Recent comments

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 27 weeks ago

    We've got a Traveler article on park designation in preparation. I think you'll find it very interesting. Meanwhile, I stand by my statement that park designations should matter. It should be obvious that I'm not saying that we should apply different standards of protection. I'm only saying that the labels we give things should matter for grouping purposes. As far as the NRAs go, it's misleading to imply that NRAs don't have mass recreation facilities.

  • Protest Against American Revolution Center at Valley Forge National Historical Park Planned for May 15   6 years 27 weeks ago

    I am a professional historian with a personal research interest/ focus in the American Revolution era, and I believe the American Revolution Center is a needed resource. It will enhance the public's understanding of what it took to become a free and independent nation. It will enhance the visitors' experience and appreciation for, and will not harm or encroach upon, the priceless cultural resource that is Valley Forge National Historical Park. In fact, it will put the events of the Valley Forge winter into proper context. Children in school get precious little about the history of our great nation in class these days, and even less about our War for Independence. History education often falls victim to "self-esteem" raising activities and other social concerns, or gets hijacked by the "blame America first" factions in popular culture and media all too often enough. A better and deeper appreciation of our national heritage would of itself raise the self-esteem of every American, young and old alike. If we are going to leave the job of instructing our next generation of citizens that freedom isn't free, or patriotism isn't a passé concept, to the parents of America, then we must give them the resources to do so. SUPPORT - DON'T PROTEST - THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION CENTER!

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Eek. Indiana Dunes sounds like a terrible place. "...additional boating, ORV's mostly of the ATV and dirt bike nature, jet skis and other personal watercraft, and you might as well bulldoze the dunes and make the park into a perfectly level beach, destitute of native vegetation and wildlife."

    Let's be accurate here. jest skis are banned at Indiana Dunes. The primary boating in the lakeshore is kayaks. ATVs and ORVs are prohibited and rarely a problem. The park has the 7th highest diversity of plant life of any park in the system. It includes 4 national natural landmarks. It has 28 native species or orchids. The bogs, fens, and marshes are incredibly beautiful and the park canno keep up with the demand for places to go fishing from the lake shore or riversides.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 27 weeks ago

    ???????????? Bob - Have you been to a National Recreation Area? I defy you to find any difference in protection of the resource at Santa Monica Mountains versus Mount Rainier or Deleware Water Gap versus Everglades. This idea that NRAs are some sort of lesser protected areas is nonsense. It is Yosemite that has a golf course, not Glen Canyon. Sequoia had a ski lift until recently. You really need to help your readers understand that the title designations of units in the National Park System DENOTE NOTHING. It is the individual legislation for each park that sets its management guidelines as well as the univeral NPS laws and policies.

  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Please note that most of the "Civil Disobedience" is being committed by pedestrians, and not ORV's, at a ratio of~ 26:2. Unpopular regualtions are many times met with way more disobedience that has occured on Hatteras Island. I personally think that this speaks of the ongoing commitment of the majority of Hatteras and Ocracoke beachgoers to obey the NPS/Consent Decree rules, even though they disagree with them. You should point out these positive facts when you write about this area, and not just the perceived negative ones. Make a visit to the area and see for yourself!

    Here's a link to an article in a Hatteras Island local newspaper. The article describes an Oystercatcher nest within feet of a 55 MPH highway, and the vehicles don't seem to bother the birds a bit. However, pedestrians DO seem to bother the birds, as they fly away at every approach.

    Photographic proof included!

    It just goes to show that these bird species ARE adaptable, and that ORV's are not the scourge of the beach, as many would have everyone believe.

  • Geotourism Map Shows You Around the Crown of the Continent   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Very cool !! Check this out.

  • Ribbon-Cutting Planned for $70,000 "Bio Toilet" at Mount Rainier National Park   6 years 27 weeks ago

    I realize that the toilet was donated, still I'm surprised nobody's raised a "big stink" (pun intended) about spending $70k on a toilet.

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Unfortunately Fred I believe every bit of your experience, as I've encountered much the same, especially over the past 5 or so years. The frequency as of late isn't just alarming, is scary to someone who knows that they possess the training and experience to survive in the wilderness, and would NEVER be so bold as to attempt even a day hike without the required "essential" gear; food, water (or something similar), first aid kit, maps, etc. I'd sooner leave the cell phone and other electronic gear behind than get stuck without nutrients if things were to go unexpectedly wrong. Can't live on off a cell phone battery very long!

