Recent comments

  • How Many Tourists are Too Many in the Yosemite Valley?   6 years 35 weeks ago


    Thanks for the comment. If I recall, the Record Flood of 1997 is what wiped out part of the Yosemite Lodge and the campsites you refer to. The valley was under 8 feet of water from the overflowing Merced. The park intended to rebuilt them but a lawsuit by the "Friends of Yosemite Valley" and "Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government" opposed it, seeking a capacity number from the park. Injunctions have halted the park from this work but allowed the road and sewer repairs you mentioned. Supporting the NPS are the following non-profits that are not a direct part of the case: The Yosemite Fund, The Access Fund, The American Alpine Club, California Trout, Friends of the River, National Parks Conservation Assn, and The Wilderness Society. The 9th District court has not yet rendered an opinion in the appeal of November 2007.

    For more information go to the Park Planning website

    Rick D

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Officials Select "Lethal Reduction" To Help Reduce Elk Herd--Updated   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Or, in retrospect, another solution could be possible.

    Perhaps it's not the elk that are the problem here. It's the encroachment of civilization.

    We'll barricade highways 36 & 34. Nobody else gets in, just out.

    Developers will be herded to other areas - maybe Nebraska, or Kansas, where their activity won't intrude on the wildlife population. Maybe drive them down a fenced corridor parallel to I70.

    The tourist population could be culled, quietly at first. Rifles with silencers outside the local T-shirt shops in the late evening hours. Rubber bullets might be used initially, but I doubt that would be effective.

    i know it's not a permanent solution, but it's a start.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Officials Select "Lethal Reduction" To Help Reduce Elk Herd--Updated   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I have mixed feelings about many of the elements here.

    On one hand, after speaking with many locals in Estes park, I understand that the elk population is out of control, that they can be a nuisance, and even dangerous to the locals (calving in people's gardens and attacking the resident who is unaware of their presence).

    On the other hand, they're majestic animals. As a photographer, they're a staple in my fall schedule. They're the most prominent wildlife in RMNP. It's a shame they can't be relocated. It's also a shame that they can't reintroduce wolves into the park to help naturally manage the population.

    Another concern is the placement of fences in the park. Another eyesore in one of the most beautiful places in the world - but at least it will cost a small fortune.

    Hey, how about instead of putting up fences, we just pave the entire park - that way there will be no place for the elk to graze and they'll go elsewhere? No ugly fences, just miles of concrete.

  • Fishers Return to Olympic National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I have spent a fair amount of time in WA and OR and have no idea what a fisher is. I looked them up in smithsonian guide to North American Mammals. The link is here:

  • Using Controlled Burns To Manage Stones River National Battlefield   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Although some of our Stones River staff members have fire management training, our park does not have the internal capacity to manage prescribed burns. Because of this, we work closely with the excellent fire management staff of the Natchez Trace Parkway. They bring their equipment and highly trained crew to Stones River, and they plan and supervise the prescribed burns at the areas we have identified. Those members of our staff who are trained work right alongside Natchez Trace staff and are able to gain additional training and valuable experience from this partnership.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Park visitors who want to protect their trail-climbing privileges at dangerous places like Angels Landing and Half Dome need to be very careful about the safety measures they demand. The climbing community knows all about the perils of asking for too much. With a few notable exceptions (such as at Denali), the rock climbing and mountaineering folks don't pressure the Park Service to invest a lot of money and manpower in protecting climbers or in climbing-related search and rescue operations. They know that making strident demands for protective measures would backfire because the cash-strapped, shorthanded agency would respond by severely restricting or denying access to areas now open to climbers. This is not to mention that safety measures can be overdone, taking a lot of the challenge and interest out of many routes and trails.

  • How Many Tourists are Too Many in the Yosemite Valley?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Thank you for your article about the Yosemite User Capacity Symposium. To my knowledge, your article is the only one published in a news paper.

