compare to the UK. Other longer-lasting governments have come and gone. What makes ours a certainty to endure? Our empire is crumbling under the weight of a Byzantine bureaucracy and an unsustainable empire with military bases in 120 countries.

    How can the talk of getting rid of parks be early 20th century? There were only five or six national parks in 1904. Who was talking about getting rid of them? I do know that Joaquin Miller was critical of the government building houses, hotels, and roads of any sort next to Crater Lake in 1905.

    The last I checked, the Forest Service and Yakama Indian Reservation were doing a fine job keeping large-scale development away from Mt. Adams. No massive, inefficient, and arguably ugly visitor centers along the lines of the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center at Rainier are planned. As far as threats to the other areas you mentioned: if they were not under federal jurisdiction and subject to the pernicious effects of lobbyists and sell-out politicians, the threats arguably wouldn't exist.

    How will the federal government pay for this tripling of national parks? How can it pay to maintain 1,000 national parks when it can barely pay for the 300 under its purview? The federal government can't even afford to pay for soap in the Mt. Rainier National Park campgrounds.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Access to inholding or private property is a Fifth Amendment right, and should not be confused with access for subsistence.

    Thank you, Ted Clayton, for your documentation on the current policy on subsistence access. I have been away from Alaska for quite a while, and believe me it was a settled issue then that ATV's were not "customary and traditional" access.

    I was also involved in the development of the original legislation, and although snowmachines were specifically referenced for subsistence and other access, ATVs and aircraft were not contemplated as subsistence access. My opinion is that if authorities or DOI solicitors have reconceived the legislation to permit ATVs, it is a misreading and abuse of the original purpose of the law. However, it appears from your well-documented examples that the authorities have folded to this.

    Again, in Gates of the Arctic, the ATVs were first introduced in the 1970's, becoming common only by 1978 or so, or within a year or so of the Gates being added to the NP System (Dec 1978). These were 8-wheeled vehicles. They opened up hunting areas and changed hunting seasons, even changing the mix of animals hunted. None of this was part of any "custom" or "tradition."

    I do remember discussions after the establishment of Wrangels about the use of tracked or 4-wheeled drive vehicles as customary and traditional, but it was firmly rejected at the time. Customary and traditional of course, was not meant to relate to mining access, sporting access or access to private property. "Prior use" of these vehicles for these purposes was not the same thing as "customary and traditional" as a cultural expression and part of traditional subsistence in Wrangels or any where else. But the idea that such prior use was customary and traditional was explicitly rejected at that time. I am talking about the mid-'80's.

    During the development of the Legislation, subsistence advocates argued that with the technology in common use at that time would not compromise the relatively pristine character of the Alaskan parks because the subsistence hunting would just be replicating the traditional practice with no new impacts. Snowmachines could be considered to have less impact in some respect than dog teams, because hunting was actually reduced because you did not need to feed the dogs. We did have some documented abuses with repeating rifles, but for the most part rifles also would not change the kind of hunting, meaning the species hunted, the normal season and the take. I remember a conversation when someone argued that aircraft should also be permitted for the same reason (that potential aircraft could have less physical impact than truly traditional means of access, and a key Senator finally erupted and would hear none of it. He said: "I know we are talking about culture here, and a mixed economy, which I accept, but no one who can afford to fly in to hunt is a subsistence hunter. That is commercial or sport hunting, period." the same was considered to be true for jeeps or tractors, the ATVs common in Alaska at the time.

    I stand corrected by Ted Clayton, although I am not impressed by the administration by park or central office managers for evading their responsibility in the way he has demonstrated. This was never the intent of the "customary and traditional" subsistence access language in the Alaska lands act.

  • A Century of National Parks in Utah To be Celebrated Labor Day Weekend   6 years 23 weeks ago


    I totally agree. I have been to all of Utah's national park areas (except Rainbow Bridge -- still need to get there). They are all extraordinary. But we also need to expand Utah's existing national parks and create several new national parks, to protect many other lands threatened by oil and gas drilling, mining, livestock grazing, off-road vehicles, and other abuses.

    Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion should be expanded to include adjacent BLM and national forest lands. Lake Powell reservoir should be allowed to fully drain and Glen Canyon should be restored and elevated to National Park status. Adjacent wildlands, such as Great Gulch, Little Rockies, Dirty Devil River, and Dark Canyon, should be added to this new park. Dinosaur National Monument should be doubled in size and upgraded to a national park. San Rafael Swell, West Taveputs Plateau, the High Uintas, Great Salt Lake, and other places should all be new national parks. And, of course, remaining roadless lands not included in new parks should be designated under the Red Rocks Wilderness Act.

    There is a lot of work left to do!

  • Pruning the Parks: Six National Parks Acquired via Transfer in 1933 Were Subsequently Abolished   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Ted, et al.,

    Nothing in the universe is totally permanent. But in the world of human institutions, America's federal government is the closest thing to perpetuity that we will get. It is literally the oldest democracy, and one of the oldest continuous governments, on earth.

    Certainly state governments are not as likely to keep areas protected for a century or more -- virtually none have to date. And there is no large-scale private holding that has been protected for anywhere near that amount of time. So the claim that special places would be as well off in state or private hands is based on ideology, not reality.

    Once you offload a national park area, it's done. It's virtually irreversible. I think it's very interesting that there is such a fervor today for decommissioning national parks. It is an artifact of the anti-federal/anti-public Reagan and post-Reagan era. And we have see how well that ideology has worked for America.

    I am totally willing to revisit old ideas. One example is the Mather/Albright concept that we should ration national park designations. That was an artifact of the days when much of America was undeveloped and it was almost unimaginable that the entire country could be developed. My guess is that they would have a very different take in light of today's realities. With the extinction crisis, global climate change, and the need to offer more open space near major populations, that approach makes absolutely no sense.

    Ironically, every Mather-opposed area listed in FrankC's quotation from anti-public land advocate Randall O'Toole is seriously threatened and should be designated as a national park area as soon as possible:

    Mather opposed many proposals for national parks--including parks at Lake Tahoe, Wasatch in Utah, Big Horn in Wyoming, Sawtooth in Idaho, and a Cascades park in Oregon and Washington that would cover Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and other Cascades peaks.

    So, yes, I agree that we need to constantly reassess. And when we do that today, there is an overwhelming argument that our current National Park System is woefully small. We need a dramatic expansion of the system, to protect dozens of imperiled natural areas, to ensure the protection all of the nation's more than 100 ecoregions, and to bring more parks to the people. The talk of getting rid of parks is so early 20th century. We need to double or triple the National Park System, the sooner the better.