    Don't get me wrong. Some of those roads throught the BLM lands in that area offer spectacular scenery and wilderness opportunities, especially those running from US 89 up to Tropic. One of them, Cottonwood Canyon Road is an awesome experience, for camping, hiking and photography. Another road who's name escapes me at the moment, that's basically a SW-NE through the southwestern tip of Escalante from near Kanab to Tropic along the Pink Cliffs might be even better, but with more cattle ranches. But if you're dumb enough to attempt traversing these paths on a summer's day in the late morning / early afternoon, without stocking up the cooler, using your Camero or BMW or Taurus, you'll be thinking radiator fluid is a gourmet drink come sundown. Granted the ethylene glycol won't kill you, in small quantities. So be sure you share!

    And buy the Indian Country Road Maps, available almost everywhere in the area, BEFORE you plan your route. Provided you can actually read a map, these publications far outshine ANY maps for these areas that I've ever tried. Rand McNally? Sure to get you lost. Garman GPS (or RouteFinder or any of the others)? I wouldn't stake my life on them, which is exactly what you're doing in that area. BLM maps? Not bad, but not worth the money. This was not a paid endorsement...........

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 27 weeks ago

    I wonder the same thing Lone Hiker. You wouldn't believe the number of people I've met on the trail, miles from the trailhead, who are wearing sneakers and carrying a cellphone in one hand and bottle of water in the other and nothing else. No pack, no compass, no chart, nothing. Amazing.

  • Bryce Canyon's Navajo Loop Trail, Closed by a Rock Slide in 2006, Is Reopened   6 years 27 weeks ago

    I was one of the persons that was standing at the point of impactof the slide. It was horrifying- I remember a few pebbles hitting the ground and then the hairs on the back of my neckwent up and i scremed at my boyfriend- RUN- it was a earthquake, the worst thunder noice one has ever heard and dust as in 9-11. I remember thinking it is a beautiful day to die- but I wantedto hold my boyfriends hand when i died. We only made it out by the grace of GOD. I was in complete shock for2 days after that.

  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 27 weeks ago

    But you forget parks are for people to enjoy. The closures restrict anyone from using that portion of the park that historically has been open to park visitors to enjoy.

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 27 weeks ago

    My opinion is that the Bass combo is far easier, from a trail-finding perspective, navigating from South-North. Losing the exit trail, the lower South Bass heading up to the rim, isn't all that difficult to do when approaching from the river. They made a great decision to head back to the river, as even if rescuers hadn't promptly found them they most likely would have run into one of the many sympathetic river parties who often make camp in the general area, and at the very least would have been able to obtain a limited amount of suppliers from them, and again most likely, would have been able to avail themselves of the tour's radio gear and put out a may-day. They failed to make the biggest blunder that most "lost" hikers do, that is, losing one's capacity for rational thought. As far as what we can learn from their errors, KEEP THINKING and don't get overly emotional. That alone increases your chances for success exponentially over the lost, frightened, irrational wanderer.

    Again, nothing like a happy ending!

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 27 weeks ago

    There's nothing quite like a happy ending. But this is exactly the type of incident that is going to propagate as technology savvy rookies venture into the real world guided by electronics instead of preparing with advance research. The more techy gadgets we give people, the less they tend to actually think for themselves, somehow figuring that the gadget knows more about conditions that the local sinage, info / tourist centers, and local patrons. Lucky only begins to describe this couple. Those washboard roads are difficult enough at 20 MPH when dry and the path is somewhat visible, let alone after they wash out in a storm, or when the temps climb into the 100's and your engine overheats. Makes you wonder why they had water and nothing else.........

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 27 weeks ago


    The call for a SAR went out when the couple failed to show up in Prescott on a previously agreed upon date. I'm not exactly sure where they lost the trail. Park officials said simply that they "overshot" their exit route and went into the wrong side canyon. Hydration didn't seem to be a major problem, as they supposedly found a water source that they remained close to. They were found when they decided, due to dwindling food, to head down to the river with hopes of finding help and ran into searchers.

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 27 weeks ago

    just womdering if anyone has heard what went on during the ranger "de-briefing" of this fortunate couple. Just what led to their need for rescue? Where did they lose the trail? Were there hydration issues? I understand these were "experienced" GC hikers... What can we learn from their errs? I suspect that they got lost sometime during their trek across the tonto towards S Bass junction...