    I believe that the park has not released an actual news release article to the media on this upcoming event because they would like to control what information about this subject gets to the media. After the event, I am guessing the park service will spin an article to the media news people that puts their perspectives in a good light, as they relate to the changes in the park they intend to make, and are making. The park service has already stated that they do not want a carrying capacity, and will find a way around it, as is the case with their faulted V.E.R.P. system, which allows for growth as perspectives change over time. The changes they have made to Yosemite Valley and are making will be to the intended exclusion of average Americans who want to camp in Yosemite Valley, and the increase of the foreign day trip visitors that arrive on tour buses from San Francisco each day by the droves, swarming the park with people wandering all over the park by the tens of thousands each day. That is where the park service is headed with their new development plans for Yosemite Valley, with the removal of campgrounds and campsite is the Valley over recent years.

    If you'll notice, the park has managed to eliminate three and a half entire campgrounds from the Valley recently, while they have invested in the development of spectacular tour bus friendly infrastructures that enables the Valley to accommodate ten times the amounts of daily visitors that it ever did on the busiest of days at any time in the past. Specifically, I am referring to the strengthening and widening of various roads into and out of the valley, that they say will accommodate the large tour buses better, the expansion of paved trails at the Lower Yosemite Falls area, that they say will accommodate more people, which they feel is a positive statement. Clearly their new Yosemite Lodge plans will accommodate more people and is going forward as planned, along with their new city like sewer expansion project, which has been underway now for ten years.

    However, the U.S. court of appeals is now reviewing the issue of a Carrying Capacity for our beloved Valley, for all the right reasons. The park service had wanted to eliminate the requirement of a “carrying capacity” in their latest Merced River Plan, but the public created a law suit to hold their feet to the fire. The public won the law suit in regards to the issue of a “carrying capacity”, because we the public understand what they meant by their statement that the park service wanted to "accommodate all who want to come", something of a mantra they have used over time. This is a term they use which actually means that they intend to update the park to accommodate as many people as possible, on any given day, to accommodate a burgeoning foreign tour bus industry. The park service is paving the way for these new tourist businesses capitalizing on Yosemite National Park, while eliminating campgrounds* for Americans who like to recreate there by way of the most popular method of visiting the park; which is camping.

    Campers bring their food with them, they often have kids and campfires, and they don't meet the modern "green" compliance requirements the park wants to aspire to. This is where the public needs to jump in. Many of us either like to camp or we want to protect the rights of future Americans who will want to camp in Yosemite Valley, like many of us have done. We can be "green". More often than not, we are environmentally concerned. We are okay with limiting the number of footprints on the ground, to preserve and protect our park.

    If the park would replace the campgrounds they removed, they should establish a use carrying capacity for the park around the inclusion of those park visitors first, before they decide to establish a carrying capacity that might include five-million international tour bus visitors in the park per year. The park service's manipulation of the demographics of the visitors, targeting visitors who spend money over Americans who just want to camp, is wrong. Please consider attending this symposium, if you want to contribute your views to their so called efforts to establish a plan for moving forward with a Carrying Capacity for our park. Join the efforts, if you agree, with the Yosemite Valley Campers Coalition, or, in their effort to protect camper’s interests in Yosemite, by setting a limit on how many people can swarm into Yosemite Valley each day or year, but only after the campsites that they removed in 1997 without public comment are replaced.

    Mark Sutherlin

    * The campgrounds removed, as mentioned above consist of Upper and Lower Rivers Campgrounds, half of Lower Pines Campground and the Yosemite Valley Group Campground.

  • Everglades National Park Asked to Give Manatees Protection From Boaters   6 years 35 weeks ago

    The above mentioned figures were were compiled by USGS from many different agencies/groups. Upon further questioning their lead researcher admitted they can not be deemed as reliable. What can be deemed reliable is the USGS did a manatee study (their first in the ENP) over the past five years. This included sightings, GPS tracking, and carcass recovery. One (1) manatee was recovered as a motorcraft inflicted death during this five year period. That was in 2003. The same lead USGS researcher admitted the deceased manatee could have been struck to the north of the park and found it's way to to the park as injured or as carried by tide. The area just north of the park has much higher numbers of manatees and boat strikes.

    I urge the use of sound science and leave the emotional draw of the cute non-native species out of management decisions. Don't get me started about how many acres of vital seagrass beds they have destroyed to the detriment of many native species in the park.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I totally agree with Kath's comment. The only suggestion I would add to it is this: while making that last half mile of the climb, there are areas of large gaps between chains. Some of the gaps are in spots where the chains would certainly add to the stability and safety of the climber. If the chains were continuous to the top, with short or no gaps, I believe the safety would be improved significantly.

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

    we need the CERP like it or not!!!!!

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt, you do say it like it is! Pure greed!! I wish I could write with such flair and poise..."the pen is mightier then the sword"!

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    And, frankly, the town of Cody is not involved in the meetings, simply representatives claiming to speak on behalf of the town. In the case of Cody, a grassroots group called "Shut Out" of Yellowstone was propped up by the city to fight this (thus becoming less grassroots over time), but this is a private meeting between power brokers. The public, including the public in Cody, are not really involved.

    On another note, we made our first drive - since moving to Bozeman - into West Yellowstone, the self-proclaimed "snowmobiling capital of the world." It was a beautiful drive along the Gallatin River. However, along the drive, you see snowmobiles of all types, many on the groomed trails in the national forests. As you get closer to West, you see huge groups of them everywhere. Over the town, there was a kind of blue haze. Outside of the haze line, you could see clearer skies in almost every direction. I've heard of this haze, but I had never witnessed it, and I can't be sure if the haze wasn't just a cloud that happened to be right on top of the town (or was the haze I've read about). The air in town stinks - almost as bad as the town I just came from (though that town happens to have millions of people in and out of it every day - not just a couple thousand).

    On the bright side, I was able to have a nice lunch with my partner and my baby and got an out-of-print, hard-to-find book about Yellowstone's second superintendent, Philetus Norris. We also saw a pack of bison outside the park in Montana; (unfortunately, these same bison (or nearby bison in the same area) have been suffering again under some vicious hazing. This week, Buffalo Field Campaign reported a hazing operation that actually was harassing pronghorn that were also caught up in it - that's especially sickening since the area only has about 250 of them).

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

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt, I was just gonna say what the article said in the last sentence, so rather than repeat it.... Well said!

  • Another Snake Story from Everglades National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Snakes? Why'd it have to be snakes?

    Southern Florida is an ecological mess. There are so many people releasing non-native "things" into the 'glades, canals, swimming pools, and coastal waters. There are thousands of stories like this just waiting to be reported and while entertaining on one level, it's also a very sad statement on humans' unique ability to truly foul things up.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    One could also make that the argument that if there were NO cables, the risk/thrill takers would still attempt the climb. Furthermore, the NPS is providing a safer alternative during the warm season.

    Frankly, I'm aghast to see pictures of that many climbers on the cables. I had no idea there were three deaths there this last year. My husband and I hiked to the top in two days, June 1995, was never that crowded, maybe ten folks there around 10 in the morning. We had on chest harnesses, safety rope with two carabiners, hiking boots, well rested, took all safety precautions. No way would we do this hike in a one day trip, nor would we even attempt to climb with hundreds of folks on the cables. I have a very bad feeling if the crowds are not controlled on the cables to some extent then a horrific accident involving many is brewing to happen. All it will take is one person to fall and start a domino effect. If this type of crowding has been an issue for the last few years, I'm somewhat perplexed that more deaths have not occurred.

    I live in NC and was recently researching the Park as I wish to take my children to the Park this Summer. We certainly will not be climbing Half Dome, I would never subject my children to that strenuous, dangerous hike, too young and no experience. I am stunned to read other hikers accounts of inexperienced individuals making the climb, tennis shoes and sandals, young children, what the hell are parents and these thrill seekers thinking? Ah, the mentality of some who don't percieve the risks that are explained, "If the NPS has the cables up, then they must be safe!" I feel the crowds need to be controlled, the Park is clearly enduring the effects of crowding. If an accident involving many deaths evolves, then watch out for the litigating vultures.

    How can the NPS regulate hikers on the cables? Permits? Not a bad idea. You'd have to station a ranger at the base, educate the masses with more signage, just what the wilderness needs. What a mess. I would hate to see the cables come down, it's exhilirating for those of us who appreciate the wilderness and the risks involved in experiencing it.

    I wonder how different the Park will look since I last saw it.

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    With today's expected change of the rules to allow more shooting of wolves and the plans of wolf management that have been approved for the states (especially those of Wyoming and Idaho), it will be interesting to see whether the expansion of a wolf here and there into Colorado (as well as into other states; for instance Oregon) happens before the wolf populations face decimation.