  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Cape Hatteras National Seashore
    Resource Management Weekly Field Summary; May 29 – June 4, 2008
    (Bodie Island, Hatteras, and Ocracoke Districts)

    This week 26 PEDESTRIAN Intrusions were reported, 2 at Bodie Island, 21 at Hatteras, and 3 at Ocracoke.....1 ORV intrusion at Bodie Island, and 1 at Hatteras....3 others * Kiteboarder was flying kite over closure south of Ramp 27. Pedestrians entered the same closure with a dog. Three bicyclists were found in the South Point closure on Ocracoke.

    PIPL Update:
    Bodie Island:
    When Nest 6 was exclosed on 5/29 it was discovered that one of the eggs from the three-egg clutch was lost to probable avian predation. Both adults accepted the exclosure and incubation of the remaining two eggs continues.

    Hatteras Island:
    At Cape Point, Nest 4 hatched and the three chick brood is being monitored. Nest 5 (3 egg nest) continues to be incubated. Nest 9 was discovered on 6/3 as a single-egg nest and will likely be exclosed on 6/7 or 6/8. There is possibly another pair which is ranging from Cape Point to South Beach.

    No PIPLs were observed at Hatteras Inlet this week.

    Ocracoke Island:
    No PIPL breeding activity was observed on the north end of the island, although 1 bird was seen foraging at the inlet. On the south end of the island, there are three active PIPL nests. Nest 2 is in the hatch window and is at 27 days of incubation at the time of this report. Nest 3 with two eggs continues to be incubated. PIPL Nest 8 was found with one egg on 5/30 and had three eggs on 6/3 Only one egg was in the nest when the exclosure was installed on the morning of 6/4. The closure was installed to prevent predation of the third remaining egg and in hope that a fourth egg would be laid. As of the evening of 6/4, there was no fourth egg and it appears the nest may have been abandoned. The loss of the eggs is attributed to probable avian predation.

    Foraging PIPLs continue to be seen along the ocean shoreline within the closure.

    Nests/Expected hatch data:
    PIPL Nest 1 (Cape Point) was lost due to a storm event.
    PIPL Nest 2 (Ocracoke) is within the hatch window.
    PIPL Nest 3 (Ocracoke) is expected to hatch on or around June 13.
    PIPL Nest 4 (Cape Point) hatched three chicks on June 3.
    PIPL Nest 5 (Cape Point) is expected to hatch on or around June 13.
    PIPL Nest 6 (Bodie Island) is expected to hatch on or around June 24.
    PIPL Nest 7 (Ocracoke) was lost due to a storm event.
    PIPL Nest 8 (Ocracoke) is expected to hatch on or around July 1 but may be abandoned.
    PIPL Nest 9 (Cape Point) is expected to hatch on or around July 5.

    Seven breeding pair of PIPLs have been confirmed on the Seashore thus far for 2008.

    Am. Oystercatcher Update:
    AMOY Update: (active = # of nests w/eggs (not hatched); hatched= # of nests w/ chicks)

    27 total nests to date; 10 active nests; 6 nests hatched; 11 nests lost;
    15 total chicks hatched; 12 unfledged chicks; 3* chicks lost; 0 fledged chicks
    *One killed by sibling, two unknown.

    Bodie Island:
    1 active nest/0 hatched nests/3 nests lost
    Green Island: 1 active nest/0 hatched nests/2 nests lost

    Hatteras Island:
    Bodie/Hatteras District (south of Pea Island NWR- Ramp 30), 2 active nests/2 hatched nests/2 nests lost
    Hatteras District (Ramp 30 – Hatteras Inlet), 6 active nests/3 hatched nests/2 nests lost

    Ocracoke Island:
    0 active nests/1 hatched nest/2 nests lost

    We have a total of 21 breeding pairs (including pairs that have lost nests) and there are at least 12 other possible pairs in territories which have yet to nest.

    Colonial waterbirds:
    Bodie Island:
    A LETE colony 1 mile south of Ramp 4 had 23 LETE nests on 5/21. All the nests were lost during an overwash event on 6/2.
    Green Island: A common tern (COTE) colony was documented on the north end of Green Island. On 5/27 there were five one-egg COTE nests. Black skimmers were present on the west end but no nests were documented. The island has not been visited during this report period.