    What a mess we tend to make of things; I'm amazed we are all so confident of what the proper management answers are. We all seem so eager to manage and the necessity of it. Manage we do and then some, but each generation seems to think it can manage away the errors of the past. They only manage to exacerbate things. In an ethical woods, we mostly tend to fluctuate between cycles of chopping everything down and planting everything back, as though we are chemists who can reduce our world to a couple variables. But, it's for naught, and those of us who are observing will continue to be shocked and saddened by all who are left suffering by our choices. As we celebrate the wolf, I fret as I see the next chapters ready to unfold.

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

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Bravo Terry,,,I feel exactly as you do.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 35 weeks ago

    "The text of the Second Amendment is, 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'"
    Where does it say, ".........on federal land"? Where does it say, ".....However, such rights may be infringed on private land or in federal buildings, or by state and local governments"? (Federal buildings, last I checked, were on federal land BTW.)
    Are you SURE that my arguments ignore the intentions of the founding fathers. Many scholars believe that the INTENT was that members of an organized militia could bear arms...not necessarily the general public. I tend to agree that the intent was the general public, but this has never been settled. One could even argue, I imagine, that within the National Park the Park Service rangers ARE the "militia".
    I only used Disneyland as an example of a place, just like our National Parks, that has millions of visitors every year, and where we take our children to recreate.
    This law, as it stands, is pretty much an honor system "don't ask, don't tell" law anyway. If you have a gun under your jacket (because you simply can't go anywhere without your security blanket), no one is going to pat you down. No one is going to search your car (without just cause). I'm not an idiot. I know that lots of people are, no doubt, already carrying loaded weapons in parks...just as they do everywhere. NO ONE IS TAKING ANYONE'S GUNS AWAY FROM THEM!! However, the law as it stands, makes them think very hard about firing it or brandishing it. That whole "federal offense" thing. (Yes I know that most gun owners are responsible....those individuals who are responsible for making gun related deaths the second most common cause (behind automobile accidents) of unnatural death in the United States are not.)
    Our National Parks are sacred places. The last thing that we want is for them to start looking like many of our National Forests and BLM lands: signs shot full of holes, squirrels and birds with their heads blown off, rusty tin cans full of holes along trails. My opinion is that this law should remain unchanged. You are entitled to your's
    Thank you, Kurt, for letting me ramble on with these long comments. I promise I'm done now!

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Frank N. makes some good points here. I'm glad he's never felt endangered while hiking the backwoods. I hope I never do either. I hope I never need to start a survival fire, but I carry a magnesium fire-starter anyway. Does this mean that we need to outlaw fire-starters because they could be used for arson? C'mon. give me a break!

    The Disneyland comment doesn't carry much weight with me either. Disneyland has metal detectors and security guards. The backwoods where I hike has neither.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 35 weeks ago

    I'm not a member of the NRA, nor do I own a handgun, nor do I support the current administration. I am, however, a Constitutionalist and believe the job of every American is to defend the Constitution, not just part of it.

    Frank N.: malls, gun shows, and city parks are NOT federal land and are cases of private parties or local government regulating guns and are thus permissible under the Constitution. Remember, the Constitution is a limit to federal power and doesn't apply to Disneyland or the other flippant and ill-conceived examples listed.

    Thes arguments continue to ignore the Second Amendment's guarantee of the People to bear (or carry) arms on federal land. Your arguments continue to ignore the Founders' intentions. If you believe that the federal government should be able to prohibit law abiding people from owning and carrying guns, then you should work to have the Constitution amended.

    Ignoring the Constitution is what the current administration is doing by trying to bypass Congress to negotiate a treaty with Iraq. Ignoring the Constitution is how Japanese-Americans ended up in prison camps on American soil. Ignoring the Constitution leads to a loss of rights.

  • Super Volcano, The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt: thanks for the heads-up on the new book. I wrote about the Super Volcano extensively for the Casper Star Tribune and struggled with how to convey the technical information from the scientists, to the lay reader. I'll have to see how Breining handles it.
    Most of the scientists I've talked to felt the Discovery/BBC show got the essential science right, if a bit sensational. Still, how can you talk about a super volcano eruption without it being sensational -- making Mt. Saint Helen's eruption look like popping a pimple.
    I used to newspaper in the Colorado mountain town of Creede, which is set among spectacular cliffs -- all that remains of a super volcano eruption some 65 million years ago.
    Living in proximity to Yellowstone reminds me of that hoary joke about civil defense exercises in the '50's -- the duck and cover routine which ends with "and kiss your *** goodbye."

  • Groups Fighting Road Building In Death Valley   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Members of the "kick the bucket club" would like to see some of the beauity and wilderness you seek to protect from all but those able to hike 10-20 miles with full pack.
    Ive driven these roads many years and resent that suddenely its time for change. Solitiude and peace are what is saught by visitors to these areas,that means access!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You seem to want to put it in a "box". For what?

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Folks, it's the philosophy of fear that's deeply entrenched and portrayed by the NRA and the Bush & Cheney administration. Scare tactics with crime helps to sell guns! The NRA and gun nuts will exploit this to the fullest extent. The next visit to the National Parks they may ask you:"Where's your papers"? Carry a gun? God forbid!

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    Very exciting. In addition to the "problem" of wolves naturally recolonizing an ecosystem of which they were- and should be- a vital component as a top carnivore, there will be great opportunity. After spending several months in Yellowstone several winters ago studying/ exploring the human-wolf relationship, both ecologically and economically, I see this as wonderful news- and so too should those people in the area looking for an ecotourism opportunity and environmental education opportunity. It will be interesting to see if the NPS has got what it takes to do it's job and provide protection for the RMNP ecosystem as a whole, the community of wolves moving back to another portion of their homeland and providing the educational/ wilderness experience for those of us who prefer to venture into the wildlands....

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 35 weeks ago

    ......."this isn't about risk; it's about the Constitution."
    War Cry of the NRA

    Should we then allow people to carry guns, as Mr. Kiernan points out, in the White House, Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty, the National Mall? How about the Capitol Building? Isn't this a violation of my Constitutional Rights?
    What about all the various ordinances in cities across this land which restrict who and who may not carry a weapon? I know that many large cities do not allow guns in their city parks. I doubt that you would get away with (visibly) carrying a gun in most shopping malls. In fact, most GUN SHOWS prohibit carrying loaded guns! Isn't THAT a violation of my rights? If you insist on carrying a loaded weapon, don't visit the White House, a gun show or Yellowstone. How hard is that?
    I backpacked in Big Bend National Park, which is right on the border. No drug crazed, insane, wild drug runners! Just one young couple from California all week!
    Of course crime happens everywhere, even in parks. (Ever think that there are FEWER in parks because loaded guns aren't allowed?) Many victims of crime are carrying weapons at the time. (As Kurt points out (I believe) in another article, the beheaded female in Yosemite was actually kidnapped outside the park where guns could be carried.)
    Of course you COULD come across drug runners or a drug farm; but the chances are very slight. And if you did, I guarantee you that you would be dead long before you ever knew what you had stumbled on.
    If you think that guns stop crime, I would ask, "So, how's that working out in America's inner cities?"
    Be real. If I were going to rob, rape, kill someone in the back country, I would never give them a chance to pull their "protection" piece. I would shoot him from cover (especially if I knew there was a good chance that he was carrying), whack him on the back of the head with a rock or tree limb after he passed on the trail, get him in his sleeping bag at night, blast him with bear spray, or have MY gun already aiming straight at him when I approached. I'm not a crook and I can figure this out!
    No one is talking about taking anyone's gun away from him. Just like at the gun show, guns ARE OBVIOUSLY ALLOWED. They simply have to be unloaded and, in a park, packed away. There is NOTHING that you can legally shoot in a National Park. Millions of people visit National Parks (and gun shows) every year safely, without pack'n loaded heat. Taking a loaded weapon into a National Park is kind of like taking one into Disneyland (another place where your rights would be violated I'm afraid). Does crime happen in Disneyland.....yeah, sometimes. Does that mean that we want everybody packing loaded weapons in the happiest place on earth, around our kids and millions of visitors?...........NO!
    I am so glad that I don't live in such fear. Remarkable considering where I came from in life. I don't know that I could leave the house if I did.