    Hatteras Island:
    Bodie/Hatteras District (Pea Island - Ramp 30):
    The LETE colony 2.1 miles south of Ramp 23 had 25 scrapes, 7 one-egg nests, 28 two-egg nests, and 4 three-egg nests on 6/3.
    The LETE colony 1.1 miles north of Ramp 27 had 40 scrapes, 1 one-egg and 3 three-egg nests on 6/3.
    The LETE colony 0.1 miles north of Ramp 27 was determined to be abandoned on 6/4 and the closure was removed.
    The LETE colony 0.1 miles south of Ramp 27 had two nests and 12 scrapes on 5/30.
    The LETE colony 0.3 miles south of Ramp 27 had 5 two-egg nests and 6 one-egg nests on 5/30.
    The LETE colony 0.7 miles north of Ramp 30 is scheduled to be censused on 6/5.

    Hatteras District (Ramp 30 – Hatteras Inlet):
    The LETE colony just north of Ramp 34 had 3 three-egg nests, 28 two-egg nests, and 4 one-egg nests on 5/31.
    The mixed colony in the center of the Cape Point pre-nesting closure had 21 LETE nests and 3 COTE nests on 6/1.
    The LETE colony at Ramp 45 appears to consist of four pair of LETEs with only a single nest discovered to date.
    The LETE colony 1.7 mi east of Ramp 49 had 3 three-egg nests, 58 two-egg nests, and 2 one-egg nests on 6/4.

    Ocracoke Island:
    The LETE colony at South Point is comprised of three sub-colonies. One colony had 36 nests on 6/4, another had 1 nest on 5/31 and the third had one nest on 6/1.

    Other species of interest:
    There is a confirmed Wilson’s Plover pair scraping on South Ocracoke. On 5/29 and 5/30 WIPL were seen in the dunes near PIPL Nest 2. On each occasion the bird was alert and vocal and flew out of the area when disturbed. One fresh scrape with tracks was found in the dunes and many tracks were in the area. This is the same area where WIPL and PIPL were seen in a territorial dispute on 4/30. The scrapes that were found on the soundside on 5/25 were probably WIPL, considering scrape and track size. Photographs of birds, scrapes and tracks were taken. Up to five WIPL were observed foraging in the big flats of South Point earlier this spring.

    Two pair of Black-necked Stilts have been observed at Cape Point. On 5/31, one stilt was observed roosting in what appeared to be a nest scrape.

    Sea turtle nests:

    Weekly Nest Total: 3 loggerhead nests
    Total Nests to date at CAHA: 5
    Total False Crawls to date at CAHA: 5

    Marine Mammals:
    5/30 Dead bottlenose/common dolphin hybrid found north of Ramp 34. Frozen by NPS staff and transferred to NOAA on 6/4.
    6/4 A fresh dead bottlenose dolphin found at north of Ramp 55 in Hatteras Village. Transferred to NOAA on 6/4.

    Sea turtle Strandings (this week only):
    6/1 Small green turtle found dead at Ocracoke Inlet on the soundside at South Point.
    6/4 Female loggerhead found dead south of Avon Pier.

    Closures - additions/modifications/removals:

    Closure # Location Species Date Installed/Removed
    Bodie Island
    BH08-001-C S of Ramp 27 AMOY/LETE 5/29/2008
    BH08-003-A 0.1 mi S of Ramp 27 AMOY 5/27/2008
    BH08-005-C 1.5 mi S of Ramp 23 LETE 6/4/2008
    BH08-006-R N of Ramp 27 LETE 6/4/2008
    BH08-007-A 0.6 mi S of Ramp 27 AMOY 5/29/2008
    BH08-007-R 0.6 mi S of Ramp 27 AMOY 6/4/2008
    Hatteras Island
    HI08-001-F Cape Point PIPL 6/4/2008
    HI08-006-C Sandy Bay AMOY 5/30/2008
    HI08-007-R S of Ramp 43 AMOY 6/2/2008
    Ocracoke Island
    OI08-004-B 0.8 mi S of Ramp 59 AMOY 5/29/2008
    OI08-006-R 3.2 mi NW of Ramp 67 AMOY 5/29/2008

  • Park Service Now Interested in Adding Christmas Mountains to Big Bend National Park   6 years 27 weeks ago

    We have enough hunting. It needs to go to Big "B".

  • Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Good: the more closures the better. Too many people, not enough critters,...and not enough quiet space. Thank you GT

  • Winter Exiting Yellowstone National Park "Kicking and Screaming"   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Actually, the winter is a little worse than normal. Snowpack on the upper Yellowstone is 155 percent of normal; temperatures are cooler than normal. So, it's a mild exaggeration on their part, but it is reminiscent of at least my first summer in Yellowstone in 1993 - we even have a chance of snow in Bozeman coming up before a warm up on the weekend.

    In other news, Montana just lost its brucellosis-free status due to a cow getting brucellosis in the Paradise Valley. For those of you who don't know, the Paradise Valley stretches south from Livingston to about 25 miles from Yellowstone. Buffalo aren't allowed in the Paradise Valley, and so they can't possibly be the cause - however, you will no doubt read a little about not being able to rule them out (as I just heard on the local news - which is absolutely ridiculous).

    In the various trip reports I read from tourists going to Yellowstone, they seem blissfully unaware of the situation - they have no idea what a horrible winter the bison had, mostly this year at the direct hands of the National Park Service.

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

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 27 weeks ago

    I'm glad this story has a happy ending.

    Its also worth advising people to not just ask once about backcountry roads, but to get "second opinions" from multiple sources, and even then, still travel fully prepared and constantly observe your surroundings and exercise sound judgement as you observe the conditions around you.

    More than once, I've had a Ranger from one of the Federal land management agencies tell me that I would have "no problem" with a backcountry road, only to still find the experience quite tricky and difficult.

    Road conditions change often, and there is just no substitute for your own common sense.

  • Fallen Climber Rescued on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Wow. I hope Mr. Ratte's health improves and he has a full recovery.

    I was just reading about an expedition which was stranded at the 17,200ft camp for four days. In order to reach safety they had to pass through Peters Glacier amid heavy cloud cover that made finding their way extremely difficult. Thankfully they too made it back to 14,200ft camp.

    Be safe.

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, we will likely read more similar stories in the future. People are increasingly using GPS navigation technology. The technology is quite reliable, so it is easy for users to let their guard down. But an inevitable map error, combined with a driver who is not using her or his better judgement at the moment, may result in a traffic fine, traffic collision, and sometimes even much worse.

    The problem is not going to go away.

    Police urge motorists to use maps instead of GPS

  • GPS Unit Leads Couple Into Trouble Near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   6 years 27 weeks ago

    Beyond civilization you have to think for your own. No navigation tools can do that for you. But with a GPS unit at least you know exactly where you are dying.

  • Creature Feature: Texas Banded Gecko   6 years 27 weeks ago

    This is a nifty-looking gecko. We have a bunch of them here in Hawaii (including IN my house), but none as patterned as this one.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 27 weeks ago

    If anyone is still looking at this sight google the names Joe Kolodski, Kris Eggle, Steve Jarrell all are Rangers who were shot to death in National Parks in the last 10 years. Of course you may think well that is only three Rangers in 10 years, but couple that with the statistics on how many Rangers that have been assaulted and an agency that sees law enforcement as a necessary evil. The other sad part is that most criminal activity in National Parks is not reported directly to the public, there are no National Park police blotters in local papers, because the parks don't want the public to hear about all of the drugs, drunks, guns, and other criminal activity that goes on in the parks. The National Park Service morning Report only provides information on incidents that parks ask to be posted, many incidents across the country never get posted on the site.

    If you live near a park stop by and ask for the law enforcement statistics on gun violations, drug violations, DUI's, and use of force incidents where Rangers have had to use their guns, Tasers, or defensive equipment to make arrests. I am certain you will be suprised by the numbers that are provided to you. Oh yeah I have no problem with people carrying guns in parks if the regulation is changed and people with concealed weapons permits are allowed to carry. I know for a fact that we did not have enough rangers to properly protect the public in any National Park. Another question you might ask is how many law enforcement rangers are on duty in the park after midnight? The response will probably be none as most parks do not have the staff to operate a 24 hour law enforcement program and in most parks not even a 24 hours dispatch center.

    Don't blame the short staffed Rangers for doing their jobs and enforcing the current regulations. Also most criminal activity in parks goes on in overlooks, parking lots, and in cars going down the roadway and not out in the backcountry, just like the real world outside of the parks. Yes there is always the possibility of some crazy out in the woods, but most of the law enforcement problems occur on the roadways and overlooks.